The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
“Where’d all the time go. It’s starting to fly.”
As the clock ticks down to my 20th birthday, I can’t help but keep Dr. Dog’s lyrics on replay in my mind. I could have sworn I just turned 16 last year, what do you mean I’m turning twenty? TWENTY?! I’ve repeated it so many times the number doesn’t even sound real anymore. As far in denial as I am about my age, no one can stop time from moving, so let’s take a moment to rewind the clock and pay homage to the end of my childhood by looking back at all of the lessons I’ve learned throughout the years.
1. Find beauty in the small things
Who knew that such a small, fragile bundle of limbs could be loved so, so much? Newborns all around the world are proof that no matter how small something may be, the impact and beauty they carry can be great. So, stop and smell the roses, wake up for that sunrise, and go snuggle your cat. These little things can truly turn your day around for the better.
2. It’s not how we fall, its how we get back up again
There’s so much pressure put around a child’s first steps, and although it’s a wonderful accomplishment, I want to take some time to recognize and appreciate all those failed attempts at walking. Those wobbly slip-ups and face-plants are the first time we get to learn grit and determination. If you really think about it, failure isn’t about falling down, it’s about not choosing to try again.
3. No is a Full Sentence
Aah, the “terrible twos” and “treacherous threes.” When kids finally reach the age of learning that they are actually their own person and can make decisions for themselves (…as long as their parents approve). This is usually about the time when parents complain about their kid always saying “NO! NO! NO!” It’s important to keep in mind, however, that these kids are only saying this to try and practice their autonomy. Respect the no’s!
4. Stay Curious
A big wish of mine is to be able to see the world through the eyes of a kid again. There’s something about their ability to imagine and wonder that truly is admirable. The pure joy they get from jumping in little puddles or catching snowflakes on their tongue is something I wish adults never lost. So be like a kid, stay curious, and never lose your sense of awe with the world.
5. You won’t know until you try
Do you remember your first ever day at school? The fear of a new environment? Not knowing what to do without mom or dad by your side? In the beginning, it felt impossible to ever make it a full day on your own. The thing is, once you were able to calm down and actually spend some time getting used to the place, you were fine! All you had to do was give it a try.
6. Make room for fun
Lately, I’ve been having to remind myself that you can’t push yourself forever. Where’s the room for fun if you’re working three jobs as a full-time student? If you don’t take the time to chill out and play, sooner or later your overall happiness and health will pay the price. So don’t forget to schedule some time to hang out with friends, do some self-care, and have fun!
7. Healing takes time
As we all know, rooms full of kids are basically just petri dishes waiting to spread some sickness around. Every few months I was sick with some sort of cold, infection, or virus. As someone who gets pretty anxious about their health, sick days were always dreaded. Over the years, however, I’ve learned that the more you try and rush your healing, the longer it tends to take. Recovering is a process, so don’t deny your body the time and space it needs to heal.
8. You’re gonna get hurt
On a similar note, life can hurt sometimes! Not only when you fall and scrape your knees, but also when your “friend” spills to your crush the secret that you like him at recess, or when a boy teases you about your favorite backpack on the bus. As much as I’d love to hug that little girl and promise her she’ll never get hurt again, that just isn’t true. Life is full of painful moments, but without these moments we wouldn’t learn and grow into the people we are today.
9. Comparison is pointless
Entering the “tween” years meant the start of cliques and popularity hierarchies. Personally, as a member of the nerd group, I was set pretty low in the rankings. I never had too much of an issue with this, as my friends were always right there with me. But when they started getting into classes more advanced than me, I couldn’t help but compare. I never felt smart enough for them, and for years after spent hours studying and working as hard as I could to make up for it. Looking back now, I wish I could have understood that no one else was making these comparisons between us. My friends and family loved me for who I was, regardless of my insecurities. The sooner we can stop comparing ourselves to others, the better.
10. the future is unknown
“Are you ready for middle school?!” I can still remember how nervous I was as a little 10-year-old every time someone asked me this. I was so certain I was going to get lost (and did!) and was so confused about all the new schedules and classroom setups. Everything I thought I knew about school was suddenly about to change. It was a big reminder that no one can be 100% prepared for the future. We all get a little lost sometimes!
