I turned twenty-one a little over a month ago, and there are definitely some things I wish I knew before this momentous birthday. I think a part of me already knew these things deep down but writing them out and seeing them on a piece of paper makes them harder to ignore. And there are times where I completely forget I'm 21 until someone encourages me to have a drink at dinner. In my mind, I still feel like an 18-year-old in her senior year of high school as she figures out her college career. But this list brings me back to the person I aspire to be.
1. It's okay to not have everything figured out
I didn't realize I wanted to change my major until I was 20. Let alone the kind of job I want or where I want to work or live. There is still so much for me to figure out that it stresses me out, but right now, there are other things I need to focus on and that's perfectly fine.
2. Going to bars and clubs is overrated
As a freshman, this idea of going out with your friends was so magical and amazing, that you wanted to do it all the time. But as you go through college, it is very easy to lose all interest in doing that. Now, I would so much rather stay in and play the Wii or watch Netflix. It just doesn't fit my style anymore.
3. Don't worry so much about what other people think of you
This one has been a little harder for me. I'm a paranoid person and it's been difficult to tell myself that no one is talking about me or looking at me for more than a few seconds. It also hurts your confidence. Thinking other people are looking at you or judging you will determine how you present yourself to the world. There's nothing wrong with wearing leggings and sweatshirts or dresses and flats every day. Other people shouldn't determine what you wear or how you act. Just be yourself and learn to love your quirks and style.
4. Friends grow apart
I was prepared for this from high school. But I didn't know I'd drift apart from so many people in college. I was worried we'd lose touch when we moved into different dorms and off campus, but it became much more than that. No contact at all. But that's a part of growing up.
5. Don't be afraid to try something new
This is something you can never hear enough. Whether it's trying something new at a restaurant or joining a club or traveling somewhere new. There are so many opportunities to expand your horizons and get out of your comfort zone, so when they come, take them!
6. Drinking isn't all that great
Going out to bars and clubs is one thing, but just drinking, in general, is okay at best. It doesn't matter if you're drinking to get plastered or just casually sipping your drink for hours, it really isn't all that great. You really don't need alcohol to have fun. I'll have a drink every now and then or a glass of wine, but I will not be making this a habit.
7. It's okay to open up about your emotions
We are at the age where we are mostly aware of what we're feeling at any time. And we also have a solid group of friends who we share these emotions with. So, it is a time where we should feel comfortable around certain people to express these emotions. And if you're not, as long as they don't push you to share your every feeling, you'll eventually warm up to them and tell them all about your feelings in no time.
8. Cut toxic people out of your life, they're not worth it
I've dealt with this a couple of times since I've been in college. It can be very hard to just break off all ties and not think about them. It was hard for me. But unfollowing or blocking them on social media is a start. If you're not seeing their posts, you won't be reminded of the good times you had. Because in this case, the good times do not outweigh the bad times.
9. You're never alone no matter what
No matter what you're going through, there is at least one person who understands that pain and stress. It may feel like you're alone and that no one would understand what you're going through. But it'll help you get through whatever issues you have going on.
10. Rely on your friends more
At this point in our lives, we've had the same friends for years, decades even. And your college friends have been there for you eight months out of the year, so they know a lot of what happens to you through college. They've been there for you since you met, you can trust them. And your friends back home have been there for you through thick and thin, they will always support you.
11. Traveling at a young age is much harder than it looks
I've seen more than a handful of people I've graduated high school with traveling to exotic locations in Europe. I'm jealous and confused. I would love to go to Europe, or anywhere for that matter, but I also don't know how they can afford these trips. I know I'm not in a place financially to splurge on a trip across the world, no matter how much I want to.
12. Other people don't have their lives figured out either
It may seem like everyone has their entire life planned out and are just on a straight shot to their dreams, but that's not always true. Sure, there are definitely people out there that know exactly what they want and where they want to end up, but there are more than enough people that have no idea what they're doing. And that's fine, it takes time to figure things out.
13. Sometimes you need a good cry
Crying is often seen as a sign of weakness, but that's not true. People cry for all kinds of reasons and for all kinds of emotions. When I'm mad, sad, happy, laughing, thinking about the future, I cry. And sometimes all you really need is to cry. And when you're done and everything has passed, you'll feel so much better.
14. No one is laughing at you, despite what you're anxiety tells you
I am still working on this one, but I still believe it is very relevant. It's hard to tell yourself they're not laughing at you, but it is much more believable that they're laughing at something on their phone or something their friend said. We have no reason to think they're laughing at us. I know this is easier said than done, but once you think it, you'll start to believe it.
15. Retail therapy isn't an actual form of therapy
No matter how many times I go shopping or spend money in general, I tell myself I'm just treating myself or that I deserve what I purchased, but this is a toxic way of thinking. Spending money to distract myself from the real issues that are bothering me is not a healthy way of thinking or dealing with problems. If anything, it just creates more stress depending on the amount of money spent.
16. Nothing's wrong with you if you've never been kissed or dated
This is a big one for me. I've been trying to wrap my head around what I'm doing wrong and what I can improve with myself to make these things happen, but there's nothing wrong with me. I believe that things happen for a reason, and there's a reason why I haven't had these chances. And I know that it'll happen someday, I just need to get to that point in my life and stop worrying so much.
17. Making mistakes is just part of living
Mistakes help us grow as human beings and learn what not to do for next time. There's nothing wrong with making a few mistakes, we're only human. What matters is how you react to making mistakes. Do you take action to make sure they don't happen again? Or do you shrug it off and go around and do the exact same thing again?
18. Watching Netflix isn't going to fix all your problems
While Netflix is awesome and can distract you for a couple hours, it rarely fixes problems. If anything, it gives you less time to fix the problems. Netflix is a way to rewind after a long day or a way to spend a study break, not something serious like fixing a relationship or mental health problems. Those, unfortunately, can't be fixed by binge-watching.
19. Everyone needs some space sometimes and that's fine
Saying you need space isn't a bad thing. Space gives us room to think and evaluate our lives. It gives us time to breathe before we make decisions. There's nothing wrong with needing space, it'd be pretty incredible if you didn't need it from time to time.
20. Taking mental health days are extremely important
Taking a day off every once in a while is perfectly normal. It can really clear your mind before you take on a large task or if you just need a break. We are all entitled to taking time to ourselves and it should be prioritized.
21. Don't take life too seriously
All in all, life is an awesome experience we all never asked for but were gifted. We should be excited to take risks and plan adventures and just live our lives. It can be hard to let go and jump into something spontaneously, but it is so worth it if you trust yourself and take that chance. Your life may never be the same, and that is what life is all about!