20 Lessons I Learned Before Turning 20

20 Lessons I Learned Before Turning 20

Life is full of lessons. Here are the 20 most important ones I've learned throughout the years.
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In honor of my upcoming 20th birthday, I took some time to reflect on the life lessons I've learned over the years. Though I'm still young, I have definitely learned a thing or two about this thing called life. Here are 20 lessons that I've learned in the last 20 years:

1. It's OK to not have a plan

As someone who hates uncertainty, this was a tough lesson to learn. I might not know exactly what I want to do once I graduate from college, but I don't find that very stressful. Instead, a view it as being open to many possibilities and not being rigid on which direction life takes me. Sometimes, uncertainty is a good thing.

2. Material things shouldn't matter

Especially in middle school, I was way too overly concerned with brand names and just material items in general. Now, though, I realize that just because you have something with a fancy label doesn't necessarily mean a boost in happiness or life satisfaction. There are more important things in life.

3. Your mom is your best friend, not your worst enemy

Between roughly third and eleventh grade, my mom and I did not get along well. This was mostly because I was an overdramatic and highly sensitive child who was under the delusion that my mom wanted to ruin my life. I'm so glad that those days are behind me. As I've gotten older, I've come to understand my mom more and where she's coming from. Now I consider my mom my best friend.

4. When making big decisions, your opinion matters the most

Though I do respect and prize the opinions of family and friends, I have come to the realization that when it comes down to it, your opinion is what matters the most. This may seem obvious, but it's actually quite difficult to distinguish where your opinion on a matter ends and another person's opinion begins. You have to make sure that your decision, especially on big matters, is truly yours.

5. Some people are just mean for no reason

This is hard to accept sometimes, but it's true. Some people are just jerks. It has nothing to do with you or anything that you did. Some people just enjoy being mean and for some reason have no problem behaving that way towards you. We have all dealt with this types of people throughout the years, and all I have to say on it is that you just have to do your best not to take it too personally.

6. Do what makes you happy

Why do we force ourselves to do things that make us miserable? Going into college, I was planning on pursuing a STEM major and going towards a stable and in-demand career path. However, I hated the course work. Long story short, changing my major was the best decision I made. Even though my future is more uncertain, I'm passionate about what I'm learning about now.

7. Eat what you want

Starting my junior year of high school, I decided to start eating healthier and exercising more. What could be wrong with that, right? However, I took it too far and found myself bummed out that I couldn't eat any of my favorite foods anymore. I stopped being so restrictive with my diet awhile ago, and I'm so glad I did. Life is all about balance. You should never not eat dessert if you really want to.

8. What's 'cool' isn't always right - or even cool

I look back on my middle school and high school years and realize that a lot of what the 'cool' kids were doing - whether it was wearing those colorful rubber band bracelets, skipping class, or vaping in the halls - was actually straight up stupid. Peer pressure is a powerful thing, but it's important to keep your own morals intact and not be dragged down a path that you have no interest in.

9. Dark times don't last forever

We all go through times where everything seems to suck. Sometimes, it feels as if nothing will ever get better. And honestly? These dark times can last weeks, months, or even years. But they do not last forever. Things might not magically get better overnight, but gradually things will start to improve. Before you know it, you will be out of the darkness.

10. Happiness can be found in the smallest of things

I use to think - and, well, I still sometimes think - that happiness can only be found in grand vacations, hoards of friends, or an epic shopping spree. But that is just not true at all. I have found over the years that a simple walk outside or listening to a good song is enough to bring me happiness. It's the little things.

11. You aren't defined by your high school years

I know that this is something that is drilled into all of our heads while we are in high school, but you never really believe it until you have moved past high school. Once you're in college or out in the real world, no one really cares if you played varsity all four years or if you sat alone at lunch for a whole year. Even though these are things that can define us, they don't have to. It's up to us.

12. Everything will work out in the end

This is something that I have to constantly be reminded of, especially during finals. Even though things might seem overwhelming, stressful, or just plain horrible, things do have a way of working themselves out in the end - just maybe not always in the ways we expect.

13. You should care about the world around you

Stop thinking about yourself for once and start thinking about others. It took me awhile, but I now know to be conscious of what's going on in the world and that it's good to be passionate about certain causes. Also, I appreciate more of just what the world has to offer.

14. If you want to achieve your goals you have to work hard

The biggest goals that I have achieved so far in my life were all earned by working really, really hard, and that is definitely no consequence. Success does not come to those who sit around and wait for it to happen to them. You have to make it happen for yourself.

15. Practicing self-care on a daily basis should be a priority

Though it's important to work hard, it's also important to make sure you are able to rest as well. You have to take care of yourself or else you will break. This is something that I often forget but am getting better at practicing. Even when I feel like I'm swamped, I still make sure to give myself a break to watch an episode of Netflix or take a walk outside.

16. Do what you want instead of worrying about what others might think

It's painfully constricting to go through life being super self-conscious of everything that you do. You have to let go of any fear or apprehension you have and just live your life. Who cares if you look like an idiot? You live your life for you, not others.

17. Be selfish and don't feel bad about it

This might sound awful, but I think a lot of people need to learn to be more selfish. Not self-absorbed, but more willing to put their needs above others from time to time. There are so many people - myself included - that are constantly stretching themselves thin for other people and are offered nothing in return. Though I would happily do this for most people, you also have to know when enough is enough.

18. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it

Being independent and just a little bit proud, I hate having to ask for help most of the time. For some reason, I feel like it shows weakness. This is definitely not true. Only recently have I begun to feel more comfortable asking others for help, and it makes life so much easier. You should never be afraid to use the resources around you. And most of the time people are more than happy to lend a helping hand.

19. Appreciate everyone who shows you kindness

I can't emphasize this enough. You shouldn't take for granted the people that chose to show you kindness no matter what happens. These are the most important people in your life, and you have to treat them as such. Whether it's your parents, siblings, best friend, significant other or pet, make sure you let them know that they are special to you.

20. Time flies by

This is probably the most powerful lesson I have learned. As I grow older, the years seem to go by faster and faster. Months end before I am able to absorb that they even began. I know that true adulthood - life after college graduation - is going to be here before I know it, and that's both exciting and terrifying.

Though I have learned more lessons that I can count in the last almost 20 years of my life, these are the ones that stick out to me as some of the most important. I have learned a lot, and I can't wait to see what else life has in store for me.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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10 Things Someone Who Grew Up In A Private School Knows

The 10 things that every private school-goer knows all too well.

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1. Uniforms

Plaid. The one thing that every private school-goer knows all too well. It was made into jumpers, skirts, shorts, scouts, hair ties, basically anything you could imagine, the school plaid was made into. You had many different options on what to wear on a normal day, but you always dreaded dress uniform day because of skirts and ballet flats. But it made waking up late for school a whole lot easier.

2. New people were a big deal

New people weren't a big thing. Maybe one or two a year to a grade, but after freshman year no one new really showed up, making the new kid a big deal.

3. You've been to school with most of your class since Kindergarten


Most of your graduating class has been together since Kindergarten, maybe even preschool, if your school has it. They've become part of your family, and you can honestly say you've grown up with your best friends.

4. You've had the same teachers over and over

Having the same teacher two or three years in a row isn't a real surprise. They know what you are capable of and push you to do your best.

5. Everyone knows everybody. Especially everyone's business.

Your graduating class doesn't exceed 150. You know everyone in your grade and most likely everyone in the high school. Because of this, gossip spreads like wildfire. So everyone knows what's going on 10 minutes after it happens.

6. Your hair color was a big deal

If it's not a natural hair color, then forget about it. No dyeing your hair hot pink or blue or you could expect a phone call to your parents saying you have to get rid of it ASAP.

7. Your school isn't like "Gossip Girl"

There is no eating off campus for lunch or casually using your cell phone in class. Teachers are more strict and you can't skip class or just walk right off of campus.

8. Sports are a big deal

Your school is the best of the best at most sports. The teams normally go to the state championships. The rest of the school that doesn't play sports attends the games to cheer on the teams.

9. Boys had to be clean-shaven, and hair had to be cut

If you came to school and your hair was not cut or your beard was not shaved, you were written up and made to go in the bathroom and shave or have the head of discipline cut your hair. Basically, if you know you're getting written up for hair, it's best just to check out and go get a hair cut.

10. Free dress days were like a fashion show

Wearing a school uniform every day can really drive you mad. That free dress day once a month is what you lived for. It was basically a fashion show for everyone, except for those upperclassmen who were over everything and just wore sweat pants.

Cover Image Credit: Authors Photos

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Pay Attention To The Signs

There's always a higher purpose.

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The other day, I was having a rough night, one of those nights where you feel like you did everything wrong. I sat down to text a friend about everything, and as I did, I noticed that the time was 11:22. For those of you who know me, you know that the number 11 is so important to me, and the fact that 22 is a multiple of 11 made that number stand out even more.

Because of all this, I decided to look up the meaning of the number 1122. The words that I found online were ones that resonated with me greatly, and brought me to a greater understanding of the situation I was in and what I needed to do to move forward. The things I found online encouraged me to let go of people or things that are toxic to me, and to rid myself of negativity.

As I sit here two days later, I know that it is no coincidence that since then, I felt compelled to open up and share how I was feeling about another situation with a friend of mine.

Whether we notice it or not, our lives are consistently being shaped and guided by patterns and signs that lead us to our higher self and higher path.

All it takes is a certain awareness of what is going on in our life. When we take the time to notice the signs that are all around us, we are led to remember that this world is bigger than we are, and that we are constantly being supported and guided by forces greater than we are.

Whether you call that force God, the Universe, angels, or just believe in the general common good and sense of life purpose, the same idea applies, no matter who you are.

Sometimes, we just need some reassurance that everything is going to be okay, that we are still on the right path, no matter what is currently going on.

Let yourself pay attention to the ways in which the little things in your life, whether it be numbers you see, quotes that stand out, that person you just happened to run into who told you something you needed to hear.

Whatever it is, pay attention to those everyday signs that remind you how strong and capable you are.

In the end, I truly believe we are connected to something greater, and that common purpose unites us all and gives us the ability to be reminders for each other.

Recognize the signs in your life, and if they compel you to act, do so. If they compel you to stay right where you are, do that too. Here's to letting go of that need to constantly control everything going on and instead, being open to be guided to our path.


Talk soon,

Sam

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