19 Things I Finally Learned At 19

19 Things I Finally Learned At 19

Having just turned 20, it is time to reflect on all the things my 19th year taught me.


Now that I am two weeks into my 20th year, I think it is important to reflect on all of the things I learned during my 19th.

I think every year has something different that defines it for us, and for me, my 19th year was one of incredible personal growth and realization. These are the 19 most important things I learned, and best pieces of advice I can give, having just finished my teenagers years.

1. Peoples' Opinions Don't Matter

Genuinely, it does not matter what people think of you (to an extent, that is). I mean really, who cares? As long as you are making yourself happy and not hurting people along the way, who cares. Before I came tot his realization, I was constantly worried about fitting in and about presenting myself in a way that would be best received. Realistically though, it does not matter. At all. The only opinion of you that truly matters is your own. Anyone worth keeping around will love you for you.

2. Cherish It While It Lasts

This is easily one of the most important lessons I learned at 19. Cherish every single second. Cherish every moment you spend with your friends, cherish every laugh, every tear you shed... everything. The truth is, time really does fly by, and none of us truly now how much time we will have here. Now, I frequently find myself looking back at the year behind me and realizing how many things I took for granted. I am constantly talking about how much I miss being in certain situations and around certain people who aren't part of my life anymore, and I definitely wish I had cherished it all while I had it. You don't get a second chance, so don't take anything for granted.

3. My Worth

At the age of 19, I finally, genuinely learned my worth. Prior to this, I had been treated terribly in countless situations, and I had allowed myself to be treated that way, either making excuses for the other person's behavior or simply letting it slide because I cared for that person so much. Now, when I find myself in situations that I already allowed myself to struggle through, I've realized that I finally have a sense of strength that I did not have before. I am no longer willing to allow people to treat me like you-know-what, because I know that I don't deserve that. No one does.

4. Heartache Is Temporary

When someone you love hurts you, it can feel like the pain will last forever. Heartbreak can definitely be overwhelming and extremely intimidating, and it is easy to fall into a mindset where you convince yourself that you'll never get over it. Truth be told, though, time really does heal, it is just a question of how much time you need. don't ever feel like your progress is taking place too slowly or that your feelings are invalid. Your feelings are completely valid and it is entirely okay to take as much time as you need to heal and find yourself again. Whether it takes a week, a month, a year, or even more, you will heal. I was finally able to experience the end of a healing process when I was 19.

5. If It's Not Worth It, Don't Bother

Don't bother wasting your time and energy on something that won't be worth all of the time and energy spent on it. For example, don't drain yourself trying to save a one-sided friendship or other relationship. Don't give your all to anyone or anything that doesn't give back something just as amazing.

6. Leave The Past In The Past

This is easily one of the most important things anyone can learn at any age. Living in the past does nothing but take away from the present. Allowing yourself to get caught up on something that is history is not only unhealthy, but also unproductive. Focus on the now, and keep looking forward. I learned this the hard way.

7. Procrastinating Really (really) Isn't The Answer

Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking. We all already knew procrastinating wasn't good. Realistically though, we all get stuck in a time crunch sometimes and end up leaving something to the last minute.Or we do it just because we're lazy. Now that I am a college sophomore, however, this simply is not as realistic as it once was. I used to be able to scrape by even if I completed an important project hastily, but now things are getting more heightened and this just isn't what I should be doing (or anyone, honestly). Instead, chip away at big projects little by little, so that by the time the due date begins to sneak up on you, there's only a small amount of work left to be done, if any. Not only does this save you from the last minute scrabble, but it is always a huge stress reducer.

8. Let Them Leave

If someone walks out of your life, let them leave. The people who are meant to be in your life will either stay in the first place (preferably), or come back. On their own. I am a huge believer in fate and in the idea that what is meant to be, will be. If something is meant to happen, it will. I spent 19 years of my life trying to force things into existence and desperately hanging on to people who treated me terribly just because I cared for them and hated the thought of them being gone. Moving forward, I am done wasting my energy on people who don't care to spend any of theirs on me. Let them leave.

