Twenty years old.

It's hard to think that nineteen years can go so fast, and yet, here I am, approaching a new decade. As I sit here excitedly waiting for the future to unveil itself with the amazing memories and new challenges that this decade will bring, I can't help but think back on the last nineteen years and the unforgettable memories I have had as well as the challenges I have faced.

Therefore, I had felt this would be the perfect opportunity to recap on some of the most important lessons I have learned throughout my life so far in hopes that I could help out other women, because let's be real here, surviving the teenage year for any girl can be a difficult and traumatic experience.

So for anyone who can't wait for these years to be over, or who can't wait for the future, this one's for you.

1. Life will always go on.

Even when you feel the world is against you or you're having the most terrible day, trust me, life will go on, tomorrow is another day, and you are going to conquer it.

2. Spend time with your family.

I know you might think they are totally lame or over protective, but I promise you, your family will always be there for you, no matter the direction life takes you. They may not always agree with you, but they will support you and love you unconditionally, so spend time with them. You won't get these opportunities again when you work a full-time job and have a family of your own.

3. Tell your mom everything.

And I mean everything. She's going to find out either way, so it will work out a lot better for you in the long run if she hears it from you first.

4. Take risks.

In twenty years, when you look back on your life, what kind of stories do you want to tell your kids? If you tell them you came home every day after school and never went to a party or on an awesome road trip, what kind of fun is that? None at all. Take risks, go on adventures, don't look back, and live with no regrets, you will learn so much more about yourself and your future kids will think their parents were totally awesome. It's definitely a win-win.

5. Travel often.

Like I said before, you're never going to get these years back, so utilize every opportunity you can. As soon as you're done with school, the real world hits you, and that means jobs and bills and no time for spontaneous road trips, study abroad opportunities, or whatever else you can get your hands on. So travel and travel often, the memories and experiences you have will be once in a lifetime and the lessons you learn along the way will be priceless.

6. Stand up for what you believe in.

And never let anyone tell you differently. If you disagree with someone, tell them, life is too short to be uncomfortable or unhappy. And in the long run, people will have much more respect for you if you can communicate about your beliefs and values effectively.

7. Follow your passions.

If you love art and music, embrace it wholeheartedly. If science and math are more your thing, jump in headfirst. It's your life and never let anyone tell you how to live it. When I was in high school, adults told me to major in math and science or else I would never get a job as a teacher, but you know what, if I would have listened, I would have been SO unhappy because history and English are my passions. Follow your heart and do what you love, everything will fall into place exactly how it should.

8. Academics are important.

It may be just high school, but don't let that fool you. If you plan on going to a college or university in your future, the grades you get throughout all four years of high school will matter. College isn't cheap either, the better you do in high school the more opportunities for scholarships, and the fewer student loans you will have to take out. Your bank account will thank you later in life.

9. Living at home is cool.

I know everyone wants the "college experience", but if we want to be practical about it, what's so good about it anyways? You're practically broke, you gain lots of weight, and it can be super lonely. If you live at home after you graduate high school, you save lots of money, eat home cooked meals all the time, and always have your friends and family to keep you company. Plus you can still join lots of clubs or on campus organizations and still get that whole "college experience", it's like the best of both worlds.

10. Don't know what you want to do with your life? Don't stress.

Super worried because you have absolutely no idea what you want to do with your life? Don't worry! Most people go to college with no idea what they want to do, and if they do have an idea, they end up changing it anyway.

11. You're going to lose friends.

You may even lose your best friend and it's going to hurt, I'm not going to lie, but people change, and new friends are right around the corner. Stay hopeful, they may be even better.

12. You don't need a boyfriend.

Your teenage years are such a crucial part of your life for finding out who you are as a person, you don't need to add a boyfriend into the mix, it just makes everything more confusing. You have your entire life to worry about boys, enjoy the single life while it lasts. In my perspective, you can't be truly happy with a man until you are happy and confident with yourself, so find that balance and never settle for anything less than you deserve. It may be cool to have a boyfriend at the moment, but when you look back in a few years, you're going to realize it wasn't cool to have a boyfriend "just because".

13. Never be afraid to ask for help.

You can't do everything alone, and doing things with others is always more fun, so please don't be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes people will surprise you and have much more efficient ideas than you would.

14. No, you don't know everything, even if you think you do.

This is always a hard one for me, I love being in charge and hate being told what to do, but sometimes you just don't know everything and that's life. Accept the knowledge and perspectives other people share with you, it will only make you a more well-rounded person in the long-run.

15. Don't forget to have "me" days.

Feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders? It's okay to step back and do something you love like reading a book, going for a run, or coloring a picture to decompress your mind. Sometimes we get so caught up in everything that is going on in our lives whether it be school friends, work, significant others, or any other problems you may be having in your life, that we forget it's okay to take personal days doing things that you love to do. Your "To Do List" will always be never-ending, so don't stress and don't compromise your happiness.

16. Exercise and proper nutrition are important.

But don't let it completely dictate your life either. If you want the ice cream cone, have the dang ice cream cone.

17. Don't text your problems.

Proper communication is key if you want to have a successful life. Have a problem with someone or something? Don't ignore it, it will only get worse as time goes on. Also, tell them in a respectful manner face-to-face, text messages are interpreted wrong all the time.

18. Learn to forgive.

Regardless of how it difficult it may be, life is too short to hold grudges and hard feelings.

19. Never stop smiling.

Your smile is your most beautiful attribute, never stop smiling and laughing. Life would be boring and dull if you did.

20. But most importantly, always love yourself.

There's a reason I saved this one for last. As women, often times we find this the most difficult thing to do. We notice every minor imperfection about ourselves and let it run our lives. Instead of looking at all of the things you don't like about yourself, look at the things you love. No one is perfect, we all have imperfections, but learn to love yourself, and your confidence will overflow.

With that, Happy Birthday to me. I hope some of these lessons that I have learned over the first nineteen years of my life will be of benefit to you. As I enter into the next decade of my life, I can promise you I will be bringing these lessons with me and learning so much more as I go.

Enjoy your teenage years, they surely go by fast!

With love,

Your twenty-something friend.