Growing up is…..an interesting experience to say the least. Everyone’s story is unique. For me, there have been tons of great moments that I will always cherish, but there are also plenty of unpleasant ones mixed in as well. I’ve experienced that the people around me are also growing up. This might mean moving down their own paths just as I am, and sometimes that means changes in relationships, maybe even an end to an “us”. Even finances as an adult are vastly different to when you were a kid, when in high school I was using my paycheck to pay for snacks and school dances, but now it’s being used to pay for insurance and utilities (and snacks still). But in the end, a majority of my memories are now all about the great people I’ve met and the amazing moments I’ve had and will continue to have. It’s my last year as an undergraduate, so I’d like to sign off with just a few things I wish I knew before my early/mid-20s to my fellow HerCampus besties!
1. WEAR SUNSCREEN.
2. How to maintain a car. Owning your own car is an amazing feat in adulthood, but learning to upkeep my car wasn’t just about going to cool themed car washes or simply putting in gas like when I was using the old family SUV. I was pretty much clueless when it came to taking care of a car. Until one day a video of TikTok creator 2jz_rotary popped up with a video captioned “how to ___ your car.” I think it was about how to properly jack up your car? What I really liked was her simple step by step process, and saw that a majority of her page was about teaching others how to take care of their car, especially if you grew up with no one around to teach you.
3. Find the little things that bring joy. If you were like me in high school, your schedule was pretty much filled with academics, extracurricular activities, and maybe even a job. I still had a really good social life, but once I transitioned to university, I started to lose the same passions I once had as a kid. Reading for example, was one of my favorite pastimes, that I would be at at the public library like every other week. I started off small with some online reading (so yes, mindless blogs and fanfiction) before moving on to book podcasts, and then recently signed up for a library card and am currently starting with The Poppy War trilogy by R. F. Kuang!
4. Ending relationships hurts. Whether it’s between friends, a significant other, or even family, people are bound to change over time, and sometimes those changes can lead people down different paths in life. It could be because of opposing views, or that each person’s end goal differs, but all relationships come and go. Don’t stress, but instead let yourself have the time to feel sad and grieve over it.
5. Healing is about letting the worst version of you be loved.
6. People pleasing is a waste of time. I understand when it comes to working, people pleasing or customer service can be necessary, but when such habits seep into your personal life and you’re not able to say “no” to others, feeling like your worth depends on how others perceive you, or constantly seeking validation and praise from others, can take a toll on your mental health and confidence. As a firstborn daughter, especially from a traditional family, a lot of my relatives expect me to kind of say “yes” or do things without being asked. It’s even harder when I work from home, they see it as an opportunity for me to multi-task. I’ve learned to just set boundaries or ways to enforce these boundaries. People may take advantage of your people pleasing tendencies, and it’s in your best interest in the long run to put yourself first to keep up your happiness.
7. Explore if you can. Go out as much as possible. Take yourself on solo dates, or what I call “field trips for me.” As a kid, I loved yearly field trips even if they were just to Colonial Williamsburg or the Virginia Living Museum. Going to the public library, zoo/aquarium, or museums really helps me to unwind after a long week or month.
8. Life is boring sometimes – that’s a good thing! Constantly feeling the need to be productive 24/7 takes a toll on your body and mind, so I appreciate the down times greatly. These moments are necessary to recover and recharge.
9. Don’t doubt, just go for it! Many times, I tend to think I’m not “good enough,” because the world is filled with tons of “smarter” people. But I’ve come to realize, I am good enough. A few years ago, a regular at my workplace asked me if I was still in college. They recommended a paid internship with the Department of Energy (this was back when I was a business student). The site talked about how they receive thousands of applications worldwide, but only 50 candidates are selected for the 10-week program. At the time, I didn’t have much field/office experience, my GPA was roughly a 2.3, and I was a full-time working student on scholarship. I originally wasn’t going to apply, but decided why not since their requirements were pretty easy and just went about my spring semester. Until I got a call during finals week that someone from the DOE was trying to reach me about an accepted application. I had been accepted! It was honestly one of the most fun internships I’d been on (paid, room and board covered, and in the heart of Washington D.C.).
