Last Saturday, November 21st, marks the day of the 20th year I have been alive- my 20th voyage around the sun.
20 is an interesting age. You no longer have the title of “-teen” attached to your identity, but you’re too young to drink and go out still, so you can’t quite hang with the “adults” either.
Twenty years old.
Two whole decades old.
I can vividly remember being so ready to grow up when I was 14, 15, 16. I couldn’t wait until I had a job and a car and was in college and independent. Now that I’m here, as the old cliche goes, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. I find myself dreaming of simpler times when I didn’t have minimum $300 in bills every month, hah! With my goal of moving out by summer (which is becoming a reality, faster and faster every day!) that dollar amount is only going to go up.
Being an adult isn’t easy, but it’s also exciting and rewarding. I am looking forward to having my own apartment with my guy come summer, and having my own kitchen, and being able to grocery shop, and all that lame, boring adult stuff that I’ll probably hate as soon as it’s required of me.
More than just looking forward to being a true adult, it’s interesting to be able to look back on everything I have experienced and learned in my 20 years. I feel like I have so much advice I could give to my younger self. Around this time each year, I always receive a letter from my past self, through a website called Future Me and it’s always eye opening how much I have changed from letter to letter. I really recommend all of y’all write letters to your future selves! I actually plan on writing a blog about my experience with it, so keep your eyes peeled.
This time last year, I was drinking in the hot springs in the Jemez mountains with friends, and learning so much about myself, just as I am now.
With that being said, I would like to share with y’all 20 things I have learned in my 20 years that I feel were important things for me to learn.
- The most important person for you to love is yourself. If you don’t love yourself you will never be able to fully accept the love others have for you, and you’ll never be able to fully extend your own heart to loving others, 100%.
- Don’t feel pressured to define yourself or try to fit in. Humans are not simple creatures, and we don’t fit neatly into little boxes. As soon as you start whittling away at yourself, chunk after chunk, to fit into some particular ideal, you start losing the core of who you are. Just be and do whatever you want, and you’ll find your niche- I guarantee.
- On that note, pursue all your passions. Don’t feel like your passions must be narrowed down. Do you love art and science? Okay, do something with that. Can you never make up your mind which of your “hobbies” you’d like to make a career out of? Don’t sweat it- you’ve got time to try them all out.
- Never forget to take care of yourself. It is easy to let your own health and wellness fall to the wayside when life gets a bit crazy. Make sure you’re making time for bubble baths, and lazy days in bed with Netflix, and buying something nice for yourself every once in a while.
- Develop the habit of saving your money early. Somehow, I got lucky, and I am a natural saver. But my entire family…. is quite the opposite. The earlier you train yourself to save your money instead of spending it, the better!
- There will be some people in your life who leave a huge impact, and feel like they’re you’re family- don’t let those people go. Friends fight. They fall apart, they ignore each other for months, maybe years, and then they fall back together, good as new. Never give up hope on even what seems like a lost cause on someone who you hold very dear to your heart.
- Don’t be afraid to tell people you love them. Friends, family, significant others- everyone. This is something I still struggle with- it just doesn’t come naturally to tell my mom or my sister I love them, even though I do. Life is too transient to not tell the people you care about that you love them.
- It’s okay to be vulnerable. This is definitely something that has gotten easier with age. I used to loathe the idea of crying in public or in front of anyone in general, and now I seem to be crying all the time, hah! Tell the people you trust what hurts you, what makes you happy, what you’re struggling with. It’ll be okay, and it’ll also make you feel better.
- Nobody is perfect, so don’t try to be. This one speaks for itself, no? Perfectionism just leads to further issues in your life, so don’t even start.
- A great outfit can do wonders for your self esteem. Feeling down? Lazy? Tired? Depressed? Anxious? Lonely? Do your hair and makeup and put on the cutest outfit you can muster. Pair up two items you never would actually leave the house in. Experiment. Have fun with it. It’ll make you feel 10x better, promise.
- Don’t be afraid to invest money in yourself. Don’t wait until you’re 20 years old to develop a real, adult wardrobe *cough*. Drop a pretty penny on a foundation that won’t make you break out. An occasional pedicure does the body good.
- Help others. In any way shape or form. Hold the door open for strangers behind you, compliment someone on something you genuinely like about them, do something special for those less fortunate than you.
- Read more. Because books. ‘Nuff said.
- Develop routines. Morning routines, night time routines, schedules of doing your homework- routines are a magical thing. They make you feel way less stressed and they let you accomplish a lot more in the day.
- Nobody cares as much about what you’re doing as you do. That embarrassing thing you did in public, that stray hair you swear makes you look like a clown, that slightly crooked liquid eyeliner- nobody notices. They’re worrying about their own embarrassing-stray-hair-crooked-eyeliner problems.
- Learn how to say no- even to yourself- and don’t bite off more than you can chew. Have realistic expectations for yourself, and don’t try to meet other peoples unrealistic expectations. It’s okay to know you’re just not capable of doing that. It’s okay to know your limits. Respect yourself, and others will follow suit.
- Respect is a two way street, also. If you ever expect anyone to respect you, you must respect them. Elders, authority figures, peers, family, people younger than you, people with opposing opinions- respect them all. We are all human and we all deserve to be treated as such.
- Always try to remain objective and hear people out. Be open minded. Be willing to learn about why people disagree with your opinions. Don’t jump to hostility or ignorant name calling- always ask questions first.
- Family will always be there. As annoying as they seem, and often times are, they love you. You love them. They’re there for the long haul. Get to know them. Ask how they’re doing. Let them know how you’re doing- don’t wait for them to ask. Build a bond with them, and family holidays will be fun and not stressful, like most peoples’ are.
- Carpe diem. For my last lesson, I felt like this little cliche summed it all up. Seize the day…. And learn latin… just kidding. But really- seize the day. There’s only a finite number of them in your life, and an even more finite number of them you spend while young enough to do basically whatever you want. Take advantage of your time and do what you want to do, what makes you happy. Learn new skills. Make friends. Talk philosophy with loved ones. Write a book. Start a business. Go after every single one of your goals and dreams. Today, tomorrow, the day after that- they are your reality, so go out and live them.
What lessons have you learned over the years? What words of wisdom would you pass on to your younger self? Let me know in the comments!