20 Life Lessons Every College Girl Should Learn Before 20

20 Life Lessons Every College Girl Should Learn Before 20

Never stop smiling.

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.

Cover Image Credit: Kayla Ratajczak

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.

Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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Everyone Should Experience Working In Fast Food Or Retail

Working in fast food was definitely not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but I'm so glad I did it.


I know these jobs aren't glamorous. In fact, most days I looked forward to clocking out before I had even clocked in. I always secretly rolled my eyes when an angry customer droned on and on about how entitled he or she was. Though I can name a lot of bad things that happened on the job, it wasn't all horrible. As I reflect on my time working in fast food, I realize how much having that job really taught me and how grateful I am to have had that experience. I really think everyone should work in fast food or retail at some point, and here's why:

You make some great friends from work. I get it, sometimes your co-workers are royal jerks or flat out creeps. You see your name on the schedule next to theirs and immediately try switching with someone else. I've been there. However, I have worked with some amazing people as well.

Every time I worked with one girl in particular, we laughed for entire shifts. One night, we were singing the national anthem at the top of our lungs without realizing a customer had come in (to our surprise, she applauded our terrible screaming). Another coworker and I turned up the radio on full blast when business was slow and had dance battles. We made the most of our shifts, and I still talk to some of these people today.

You learn how to deal with difficult people. It's the age-old story: the uppity customer thinks twelve dollars for a meal combo is outrageous and Where is your manager?!

My friend and I were once called stupid and a customer said he would never come back to our restaurant to eat ever again. At the moment, we were scared out of our minds because we were both pretty new to the job. As time passed, we became more patient and tolerant and knew what triggered these particular customers. Dealing with these adversities definitely helps in the long run, particularly when it comes to doing group work with people who seem unbearable.

Your people skills increase by a landslide. I had always thought that I was great with people before I had a job. However, when I found myself in situations where I had to talk to strangers, I would grow nervous and stumble across my words from time to time. Working in an environment where communicating with others is a driving force helped me not only with improving my public speaking, but also made me more outgoing. In situations where I once backed into the corner to avoid having to talk to someone, I now take charge and initiate a conversation.

You establish a connection with regular customers. My favorite customer was named Jack. He was the sweetest old man who came in every Wednesday and Friday and bought food for himself and his wife. I quickly memorized his order, which impressed him. We shared pleasantries every time he came in, and my coworkers and I looked forward to seeing him.

Establishing a relationship with people who come in a lot helps immensely when it comes to working. It also provides a sense of accomplishment when you memorize an order. Not to mention, the customers start to like you and typically leave a generous tip!

You have stories to tell for a lifetime! Sometimes bad things happen at work. Once I was holding a hot pan and burned my arm— I still have the burn mark on my arm to prove it. My point is, it sucked at the moment, but now I look back and laugh.

One time I asked my coworker how to make soup and she replied, "Slowly, but beautifully." It was so nonchalant that I cracked up for hours. There was also a time when a customer asked me for outlandish toppings and condiments that we didn't offer. The craziest story, though, was the drug deal that went down in our public restrooms. My coworker and I obviously could not leave our station and follow these people into the bathroom, so we were pretty much defenseless. Nobody got hurt or anything, so it made for a great story.

Working in fast food was definitely not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but I'm so glad I did it. It made me more independent and outgoing and gave me memories I'll never forget.

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