11. It’s okay to be scared
At 11 years old, I had my first-ever panic attack. I was sitting in the doctor’s office, sick with some sort of virus. Within seconds my heart was racing, my hands and feet were freezing, and I was convinced I was going to die. The only thing that could calm me down was the sound of my Mom’s voice and thoughts of the beach. I had to learn at a young age the importance of coping with your fears, and accepting that sometimes you just have to let the scary feelings pass to feel better.
12. You’re Stronger than you know
In the spring of seventh grade, I had spinal fusion surgery to help correct my scoliosis. As one of the most painful procedures a child can undergo, I had to build up a lot of strength both physically and mentally to recover. Sometimes, we aren’t really aware of our own courage until we are put to the test. Whoever is reading this, I want you to understand that no matter how powerless you may think you are, you are so much stronger and braver than you could possibly know! <3
13. Stay true to who you are
As you prepare for high school years, it’s DEFINITELY necessary to remind yourself of the importance of staying true to who you are. Teenagers go through a lot of changes. It can be difficult to keep track of or even identify your likes and values. This makes it very easy to get tangled up in the wrong group of people. The best way to avoid finding yourself going down a road you never wanted is to always keep in touch with the person you truly are and wish to be.
14. You’re going to make mistakes
I cannot count how many times I slipped up while in high school. From answering a question confidently only to have the teacher tell me I was wrong, to tripping over my own feet in gym class and penguin-sliding in front of everyone, I’ve made PLENTY of mistakes already in my lifetime. As the old saying goes though, we learn from our mistakes, so don’t be afraid to make them. Plus, they’re only really “happy little accidents” in the eyes of Bob Ross.
15. Friends have your back
True friends will ALWAYS have your back! Whether it’s by making you laugh while you’re sick and dealing with bloody blisters from wearing heels at your sophomore ring dance, or dancing with you in the bathroom because you’re shy and don’t like being in large crowds of people. Good friends will always find a way to make you laugh even on your worst days. So, remember to give your friends a little extra love today!
16. Take it one day at a time
Junior year is notorious for being the most unforgiving year of high school. I remember just drowning in schoolwork, barely making it through the day only to go to work for another three hours right after. It was a difficult year, but focusing on one day at a time definitely helped me push through and not get too overwhelmed.
17. you can’t control everything
And now we’ve reached the year of the sickness-that-must-not-be-named (*cough* COVID-19 *cough*). This was a big reminder to everyone, I’m sure, that we cannot control everything. Sometimes things happen in our world that are just out of our hands. The only thing we can do is adapt and learn how to best handle whatever life may throw at us.
18. Go easy on yourself
At 18, an uprising adult, I began to experience the downfall of my own mental health. With COVID-19, family losses, and a lot of social changes, it’s safe to say that I wasn’t in my *best* mindset. As a bit of a perfectionist, this wasn’t really easy for me to deal with. Now that I’m finally trying to heal from these traumas, please take it from me and go easy on yourself. If you don’t give yourself time to heal now, it’s only going to build up for the future. Remember, all you can do is your best, and that’s enough!
19. It’s okay to need help
This past year, I really had to focus on accepting that it’s okay to need help sometimes! If you are ever struggling, you DO NOT have to go through it alone. In fact, reaching out for help is often one of the first steps in getting better. I know it can be hard, but trust me, you will be grateful to have someone on your side that can help you heal.
20. Respect your boundaries
This lesson comes with a big shout-out to my therapist. BOUNDARIES! BOUNDARIES! BOUNDARIES! This is by far one of the biggest lessons I have yet to learn as I enter my twenties. It’s so important to set your boundaries and stick to them! The more you work on protecting yourself and your peace, the more you will be able to heal and enjoy the life you were meant to live.
And there we have it! Although I might still feel like that little girl on her first day of kindergarten, nervous and unsure of what the new chapter would bring, I know that with a bit of strength, a good group of friends, and a lot of self-love, I will be able to enter my 20s on the right foot. So without further adieu, welcome to your 20s, Makenna!