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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5 Things I Want To Thank My Best Friend For

Because I don't say it enough.

What would life be without friends by your side to enjoy moments with? We often times forget how special people are to us. It is difficult to remember how important appreciation is to show.

Not only to ourselves but to other people. Life gets so chaotic and we get so involved in ourselves and just enjoying friendships that we don't stop enough to give a shout out to the people that mean the most to us. That's what this article is all about: giving appreciation to my best friend, who I don't let know enough how much I appreciate her.

1. Thank you for making golf so much better

There is not a single time where I pick up a golf club that I don't think about our fun times together. A game that is full of so much stress, mentally and physically, you were always able to make it so much more fun. Some of our stories are not appropriate for either this article or the golf course, but they continue to bring me so much joy. Thank you for pushing me to be my best on the course and off. Our journey from high school golf to college golf was one that I wouldn't trade for anything. Now, I get to be your biggest cheerleader on the sidelines and I cannot wait to see everything that the game brings for you.

3. Thank you for supporting me, good and bad

Freshman year of college when we were roommates and exploring a whole new world. From nearly tripling the amount of students at our schools to making terrible decisions, it was all new. We got the joys of exploring it together!

Cover Image Credit: Rachel Stoneburner

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Never Stop Moving Forward, But Remember Where You Started

Go through those windows of opportunity, but take a minute every now and then to look back.

Being almost halfway done with college is crazy to think about. It seems like it was so long ago when I got here, and yet everything is going by so incredibly fast. Lately I’ve been inspired to reflect more on my life, and I’ve discovered why it’s so important to do so every now and then.

“Remember where you come from.” My friend told me that the other day when we were discussing self-reflection. At first I thought about my family and where I grew up, but remembering where you come from is a lot deeper than that.

Sure I’m glad that I’m branching away from home and becoming more independent, but I’ve met people who’ve moved far away and are still the same person they were before they left.

For me, remembering where I come from is about remembering where I started mindset wise. Today I am becoming more and more involved and using as many resources as I can to create success for myself in life. Two years ago, heck even just a year ago, is a different story.

I had a very different mindset, and I thought that just ‘going with the flow’ was good enough. I stayed on top of my school work and had good grades, but that was my only priority. I didn’t make many efforts to get outside of my comfort zone because I didn’t realize how important that actually is.

Not everyone likes to get outside of their comfort zone, but I promise it’s worth it. Once you do, a whole new window of opportunities open. Go through it and don’t stop. But don’t forget to look back once in a while to reflect and remember where you started.

I’m never going to stop moving forward to reach my goals, but I’m also never going to forget where I came from. People have seen me make changes in my life, and I’ve seen that inspire them to do the same.

When I think back to where I started in college, it makes me appreciate how far I’ve come that much more. It pushes me to go even farther and work as hard as I can to reach my goals. It’s important to remember where you started because remembering that old mindset helps you to reach others who are still in it.

When I realized that I needed to get outside of my comfort zone and do more with my life, people who had been in the same position as me played a big role. I heard their stories of how much they grew from pushing themselves beyond their comfort zone. That inspired me to do the same because I knew I could.

I know that I will continue to grow as a person and expand the mindset I have today. I am still the same me, but I’m a better me because I’m working to be the best me.

Cover Image Credit: @jordanleedooley

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