9. Don't Start A New Show When You Have Obligations

You will become obsessed, you will waste all of your time watching it, and you will show up to classes sleep deprived from binging season two. Ladies and gentlemen, that's what winter break is for.

10. He Ain't Worth Sh*t

Someone who doesn't treat you right doesn't deserve you. Simple as that.

11. Let Karma Do Her Job

I firmly believe that what goes around comes around. Karma is more powerful than any of us, and that is precisely why we cannot and SHOULD NOT try to take it upon ourselves to act out what we believe is "karma's job". By that I mean that if someone treats us poorly, we should not take it upon ourselves to react with an "eye for an eye" mentality. We should not retaliate and seek out revenge. Rather, find it in your heart to move on and keep progressing, and trust that karma will do its work. The energy that you put out into the world comes right back to you, and if you react to negative situations negatively, I strongly believe this will just continue the cycle of negative repercussions. Instead, I have learned that it is endlessly more beneficial to take a negative situation for what it is, acknowledge and accept it, and then move forward with life, finding comfort in knowing that things will work out.

12. If You Think Something's Wrong, You're Probably Right

Go with your gut. More often than not, if you feel like something is... off.... about a certain situation or person, you're probably right. If the vibes you're picking up on are contrary to your own, you might be better off not engaging. You meet a lot of people in life, and this means you will also meet a lot of people who just... aren't your kind of person. And that is perfectly fine. It is so much better to immediately recognize that you don't vibe with someone than to string it along in hopes that it'll even out. If your gut is saying no, it's probably just a no.

Just generally speaking if something feels wrong to you, it is almost always best to go with your gut. You're better off staying in tune with the energy you are picking up on.

13. Real Friends Will Be There

When it comes down to it, the people in your life who are real and who truly, truly care about you, will be there no matter what. you won't have to searching for them in your times of need. They will already be right by your side. These are the people who build you up, who motivate you, and who love you simply for you, and these are the people you should focus your time and energy on. Sometimes it takes terrible things happening to show you who's real and who is not, and at the end of the day, it is always better to have fewer true friends than hundreds of fake ones who couldn't care less. Better yet, hundreds of real friends. It's possible. There really are good people out there regardless of how hard it might be to find them.

14. Don't Go Looking For Something That Isn't There

This is an easy way to drive yourself insane. Specifically in terms of feelings and connections with people, do not, I repeat, do not go looking for something that isn't there. You cannot force a connection into existence if it simply isn't there. Don't convince yourself a connection exists when it doesn't, but more importantly don't blame yourself for another person's feelings.

Sometimes, where there once existed a strong connection, there may no longer be one. That's okay, too. That's part of life, regardless how much it sucks. If this happens, your best option is to power through it and keep moving forward, because eventually you will find that person with whom you're meant to be.

Don't waste your time on connections that aren't there when you could instead focus on the ones to come.

15. Let It Go

When something inconvenient happens, ask yourself this: will it matter in two weeks? Three? Two months? A year? So on and so forth.

Weigh the real gravity of the situation. If you conclude that this is not something that will matter longterm, let it go. Stupid, small, contained inconveniences literally mean nothing and they aren't worth stressing over. Any inconvenience that doesn't matter longterm is something you don't need to stress over, and shouldn't stress over. It isn't worth it, and it's pointless.

It's a pointless way to get yourself worked up and mentally drained. Plain and simple. Just let it go.

16. Not Looking At Your Phone Before Bed Actually Does Help

I'm sure we've all heard that you should put away all of your screens about 30 minutes to an hour before you go to bed, and I'm sure I'm not alone when I say I have always liked to pretend this isn't a fact.

In reality, this truly does make a difference. The amount of time you spend looking at a screen before going to sleep really does affect your sleep quality and duration, and every time I make a conscious effort to put down my phone a reasonable amount of time before bed, I wake up in the morning actually feeling rested.

