20 Things I've Learned In 20 Years That Everyone Should Take With Them

20 Things I've Learned In 20 Years That Everyone Should Take With Them

You have a lifetime to celebrate figuring yourself out.

Last week, I turned 20. Two whole decades. It’s weird because I still feel like a kid, but I know I'm supposed to be an adult. Does that ever go away? I hope so.

20 isn't that old, I know, but it feels a lot older than 19.

On one hand, I want to be a teenager forever, but on the other hand, I want to actually be taken seriously. While I still really have no idea what I'm doing in general, I've learned a lot of important lessons in my 20 years. Here are 20 of those lessons:

1. Your friends are what you make them.

Friendship goes both ways. It's important that your friends make an effort to actually be your friend, but it's also important that you do the same. Treasure your friends, celebrate their existence.

You're not being clingy when you ask your friends to hang out – that's normal, and if someone has a problem with that, they don't deserve you.

2. Grades don't measure intelligence.

Your entire self-worth is not equivalent to the D you just got on that essay. Or that math test. It's not that big of a deal. In the long run, no one cares.

This isn't to say you shouldn't try, but your intelligence comes from your experiences, so make the most of those.

3. Best friends are soulmates.

You can definitely have more than one soulmate in life, and one of them is going to be your best friend, your day one, your ride-or-die. Never let them go.

Tell them the capital-T Truth, support them, make playlists with them, laugh with them. Go do relatively boring stuff with them and realize how much fun you have regardless. Always tell them you love them.

4. College doesn’t have to be the amazing, life-altering acid-trip we see in movies.

Yes, you’ll find out a lot about yourself and have a lot of fun, but take it seriously. Living out loud doesn’t have to stop once you graduate and get a job.

You have a lifetime to celebrate figuring yourself out.

5. Good books can be life-saving.

Immerse yourself in stories that you could never imagine. You’ll feel so much better.

Here are some suggestions: “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, “Big Sur” by Jack Kerouac, “A Mercy” by Toni Morrison and “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau.

6. Sleep isn’t just for the weak.

Please sleep, and do it well. If you need a melatonin, take a melatonin. Eight hours.

7. You are not what has happened to you.

You are your favorite books, your best friends, your favorite songs, your thoughts, your habits, your favorite foods, your biggest dreams, your style, your college major, your favorite style of art.

Don't use the bad things that have happened to you as an excuse for not living your life authentically. My dad passed away last year, so trust me, I’ve tried it, and it just makes things worse.

Don’t forget, but don’t dwell.

8. Save half, spend half.

Budgeting really is important, sorry. Mostly everyone hates it, but it’s way better than going broke. Save half of every paycheck.

9. Be good to people.

Seriously, stop being rude to people for no reason. Stop judging people for how they look or for how they acted during a five-second interaction with you.

You'd see that there’s a lot more under the surface if you actually cared enough to find out.

10. Stop trying to find comfort in every situation.

You don’t need to tailor new experiences to your comfort zone. Live a little. Everyone else is making the same mistakes and surviving, and you will, too.

Let yourself be nervous – it means you care.

11. Siblings are irreplaceable, priceless and magnificent.

Especially mine. They’ll always be your number ones. Much like best friends, they're soulmates. They’re not so bad once you actually talk to them.

12. Hate is learned, not inherent.

Do not let hate fester, especially not in young minds (see number 18). Love, accept, embrace, educate, understand.

Tolerance isn’t enough. “Thoughts and prayers” aren't enough. Blissful ignorance is detrimental. Do something to change the way things are going right now.

13. Travel.

If anything, the saved portion of your paycheck should be used for traveling. See the world, meet new people and immerse yourself in different cultures while you still can. You’ll never regret it.

14. Put your phone down.

For the love of God, take a break. Talk to your mom. Pet your dog. Go get some Vitamin D. Unglue your eyes from the screen, and look at a bird or something.

If your phone is the first thing you think about in the morning, you’re addicted. Tone it down.

15. Think critically.

Invoke your inner David Foster Wallace and realize that you’re not the only person in the world with problems. Everyone else is frustrated, too, and they have reasons for it.

I’m not saying you should actively enjoy being stuck in traffic or waiting in line at the grocery store, but know that the world isn’t ending when something minuscule doesn’t go your way. Consider others.

16. Counting calories is stupid and unnecessary.

And so is counting carbs. If you have no medical reason to be doing it, you shouldn’t be doing it – you’ll be miserable. Just make sure you’re living a balanced lifestyle, and don’t keep yourself from indulging every once in a while.

17. Moms are really f***ing awesome.

Talk about strong women. Face it, you'd be nothing without your mom, and you can't thank her enough for giving you a loving kick in the ass every time you've messed up.

We'll never be able to repay them, but we can treat them like the queens they are in the meantime.

I love you, mom.

18. Kids are a lot smarter than adults.

If you can, sit down and have a real conversation with your baby siblings, your little cousins or the kids you babysit.

Ask them what they want to be when they grow up. They’ll tell you that they want to be eight different things at once, and then they’ll tell you exactly why and how they’ll be great at all of them.

Pay attention to how they view the world (see #12).

19. Voting is SO IMPORTANT.

On a serious note, voting is the bedrock of democracy, and there are a lot of people trying to undermine that right now. Please go vote the minute you’re legally allowed to.

