It’s that time of year again where I reflect on myself and all that I have been taught during my 22 years of existence. These lessons, tips, and bits of advice have been brought to me by self-learning, loved ones, and the ability to learn from other’s mistakes. By no means am I done learning and I still have a lifetime ahead of me, but here are just a couple lessons I can pass on and reflect on.
1. Be YOU
At 22, you should be a little more comfortable with yourself and the person you have become. There’s no need to disguise yourself anymore or try to be someone you’re not. It’s time to be proud of yourself and put your best self out there. Once you do, you’ll know that people love you for who you really are.
2. Connect with old friends
By now there are a number of people you’ve lost touch with whom you were once close to. Even if this is someone who at one point was your best friend, it’s time to reconnect with them and see how they’re doing. You might surprise yourself at how happy they’ll be or how happy you’ll be at having done so.
3. Be picky
Don’t be afraid to have a type of love interest that you’re fond of. You’re at the age where you need to stop dating any “cute” guy that comes your way. It’s time to be picky and choosey. It’s okay to say no to certain boys, and you don’t need to continue “testing the waters.”
4. Know how to practice safe sex
You’re old enough and smart enough to know the precautions, and you’re not even close to being capable of raising a child. So don’t be dumb. Be smart, practice smart, and it’ll be a fun time! Oh and if a guy tells you it feels better without a condom, they’re a coward.
5. Find a hobby.
Occupy your time with something that makes you happy that you enjoy. Whether it’s yoga, painting, fishing, etc., it’s healthy to have a hobby that occupies your time in a positive way and allows you to better yourself.
6. Call your grandparents AT LEAST once a week.
While you’re growing up, they’re growing old. And the sad reality is that they’re not going to be around for much longer. So make the most of the time you have with them, remind them how much you love them, and take the time to visit and talk with them. They will appreciate it and you’ll appreciate it in the long run. They miss you and want to talk to you more than you realize, but they don’t want to be a burden.
7. Create your goals, and then start chasing them
You’re not getting any younger, but it’s not too late to set new goals. The problem is that our generation is lazy and expects things to come to them easily. That’s not the reality. Goals take work, time, and effort. So don’t be lazy and start working on them.
8. Work on your weaknesses and imperfections, but don’t obsess over them
It’s a known fact. No one is 100% happy with themselves. We all have our insecurities and things that we are unhappy with. So rather than obsessing and sulking in sadness over them, start working at what you can change. If there’s something you are unhappy with, then the only person that can fix that is you. But be realistic. Some things you will just have to let go of and know that that is what makes you who you are. We all inherit a unique beauty in ourselves and it’s up to you to find that.
9. Get lost so you can find yourself
Staying in the same place isn’t going to help you grow as a person. In fact, it’s going to be a bigger disservice. So get out even if it’s for a weekend, a week, month, however long you need. You’ll really find out what kind of person you are and add those experiences to your list of accomplishments.
10. Have an idol
There’s always someone we aspire to be. We should have someone we look up to for positive reasons such as their success, their contributions to the general population, etc. For me, I have always been a huge fan of Nastia Liukin. As someone who is goal-oriented, successful, hard-working, etc., she is someone who has aspired me to be successful and work hard for my achievements.
11. Know how to rock red lipstick and a messy bun
You don’t always have to look put together. But you don’t always have to look like a hobo. Know how to dress up and dress down at appropriate times. Practice your fierce look with a good shade of red lipstick, and know how to throw up a messy bun within .005 seconds.
12. Nothing is more attractive than an educated individual
Intelligence is attractive. Not the sort of intelligence where you come off as a know it all that no one wants to be around and they avoid, but being able to hold an intelligent conversation with someone is very attractive. It’ll intimidate men in a good way and make them keep up with you.
13. Have a Plan B, C, and sometimes D
By now you know that not everything you planned out is going to work out. It’s going to take some getting used to the fact that you will be devastated at some points in your life at the turn events that will sometimes happen. So by now, you know that it’s smart and important to have backup plans. Because when one door closes another one will literally open and you must be prepared to move onto the next.
14. Be the girl you were told you couldn’t be
By now you’ve been told at one point or another that you can’t do something or you wouldn’t make it somewhere. Hopefully, you’ve already proven that person wrong. If not, you best be working on proving them wrong. Because one day you’ll be able to say “I told you so.”
15. Find something that brings out your inner five-year-old
Remember that giddy feeling you got when you were a kid with something that made you so happy? Find something that gives you that on a regular basis. And note that I said “something” not “someone.” For me, Disney gives me that feeling. The feeling of seeing dreams come true, make-believe being a norm, and catchy songs that makes me smile like a goofy kid. Find something that gives you the same joy and that same feeling.
16. Know that you are not your failures or rejections
You are not defined by the job you didn’t get, the school that wait-listed you, or the boy that told you he couldn’t love you. You are more than that. You have learned from all of those losses and you have become a better person because of it. The rejection that has been brought upon you has only made you better and stronger. And given you bigger and better opportunities.
17. Make a bucket list
Along with goals, you should have an idea of some things that you want to do before you die. Places you want to see, and things you want to accomplish. It can be filled with a list of 10 things or a list of over 1,000. A bucket list is important to have so you can say you did all of these things that amounted to your entire life.
18. Collect moments, not things
While making a bucket list it’s important to remember to buy the experience and focus little on buying material items. Memories and experiences will last a lifetime. An expensive piece of clothing will not give you even half the much enjoyment as any trip, adventure, or expedition could have.
19. Make your 16-year-old self proud of the person you are today
Sure you’re not the same person. But at least you’re a better person than who you were. You’ve grown up, you’ve learned a lot, and you’ve become a better version of what your 16-year-old could have dreamed of becoming.
20. Know that people are placed in your life for a reason
Whether it was the boy you met at the bar that did you dirty, the teacher who challenged you until you cried out of frustration, or the mentor who helped you realize what career you wanted in life; they were all placed in your life for one reason or another. They made you a better person, they taught you a valuable lesson, and realized if they were worth keeping around or not.
21. Be irresponsible whenever you can
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Sometimes you need to say screw it to certain obligations and go out and have a little fun. Go out to the bars when you have a paper due the next morning. Call in sick when you’re too hungover, and buy another round of drinks just because you can. Sometimes it’s okay to not be on top of it. You don’t always have to have it together.
22. You’re not done growing up
You still have an entire lifetime ahead of you to make more mistakes, learn more valuable lessons, and realize what’s important in your life and what’s just a waste of time. You may think your old but darling you have no idea. Don’t forget to be a kid. Don’t forget to grow up and keep learning.
So after 22 years, this is some of the best advice I can pass down to anyone willing to listen and read. I can’t wait to see what year 23 has to teach me, and all the years I have to come. Here’s to one more year older, I’m not so sure how much wiser.