Yes, I'm just another soon-to-be 20-year old girl writing about what she's learned in the 1st 20 years of life, and no, I am not ashamed about it.
I think there's something so valuable about reflecting on the lessons you have learned, and there's something even more valuable about writing them all down so that in another 20 years I can go back and see just how little I know right now.
In my only 20 years of life, I have learned a lot: some about myself, some about others, and some about life in general. So as my birthday approaches, I feel that there is no better time than now to look back and see what I learned these past 20 years.
1. There is no "right" way to live.
I know people my age planning their weddings, having kids, and some even settled into their life-long job, and I know others who can hardly get themselves out of bed because they're so hungover from partying the night before.
Everyone has their own path. As long as you're happy with where you are, that's all that matters.
2. Not everyone is meant to stay in your life forever, and that's OK.
Friends, family, and significant others will come and go, most at no fault of your own. My life became so much more peaceful when I realized that.
3. Self-love is a constant work in progress.
Some days I look in the mirror and say "damnnnnn girl, you're looking good today," and others I cringe at my reflection, but no matter what kind of day it is, I challenge myself to find at least one positive attribute that I have.
I know that if I keep doing that, one day it will come easy. Until then, I'm content knowing I'm trying.
4. You have to celebrate the small victories.
Sometimes waking up for your 8 a.m. is the only productive thing you'll do that day, and that's alright.
Stop and get yourself a cookie on your way back from class — you deserve it.
5. Love is more than a feeling — it's a choice.
At first, love is truly all butterflies and rainbows, but after a while, you lose that fluttering feeling in your belly when you see them and things start to get hard.
When things get hard, you have to make a choice; is this relationship worth fighting for?
Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't, and both are OK. Life and love become so much easier when you realize that
6. There is something positive in everything. Sometimes you just have to look extra hard to find it.
You might not realize it while you're going through something, but when you look back in a few days, weeks, months, or years, you'll realize that that boy who broke your heart taught you how to love yourself.
Every person you come into contact with or every situation you feel stuck in teaches you something...eventually.
7. Take as many pictures as you can, you won't regret it.
One day they will be all that you have to remember someone or something by, and you'll appreciate your past self for capturing those moments
8. Holding yourself accountable is hard but necessary.
No one wants to admit they did something wrong, but there comes a time in your life where you're too old to keep making up excuses for bad habits.
So what if you did a bad thing?
Everyone has, but you need to act like an adult and fix it. So many arguments, lost friendships, and broken relationships can be saved with a simple, "I'm sorry".
9. Don't sweat the small stuff.
So what if your best friend didn't invite you out to lunch with her and her other friends or you forgot to turn in a 5 point assignment?
I promise in just a few weeks you'll forget those things even happened, so why worry about them?
You'll miss out on some awesome friendships, opportunities, etc. if you spend your whole life being upset.
10. Dance as much as you can.
I promise, you will never regret having a dance sesh, alone or with others, but what you will regret is not taking that step onto the dance floor or joining your friends on that table at the frat party.
You might feel silly, but some of the best memories are made while dancing.
11. There will always be someone who's mad at the decisions you make.
No matter what you do, someone's always going to disagree.
That's why it's important to not only learn to ignore people and their opinions, but also to make sure you're always doing what makes YOU the happiest.
12. You don't have to have it all figured out.
This is probably the most important thing I have learned yet. No one ever has it all figured out, and if someone says they do they are lying.
Most people can't tell you what they are having for dinner that night, never mind what they are going to be doing 10 years from now.
So don't be so hard on yourself for not knowing what school you want to go to, what career you want to have, whether you want to get married or not, etc. Just take things as they come and you'll be much happier.
13. Never underestimate the power of your words.
You might think your mom forgot about the time you got mad and called her a b*tch or that your best friend doesn't remember you telling her how beautiful and worthy she was after her boyfriend dumped her.
But, I can guarantee you the important people remember everything you've said.
You have the power to make someone's day or to ruin it with your words, so make sure you choose wisely.
14. Follow your dreams.
Whatever your dream is, big or small, you have to find some way to chase it.
I have wanted to be a writer since I was little, but I grew up a realized that writing as a career isn't very stable, so instead I started writing for Odyssey as a hobby.
Seeing my articles get 5k+ views has made me happier than words can describe. Everyone deserves that feeling.
15. Life isn't going to go as planned.
I spent most of my teenage years planning out my future and let me tell ya, I wasn't able to follow through with most of those plans because life doesn't care about what you want.
Living becomes so much more pleasant when you realize that a lot of things are out of your control and you just do what you can in the now.
16. Your feelings are always valid.
For some reason, people love to make you feel like your feelings are invalid or extreme. I'm here to tell you they are not.
You are allowed to feel however you want about whatever you want always. Remember that.
17. It's OK to be selfish sometimes.
Don't let anyone ever make you feel bad for leaving the party early because you have an exam in the morning or skipping a lunch date because you just weren't up to socializing that day.
Sometimes, you've gotta do you.
18. Don't have any regrets.
I know, very cliché, but it's true.
If you spend your whole life wishing you did this or wishing you didn't do that, you're going to be miserable.
Embrace that really bad butterfly tattoo you drunkenly got on your 18th birthday or learn to appreciate the extra time you got with your family when you skipped that senior camping trip.
There is beauty in every mistake you think you make, you just have to look for it.
19. Giving up sometimes is alright.
Honestly, sometimes taking a step back and realizing that this assignment, project, relationship, etc. isn't worth your time or effort anymore is the best thing you can do for your mental health.
Giving up isn't always bad, so never let someone tell you it is.
20. Everything will be OK eventually.
It definitely felt like the world was ending when my high school boyfriend cheated on me, but look at me now.
I've been In a relationship with the man of my dreams for almost four years now.
It may take some time, but I promise, everything will work out. You will be happy again.
I know I have so much I have yet to learn, and that's why I will be going into the next 20 years with open arms and an open mind. I am ready for whatever the future has in store for me.