November is my favorite month of the year. This is partially because Halloween just happened and we are now getting closer to Christmas season, but also because November is my birthday month! This year, I turned 20, which was no big deal until I realized I had to say goodbye to my teenage years. The more I kept thinking, the more I started reflecting on what it meant to start my twenties, as well as the lessons I have learned so far…
1- No one else can make you happy
As someone who has been struggling with weight and body image issues for years now, this is something that I try to remind myself of when I get down. Being confident in myself—both physically and mentally—has taught me to love myself and feel empowered in who I am. However, these feelings don’t form overnight. They take dedication and time, just like anything else that generates success. Yes, you can have a support system, but you are the only one that can truly determine your happiness. Keep in mind, we all have days where we don’t feel like the best versions of ourselves and that’s okay. Take a deep breath and try again tomorrow.
2- Passion fuels purpose…
Find something you’re passionate about. Let it drive you to productivity and help you get through your day with purpose and happiness. Who knows where that passion can take you?
3- … But you don’t have to have it all figured out
Yes, I’m still deciding what I want to do for the rest of my life… sound scary? I actually think it’s quite exciting, as it means I’m still able to be open to so many opportunities! So yes, it’s okay to say, “I don’t know.”
4- Mental health matters
Younger me thought that if you didn’t feel okay, you just needed to get over it and be strong. And while, yes, you need to be stronger than your emotions at times, it is okay to not be okay all the time. And don’t be afraid to seek out resources to help you get through hard times.
5- If you need to cry, then cry
Going along with the idea of trying to stay strong, it is also okay to let your emotions out sometimes. It can even be helpful to feel better. It’s not worth suffocating a piece of your heart just to make someone think better of you. Crying just feels good sometimes! Let it out and move on.
6- Live in the present
Don’t try to plan ahead too much and get stressed about it. Instead, focus on the now and what you can control. Don’t waste your time worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet, or things that have come and gone. Enjoy the little things each day and learn to be grateful for every day. Carpe Diem.
7- Your body is your temple
Eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep aren’t just things doctors recommend to keep you alive. They are essential for efficient functioning and keeping you in a good mood. Personally, I feel better about myself knowing I am taking care of my body. After all, we only get one body in our lifetime, so treat it the way it deserves.
8- It’s okay to say NO
It might seem weird but, sometimes, be selfish for yourself. I tend to be a people-pleaser, so knowing when to say ‘no’ sometimes is essential. Do what you need to do for yourself… you’ll thank yourself later!
9- Take some risks
It’s okay to change your mind, to do the scary thing, to get out of your comfort zone. This is what college is all about. Discover yourself and experience as much as you can. Take on a new hobby or go on a spontaneous road trip. Those little risks usually turn out to be the greatest memories!
10- Focus on you, sis!
Okay, so this is controversial. But don’t look for someone to “complete” you. You’re already whole, so focus on yourself and your goals. If you do end up finding that person that makes you happy and can grow by your side, then hell yeah, go for it. If they won’t do this for you, don’t waste your time on them—you need yourself more.
11- Check on your loved ones
Who hasn’t fought with their parents or gone through a teenage rebellion phase? But, it’s time to let it go. Same thing with friendships. Make sure the people you care about know you’re there for them and that you love them—family and friendships are so important to cherish.
12- Spend money on memories, not things
Experiences can be remembered forever and can shape who you are. Materialistic items are only temporary. And if you happen to have a shopping addiction like me, just think about how those dollars can go towards a great trip, instead of an extra dress in your wardrobe.
13- Keep your circle close and small
You don’t need a million friends, only a few you can count on for anything. With time, you will figure out who these people are, and you will learn to appreciate them more and more. Even if it is long distance, maintain these strong friendships. They keep you grounded and will remind you of home.
Communication is important in all relationships, whether they are professional, romantic or platonic. Communicating your needs sooner rather than later will prevent easily fixable situations from escalating into something worse. Share how you feel and be honest with the people around you, and I promise it will save you from stupid fights and misunderstandings.
15- “Work Hard, Play Hard”
I have a vision board that is all about hustle and being a girl boss, but even with great ambitions and big goals, allow yourself to have fun. So yes, study hard during the week, but still take time to enjoy that Sunday brunch or that night out. It’s all about balance.
16- Time alone is time well-spent
I thoroughly enjoy being by myself, although I am aware that many people don’t. Eventually, you’ll grow to cherish it — there’s something about that level of independence that’s so comforting. Oh, and blasting some music and dancing alone in your apartment is the best kind of therapy.
17- Travel as much as you can
Your girl here loves travelling! Being from France and now studying in the US, I just want to go everywhere. I feel like I grow immensily as a person when I travel, and I always learn so much. With COVID happening now, it made me realize how much travelling is so important and how I will cherish every opportunity to do so as soon as I can!
18- “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”
In other words, don’t give a crap. There will always be people who like you and some who don’t, and that’s okay! You are not defined by what people think of you! Not caring about what other people think has made me a much happier person. Keep doing you and don’t waste your energy on people who don’t deserve it.
19- Stop comparing yourself
Okay, so this is a tough one for me, but probably the most important lesson I’ve learned. I am me and nobody else is like me. That’s what’s awesome! People grow at different paces and want different things. A quote that has highlighted this idea beautifully for me is, “Flowers are pretty, but so are sunsets and they look nothing alike.” So yes, you might want to have different hair, to be taller, or to be able to have better skin, but all you can do is appreciate yourself and try to be the best version of yourself.
20- Everything turns out okay
While a particular situation might seem like the worst thing ever in the moment, try to remember that’s its only one bad moment or one bad day. And bad things are only temporary! Every obstacle you’ve faced has made you stronger and made you who you are today. Everything happens for a reason, and it always turns out okay. You will end up where you’re supposed to be, so have faith and be positive.
While I have learned so much already in 20 years, it is so exciting to think that I have so much more to experience. Never stop learning and enjoy every moment, because time does fly.
Cheers to 20 and to the next decade—remember, everything will be just fine!