19 things I learned before turning 20
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19 Things I Learned Before I Turned 20.

The lessons I've learned that maybe you need to hear, too.

Megan Conroy

I turn 20 on December 13th. (Yeah, I share a birthday with Taylor Swift. No big deal.) I've been doing a lot of internal reflecting for the past few weeks. I've learned some important lessons in my nineteen years of living, especially in the more recent years. Sometimes, there are lessons you learn that you can't consciously realize. I figured it would be beneficial for me, and maybe for you, to write down what I've learned so far.

1. Don't be ashamed or apologize for your passions. 


If you are lucky enough to have a passion that is able to get you out of bed in the morning, hold onto it. If you have a passion that is able to overwhelm you with joy and excitement, hold onto it.

It doesn't matter what it is, as long as it's important to you. If it's books, music, if it's cooking, if it's singing, if it's musicals, if it's sports. Whatever it is, hold onto it and let it be an important part of your life. Passion is important.

2. It is okay to let go of people who hinder your personal growth. 


As we grow up, we bounce around different friend groups. On some occasions, we keep our elementary school friends, and sometimes even middle school friends. We stick with the people who like the same things we do, who make us laugh, and all that jazz. But those people change the same way you do. As you grow up and mature, you evolve. It's simply human nature. And sometimes, the people we wanted to surround ourselves with hold us back. It becomes draining to be around them, and as painful as it may be, sometimes you need to let go in order for you to keep evolving.

3. Just because someone does something differently does not mean it's better. 


I've learned this one recently. In fact, I'm still trying to learn it. I'm an English and Creative Writing Major, and I'm currently in a poetry writing class where we do workshops each week. We receive a packet that contains a poem from each member of the class that I am required to read.

The first time we got a packet, I was incredibly intimidated by my classmates work. In my head, it seemed better than mine and that mine was just plain awful. With some talking off-the-ledge from a friend, I slowly began to realize that someone else's talent does not mean I lack talent of my own. Just because someone does something in their own way, doesn't make your way bad. It makes you different, and that's the way it should be. Everyone should express themselves creatively and be proud of the way they do so.

4. Be more present and in the moment. 

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)


In our current society, we have a phone problem. Teenagers everywhere can be found nearly always running into other people, or even poles and trees because they're walking from a to b while their mind is on their screen. Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook.

We want everyone else to see how great our lives are that sometimes we forget to actually live our great moments.

I'm guilty of being on my phone often, don't get me wrong. I take most of my pictures on my handy little device throughout the day. I'm also guilty of wanting to capture my moments while I live them, but I can't decide if this is always a negative thing. Put your phone down, live in the moment, you don't want to miss it.

5. Just because you fail one test doesn't mean the world will come crashing to an end. 


I understand, trust me. You put hours and hours into studying, stressing, and wanting to do well. You put studying over sleep, sometimes forget that in order to live you also have to eat, etc. I get it. You work so damn hard, and then when the test comes back, your heart sinks. You immediately feel as though, y'know, the sky is falling. But take a breath. The sky is still up there, looking beautiful as always. One test does not determine your fate, and does not make you stupid or incompetent. You can sulk, sure. But don't forget to pick yourself back up and try again.

6. People change people.

Season 2, Episode 3 of Girl Meets World: Girl Meets The Secret of Life


I'm going to be straight up with you, I learned this one from a tv show I started watching because of Boy Meets World. I used to watch Boy Meets World every day after school in middle school, so it made an impact on me.

I watched the cheesy, but still an impactful sequel on Disney Channel. Cory explains to the kids one day, the secret to life: People change people.

I remember sitting on the couch after the episode in complete silence and allowing it to sink in. Now, I wasn't going into the depth of life's secrets or anything. It wasn't that kind of epiphany. However, it was an epiphany. I realized that everyone you meet, even the people you see on the street, make an imprint on you. Your friends, your family, your significant other. Each person that graces your life changes you. Sometimes it's for the better, other times not. Either way, you learn something from each person and that's an important thing to be aware of.

7. When times are tough, it's important to still focus on the good. 


I listen to a podcast called Thick & Thin. A Youtuber, Katy Bellotte is the one who makes the episodes. She's twenty-four, fresh out of college, living in New York City, and working for L'Oreal. (Basically, she's kicking ass.) Her podcast is stories and lessons she's learned, and it's a religion for me. The last two weeks of my life have been –– rough. I was stressed, and I'll save you the details, but there was a lot of crying. I was sitting in the dining hall and listening to that week's episode where she was talking about how she also had a rough week. But, she focused on the good. This inspired me to make a list of all of the good things in my life, even when I feel the absolute worst. It makes the tough time a little easier.

8. Be easy on yourself. 


Kind of going hand in hand with number four, we live in an age of social media. This means that every day when we scroll through our Instagram feeds, we see people living their best lives. Or, at least what looks like the best lives from their best angles and the best picture out of the seventy they probably took.

We compare ourselves to the unrealistic standards of models or social media influencers. We compare ourselves to other people at school, in our lives. We compare, compare, compare.

