20 Things I Learned by 20

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

I am currently sitting in my living room listening to an old playlist as I write this. How I Met Your Mother is playing in the background, drowned out by the summer rain tapping against my window. It is 5:57pm on Tuesday August 2nd-- my last Tuesday as a teenager. Every year when August rolls around I always get a little... sad? Anxious? A bit of both? Birthdays can definitely be a bit daunting. Another year older, another 12 months full of ups and downs, another 365 days of questions. Have I made the most of my life so far? Am I where I said I'd be five years ago? I think this year I am especially weary of the looming red date on my calendar because once the 6th passes, I will no longer be a teen. But with every passing year comes newfound wisdom. Here is a list of 20 things I learned by 20.

1. Tomorrow is a new day
No matter what happened today or yesterday, or even three weeks ago, tomorrow is a fresh start. Another 24 hours to make the most of. I often stress about the future but nothing is certain or set in stone. Live for TODAY and make the most of it. Even if it sucked, you're still here and will get another chance tomorrow. Not everyone is as lucky.

2. It is perfectly ok to cut people out of your life
Especially if they are effecting you in a negative way! Don't ever feel bad about it. If someone pushes you down instead of lifting you up, then say goodbye to them (this applies to family too). You deserve more than one sided relationships. And for sure do not befriend anyone who is rude to waiters, no matter how nice they are to you.

3. Have fun while you're young
Buy the concert tickets, book the plane trip. When you're 80 years old, you're going to tell your grandkids about the time you called in sick to work/skipped school so you could road trip with your best friends, or crashed a wedding and had a little too much champagne and cake. These are the things you will remember- not that time you paid your phone bill on time or picked up a few extra shifts at work.

4. Eat the damn cookie
Just do it. Don't question it. Stop counting calories. If you want to eat an entire batch in one sitting, go for it. 

5. The boy from high school is not the only boy in life. Or even the one right after for that matter
Missing someone who doesn't miss you sucks. It is a waste of time and tears. The sooner you realize this in life, the better.

6. Visit home and visit often
No matter where you are in life or how successful you've been in your career, always always take the time to come back to the place and people that helped shape you. 

7. Don't settle
You don't have to finish a book if you don't like it. Quit your job if you hate it so much. Don't stay in toxic relationships whether it be romantic or platonic. Familiarity and routines are comforting, but don't do things because you feel like you have to.

8. Time heals most wounds
Some days, the sadness can feel overwhelming and never-ending. But I promise you, in due time, you won't be able to remember what upset you so badly in the first place. 

9. Love yourself unconditionally. Love yourself with no requirements or strings
There is someone out there who loves every single thing you hate about yourself. Why do they get the privilege to love you wholeheartedly when you don't even allow yourself to?  The freckles on your nose, the stretch marks you try so hard to fade, the way you sometimes laugh too loudly and cry too often... These things don't make you ugly or any less of a person. They make you human. There will be times when you fall apart in the middle of the night. You are the only one who can pull yourself back together in the morning. Sometimes all you have is yourself.

10. The sun and the moon will still rise and set every day like scheduled
Stay up all night and watch the sunrise. Bathe in the rich red tones, let the warmth of the orange rays soak deep into your bones. Sleep in until 2pm, then stay in bed and watch shitty reality TV all day. Eat breakfast for dinner, then drive way out of the city and watch the stars fill up a clear sky. Don't just go to bed at 9pm because you were always told to. We did that when we were kids only because we didn't want to be alone with the monsters lurking in the dark. It's always 5:00 somewhere in the world, go ahead and have a cold one even if it's a Sunday morning. Life continues on for every passing moment of the day whether you follow conventional timelines or not. Time is a human made concept.

11. Happiness is not a destination
People are always searching for happiness, hoping it is somewhere in the near future. But it isn't a place - it's a mindset, a mood. Of course, it's easier said then done, but I hope you wake up every day and choose to smile.

12. Read books and read a lot of them
I don't care what anyone says, movie adaptions are never as great as the book. Get lost in a world of words for a few hours. Go live another life. Everyone needs an escape now and then.

13. Surround yourself with people who support you unconditionally 
Please please please don't ever hang out with people who make you feel like you have to change yourself. Don't conform for anyone. If they can't accept you for who you are then they don't deserve your friendship. Build a circle of friends who pick you up at 2am to stargaze, laugh with you, cry with you, watch your favorite movie with you even though they (not so) secretly hate it, and put up with you even when you're a giant raging bitch.

14. Not everyone is going to like you and that's ok
Stop trying so hard with how you look, what you say, how you act. You will never be able to please everybody and that is okay. Really, it is.

15. It isn't as big of a deal as you think it is
With my anxiety, I tend to overreact about EVERYTHING. I overanalyze every situation and come up with every worst case scenarios possible. I replay moments in my head over and over and over and tend to make mountains out of molehills. I'm learning it's not the end of the world, even when it feels like it. 

16. Nights in are better than nights out
Sometimes all you really need is to binge watch three seasons of Gossip Girl in one sitting and eat an entire pint (or two) of Ben & Jerrys. Oh, and order some pizza, don't forget the pizza.

17. A clean room will change your whole perspective
My favorite thing to do on a bad day is clean my room. Change your sheets, put on some fuzzy socks, light some candles, put on your favorite movie or vinyl, and snuggle up into bed. Your house is your home, your haven, your safe place. If it's messy and cluttered, it'll reflect onto your mood.

18. Be nice to your parents
When they yell at you it's because they care. Contrary to the popular belief of 13 year olds, hating your mom isn't cool. Go to a movie when your dad asks, and don't be embarrassed to go shopping or be seen with your mom. You are growing up, but they are getting older too. 

19. Do the things that scare you
Text that old friend you've been thinking about. Chances are, they're thinking of you too. If you love someone, tell them. Go skydiving, travel abroad by yourself. Immerse yourself in new cultures and experiences. Allow yourself to feel fear, but don't let that fear control you. It is inevitable to regret the outcomes of some choices, but you will probably regret not taking the chances even more.

Last but not least...

20. It is nice to be nice.
You have the power to make or break someone's day. A little kindness can go a long way

-Mal x

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