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20 Important Lessons I Learned Before Turning 20

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CWU chapter.

I turned 20 years old a few months ago. It was kind of an important birthday for me. It was my golden birthday and I reached a whole new decade. I wanted to share some important things I learned from my twenty years of living. Some of them may sound cliche, but they are important and I feel I understand and apply them.

Here are the 20 things I learned these past two decades:

1.      My mom is my best friend

This is kind of specific to me, but I wanted to give a shout out to my mom. I did not realize how important and trusting she was of me. I can tell her LITERALLY anything and she is always there for me. 

2.      Sometimes their behavior is your answer

This can mean friends, co-workers and SOs. You may be wishing for them to say or do something to show how they feel about you, but the way they are acting is exactly what they feel. If they felt the way you wanted them to act, they would. 

3.      More friends don’t equal quality friendships

In high school, I used to be so concerned with stretching myself thin hanging out with every single one of my different friend groups. In college, I used to feel myself getting sad that I did not keep in contact with my friends from different groups. However, I realized that I need to focus on the relationships in front of me. Having my three close friends is more important than having thirty superficial friends. 

4.      Social media is a good way to waste time but try to limit it to when you need time wasted

I try to only use social media for a few minutes in passing, like when I am waiting for something. I get on TikTok in those five minutes before I start a shift at work. I occasionally will spend an hour on social media and it makes me feel so bad and feel like I did nothing productive. 

5.      Never give a SO something they don’t give you

This is especially if you’re dating a cis male. Men don’t need any more privileges or things they don’t work for. Don’t text them, more than they are texting you. Clearly, people get busy, but if a SO is not making time for you, or giving the same effort in return, they are not worth the time. Trust me, I have made that mistake far too many times. 

6.      Your future is not written in stone

Nothing is set in stone. If you feel like your path is not right for you, it is okay to travel down a new one. 

7.      Money is important but not more important than your mental health

If you know me personally, I have had more than my fair share of drama at multiple jobs. The money is really important, but I realized it is more important to focus on your mental health and take a break, than forcing yourself to be somewhere you aren’t happy. 

8.      Do not ignore the red flags

Literally, don’t. I used to see red and jump in. Literally, an ex of mine is known as “Bird Killer” by some of my close friends. If you see red, you should run. 

9.      If people don’t give you their time, they aren’t worth your time

This goes hand in hand with #5 but is more focused on friends. Don’t keep trying to plan things with people who don’t plan things back. If your friends don’t come to your awards ceremony, don’t come to theirs (obviously if they have an emergency or a good excuse). 

10.   Pursue everything you can, you never know unless you try

I learned this the hard way. I fail at a lot of things, but at least I know that I cannot do those things. 

11.   Making your own cold brew at home is better than spending money for one every day

Seriously, it’s like ten bucks for a month’s (maybe two) supply of cold brew in coffee filters and ground coffee. You can even be fancy with it and grind the coffee beans yourself.

frother\'s daughter coffee
Original photo by Natali Misiri

12.   It’s okay to not be okay

This might be cliche, but for a long time, I did not express how I was feeling to anyone. I now have a few close friends and a therapist to talk to about my issues. 

13.   Not everyone you want to stay in your life will

I can think of more than ten people I will always be sad knowing we are not still friends. A lot of them I used to try to reach out to, but I realized they never gave me the time of day or there were reasons we grew apart. Some were just because we hung out in high school every day. It is okay for people to grow apart. We were all a part of each other’s journey to where we are now. 

14.   If the car can get you from point A to point B, you don’t need a new one

I have a love-hate relationship with my gold Toyota Matrix, but it still gets me to where I need to go. I have been driving it since I was 16 and I have never been left stranded. I can’t afford a new car so I learned to be happy with what was given to me. 

15.   No one else is going to bring you permanent happiness, find it within yourself

I used to look for happiness in so many other people. It was a miracle that I found it within myself. 

16.   Go to bed early, nothing good comes from thoughts at 2am.

I have learned this one, and seem to have forgotten it again, oops. I used to have the worst thoughts once it hit midnight and then my anxiety held me for hours. Just go to bed. There is no need to stay up any later than 11:30 p.m.

17.   Budgeting is not pointless even if it’s as simple as planning out what your splurge buys each week will be

I suck at budgeting, but I will write down one or two things I want or need to spend money on for the week and then that will be all I buy other than groceries. 

18.   Spend a few moments when you’re stressed to just breath and let go

Mindfulness is so important. There are so many articles on how to de-stress. Find one that works for you and use it. 

19.   Do whatever makes you happy

This might seem basic, but it is so important. Just go do stuff that makes you happy. Don’t do stuff that doesn’t make you happy. That may not be a good excuse to get out of class or tests, but fill your life with things that make you happy, whether it is activities like reading or a little collection of yours.

20.   Pastimes are not a waste of time. There will come a time when you won’t be able to do them as often anymore.

All summer I felt so guilty cause I did nothing “productive” by playing video games or reading all summer. But, now that school has started, I have no time to do any of those things. I am really thankful that I did do those things back in the summer because now I am too busy to do them. It makes me happy. 

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Hi! My name is Katlyn White. I am a sophomore at CWU. I am double majoring in Professional and Creative Writing and Digital Journalism. I am a Cancer and a Ravenclaw.