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20 Life Lessons from A 20-Year-Old College Student

As of March 6th, I’m officially beyond my teenage years and about to embark on my twenties! It feels like I’ve been a teenager my entire life, when in reality it was only seven years. To celebrate my 20th birthday, I wanted to share with everyone some life lessons I’ve learned over the last two decades. A lot of these I’ve learned from my personal experiences, but some of them I’ve learned from other adults in my life. I hope you will take a lot of these to heart, because I think all of these are extremely important and have helped shaped me into who I am today!


1. Remain close to your family.

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned over the years it’s that family sticks by your side no matter what. In many ways, my family members are my best friends. They know everything about me and I never have to feel like I can’t be myself around them. There are moments when they seem to know me better than I know myself, which is simultaneously disturbing and flattering. Overall, however, being very close to my family has been extremely beneficial. They’ll be there for you through the best of times and the worst of times!


2. Try your absolute best in school, but also know that your grades don’t define you.


When I was in middle school, I beat myself up every time I got any grade below an A-. It took me a while after that to realize that it’s not worth hating yourself for one bad grade that won’t have any significance later in your life. At the same time, however, your education is important, and you should try your best to get the grades you deserve!


3. Make small talk with the people you sit next to in class. Small talk can lead to an interesting conversation!


Many of the friendships I’ve made over the years all began because I turned to the person next to  me in class one day and struck up a conversation before class began. One of my best friends from high school and I met in 10th grade English class on the first day, and we’ve been extremely close ever since. So don’t be shy! You never know when you’ll find a best friend in a stranger.


4. Turn off your phone for at least an hour everyday and spend that time going for a walk or reading a book.


I’m like most people my age: I use my phone excessively. And while I do love going on social media and messaging friends, I try my best everyday to turn off my phone for a few hours and either read, get homework done, or go for a walk. It’s refreshing, and reminds me that there’s a world outside of the internet.


5. Reconnect with an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time.


One of my favorite things to do is randomly message an old friend and see how they’re doing. They’re always so surprised to hear from me, but it never takes long for us to catch up and feel the familiar bond from when we were younger. It’s a great feeling, and I never get tired of it!


6. When you feel upset or frustrated, write your feelings down and turn them into a poem!


I might be biased because I’m a writer, but I think the best way to let out bottled up feelings is to write them down. If I’m feeling upset, angry, or frustrated, I always pull out my notebook and translate my emotions into a poem. It helps me a lot, and that way I get the emotions out of my system without hurting anyone in the process.


7. Don’t leave the people you care about waiting for an answer– respond ASAP.


Texting is a great, but awful thing. I love texting friends and family, but it’s incredibly annoying when someone you’ve contacted doesn’t respond. I get that we all have busy lives, but it makes a difference to reply to someone as soon as you can, to let them know that you read their message.


8. Keep track of your daily appointments in a planner.


I love love love organizing things. If I didn’t have my wall calendar and planner, I’d be so confused about what commitments I have each day. Writing down appointments and assignments is so simple, and feels great to do. Being able to keep track of things makes my mind a lot clearer!


9. Be kind to everyone you meet, until they give you a reason to not treat them kindly.


This has always sort of been my motto. I always do my best to treat everyone I meet with the same amount of kindness and respect, because I have no reason not to. Besides, doesn’t it make your day when someone does something nice for you, such as holding open a door? Small gestures can make or break your day!


10. Don’t use up energy by holding grudges. Let them go; everyone messes up sometimes.


I admit, I’m someone who tends to hold grudges. But I’ve also learned not to hold them for long, because it’s not fair to you or the person you’re angry with. Holding grudges is exhausting, frankly, and it’s mental energy I’d rather save for something more important and positive.


11. Accept the fact that you can be wrong, but know that it does not lessen who you are.


People seem to have this mentality that being wrong makes them a bad person, when this is far from the truth. I know how embarrassing it can feel when you say something wrong, or do something controversial. But you learn from these mistakes, and they help make you a stronger, well-rounded person in the long run.