I don’t care who you vote for, as long as they’re not genuinely evil. Just vote, and vote at every single level. Utilize that privilege.

20. Stop doubting yourself.

You’re going to do great. You’re going to be great. Remember that your great isn’t going to look like anyone else’s great. Work hard, and don’t cheat. You’ll be okay.

Cover Image Credit: Annie Bolin

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To The Girl Who Had A Plan

A letter to the girl whose life is not going according to her plan.
“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” - William Ernest Henley

Since we were little girls we have been asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We responded with astronauts, teachers, presidents, nurses, etc. Then we start growing up, and our plans change.

In middle school, our plans were molded based on our friends and whatever was cool at the time. Eventually, we went to high school and this question became serious, along with some others: “What are your plans for college?” “What are you going to major in?” “When do you think you’ll get married?” “Are you going to stay friends with your friends?” We are bombarded with these questions we are supposed to have answers to, so we start making plans.

Plans, like going to college with our best friends and getting a degree we’ve been dreaming about. Plans, to get married as soon as we can. We make plans for how to lose weight and get healthy. We make plans for our weddings and children.

SEE ALSO: 19 Pieces Of Advice From A Soon-To-Be 20-Year-Old

We fill our Pinterest boards with these dreams and hopes that we have, which are really great things to do, but what happens when you don’t get into that college? What happens when your best friend chooses to go somewhere else? Or, what if you don’t get the scholarship you need or the awards you thought you deserved. Maybe, the guy you thought you would marry breaks your heart. You might gain a few pounds instead of losing them. Your parents get divorced. Someone you love gets cancer. You don’t get the grades you need. You don’t make that collegiate sports team. The sorority you’re a legacy to, drops you. You didn’t get the job or internship you applied for. What happens to you when this plan doesn’t go your way?

I’ve been there.

The answer for that is “I have this hope that is an anchor for my soul.” Soon we all realize we are not the captain of our fate. We don’t have everything under control nor will we ever have control of every situation in our lives. But, there is someone who is working all things together for the good of those who love him, who has a plan and a purpose for the lives of his children. His name is Jesus. When life takes a turn you aren’t expecting, those are the times you have to cling to Him the tightest, trusting that His plan is what is best. That is easier said than done, but keep pursuing Him. I have found in my life that His plans were always better than mine, and slowly He’s revealing that to me.

The end of your plan isn’t the end of your life. There is more out there. You may not be the captain of your fate, but you can be the master of your soul. You can choose to be happy despite your circumstances. You can change directions at any point and go a different way. You can take the bad and make something beautiful out of it, if you allow God to work in your heart.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Patiently Waiting With An Impatient Heart

So, make the best of that school you did get in to. Own it. Make new friends- you may find they are better than the old ones. Apply for more scholarships, or get a job. Move on from the guy that broke your heart; he does not deserve you. God has a guy lined up for you who will love you completely. Spend all the time you can with the loved one with cancer. Pray, pray hard for healing. Study more. Apply for more jobs, or try to spend your summer serving others instead. Join a different club or get involved in other organizations on campus. Find your delight first in God and then pursue other activities that make you happy; He will give you the desires of your heart.

My friend, it is going to be OK.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Beavers Photography

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The Most Important Things I've Learned From Taking Philosophy

The biggest takeaways that I have collected from my time in my Philosophy class.


When registering for classes for Fall 2018, I found myself drawn to Philosophy 126: Mind, Brain, Self & Evolution. I figured the class would give me the opportunity to perform a lot of introspection during my first semester at college while also helping me fulfill some General Education requirements, and I couldn't have been more right. I've never had the pleasure of taking a class with such a loose agenda and the freedom to discuss every aspect of the information we are learning. That said, there have been a few major takeaways from this class.

First is the idea that you are not the sum of your parts, but the sum of your parts and the parts of everyone around you. Most people have heard the overused quote "It takes a village to raise a child," but this idea couldn't be more than true. We subconsciously pull so many of our habits, preferences, etc. from the people around us that we ultimately grow to become a community within ourselves, and there is something truly beautiful about that. It takes a village to raise a child to become a village.

Second, I've learned how important it is to understand that if some big philosophical or psychological or physical problem has not been solved yet, there is rarely going to be one solution to it. Millions of years of group thought have placed us in the intellectual shoes we are in, and yet we still question every day what our "purpose" is. There are thousands of theories and possible answers to this question, but who's to say that they aren't all correct? Some aspects of life are just too subjective to be answered objectively.

Lastly is the separation between gaining knowledge and experiential learning. Both are arguably equal in their significance, but we don't truly think about how immensely different the two concepts are until we are forced to. In philosophy, there is a theory centered around this experimental design called "Mary's Room." The story is that a woman named Mary has lived in a black and white room her whole life but has grown up learning everything about color and the human reaction to it (biologically, psychologically, etc.).

Once the door to her room is opened and she sees the color red for the first time, she has just learned something new despite already knowing everything there is to know about the concept of color. Experience is the most important part of the human condition and should not be disregarded when it comes to learning.

There are so many aspects of our existence that we never consider on a daily basis simply because we don't have to. There is something unique about people who are in touch with themselves spiritually: they have a greater understanding not just of who they are, but of who they are in relation to the rest of the world. In a fast-paced, Type A world it is especially easy to lose sight of the importance of experiencing humanity, and we often take this beautiful gift for granted.

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