On December 28, 2017, I celebrated my 20th birthday. I didn't take this milestone lightly because it validated that I was out of my teens and that I had somehow miraculously survived twenty years on this earth. Within my twenty years on this earth, I watched acts of terrorism bring down twin towers, I saw a television, hotel billionaire become president, and I achieved a 4.0 my first semester of sophomore year in college. I realized on my 20th birthday that I've seen many things and learned many lessons along the way and just like the title of this fabulous article, here are my 20 lessons for turning 20.
Lesson number one: do not, I repeat, DO NOT change who you are to please anybody or fit in. As a kid and for some years, I used to pretend to be someone I clearly wasn't. Instead of owning up to the fact that I collected records and movies, loved classical music, and was an avid fan of the television network TCM (ask your grandparents), I decided that pretending to like Hannah Montana, pop, and Disney was the way to go in order to fit in. After my 10th grade year of high school, enough was enough. TCM was and still is all I watch on TV, I show people my collection now (as I am still adding to it), and I crank up my old school classical music in my car and my boyfriends car whenever, where-ever with pride. Originality is the best look to have always.
Lesson number two: Ben Affleck will NEVER be Batman. As a Batman fan, who has all the movies and games I too have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly picks when it comes to the Dark Knight franchise and Ben by far is the worst pick. Honestly, I would rather see George Clooney pick up another gig as the bat. Disagree if you will, but I just can't accept the fact that in my 20 years of life, Hollywood picked Daredevil to be Batman. I mean Chasing Amy, great movie, wonderful. A fantastic piece with Ben Affleck, but that's it. Other then the movie Argo, Ben just isn't my cup of tea. I mean come on, who marries Elektra actress Jennifer Garner and then cheats? I'll tell you who, Ben Affleck. In better words, Ben is not Batman, he never will be. #SorryNotSorry
Lesson number three: if you did something wrong, it's best to own up to it. Even if you seem to have pulled the wool over everyone's eyes it will eat you up inside if you are not honest with yourself and those around you. I have done many things in the past that I am not proud of and I am sure others have done the same, but if there comes a time when you have to own up to it, do so, but if you are lucky and it's never spoke of again, make sure to never make the same mistake twice. You can live with yourself once, but more than once is just too much to hide.
Lesson number four: never allow anyone to bully you. If someone is verbally, physically, or emotionally abusing you, get the hell out. Never stay in a situation that is unhealthy no matter if it is family, friends, or a spouse/partner. I have been in this situation more than once and I allowed myself to stay because of what I thought was love, but after a while I realized that it wasn't worth the pain and excuses. Get out, be free, and enjoy life while you can. Screw anybody who says otherwise. Love is lovely, not a punching bag.
Lesson number five: read all you can while you can. Reading is something that opened up my mind, imagination, and my inner self to all there is to know. Reading is something spectacular when you have the right book in your hand. It opens up a world that can create and help make you into something you never could have imagined. The more you know, the more you see.
Lesson number six: education really is worth it. I get it, I used to hate school too and with being in college I still hate it sometimes, but every once in awhile it hits me that I am making a difference within my family and following my dreams. I didn't come from a rich family and with all the things I've been through, I am happy I didn't. Being from a lower class family helped me realize the importance of finding myself and building myself into something that is unbreakable and not afraid to stand for what is right. It is expensive by all means, but in the end, when I am my own boss, it will all be worth it. Education, once gained, can never be destroyed nor taken away. Become what you've always dreamed of and conquer all that is set forth in your path without fear.
Lesson number seven: if something isn't right in your gut, listen. Our gut feeling is the most helpful in certain situations and 9 times out of 10, it isn't wrong. When something doesn't feel right follow your instinct. Your gut feeling is the guiding light into shaping your decisions and can be the most trustworthy friend you've got. Because of this, I have lived as long as I have. Be careful and when the spidey senses starts tingling, listen good and listen hard.
Lesson number eight: your boyfriend will pretend he cares, but he doesn't. Accept who he is and move on because they all drive us bat shit crazy just the same. Don't take it the wrong way, some guys do care, but most just pretend to care so world war 3 doesn't start while you're at the mall. If guys had it there way, they would only spend an hour with us and the rest would be spent on video games, friends, beer, food, and porn with a side of masturbation. You can't blame guys though, I mean food is pretty awesome, but they can't comprehend the art of multitasking or actually giving a rats ass. Pardon the french, but my boyfriend and I have been together for over a year. I love him and he loves me. We talk about the future, we talk about kids, but he's a guy and almost always reminds me of this when we are apart for breaks within the school year. Due to him living three hours away, I can't normally kill him like I always do, but I accept him for who he is. The lovable, cuddly bear, who drinks too much, watches porn, plays with his belly button too much, might have an eating disorder from wrestling, loves his computer that he built, and drops my face-time call every-time his friend Jack breath near him, but I love him all the same and just remind myself that one day he will be bald, cranky, and just as unbearable to live with as he is now. Trust me, within my 20 years on earth, guys are still guys.
Lesson number nine: your parents may be annoying, but listen, sometimes they give the best advice. From showing you how to be the best parent, to how not to be a parent. They may even give you a good recipe for some bomb-ass margaritas. Either way, listen to your parents at their best and their worst. It's funny, truthful, and if on video could earn you some blackmailing dough. I've always tried to listen to my elders around me and some things are worth incorporating within your life.
Lesson number ten: treat EVERYONE with respect. I can not stress this enough, but remember those posters that say treat the janitor the way you would treat the boss? It's totally worth doing and using. Please Please Please do not grow up to be one of those millennials or generation x kids that are complete douche-bags and fight everyone on Facebook live at school or on back roads. I have grown up to always treat people with respect and surprisingly it's actually gotten me further in life then being an ass. So my little grasshoppers, be kind, rewind and don't be an asshole.
