11/04/2014 04:35 pm ET Updated Jan 03, 2015

21 Things I Learned The Year I Turned 21

When I turned 21 a year ago, my best friend stood there, as he had for the past four years at midnight, holding a cake in his hand. I stood, surrounded by a room of 30 or so people, waiting for that guy holding the cake to smash it in my face just as the clock struck 12. Midnight came, cake went flying, shots got poured, and my other best friend grabbed my hand and ran, yes ran, to the bar down the street to buy my first legal drink -- cake in my hair and all.

As she and I ran holding hands, I remember we just couldn't believe I was finally 21. This was my year. It was the year I would graduate college; the year I would move out of my house; the year I would start my career; and the year I was going to start asking people to call me Jessica. Jess just seemed so yesterday. A year has passed, and as I'm getting ready to turn 22 (cue my girl TSwift), it's really easy to look back on it all. So here we go, the 21 things I learned the year I turned 21.

1. It's okay to start to get chubby -- you're going to start gaining weight anyhow, so just accept it, stop working out on the weekends, and get over yourself.

2. Acquiring a taste for red wine is sexy, so do it.

3. If your parents and boyfriend give you the same gift, always return your boyfriend's. Trust me, he won't be there in a few years and your parent's gift is so much more valuable.

4. Turning 21 is expensive... and drinking is... and drinking is... and drinking is. Just save your money for this year. #CashMoney

5. Being house poor is no fun -- live somewhere where you can afford the cost of living while still grabbing a few beers with friends and buying those boots you really want.

6. If someone wants to walk out of your life, let him or her and don't look back. #OnToTheNextOne

7. That said, if a friend falls out of your life, don't be afraid to pull them back in -- rekindling an old friendship can be more valuable than you know. #TBT

8. Buying a fancy roll is a lot more satisfying, in more ways than one, than buying a boring roll. With that said, if there is one thing you're going to going to spend money on, let it be food. A good palate equates to a good soul.

9. Registering to vote is important, no matter what party you choose to join. And with that... the party you join, doesn't matter.

10. Tip at least 15 percent... at least. Don't be an asshole.

11. Stop wearing shirts where your stomach hangs out, it's not okay.

12. It's much easier to put drama behind you than hold a grudge.

13. You have a ton more to learn, so listen to your elders and learn passionately about everything and anything.

14. If you're looking for a change in your life, cut your hair. If you regret it, it's just hair and it'll grow back.

15. Cable is a terrible investment -- Netflix is an awesome investment. Especially since all seasons of Friends is coming onto Netflix on January 1, 2015. The timing has never been more accurate and you have never been more #basic.

16. A Pinterest quote can go a very long way on a Monday morning

17. Would you wear it out on the weekend? Okay, then stop freaking wearing it to work.

18. Beyonce and Taylor Swift are the actual shit.

19. The little things will always count -- a smile from a stranger, flowers from a friend, thank you notes....They matter.

20. If someone or something doesn't bring positivity to your life, get rid of them or it. This rule does not apply to food.

21. Invest in a great shade of lipstick and take pride in what you look like. Looks are not everything but confidence will get you far and when you look good, you feel good.