I like to think that I've learned a lot in my long 20 years on this planet. I'm too young to be considered wise, so this is just a collection of things I know now that others should know, too.
1. You don't need to have a friend group
I don't like people. Crowds make me nervous, and having too many friends makes me anxious because I want to be best friends with all of them. Friends are an investment of time and emotions, so if you can't handle having too many people in your life, that's okay! You'll get by just fine with a few good friends, rather than having a whole group.
2. Everyone is just as confused as you are
At every stage of life, everyone is stumbling around just as much as you are. Few young 20-somethings have it all figured out. I sure don't. You'll all figure it out together.
3. School is only hard if you make it hard
If you have a learning disability or any mental health condition that makes school difficult, please disregard this point. For your standard student, though, school is really just a matter of time management. If you keep on top of your assignments and ask for help when you need it, school really isn't hard. It becomes hard when you procrastinate, fall behind and don't pay attention. Don't make it harder than it needs to be.
4. You might have been a genius in grade school, but you'll likely be average in college
There's nothing wrong with being average, but it'll come as quite the shock. Most college students were AP/Honors students in high school. What made you "the smart kid" in high school probably won't translate the same way in college.
5. It's fine to be "average"
It's fine to not stand out or make a huge, significant mark in the world. 99.9999% of the human population is relatively unremarkable. Don't feel as though you have no purpose if you just coast along. That's what all the rest of us are doing, too.
6. Find a few things you really enjoy and invest in them
For me, I like video games and makeup, so that's where most of my recreational money goes to. Having a hobby is healthy. Always indulge in your interests when you have precious little free time. It helps relieve the stress of work and school.
7. Don't take your best friend for granted
A best friend is absolutely invaluable. I spent 14 years living 10 minutes from my best friend, and I didn't realize how much I would miss her when she transferred to Florida for college. Cherish every sleepover, every shopping trip, and every food run you have with your best friend before life makes it harder to see each other.
8. Boys are stupid at every age, and likely always will be
Boys had cooties in elementary school, were jerks in middle school, and were just plain stupid in high school. They'll stay stupid in college. Don't try to understand them. They're a different breed and it's easier just to observe than to question.
9. When you find a boy less stupid than the others, hold onto him
There will every so often be a boy who's a liiiiittle smarter than the rest of them. HOLD ONTO HIM TIGHTLY AND NEVER LET HIM GO. If you lose him, you have to dive back into the Sea of Stupid.
10. Kindness and humility will always go further than hatefulness and pride
Your first move should always be kindness. Everyone is living their own life with their own problems. You do not need to approach everyone or every situation with coldness. A smile can go a long way when meeting someone new, or even when passing by a stranger. Let everyone's first impression of you be one of kindness. Always remember you are just as human as everyone else.
11. Establishing a routine will always make your life easier
Some people are more impulsive or spontaneous, sure, but for the most part, routines are healthy. I've reached a point in my old age where winter break in college makes me bored and anxious. I much prefer having a routine of going to class and work every day.
12. There's always time to care for yourself
Self care is extremely important. It can be taking time for your hobbies, doing a face mask, going for a run, taking a nap... Anything that will make you feel more you. Take time for yourself, always.
13. Your happiness should come first, but don't be selfish
Protect yourself and pursue your own happiness, but don't recklessly hurt anyone in the process of doing so. Consider other people's feelings and how they might react to your actions.
14. There is a such thing as being too nice
As a girl who works in retail.... Oh boy. There is definitely such a thing as being too nice, especially when it comes to older men. Laugh at too many jokes and your 65-year-old customer thinks you want to go to dinner with him, or that it's okay to call you a "fresh young flower." True story. It's okay to reel it back and be less nice when you realize someone has gotten more comfortable with you than you intended them to.
15. You're entitled to a feeling of safety and respect at your job
If I had a dollar for every time I've been harassed at work by a coworker, I'd have like $20. That's still $20 more than I should have. If I had a NICKEL for every time I've been hit on or harassed by a customer at work... I'd have another $20.
I never want to be "that girl" who complains about the guys, but it's okay to be that girl. No one, man or woman, should be put in uncomfortable situations at work. Speak up if you're uncomfortable. Stop being friendly to creeps. They're not entitled to your friendliness if they can't keep their mouths shut.
16. Impulse buying, even if it's "only $20!," is always a bad idea
I've learned this the VERY hard way. Every time you find yourself saying it's only $xx, put that amount into your savings. If you wouldn't miss it when you impulsively buy something, you won't miss it when it's sitting in your savings either. TRUST ME. Also, take a few days to think over each purchase before you actually buy something. Your impulse buying will go WAY down and save you so much $$!
17. Start saving money as early as you can afford to, because you'll regret it if you don't
I wish I had saved a lot more before college. I wish I had put half the money I spent over the years on things I didn't need into my savings. Don't spend now and regret later; put your money away and don't touch it.
18. Mind your business and let other people live their lives however they want to
Don't poke your nose into other people's business. Everyone is entitled to the same privacy and freedom as you are. It's their body, their life, their relationship, their job, etc. Mind your own business and focus on yourself instead of focusing on what others are doing or not doing.
19. Social media is fun, but don't let it control you
The older I get, the more jaded I get about social media. It has its uses, but it shouldn't take over your life. Spend your time on more meaningful hobbies. Your worth and your life are not defined by likes or followers or the opinions of people online.
20. Love is the most powerful thing in this world
You may regret being mean to someone, you may regret being cold to someone, and you may regret not saying you loved someone enough. You will NEVER regret loving with your whole heart. You will never regret telling your family, your friends, or your significant other that you love them. Have love for your planet, your fellow humans, and for yourself. You'll never regret things you do or say out of love.