Lesson number eleven: be an over achiever! A lot of people will say that no one likes a suck up, I used to say it myself, but in reality over achieving and being a suck up isn't all that bad. If helps you get from point A to point B and spread your name around for others to remember you by then do it. I am a proud over achiever, I have a 4.0, and I am doing new and interesting things at college for professors and workers to notice me by. Either way, don't be afraid to do what you must in order to achieve what you want. Keep it clean, professional, and tasteful.
Lesson number twelve: if your friends are not actually your friends and the people around you aren't for you, good riddance and c'est la vie. Nobody wants to have fake people surrounding them and praying for their downfall. If people can't get with your program then ta ta cause ain't nobody got time for that! This applies to friends, family, and spouses/partners. Allowing people or a person to stay in your life who mean to do you harm is like setting yourself on fire or putting a toddler to your face to slap you, you're asking for it. Allow those who need go, to GO. Nothing good comes from leaving trash outside, throw it all away!
Lesson number thirteen: if you are lucky enough to have grandparents that are alive, and you have a good relationship with them, go see them whenever you can. My grandparents are still alive and yes they are the most annoying creatures opposed to my parents, but I love them, they took care of my brother and I, and until they leave this earth, I will take care of them and listen to their advice. Just like parents, this isn't their first rodeo, so if your grandparents have any advice to give, take it and run with it. They have been around long enough to see one or two things and if anyone knows something about anything or thinks they do, that would be your grandparents and a time to pull up a chair and listen. Out of my 20 years on this earth my meme and papa have always had something to say and it's been something worthwhile to hear. Listen with your eyes and ears.
Lesson number fourteen: do whats best for you. We all have that inner voice that might condemn us for doing something for ourselves, but in the end you need to pamper yourself and do what makes you happy. Doing whats best can be anything from changing diets, to changing men. The sad truth is no one knows whats next and this might be our only life to live, so if it is, make it one for the books and do what you can to make yourself happy and whats best. You are your own person and should know yourself from a certain age with that being said *in a smokey bear voice* only you can prevent wild fires and unhappiness. Make healthy, happy changes when it's needed.
Lesson number fifteen: learn more about and love your ancestry. Your family and it's background is very important and makes up who you are. Hell, it's the reason why you're here in the first place. Learning more about your background is the greatest gift you can give to your past, present, and future. Love where you come from and never take it for granted. I, myself tell everyone when I get the chance who I am. I am proud to say that I am Cuban, Hungarian, Cherokee, and English. You couldn't tell if you ever saw me because I can't keep a tan and talk a lot with my hands, but trust me, my ancestry pops out little by little. I love who I am and where I came from. Find the puzzle pieces and connect to where you are destined to be. Your past ancestors can help in ways you'd never believe.
Lesson number sixteen: you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. For years, I have done all I can to help my dad, but after awhile I have realized that I have done all that I can do and like Elsa I have let it go. You too will find yourself in a situation with a friend or family member and no it's not that you are giving up, it's that you have learned that there is nothing else that you can do to help that person. You get tired, you get upset and the person you are helping sees this and still does what they are doing wrong. It's not called giving up when you've done all that you could have, it's called letting it go and living for yourself. Wasting time is easy to do, don't be a sucker for a sucker.
Lesson number seventeen: don't be afraid to trust or love again. The guy I am with now has put up with a lot when it comes to me. My last relationship ripped up my trust and love and I never wanted to date anyone again. Then I met my guy, my person, the one who irks my soul and makes me want to murder him, but truth be told he taught me how to love again, how to trust again, and how to be me. There will come a person in your life who will help you get back on your feet. They may be there for a season or for a reason, the choice is up to how you treat them and how they treat you. Don't accept just anyone that comes along the yellow brick road. Keep watch, stay hopeful, and know that you are worth the wait, the time, the money, and the love that's to be given. Never back down, persevere, and know that you are loved.
Lesson number eighteen: be spontaneous. I am a planner, always have been and always will be, but every now and then I love to be spontaneous. The spur of the moment can sometimes create the best moments in life. Throughout my 20 years, I have had many spontaneous moments and I regret not a single one. The feeling of no planning, and being open is just amazing and should be done as spontaneous as conducted. Never be afraid to back away from the norms and let loose a little. You can't be too uptight all the time. Relax, open up, and be as free flowing as the sea. Live not a little, but a lotta.
Lesson number nineteen: empathize and share with others. Everyone needs a helping hand and we all need help even in times when we don't like to admit it. Never be afraid to help or be helped and never be afraid to share your feelings and thoughts. We are all human and empathizing/sharing with others is something we all need to do more of. Women stop being bitches and Men stop being Asses, bring good back into this world and help those that can't help themselves. Empathize and tune in to those around you. You might save a life, or bring yourself back to life.
Lesson number twenty: never be too serious. I always take things serious, but it doesn't pay to be serious and a shrewd in this life. Not everything is going to hell if it's not done on time, except for college work, please do that a week ahead of schedule, but in all seriousness, don't be serious. Life is too short and nobody makes it out alive. It's taken me 20 years to see this, but I am still young and able to use this lesson to the best of my ability. Everyone is going to pass on sooner or later and instead of worrying about the car, the kids, the boyfriend, and the life that someone else is leading, stop, smell the air, and look to the sky. There is so much beauty in this world, and so much more to be discovered. Seriousness can wait.
These twenty lessons have comforted me and have opened my mind and eyes to all that I have yet to discover. I am happy to have earned and learned these twenty gifts because they are what have made me into who I am. I hope these 20 lessons help and guide all that read this into where they need to be in life. Here's a bonus lesson for making it this far: Lesson number twenty-one: take nothing for granted.