10. Asking for help is okay! Before my people-pleasing tendencies used to hinder me and made me worry that asking for questions meant I was incompetent in the field. Since then, who cares? It’s better to ask for clarification or help with review than to have it bite you in the butt and cause more worry in the future.
11. Learn to cook at least one to two amazing dishes…for yourself. These are especially great if you’re sick, have had a busy day, or maybe just really lazy to cook something too gourmet. I usually choose meals that can be done in a single pot with whatever is in my fridge. Dishes like fried rice, stews, ramen, curries, dumplings, are all easy and under 15-30 minutes.
12. There’s nothing wrong with living at home for a while. I always thought that by the time I was 22 I would have my own place, but everything is SO EXPENSIVE. Since I commute to classes and my main job is in the area, I was having a hard time debating whether I should move, especially since I would just be living close to home anyway, but alone instead. I had a talk with my mom, and we ended up deciding that it would be best for me to just stay home, but that I just contribute to the house. We split up the main chores and some of the bills, and it’s been well since then.
13. Floss your teeth. The dentist is right, flossing your teeth is definitely necessary. You;ve only got one set of teeth – love them!
14. Regret is good, but don’t hang in the past. Being aware of your past or current mistakes is great, which gives you a chance to change how you will think or act in the future, but holding on to things that can’t be changed will eat away at you. For me, one of these moments was a friendship that was 10+ years strong, or at least I thought. It ended with me essentially ghosting them because I felt that the friendship shouldn’t continue, and I regretted the decision for a long two years. During that time, I realized that what I did was right because I had to put myself first when they themselves weren’t a great friend who took more than they gave. Those moments in the past are great to reflect on in the future, and it’s hard to learn to let go, but it’s best to always keep your eyes forward.
15. Learn to budget. It’s hard sometimes, especially when you want to give yourself a little treat, but instead, save it up to treat yourself to something bigger. Also, sometimes you have to consider rent and any upcoming bills to be paid before ordering takeaway for the 4th time this week.
16. Dating is hard. I’ve got plenty of stories of people ghosting me, me ghosting others, setting up dates and them not showing up, or having someone looking or acting completely different to how they presented themselves online. I’ve met up with a few people who were really pleasant overall but simply it just didn’t work out due to scheduling conflicts or not connecting with each other. Then there have been some really bad ones, where the other party was expecting more than the expected/doing the absolutely bare minimum or worse. One date invited me out to dinner, but it didn’t work out because they got mad when I wouldn’t cover their part of the bill. This was after they invited me, told me they were on a budget, that we should “go dutch” (meaning paying our respective parts of the bill which I was totally cool with), they chose the place, and ordered quite a bit. Since the date was going well anyway, where they were doing most of the talking and never really asking me any questions about myself, I just paid my part, left, and blocked them. Learn from me and I know everyone says this, but just take your time. Don’t settle!
17. Timelines are dumb. I’ve mentioned before, but it’s a good thing to keep in mind – you do you! I used to feel down on myself when others around me were always making certain achievements (getting married, having kids, finishing their PhD, etc.),
18. Keep snacks on hand. You’re running on 3 hours of sleep, had a morning exam you thought you did well but the grade submitted said otherwise, you have an interview to mentally prepare for, a group member hasn’t replied to your messages about why they haven’t completed their slides for two days now and your presentation is tomorrow, and your coffee is long cold. Being stressed I can totally understand and overcome the long day, but being hangry as well? Just not the vibe guys.
19. Have a bucket list. It can be anything from where to travel, what to eat, skills to overcome, the opportunities are endless! For me, my list is still growing, but it ranges from what countries I’d visit, types of cuisine to try (most recently tried was Ethiopian — I had an injera platter with misir wot, kik alicha, atakilt wot, ye gomen wot and shiro wot), and certain life accomplishments I’d like to complete.
20. Naps are the best.