20 Things I Learned Before My 20th Birthday

20 Things I Learned Before My 20th Birthday

A brief synopsis of trying to figure stuff out.
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Today is my 20th birthday. I know—old. Two decades of life, memories and a whole lot of messing up. Here are 20 things I learned before my 20th Birthday.

1. Life-long friends are the key to happiness, growth, and success

The people who I have known my whole life, are the people who help me grow the most. They keep me grounded, remind me where I came from, where I’ve been and all the things I’ve already accomplished. They hold my past in their hearts and help me prepare for the future. Keep people around—don’t push them away because they start to know you because you become vulnerable. Be vulnerable, these are the people your kids will call Aunt & Uncle.

2. Wash your dishes right away.

Honestly, there is nothing shittier than crusty dishes. You rolled your eyes when your mom complained about the cereal sticking to the bowl, you didn’t get why you had to rinse dishes before you put it in the dishwasher. It just sucks to have to soak and scrub and get frustrated and give up. Just rinse whatever is on the plate off right away. Your kitchen will smell better, and your life will be easier.

3. Make your bed every morning.

Nothing is nicer than crawling into a made bed. If you don’t agree, start making your bed. You’ll see. Try it.

4. If you don’t feel right about something—don’t do it.

Trust your gut. It’s normally right. Don’t trust the girl you met in algebra last week, trust your gut. If you’re not comfortable in a situation call a friend and uber or make up an excuse and go home. Make a plan for what to do if something happens and you need to be excused from a situation. It’s not about being cool. It’s about being safe.

5. Take risks

Try new things, go somewhere new, stay up all night, go to the beach at 2 a.m. do the things that cause you to smile so big it hurts, do the things you would’ve needed permission for before. Go to parties and go to the bars and spend too much on a meal just for fun. Be irresponsible sometimes. Keep your feet on the ground but don’t stay in the same place.

6. Say yes when you can but no when you know better

Say yes, this goes with taking risks. Try and explore and when your friends ask you to go grab food and you have the opportunity to see a speaker, say yes. Don’t say you’re tired, don’t let your homework get in the way of your education. Being 20 is about more than being in college.

Every day you’re drawing the roadmap to who you are, to who you will be. You don’t find out who you are by spending hours and hours in the “lib” a lot of learning happens outside of class and away from assignments.

7. You will make mistakes

You will say yes when you should have said no, you will listen to your friends and not your gut, you will take risks that are way too big sometimes. You’re learning balance. You don’t have to ask so you have to make your own rules and breaking your own rules is easier than making them. But when you make a mistake, learn from it. Grow from it, say you’re sorry and move on.

8. You will be heartbroken

You’ll probably fall in love, you’ll probably fall out of love, you’ll probably realize you were never in love and date the boy of your dreams. Maybe you don’t. We are brainwashed to think we’re supposed to be in love, meet our husband and start getting our whole life in place now.

It’s not 1980, it doesn’t matter. Do what makes you happy. Date or don’t, explore your sexuality or don’t. If you stumble across your future partner or get your heartbroken, there is so much life left after 20.

9. You are not supposed to have it all together

I always thought that I was supposed to have more and more things handled squared away and ready to go. But I don’t and neither do most adults. The best thing you can do is to plan it by ear, do your best and work to attack every day, the best you can. I am a mess. Embrace your mess, own your mess, caress your mess and maybe one day you’ll get a handle on it. Just iron your dress clothes and put your best foot forward.

10. You will appreciate your mother and you should have sooner.

My mom is amazing and I will always regret the time I spent taking her for granted. Period.

11. Spend money on experiences.

Things hang in a closet and get taken to goodwill. Memories are a part of you and they always will be. They shape moments, your life and your character. Let them. Spend money on getting a little to the moments that money can’t buy.

12. Work hard

& don’t give up. Everything you accomplish, everything you do is the byproduct of an action you completed at another time. Good or bad. Work hard, tirelessly and give 100% every chance you can. Work hard work to succeed, work on yourself, your world around you and for what you believe in.

13. It’s okay to skip class sometimes.

R&R is a real thing

14. Stay up late when you have to; nap when you can

Naps are not for toddlers…they’re for college students.

15. It is okay to ask for help

Never be afraid to raise your hand, to say you’re struggling and ask for a shoulder to lean on. People who love you will be there. Saying you need help is a sign of strength.

16. Get involved

Try new things, meet new people and make a difference. Making a difference is something you will never regret and will shape you. When you are surrounded by different people all the time, you are given the opportunity to hear different opinions, ideas and learn something. Sometimes the most valuable ways to grow are just around the corner.

17. Value your word and your reputation

Stay true to who you are, don’t shake, don’t tremble. Be authentically you.

18. Be a friend

There is no greater gift than friendship, be the friend you want to have. Reach out, connect, value and engage. You deserve each aspect of friendship and so do those around you.

19. Don’t be afraid to cry

Let it out. Emotions do not equal weakness. To be open, vulnerable and alive is to be strong. Cry. Be upset, wallow. Then count to 20. If you can come up with a solution work on it, but if you can’t build a bridge, get over it. Be upset, but only for 20 seconds. Then its time to learn, grow and heal.

20. Take deep a deep breath—enjoy the moment.









Cover Image Credit: Madison Sepanik

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"I'm so tired of your teenage attitude."

Do any of these sound familiar?

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