I have seen this type of video produced all around the YouTube community—“17 things learned at 17” or “20 things learned at 20,” and so on. These are pretty cheesy, but I keep clicking on them every now and then, and realizing things I never even knew I learned myself.
That being said, I am in no way an expert on life. At all. In fact, I fail miserably at it. But reflection is an important part of life and recognizing where your faults are can help you grow. So, I might as well share what I have learned so far in my 21 years during this incredibly messy life that I have only just dipped my toes into. Hopefully what I have learned can emanate to another being.
1. Be thankful for any education you get to receive and use it to your benefit to help others constantly
This is an important one that I think we as college students forget about. Many people don’t receive the same opportunities to attend a university. It is easy to take advantage of this opportunity but it is really impactful how you chose to share the knowledge you attain every single day. You could be benefiting many others.
2. Always be early
For many reasons—it looks good to employers and professors, but it also relieves a lot of stress and anxiety you might have for an interview or class. It gives you an opportunity to mentally and physically prepare for whatever you are about to take on, and we all deserve some stress relievers.
3. The bars are not the ultimate goals to reach for in life
They are fun—don’t get me wrong. However, there is so much more to life than just that 21 ID. Do not forget other goals, aspirations, and dates that are just as important milestones.
4. Be picky when choosing your roommates
I have had to learn the hard way many times that picking roommates should be a bigger deal than people give it credit for. Where and who you are living with can directly affect your performance in school, but it also can be a huge factor on your mental health. This is an instance where you have to put your happiness first and room with the friends that care for you and treat you as another living human being.
5. Say please and thank you
These ones are simple, but very easy to forget. A “thank you” to your bus driver, professor, or waiter/waitress can go a long way. Saying “thank you” and “please” show your consideration for someone’s service and can make others feel appreciated.
6. Always pack a snack (and tampons) wherever you go
This one is pretty self-explanatory, and I think everyone can relate to a time when they really wished they had packed a snack and we have all had to learn this the hard way, unfortunately. Also, it is also just really nice when a girl asks for a tampon and you can be that person that saves her day.
7. Call your parents (this one took me a long time to learn)
I was not quite that close to my parents in high school. However, as times got tough and I realized they know way more than me, calling my parents became second nature. Also, your parents love to hear from you. If they do not call as much as you would like, call them instead. Reach out to the people who got you where you are.
8. As annoying as it is, try to plan for the future
Envisioning where you might be could help you make some important present decisions. This can go for planning classes or joining clubs that would benefit your career in the future. This can also be applicable to social events. Your career can be determined by how you spend your free time. Just keeping in mind what you want in the future can help you keep your eyes on the prize.
9. Fake it till you make it
If you are not good at being organized, just pretend you are! Practicing something and pretending you know what you are doing can usually put into perspective what you are lacking in order to be a pro.
10. But DO NOT be fake to other people
This is very junior high. But, it still seems to happen as we get older. Be straight up with someone. If you do not like how someone is treating others, say something instead of letting it slide by and watching them hurt others.
11. Give advice when you can, but realize sometimes people just need you to listen
This one, I am also still learning. Advice is not always needed and sometimes it is not always good advice being given. An ear, open mind, and kind heart can go a long way.
12. It is possible to balance a relationship, friendships, school, and going out (regardless of what has been misconceived to you through the media)
I have personally lived through this one, along with several other friends I have. My friends and I all respect our separate time with our significant others and our significant others respect our time devoted to friendships and school. This takes a lot of communication and comfort but it is well worth the effort and makes life more enjoyable.
13. Use social media for good, not evil
Coming at people for what they post is usually what is more popular than the posts themselves. Social media can be used to share great ideas and events but we get so caught up in the images we portray that we forget that there are people behind those screens.
14. When you find those people who love you unconditionally, seriously never ever let them go
I was a little unfortunate (but also lucky) that I did not meet some really great friends until I got to college. I never really understood when people would tell their BFFs, “You are so going to be my bridesmaids!” but knowing the friends I know now, I can not imagine without them by my side. For that, I thank them.
15. FOMO should have never become a thing
Simply because it sucks to feel like you are missing out on something and no one wants to live life thinking “what if…” all the time.
16. And if you need to stay in to get some work done DO NOT FEEL BAD ABOUT IT
17. But also, if you need a drink to cope with the stressful week, go out and have one (or three)
18. Many good, new experiences might make you feel uncomfy at first, but it will pass and it will be so worth it in the end
You have heard this a million times and I will agree—I hate going out of my comfort zone. So much. But the times I have, I have not regretted it. I have learned many new skills trying different things that have opened my eyes up to new opportunities.
19. Never stop asking questions
This goes back to point #1. We as students have an opportunity to learn and talk one on one with some very intelligent people. No question is a dumb question and you also never know who might be wondering the same thing.
20. Go to class! (this is the pre-service teacher in me coming out)
Seriously, your paying for it. But also, we are all about that stress-free life. Instead of stressing about what you are missing out on, go to class instead and really try engaging by turning off your phone or forcing yourself to summarize the class period later. It is a habit hard to break, but again, stress-free is the goal.
21. Be nice to everyone
The golden rule, the head honcho, the first thing said to you in kindergarten that is constantly and repeatedly forgotten on a day to day basis by almost everybody. Reality is, you don’t know what people are going through and you don’t know what’s going to make them crack that day. SO BE KIND. I know, it’s easier said than done but these acts of kindness could be so simple but could mean so much.
21 is not old, but growing up regardless of age is hard. You have to learn a lot, balance more things, and figure out relationships. Reflecting is important and I encourage you to reflect when you can.