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20 Things I’ve Learned in 20 Years

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

This week, I turn TWENTY years old. As in two whole decades. As I enter the next chapter of my life, I am excited, scared, and so many other things. Throughout the years, the good and the bad, I’ve learned a lot of lessons that I will carry with me as I move through the rest of my life. Today, I am going to share them with you (in no specific order or significance!) 

1. clap for them, but also for you.

It’s good to be proud of your friends, and you should be. But it’s equally important to be proud of yourself. Your achievements matter too. 

2. protect your peace.

If it’s not in your best interest, walk away. From friends, family members, relationships: if it costs you your mental wellbeing, it is too expensive. 

3. seek to listen, then to learn.

If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. It’s important to listen to understand before you abruptly speak. We could all learn a lot from each other if we just listened. 

4. happiness is an inside job.

Not a boyfriend, or a best friend, or a new purse, or dropping out of school is going to make you happy. The sooner you stop relying on others to console your own feelings, the better. 

5. if they choose to go, let them.

Anyone who chooses to walk out of your life should do so. You shouldn’t have to beg people to stay; they should want to be there. 

6. forgive yourself.

The past is in the past. If you can’t forgive yourself, why should anyone else? While you’re at it, also forgive everyone who never even apologized. Free yourself. 

7. no one is obligated to like you.

And you should be okay with that. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you, the two are not synonymous. 

8. live for today.

I’m pretty sure I waited my entire adolescent life for ‘adulthood.’ Now it’s here and I want to run the other way. 

9. tomorrow is not promised.

I’ve watched a lot of people experience great loss when they were very young. Take nothing for granted. 

10. take every opportunity.

To quote Chuck Bass, “this year I am saying yes to everything.” Every opportunity is an experience that you’ll be glad you had, regardless of if it was good or bad. 

11. you are the company you keep.

Who you choose to keep in your circle is a lot more important than you might think. It’s a reflection of your values, your morals, and yourself. Keep the right people beside you. 

12. trust yourself.

Any gut feeling you have is your body reacting to its surroundings. Listen. 

13. find something you’re passionate about, and be really, really good at it.

Make sure you have a hobby that makes you happy. If you can, find a way to monetize it.  

14. you don’t get an award for going through everything alone.

Ask for help. From your friends, from a teacher, from a therapist. Society would be a much better place if we all went to therapy and worked through our own issues. 

15. this too shall pass.

I’ve been through a lot of different situations in my life where I was convinced the world was ending. The sun always comes up the next day. 

16. live a private life.

My circle is tiny. Always has been, always will be. Gatekeeping is supposed to be a bad thing, but very few people know anything about me— and I like it that way. The less people know about the less there is to judge and meddle in.  

17. the right people will come in time.

I spent the first semester of college trying to find people who don’t drink for sport. I am so glad that I did. Be picky with who you let enter your life. 

18. honesty is always the best policy.

If you don’t want to go on the date, say so. If you don’t want to be their friend, say so. If the dress looks ugly, say so. You’re not a b!tch for expressing how you truly feel— and I’m sorry if society has convinced you so. 

19. take nothing personally.

You don’t know what anyone else is going through, or when someone is having a bad day. If you’re having a bad interaction with someone, you’re most likely collateral damage. No one is thinking about you as much as you think about yourself. 

20. it’s okay to change your mind, you should.

Normalize changing your opinion when you’re presented with new information. You’re meant to evolve with new experiences and age. 

If you take anything from this list at all, I hope it is to always be exactly who you are— the rest always sorts itself out. <3

Sadie is a junior at the University of Connecticut studying a dual degree in journalism & legal studies with a minor in women's studies. She’s a raging feminist and iced chai tea latte extraordinaire.