On my 20th birthday, I expected to feel differently. Nineteen to 20 is a big leap, after all -- no more "How are you still a teenager?!" when I revealed my age (I started my senior year of college at 19); no more pubescent meltdowns; no more adolescent angst or random pimples on my chin. Right?
Wrong. I felt pretty similar as I did the previous day. And people remain shocked by my age. I still cry about stupid things sometimes. I'm grouchy on a weekly basis, and my zits didn't magically vanish on October 15 (but wouldn't that be nice?).
In the months since turning 20, however, I think I've learned quite a bit about life. Or rather, I've reflected on my experiences more thoughtfully and have formed conclusions. Here are 20 important things I know.
1. People aren't all bad.
I went through a phase last year where I basically thought humanity was the worst. Not exactly the sunniest of outlooks. Since then, I've come to realize that we're all just messy blends of good and bad. Most of us do act on the former.
2. ...But douchebags definitely exist.
And you should stay well away from them, in both friendships and relationships, because gross.
3. Drinking is overrated.
Drinking non-alcoholic beer (of course; I'm 20!) is overrated. It's fun once in a while, but honestly, I find watching a scary movie while completely sober and scared sh*tless to be way more exhilarating.
4. Exercise sucks.
Obviously, you should still do it. But it definitely sucks.
5. Time alone is time well spent.
I thoroughly enjoy being by myself. Many people don't, and I'm well aware of this. If you're someone who finds time alone to be an uncomfortable experience, try spending at least an hour a day unaccompanied (starting today!). You'll grow to cherish it -- there's something about that level of independence that's so comforting.
6. Never underestimate the power of girl talk.
It might be the best kind of bonding there is.
7. Nature is the coolest.
Right now I'm looking out a window, watching two squirrels chase each other on the grass and it's kind of adorable.
8. Travel as much as you can.
In the past six months I've flown out to San Francisco and LA. I've been to Belize, Mexico, Canada, the Bahamas, Georgia, Florida, Michigan's UP, Tennessee, Mackinac Island, Kentucky and Ohio. Each experience is completely unique, and there are so many more places I can't wait to explore.
9. ...But be happy in your home.
And if you're not, make a home somewhere else.
10. Forgetting your friends because of your boyfriend is sh*tty.
I've been that girl, and no one likes her. Make a point to hang out with your friends, whether you're head over heels for someone, single or in between. Your relationship shouldn't affect your friendships. When it does, you have a problem.
11. Be there for loved ones.
Nothing is worse than the friend or family member who isn't there for you. Always be the one who is.
12. It's okay if you're addicted to social media.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are entertaining as f*ck and I spend a lot of time on each. I'd rather be addicted to social media than something far worse for my health.
13. Patience is a virtue.
That I do not have.
14. Never be ashamed of the kind of music you listen to.
I have Simon & Garfunkel for my ringtone and I'm damn proud of it.
15. Long distance relationships are doable.
Especially with the kind of technology we have. No doubt, it's hard as hell and you'll get angry for no reason sometimes, but LDRs are definitely possible. All you need is a good webcam and an attitude adjustment.
16. College is not the best segment of your life.
It's great, no doubt. But I don't think it only goes down from here.
17. Going after your dream job is tough, but so worth it.
Job applications are seriously anxiety-inducing, but I keep at it because I want to go somewhere and do something. I'm not sure when and where it'll happen. All I know is that it will happen.
18. Reading is amazing.
Magazines, web articles, books -- I love 'em all. Nothing like reading something so captivating that you forget your surroundings.
19. Food is a grand pleasure.
As are hot showers, naps, back massages and pedicures.
20. You don't have to have it all figured out.
I probably never will. But I think I'm getting closer. Right?
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