If you're someone who is glued to a screen right before bed, and you swear you still wake up feeling adequately rested, try this once or twice and see what kind of difference it makes. You might find that your idea of "rested" is not quite what it should be.

17. Panic Attacks Are Way Overlooked

During my 19th year, I experienced my first, real panic attack. And let me tell you.... it was not fun. Nor were the several that followed.

Panic attacks are not as simple as sudden bursts of extreme, crippling anxiety. They are not mere moments of fear and nervousness. They are so much more frightening and exhausting than that.

For me, my heart began to pound so fast that I couldn't think of anything else except how fast my heart was beating. Suddenly, it felt like I couldn't breathe, and I genuinely couldn't. I could not take a deep breath, which only made me panic more, which in turn made my heart start to beat even faster. Then my ears began to ring, and I was trembling, and getting dizzier every second. A panic attack is mental, yes, but it is also physical. During a panic attack, your body draws blood away form your extremities and into your core in anticipation of injury, in order to prevent you from bleeding out should a serious injury be inflicted. During a panic attack, your body and mind go into full fight-or-flight mode and it feels like you are losing control completely. I felt like I was having a heart attack, and it wasn't until several doctors assured me it was a panic attack that I was able to learn how to control the onset of my panic attacks and ultimately make them subside.

Panic attacks are not to be taken lightly.

18. Small Minds Talk About People

I once read something that said that small minds talk about people, and strong minds talk about ideas. To me, this is easily one of the most valuable things to keep in mind, and it is something I think about constantly. I think it is so incredibly important to have valuable and intellectually stimulating discussions, and this doesn't happen by gossiping.

In another sense, too, if you find that people around you seem to have a lot to say when you're not around, you can definitely get a laugh out of the idea that this means they're small-minded.

19. Have Fun While You Can

For anyone reading this who is in my age group: have fun while you can. This is our only time cut out of our lives during which we are meant to be, and expected to be, irresponsible and having the time of our lives. Even more, this is kind of our last chance to be irresponsible before we are thrown out into the real world to figure things out for ourselves.

So, make the most of it. Embrace it. Go out on a Tuesday. Stay up talking with your friends until 5 because you'd rather be awake with them than actually getting some sleep. Make mistakes, pull all-nighters, laugh until you cry, and make memories. This is the time to do it.

Embrace every moment of every day and live in the now. One day we will be missing this.

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.

Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.

Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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To The High School Senior Wishing She Could Fast-Forward To Graduation, Careful What You Wish For

Don't wish this time away.


As the last stretch of my freshman year of college stands before me, I've been thinking a lot about where I was a year ago today. I've thought about how fast the time has gone, but also how much has happened in that year.

A year ago, I decided what college I was going to and was getting ready to graduate, and honestly counting down the days until graduation. Senior year was almost over, and I couldn't wait to walk across that stage, get my diploma, and FINALLY get to start my real life. However, now that it's a year later I honestly barely remember all those little moments and it feels like literally a world ago when I was in my high school and making my Senior Board full of pictures of my childhood. And part of me wishes that I hadn't wished all that time away.

So, to my high school seniors out there — I encourage you to cherish all the memories you are making. I encourage you to spend time with your parents and savor the meals you have with them and enjoy the conversations where your mom asks all the mom questions about your day, and your dad tells a story from his childhood that you've heard a million times before. I encourage you to appreciate the friends you have, and whether or not you plan to stay friends with them after graduation, be grateful for the time with them in this season and the role that they played in your life.

I ask you to look around your high school, stop and stare at the walls that you've probably been praying to get out of for a few months now and appreciate the memories and times you've had in those buildings. Whether or not high school was a great time for you or a bad time, it was a time of growth and the place where you matured and made mistakes and succeeded.

Seniors, enjoy these last few months because before you know it you'll blink and it will be a year later and you'll be miss those days that you complained about, those teachers you rolled your eyes at, and those friends that you shared that time with.

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