This is going to be a slightly different post than what I normally write. It recently dawned on me that I will no longer be a teenager in a few short weeks. I have mixed feelings about this. I am slightly terrified of entering my twenties, yet excited to begin my adult life. Regardless of my mixed feelings, I have decided to compile 20 life lessons I learned before turning 20.
Before turning 20, I learned…
1. How to listen. Being a great listener will help you in all aspects of life. Listening allows others to know how much you truly care about them. It builds trust in all types of relationships.
2. How to speak up. As an extremely quiet introvert, for most of my life, I let people step all over me. This led to me being bullied through almost every year of school until I graduated high school. I avoided conflict like a plague. However, I learned in recent years how to speak up and defend yourself. Do not let others belittle you.
Speaking up also helps with other issues such as making friends, developing connections, and standing out as a leader. Two years ago, I would have never seen myself taking on a leadership role in my sorority. Now, I am an officer and it never would have happened if I did not learn to speak up.
3. That volunteering is one of the best things you can do. Give back to the community that surrounds you. Volunteer at an animal shelter, soup kitchen, or to clean up a park. Volunteering is an activity that warms my heart. I love knowing that I can make a difference, no matter how small, in the world.
4. Sometimes a good book beats a good night out. If you do not feel like going out with your friends, do not feel obligated to. Take some time aside for yourself. Read a good book and relax. Your body (and mind) will appreciate it.
5. That people come and go from our lives. It is a sad day when you realize that you and your high school BFF have not spoken in over a year. However, I have realized that people change, grow up, and have paths that may be separate from our own.C’est la vie.
6. To do everything in advance. Stop procrastinating today. I have learned that if I do as many activities in advance that I have less stress. This includes (but is not limited to) homework, studying, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. Getting these chores done in advance leaves wiggle room for the curveballs life enjoys to occassionally throw. However, procrastinating sometimes leads to all of these things needing to be done on one day – which is stressful and leads to late nights. Which leads to my next point…
7. That sleep is important. While I am young, I have realized that staying up until 4 AM every morning to wake up in only a few hours will catch up with you eventually. Coffee can work wonders but it does not replace all the sleep your body needs to handle every day. I try to get a bare minimum of at least 6-8 hours of sleep every night. Without this sleep, I do not perform as well as I should in school or my job.
8. How to make my own coffee. The amount of money saved from brewing my own coffee is amazing. I spend about $1 on one cup instead of at least $5.
9. To always tip people in the food industry. As a hostess, I have learned that almost everyone who works in the restaurant lives off of tip money. Tip money is essentially the source of income. If you cannot afford to tip, you cannot afford to eat out. It is that simple.
10. To be kind to hosts, waiters, retail workers and anyone else serving you. They are real people with real feelings. A simple gesture of politeness and patience can go a long way for these workers. Try to be understanding when there is a long wait for a table or if the employee is struggling with the faulty cash register. Most of these workers are paid minimum wage and put in more effort than you realize.
11. To learn how to cook more than mac and cheese. While mac and cheese is a delicious easy meal, there are more meals that will greatly satisfy your taste buds in college that almost as simple – and tasty. Check out my Pinterest for cooking inspirations:
12. To limit what I put on social media. The world does not need to know what time you ate breakfast, how late you were to work, how boring your history class is, or another daily selfie. Try to eliminate any vulgarity or explicit content from social media. Also, make sure all your photos are appropriate. If you have to even question whether or not it is appropriate, then it is by default, not appropriate. Young adults do not realize the future potential employers can and will judge you based on the a photo uploaded of you from your freshmen year of college. Keep it classy.
Helpful tip: If you know that in the past you have tweets that you regret, try using tweetdeleter.com – it is a great way to delete massive amounts of tweets all at once! Just be super careful about using the app because once you hit delete you can’t get the tweets back.
13. To say “NO”. This was an issue I struggled with for awhile. As a people pleaser, I found it difficult to say no to anyone. It did not matter if the person was asking me to do a favor or to go to a movie I truly did not want to see. I always ended up doing whatever it was that the person asked me to do. I thought it would hurt someone’s feelings if I ever said “no” to them. It was not until recently that I realized that it is not rude to say “no”. There are polite ways of turning someone down. It is your life and you should not have to do something if you do not want to do it.
14. That being single is okay.
In high school, I loved the idea and thought of falling in love with someone at college. Now, I have a more realistic set of ideas. I realize that being single allows me the freedom to do whatever I want. For example, I can be “selfish” by focusing on myself and starting my career. I do not have to worry about scheduling dates in my busy schedule of attending class, going to work, volunteering, blogging, and doing events for my sorority. Besides, I would rather spend my time hanging out with my friends than pursuing boys.
However, if I find someone in the midst of my chaotic schedule, so be it. I am just not looking for a significant other at the moment.
(Note: I am NOT ridiculing anyone for their choice to have a significant other. This is just my personal choice.)
15. That LBDs are a girl’s best friend. A little black dress should always be a member of a female’s wardrobe. It is the most versatile piece of all clothing. I personally own 3 LBDs because each one is a slightly different style. Wearing a little black dress has gotten me through countless interviews, dates, dinners, parties, and other social events. The key to wearing a LBD is the accessories. One LBD can be transformed into hundreds of looks by changing the shoes, necklaces, and earrings. I have learned to love wearing a LBD and it is a piece that I will continue to incorporate into my wardrobe in the future.
Which leads us to my next lesson I learned…
16. To Relax and pamper myself. Relaxation and pampering yourself is one of the nicest things you can do for yourself. Take a moment to wind down because it is good for your overall health. Toss a Lush bath bomb into the bath tub, play some relaxing music, or sip some tea. My favorite bath bomb from Lush for relaxing is the Pink one. (Yes the name of the bath bomb really is Pink).
17. How to rock red lipstick and wear heels. I am never more confident than when I have on heels and red lipstick. It makes me feel strong and powerful. Never underestimate the combination of a LBD, red lipstick, and heels.
18. How to be confident without makeup. As a girl, it is drilled into your brain from a young age that makeup = beauty. As the years progressed, I kept finding myself ashamed of my naked face. More and more situations arose where I did not have time to apply makeup. Mortified, I would try to hide my makeup less face from my friends. Then, I realized it does not matter how much makeup I have on my face. My family and (true) friends will love me regardless of my appearance.
20. How to fly solo. As a member of a sorority, we occasionally have to attend formal events where most young women bring dates. In high school, I would have been mortified at the thought of attending a formal event, such as prom, without a date. However, I have learned to embrace my single life and attended the Fall 2013 Formal solo. I still had a blast dancing with all my sisters and taking silly photos in the photo booth.
Thank you for taking the time to read this lengthy post. if you have any comments or questions please feel free to leave it in the comment section below!