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

I write this article just a few hours before my 21st birthday, and might I say, wow. We are really, truly here. I’m definitely the type to cry on my birthday, so I thought, why not start early? I’m one year deep into my 20-somethings, and there have already been so many incredible new lessons and experiences from this year. So, I thought I’d sit down and write some of those while I wait for the ability to purchase alcohol. With that being said, here is everything (okay, realistically, a few things) that 20 has taught me.

Someone is always watching

There were certainly good and bad lessons attached to this one. I learned my favorite classmates remembered the little details I would bring up that I doubted anyone would care to know, and I received compliments from people just a step above being a stranger for things they noticed about me related to my character.

However, on the flip side, I learned that I can maybe control my facial expressions in some situations, and how I phrase things can really enhance or reduce how others perceive me. People are always watching, so what really matters is learning to decipher when it is a good time to care — and take heed to this — and when it doesn’t matter at all. (Hint: if you want to take pictures in public but you’re scared of being noticed, you better take those pictures because you probably look amazing, and who cares what strangers really think!?)

Rejection isn’t fatal

This year, I was rejected from creative journals, companies, and even a man (long story), so you can trust me when I say rejection does not kill. With each rejection letter (or really formal text message), I learned how to balance working through my extremely valid emotions while also maintaining my confidence and understanding that rejection from others does not say anything about my own worth. For every rejection I experienced while 20, I feel that I was also extremely blessed to experience twice the opportunities and celebrations, so I guess that’s just kind of how it goes.

The gym is kinda fun

I definitely entered my gym era this year, and I’m not complaining! I haven’t been very consistent in the past months if I’m being very honest, but going to the gym greatly boosted my mood, confidence, and, of course, physical strength. The gym gave me more motivation to structure my day to fit my routine in with my other plans; I also learned that gym bros aren’t the scariest people on the planet!

There is truly love all around me

This was the year that I really put my all into the relationships around me and not just in a people-pleaser way! Instead of focusing on what I didn’t have, I put my heart into the beautiful new and blossoming friendships already present in my life, and I’m so happy I did! Love doesn’t begin with a boyfriend.

There’s love found in my childhood home, in the articles I write, in the textbooks I read, in the music I listen to, in the eyes of a stranger complimenting my hair, in the hugs of my friends, in the search for my faith, and within my very own heart. I’m not saying it’s wrong of me to want expressions of love that are currently not present in my life, but seeing love through the half-full mentality has greatly increased my understanding of love and my own personal well-being.

Bye 20!

To summarize the experience of being 20, the lows are very low, but the highs are very high. I have no clue what the future will hold, but 21, I’m ready for you! (I think.)

Anaya White is a junior at Texas Christian University studying Business Information Systems and Creative Writing! In her free time, she enjoys playing the ukulele, scrolling through Pinterest, and turning her silly little feelings into poems.