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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To The Nursing Major During The Hardest Week Of The Year

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

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To the Nursing Major During Finals Week,

I know you're tired, I know you're stressed, and I know you feel like you can't go on. I know that no part of this seems fair, and I know you are by far the biggest critic of yourself. I know that you've thought about giving up. I know that you feel alone. I know that you wonder why in the world you chose one of the hardest college majors, especially on the days it leaves you feeling empty and broken.

But, I also know that you love nursing school. I know your eyes light up when you're with patients, and I know your heart races when you think of graduation. I know that you love the people that you're in school with, like truly, we're-all-in-this-together, family type of love. I know that you look at the older nurses with admiration, just hoping and praying that you will remain that calm and composed one day. I know that every time someone asks what your college major is that you beam with pride as you tell them it's nursing, and I know that your heart skips a beat knowing that you are making a difference.

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that a failed class doesn't mean you aren't meant to do this. I know that a 'C' on a test that you studied so. dang. hard. for does not mean that you are not intelligent. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

I know that nursing school isn't fair. I know you wish it was easier. I know that some days you can't remember why it's worth it. I know you want to go out and have fun. I know that staying up until 1:00 A.M. doing paperwork, only to have to be up and at clinicals before the sun rises is not fair. I know that studying this much only to be failing the class is hard. I know you wish your friends and family understood. I know that this is difficult.

Nursing school isn't glamorous, with the white lab coat and stethoscope. Nursing school is crying, randomly and a lot. Nursing school is exhaustion. Nursing school is drinking so much coffee that you lose track. Nursing school is being so stressed that you can't eat. Nursing school is four cumulative finals jam-packed into one week that is enough to make you go insane.

But, nursing school is worth it. I know that when these assignments are turned in and finals are over, that you will find the motivation to keep going. I know that one good day of making a difference in a patient's life is worth a hundred bad days of nursing school.

Keep hanging in there, nursing majors. It'll all be worth it— this I know, for sure.

So, if you have a nursing major in your life, hug them and tell them that you're proud of them. Nursing school is tough, nursing school is scary, and nursing school is overwhelming; but a simple 'thank-you' from someone we love is all we need to keep going.

Sincerely,

A third-year nursing student who knows

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To The High School Graduating Seniors

I know you're ready, but be ready.

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Seniors,

I am not going to say anything about senioritis because I was ready to get out of there and I'm sure you are too; however, in your last months living at home you should take advantage of the luxuries you will not have in a college dorm. The part of college seen in movies is great, the rest of it is incredibly inconvenient. It is better to come to terms with this While you still have plenty of time to prepare and enjoy yourself.

Perhaps one of the most annoying examples is the shower. Enjoy your hot, barefoot showers now because soon enough you will have no water pressure and a drain clogged with other people's hair. Enjoy touching your feet to the floor in the shower and the bathroom because though it seems weird, it's a small thing taken away from you in college when you have to wear shoes everywhere.

Enjoy your last summer with your friends. After this summer, any free time you take is a sacrifice. For example, if you want to go home for the summer after your freshman year and be with your friends, you have to sacrifice an internship. If you sacrifice an internship, you risk falling behind on your resume, and so on. I'm not saying you can't do that, but it is not an easy choice anymore.

Get organized. If you're like me you probably got good grades in high school by relying on your own mind. You think I can remember what I have to do for tomorrow. In college, it is much more difficult to live by memory. There are classes that only meet once or twice a week and meeting and appointments in between that are impossible to mentally keep straight. If you do not yet have an organizational system that works for you, get one.

I do not mean to sound pessimistic about school. College is great and you will meet a lot of people and make a lot of memories that will stick with you for most of your life. I'm just saying be ready.

-A freshman drowning in work

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