21 Things I Learned by 21

Now that it is December I have officially begun the countdown to my birthday. It’s the day i’ve been looking forward to since my 16th birthday….the big TWO-ONE! While I'm excited to wear a fabulous outfit and hit the bars, I feel like there is so much more that comes with turning 21. It’s a right of passage, a true transition from teen years to adult life.

So it’s time to pop the bubbly and celebrate! But as I wait for the day to approach (December 18th, we got some time) I have been reflecting on all the lessons I've learned so far in my life. They haven’t all been fun, but the wisdom I have gained has helped shape me into who I am today! More importantly, it’ll help me head into my full-blown twenties poised and ready for success...oh, and of course, lots of fun.

WARNING: This is not your average bar crawl, we aren’t taking shots. We are downing some cold-hard truths! Cliches will be discussed, read on.

Number one: Your mom is always right.

Don’t tell my mom I’m admitting it, but it’s the truth! When she tells you to dress warmer, you will be cold. When she warns you about that boy, he will ghost you. Mothers have an instinct that never fails. Trust your momma! She knows a thing or two.

Number two: Keep an open mind.

Coming to college, I thought I had it all figured out. I never took the time to try new things or look at the world from different perspectives. Now, as a junior, I can tell you that everything is fair game! Don’t bash something if you haven’t tried it. Don’t brush off other people’s opinions if you haven’t thought through them. College is such a unique experience; never in your life will you get to be with so many diverse people again! Take the chance to learn from them and gain new perspectives.

Number three: Sometimes the bad guys wins.

Growing up, you were taught that hard work yields results and success. In college, that’s not always the case. Sometimes you see people get things you wouldn’t think they deserved. There is nothing more devastating than watching someone get what you wanted because of connections or money over your blood, sweat and tears.

Number four: Everyone’s college story is different.

Some people transfer closer to home. Some people join sororities and some people don’t. Some people pursue their passions and some choose majors that lead to stable careers. There are people who go out every weekend and some people who don’t drink at all; everyone is different. You will feel pressure to live your college years a certain way, but you have to do what is right for you! College is all about putting yourself at the center and preparing for the future.

Number five: Stay friends with people from high school.

Some people have this idea in their head that you have to leave high school in the past. Sure, forget about the petty drama, but hold your pals close! I have made amazing friends at college, but my friends back home hold a place in my heart that could never change. They know me in a way not everyone else does! You aren’t a loser for maintaining those relationships.

Number six: Have beliefs and share them.

I spent a good portion of my life thinking I couldn’t talk about controversial issues. Now, I can jump into political debates with ease. In this current climate, we all need to be comfortable having discussions about our beliefs and ideals. If you disagree with someone, then okay! Talk about it. We all need to work to create open dialogue so that we can better understand each other and truly make the world a better place.

Number seven: Your professors are cool...well, most of them.

I can for sure say I’ve had some frustrating professors, but then again, I've had some amazing ones who truly changed my life! As a PR major, the job market can be intimidating. I’ve had so many amazing men and women mentor me and help me figure out where my talents are. Your professors aren’t out to get you, and most of them have really cool life stories to share!

Number eight: Be forgiving.

People make mistakes, it’s part of life. You’ll get hurt, you can’t hold onto it forever. Moving on from the past and forgiving those who have wronged you is the most freeing things you can do.

Number nine: It’s never perfect.

You’ll end up places you never expected to be, with people you never expected to meet. Things change, plans change and people change. Life isn’t perfect but it’s good.

Number ten: Partying isn’t everything.

You’ll feel that pressure to go out and post it all over Snapchat, but it’s not necessary. Indulging in college nightlife is super fun and an experience everyone should try, but it’s not the end-all be-all of your college years. It’s okay to stay in and be cozy in bed too!

Number eleven: It’s okay to ask for help.

You don’t know everything. Despite your best efforts at adulting, there will be times when you just don’t know how to do something or where to go next. It’s okay to ask someone else for help or admit you don’t know something.

Number twelve: Shut up and listen.

Be the friend that listens. Always! Sometimes it's not about you or your opinion, sometimes all your friend needs is a shoulder to cry on. Be that person.

Number thirteen: But know when to speak up.

If something doesn't sit right with you, or you’re worried about someone's well being, say something. You never know when your voice could save someone’s life or get them out of a sticky situation. Trust your gut.

Number fourteen: Know your limits.

This is really important when it comes to school and commitments. You know yourself and your mental health, stick to that. You are in charge of yourself now, so know when you need to take a break or lessen your extracurricular commitments

Number fifteen: Don’t take yourself too seriously

I’m serious! When I first came to college I felt like people were constantly looking at me and making judgments. Guess what? They weren’t. Just live your life for yourself and enjoy the fun. If you look like an idiot every once and awhile, that's okay!

 

Number sixteen: When to walk away.

Okay, this one might still be a work in progress. However, I can tell you that it is so important to be able to acknowledge when it’s time to distance yourself from a person or a situation. It’s not always easy, but collecting yourself and moving on can sometimes be the best thing to do.

Number seventeen: Be a woman that supports women.

For a long time, this part of the feminist agenda threw me. I have definitely talked my fair amount of trash over the years. Now I get it. If we want to advocate for women, we need to advocate for ALL women. Just because you don’t agree with someone’s goals or career choices doesn’t mean they are any less deserving of appreciation and love. Being an advocate for women means giving all women the freedom to choose the life they want.

Number eighteen: There is no timeline.

Growing up, you really start to think that life has a set timeline. In high school you think you have to go directly to college and then to an adult job and marriage.

That’s not 100% true. Life doesn’t go in a straight lin; it’s chaos most of the time! You just have to do what is right for you and what makes you happy and sets you up for future success. Marriage, jobs, studying abroad...it’s all how you want to do it. Let’s toss those rules out the window!

Number nineteen: Everyone has an opinion.

I mean it. Everyone thinks they know best. While sometimes it is important to take the opinion of your friends and family to heart, know what you want too. You could end up spending your whole life doing what other people want. Make your own choices!

Number twenty: Life on a budget.

If you looked at my wallet right now you would see that this is a skill I am still working on. Learning how to ball on a budget is what your pre-adult years are all about. I’m not saying you can’t spend money, but do it wisely and budget yourself! Looking back, I’ve spent way too much money at Target or on iced coffee when it could have gone to a really cool experience or trip. Just some food for thought!

Number twenty-one: Laugh about it.

There’s humor in everything! Even your worst days, there has to be something to laugh about. Finding a little giggle in the midst of a dark time can help give you the strength you need to carry on! Keep your funny friend close, she’ll come in handy.

Woo-hoo! We made it to the end! Thanks for sticking with me till the end. See you at the bars!