They say your 20’s is the defining decade of adulthood. Apparently, 80 percent of life’s defining moments happen by the age of 35. It’s pretty scary to think about. Every decision we make during this measly ten-year time frame could potentially effect the rest of our lives. With my 20th birthday fast approaching, I figured this would be a good time to reflect on all the things I have already learned in my short life.
1. Money doesn’t grow on trees
Life is really expensive. As it turns out, your parents were never crazy for getting mad when you left the lights on, or kept the water running for too long. It actually costs money.
2. I actually LOVE my hometown more than I ever thought I did
For as long as I can remember, there was nothing I wanted more than to leave Ohio. Now that I’m gone, I cannot wait to go back. It’s true what they say, absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder!
3. I learned which people deserve a spot in my life and which people do not
When distance came between me and my closest friends, I quickly realized who would remain a constant presence in my life, and who would slowly become just an acquaintance.
4. Never take your family for granted
Now that I’m so far away, and seeing my family has become an event to count down the days until, it’s conveniently much easier to overlook all the little things that drive me crazy about them. I also realize that these are the only people in the entire world that genuinely want the best for you. (They’re also the only people that will quickly forgive you for telling them off when you think they’re wrong about what’s best for you.)
5. I am in charge of my own life
I had the luxury of moving away from home, where not a single person had a preconceived notion about the kind of person I was, so I could make whatever choices I wanted and become the kind of person I wanted to be. However, now I realize you can be whoever you want, when you want. Don’t let baggage from your past weigh you down!
6. It’s a big world out there, and there are so many things I don’t know
After living in the same place for so long, it’s easy to forget how immense the world is. Moving away has been a wonderful reminder that there are so many different ways of living and being, so it’s important to keep an open mind. Your reality is only one in 7 billion.
7. Keeping a to-do list is actually vital to my productiveness
The time has come where my mom is not around anymore to remind me of all my responsibilities. If I don’t make a list and cross things off as I go, there’s a pretty good chance things will not get done.
8. Your own happiness should always be job #1
When your mental health is suffering, simple everyday life quickly becomes difficult. Just getting out of bed and getting ready for work will seem like a task.
9. Coming home to a clean house is unbelievably satisfying
I never understood why my mom always wanted me to make the bed every morning and put my dishes away throughout the day. After all, I was just going to get back into bed at the end of the night, and I was just going to accumulate more dishes throughout the day, so why not wait until after dinner to put the dishes away? Now that I have my own house, doing all those things is second nature. I’m still not sure why, but I do know what a quiet pleasure it is to lounge around in a clean house that smells good.
10. Dogs are better than most people
They are always happy to see me, whether it’s after a long day of work, or after I went outside to get the mail. The only things they ever expect from me are belly rubs and treats. Can you think of anyone or anything that’s easier to please?
11. Just because you go out of your way for someone else, doesn’t mean they will do the same for you
I believe in good karma and I definitely believe in the golden rule. If there’s one thing life has taught me, it’s that not everyone believes in the same things. And that’s okay, that doesn’t mean I’m going to change.
12. It’s okay to ask for help
Everyone needs a little help sometimes. Once I got over the notion that I can do everything and anything on my own, I realized that I have a whole support team who are always willing to help with such grace and generosity. Knowing I have that to fall back on if I need it is half the battle.
13. Following your heart is more than just an unrealistic notion in the movies
It didn’t take me long to realize that if I didn’t follow my heart, I would spend the rest of my life wishing that I did. Don’t waste time trying to understand it, just find your passion, discover your true path, and go after it with all of your heart.
“The heart has reasons that reason cannot understand.”
14. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of yourself
People aren’t always going to care about your accomplishments. But who cares? Throw yourself a party, buy yourself a cake, and celebrate! No one is going to be proud of you like you’re proud of you. Only you can understand how hard you worked to get there.
15. Don’t worry about what others think
No one has the ability to change who you are or what your worth unless you let them. It’s your life. At the end of the day, you’re the only person who needs to approve of the choices you make.
16. Stand up for yourself
Protect who you are and what you believe in, because if you don’t, who will?
17. The little things usually turn out to be the big things
Things like a back rub before bed, a kiss on the forehead, coming home from work to a bouquet of flowers. When we look back on our lives, those are going to be the kinds of things that matter. The amount of money we make, the GPA we receive in college, or the kind of cars we drive are not the things that are going to make us happy.
18. Putting your phone away at the dinner table should be a rule of life
When you agree to have a meal with someone, it should be a given that you talk to them, not your Facebook friends or your twitter followers.
19. There is always something to look forward to
Whether it’s a promotion at work, traveling to a place you’ve always wanted to go, or even just having a weekend away from work. Something good is always coming.
20. I will never forget where I came from
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and the people in it have made me who I am. There has never been a day when the values I grew up with haven’t shaped the way I move through life. I am so grateful for the manners I was taught, and for the grace I’ve been shown throughout my life.