It's an unhealthy habit that I think we've all had ingrained in us from a young age, even with magazines and tv shows. This makes it that much more difficult to break the habit. At some point in our lives, we have to learn how to break it and accept that what we do is great, too.

You don't have to be a model or someone posting beautiful pictures on Instagram all the time. You can be you, and also post whatever you want on Instagram. Do your thing, but do your best to not compare your thing to someone else's.

9. "You aren't whole unless someone loves you" is a lie.


"I think it's very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person."― Oscar Wilde

Everyone wants to be loved. It's a natural human trait to want love and affection. You are not needy or dramatic if you want human interaction, affection, and whatever else comes with those things. Everyone deserves love, a really great love. However, you are still a whole person without a significant other. There isn't a magical ceremony when you start dating someone because wow, you're whole now! You found the other half of you, and now you can be seen as a functioning person!


You are a living, breathing, entire person whether or not you are in a relationship. You don't need a relationship to validate your thoughts, feelings, actions, or entire being.

10. You are enough. 

This one does not need a fancy gif or anything, I feel like everyone needs to hear this. Your actions, your art, your feelings, your life, you are enough.

11. Don't wait around for your "prince charming".


Or your princess, or your non-binary royalty on a white horse. This was another episode of Thick & Thin (can you tell I go hard for Katy?) where she discusses not waiting for that person to come sweep you off your feet. A little fantasy never hurts anybody, but focusing solely on that someone is not going to get you anywhere. Prioritize yourself, your work, your passions, and that romance will come to you eventually. Don't fret.

"She quietly expected great things to happen to her, and no doubt that's one of the reasons why they did."

— Zelda Fitzgerald

12. Sometimes you need a break, and there's nothing wrong with that. 


If you haven't had this realization yet, life is difficult. College is difficult. Working is difficult. There is a constant stress on your mind and body, and it will take a toll on you. It's exhausting. It is okay to admit that you are exhausted. Sometimes, you have to power through it for one reason or another. This is okay too. But, after all of the powering through it, rest.

Rest in the middle of powering through it. Take a break, take some time to be by yourself. I think everyone should be able to be alone with themselves and not feel weird about it. Alone time is necessary, and so is taking a break. Do something you love, or take a nap, which you could also love.

13. A good cup of coffee can fix damn near anything. 


Admittedly, it takes me a cup of coffee to be a functional person. Sometimes, even two. I may have a problem, but that's a thought for another time. While the caffeine energy and rush is nice, I'm genuinely comforted by a cup of coffee, especially of the cappuccino kind. Cappuccino's have saved many of my days, and I'm not even entirely sure why. I swear by it, though.

14. Speak Up. Stand up for yourself. 


Brooke Davis should be a role model for everyone. Her character growth is wonderful, also a topic for another day.

I used to be the girl who stayed quiet. If something bothered me, I let it eat me up. I never stood up for myself, and I struggled to stand up for other people, too. But, as I grew up and experienced more, I realized that if I don't stand up for myself, who will? Other than my parents, they'd go to war for me. I knew I had to stand up for myself, and eventually that I have to stand up for other people, as well. My friends, my family, and the people who cannot speak up for themselves. Everyone has a voice, use yours.

15. People are going to have opinions. 


They are not always going to be the same as yours. They sometimes may try to push your buttons for this reason. In this case, you have to try to stay calm, no matter how difficult it may be. Some people just generally have ignorant opinions and need to be educated, so educate them. Some people just want to get under your skin, don't let them. Brush yourself off, and walk away, knowing that your opinion is yours and cannot be taken from you.

16. Don't dwell on hate and negativity. 


You're sitting there saying, "easier said than done, Megan." I know. I don't have the secret to positivity and letting go, but I can tell you that when you start, it'll take such a weight off your shoulders.

17. You are exactly where you need to be. 

via tumblr

It's so, so easy to look back into the past and think about what was. It's also easy to look into the future and wish you were there already. But, like I said, live in the moment. You are not who you were back then for good reason. You will get to the future, but you have to work to get there. You are doing what you need to be doing, you are happy with where you are. And if you're not, change it. Be where you need to be, do what makes you happy.

18. Self care isn't always face masks and bath bombs. 


I am not bashing on face masks and bath bombs, I adore both of them. I think that sometimes, that's what you need: to take a bath, do a face mask, then watch a movie all cozy in your bed. That's not what you need every time.

Sometimes, self care is just taking a shower, even though it sounds so simple. Other days, you have to make a to do list and get it all done. That is self care. Reflecting, journaling, that is self care. Self care is bettering yourself, and sometimes that means other things than face masks. Take good care of yourself.

19. You are constantly growing. 

via awselfcare on tumblr

You are not the same person you were when you were ten. You are not the same person you were in middle school. You are not the same person you were two years ago or even last year.

You're not supposed to be.

You learn from your mistakes, you learn from the people in your life, and you grow. You are constantly growing as a person, even when you aren't aware of it. Sometimes it can be scary, but it is never a bad thing. You should be changing and growing, it's a beneficial part of life. Keep going, keep growing.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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