No one expects you to have your life together by the time you're 20, because honestly, they didn't either.
We are all often faced with many life challenges throughout the time leading up to our 20s. Before this time, and throughout it, we often look back at the things we've learned and how they've influenced who we are as people today. Some of my biggest influences were some of the challenges I've faced, but they've taught me 20 important things by the start of my 20s.
1. Believe that every situation you're put in is there to teach you a lesson and help you grow.
The situation may not be ideal and may hurt, but it is still going to teach you something you never knew before. You'll learn many life lessons when you are put into tough situations. You learn to grow as a person and learn more about yourself. You don't always see the good in these situations at first and you constantly over think them, but in the end you'll realize the bigger picture and realize how much of a better person you are because of it.
2. Dream big. Really big.
Don’t think you can’t succeed if you create dreams too big for yourself. How do you expect to achieve your biggest goals if you sell yourself short every time? Dream big, give yourself something to work for and be proud of yourself when you finally accomplish those dreams.
3. Get involved with whatever you can.
Take every opportunity given to you. Get involved in many organizations; each one has their own leadership opportunities to help you, too. Join an organization maybe you thought you never would and learn more about what they do and what they stand for. It may help you grow in ways you never imagined and allows you to learn about things you may have been blind to before.
4. Be a hard worker, but don’t wear yourself too thin.
We all think working hard and doing everything we can is our human nature. It’s important to work hard and gain a good work ethic, but don’t exhaust yourself while trying to do it. Taking on every leadership role may look good, but when you try to give 100 percent to each one, you’ll wear yourself too thin. Work hard, give your all to small things, and take on new roles as you adapt to the others.
5. There’s a reason for every person you cross paths with.
Even if it’s just in passing. That one kid who smiled at you when you were having a bad day? He was put there for a reason. The person you were in a relationship with for two years, but it ended badly? His time with you had a reason. Each person you encounter, whether it’s for a split second or for the rest of your life, has a reason for being there. You may not understand the reason right away, but one day, it will make sense.
6. Make sure your passions reflect your career choice.
You don’t want to live the rest of your life unhappy, and you’re more than likely going to have to work almost every day for the rest of your life. Make sure you’re doing something you love to do and that you’re passionate about. Money is only paper, your happiness is so much more important.
7. Relationships shouldn’t be stressful.
Sure, they take time, but you shouldn’t be constantly worrying over them and questioning whether things are okay. A relationship is supposed to be loving and happy, not stressful. If any relationship is making you feel overwhelmed or unhappy, it’s not worth it.
8. Try new things outside of your comfort zone.
Go out and try a new restaurant with food from a different culture, go on a hike somewhere you’ve never been, talk to people you wouldn’t normally talk to. Try new things and meet new people outside of your comfort zone. It helps you grow and become a more diverse person.
9. Give back to your community.
They gave you so much in your time of getting here, so give back to them while you can. You don’t have to just give money, but by doing things like volunteering to help in a local park or helping with fundraising for the children still in that town. Constantly showing support for your community and volunteering is enough to give back to your community.
10. Don’t settle.
For anything. Don’t settle for a boy just because you need someone. Don’t settle for anything less than your biggest dreams (just use the opportunities as stepping stones to get you there). Don’t settle. You deserve so much more than that. You deserve to have everything you’ve ever wanted, and don’t sell yourself short by just settling for things because it seems convenient.
11. Do random acts of kindness.
Buy the person’s coffee behind you on a Monday morning, buy a young family’s breakfast for them, or smile at a stranger. Do random acts of kindness without even thinking and pay it forward. Such small actions can go a long way and make someone’s day that much better, plus, you feel pretty good afterward, too.
12. Whoever you consider family, keep them first and remind them of their importance.
They’ve been there through the good and bad times, and no matter who they are, you consider them family. Don’t forget what all they’ve helped you through and make sure they are a priority in your life. Let them know how much they mean to you, because we aren’t always guaranteed another chance to.
13. Do things for yourself.
Eat a salad for dinner after a hard workout or get super dressed up just to take yourself to dinner. Do things for yourself and to make yourself feel good. It’s not always about impressing others, it’s about feeling good in your skin. When you do things for yourself every once and a while, you start to realize just how good it feels when you do.
14. Meet new people, lots of different people.
Start talking to strangers and ask them millions of different questions to get to know them better. Where they are from, what their favorite food is, what they like to do, etc. It’s important to meet lots of people and establish connections, but it’s even better to branch out and know a variety of different people. You learn so much more when you expand and know tons of different people.
15. Don’t forget your roots.
Yeah, you hate high school and everything about it. You feel like your hometown has nothing left for you, but don’t forget that it’s still your home and where you came from. It gave you all of your first experiences and helped form you into the person you are today (whether you want to admit it or not).
16. Listen to your parents’ advice.
They’ve been in your shoes and they’ve lived it before. They know it’s what you don’t want to hear, but they know what’s best for you (P.S. they also want what’s best for you). Believe them when they say this won’t matter years from now, or you deserve someone who treats you better, because truth is, they’ve lived a similar experience and they’re probably right.
17. Let go of the past, live in the present, and embrace the future.
The past can still hurt sometimes, but that’s all it is… the past. It’s memories and lessons learned. The present is the now, and live it to its fullest before it becomes the past, but embrace the future and all it has to offer. Don’t get so caught up in the future that you forget about what’s happening how, but anticipate it and use the present to prepare yourself for the future.
18. You’re happiness is the most important thing.
It trumps all. Everything you do should make you happy. You’re happiness is most important. Forget what others think and do what makes you happy.
19. Learn to love yourself and embrace it.
Be proud of who you are and where you've been, and be sure to let people know that. The person you've become and all the things you've been through have made you into the beautiful and strong person you are today. The world should know you love yourself and are passionate about certain things. Just love who you are. You can't be someone until you are yourself.
20. Know that it’s okay to not have your life together by 20, because in all honesty, you’ll probably never fully will.
You're constantly growing and learning new things. This is helping you become a better person and take on new experiences. No one expects you to have your life together by the time you're 20, because honestly, they didn't either. Set high standards and goals and fight through the highs and lows to get where you want to and should be. And who knows, maybe by that time, you might have your life together.