12. Know that words leave a long-lasting impact– think before you say something.


There are times when I say something the second the thought comes into my mind, and instantly want to take back the words once they’re spoken. Everyone does this; it’s just a part of life. But as people know, words can leave long-lasting scars. It is extremely important to think through your words before saying them!


13. Be empathetic, not sympathetic.


How many times have you heard someone say the words “I don’t want your pity”? It’s a phrase heard in books, movies, and real life. And empathy is a very raw, real emotion: if you’ve had a bad experience, you want someone to talk to and just vent to. You want someone who understands. Empathy is such a great skill, and I know for me, being empathetic, rather than sympathetic, is much more beneficial in showing you care and maintaining relationships with the people you care about in life.


14. Follow your passions and dreams, not the ones others’ want for you.


I feel like, for the most part, people often take on jobs, work, and/or go to the colleges that other people want for them. For instance, someone might want to become a singer, but are discouraged by their parents for wanting to pursue a career that isn’t always successful for everyone. Instead, they might tell their kid to become something more “conventional” like a dentist, or a lawyer. And while those occupations might hold you over financially, I’m a huge believer in doing what your heart wants. If you find a job that makes you happy and that you love, that’s all that should matter in the end.


15. Know that you won’t like everyone, and not everyone will like you.


As stated earlier, I’m someone who tries to like everyone I meet. But as much as it bothers me at times, I’m not going to get along with every person in my life, and that’s okay. We’re not meant to get along perfectly with every other human living on this earth– but as long as you go into life being respectful and kind, you’ll come across people who you do click with.


16. Respect and be thankful to your teachers and professors.


It took me years to recognize just how great my teachers are. As a kid I used to just think they were adults forced to teach kids academics, but over the last few years I’ve started to really appreciate my educators. Some of my favorite and best educators have been people who have taught me not just academic material, but also life advice. And the best educators are the ones who show they truly care about their students’ well-being, and see them as more than just students.


17. Learn to let the past fade away, and focus on shaping your ideal future.


I tend to be someone who reflects on the past a lot. I spend much of my time thinking about my childhood, my elementary school days, and moments I wish I could go back and change. But the thing about the past is, you can’t change it, no matter how much you wish you could. But you do have much more control over your future. So focus more on the part of your life you can control, and don’t waste time dwelling on your past when you simply have to let go and let old memories fade.


18. Tell the people you love and adore that you love and adore them.



Knowing that someone loves you is a beautiful thing. Although it may be an unspoken, mutual feeling between you and a person, telling them aloud tightens your bond, and assures them that your connection is a shared feeling, and not one-sided, or uneasy. So tell your Mom, your Dad, your siblings, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your friends– you’ll both feel amazing afterwards!


19. Patience is a necessary skill.


Whether it’s waiting in a long line at the grocery store, or waiting for class to be over, there are numerous times where our patience is tested and sometimes it’s impossible to be patient. But when you can, take a deep breath, and calm yourself. Your mind is more focused, efficient,  and rational when you’re calm.


20. Never feel ashamed for feeling happy or excited.


Isn’t it awful when someone rains on your parade? One second you’re on Cloud 9, and the next moment someone says a comment that causes you to come crashing down. Feeling pure happiness and excitement is a wonderful thing, and you deserve to feel that way. So don’t let people’s snarky comments get you down. Own the happiness coursing through your heart and veins!

I am by no means a wise philosopher, but I hope you enjoyed these pieces of advice. I’ve always taken advice from others into consideration, even if I didn’t necessarily agree with them. If you have any words of advice to share, feel free to email us using the address below or comment on our page!


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ABOUT ME Name: Olivia Hobert Pronouns: She/Her/Hers Age: 20 Birthday: March 6 Astrological Sign: Pisces College/Year: Mount Holyoke College 2020 Major: Psychology & Education Hometown: Framingham, MA Hobbies: Writing, Reading, Photography
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