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20 Things I’ve Learned by 20

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Last year, I published an article titled “19 things I learned at 19” and the year before “18 things I learned at 18” to share the lessons I learned each year. In honor of a new chapter in my life (hello twenties), I am pleased to share the 20 things I learned at 20.

Everything happens for a reason.

As cliché as this sounds, it’s true. Roll with the punches and take it easy! It’s so easy to hyperfixate on why things did or didn’t happen, but truly, what is meant to be will be. While some things might really suck at the time, you might catch yourself a few months later looking back and being super proud of how far you’ve come.

Don’t mix your alcohol.

Warning: this action may lead to a) drunk texts you definitely should not be sending, b) the urge to get on an elevated space at a bar, or c) puke on your new Aritzia top. You’ve been warned!

Long drives with friends are therapeutic.

Driving along the beach with the windows open and Taylor Swift blasting will make you feel alive.

It’s okay to be selfish.

It’s okay to not be there for everyone all the time. It’s okay to protect your peace even if it means turning off your phone and deciding to not reply to texts or snaps for a day; prioritize your rest!

Go on that first date.

First dates are scary. It’s scary to put yourself out there, to willingly be uncomfortable, to get to know a stranger over a drink or a coffee. But there’s usually two outcomes: the date goes great and could lead to something or it’s a flop and you have a funny story to share with your friends. Take the risk, you never know what might happen!

Be ambitious.

Pursue opportunities even if you feel like you’re not the most qualified candidate. You might be surprised with the result.

Dance is healing.

Training in the heels dance genre more seriously this year taught me a lot. I took classes in different languages, performed in a show, upgraded to training in stilettos from block heels (a pretty challenging transition might I add), and found an amazing community of other dancers.

Read more.

Finding a book you don’t want to put down and spending the day reading is always a good choice. Being Lolita by Alisson Wood, Brazen by Julia Haart, and Not Like Other Girls by Lena Dunham were among my favorites this year.

Don’t wear nice shoes to house parties.

My pink Converse absolutely went through it this year. Just go to H&M and get a pair of beaters to wear so you don’t care if they get ratty.

Your first heartbreak will suck.

I think everyone learns the hard way that the only thing to heal a broken heart is time. While it really does suck in the moment, you have to let yourself feel those tough emotions. Lean on those who love you, take time to reflect, and find joy in the things you love doing. I promise you’ll be okay.

Dye your hair.

I did have a post mental-breakdown blonde hair moment this year. Even though I realized that I’m not quite suited for a platinum look, it was a very fun thing to try for a few months.

You don’t always have to go out.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good night out. Sometimes though the best nights are spent getting silly and watching Twilight with your friends.

You will mess up.

Relapses happen, growth isn’t always constant. You will make mistakes and do some dumb stuff. Remember, those bad experiences don’t define you. 

Bad moods are usually cured by sleep, food, or a workout.

8 hours of sleep, pasta, and a decent pilates class is the recipe for a happy life.

Sometimes you have to take the backseat.

Some issues aren’t yours to fix. A lot of the time, you can’t control a situation. While it can be tough, there’s a lot to learn by sitting back and just watching it play out.


Take any opportunity you get to travel. Seeing the world and getting new perspectives on life is the absolute most rewarding thing.

Growing apart from friends is inevitable.

Growing up means changing. Sometimes the people we used to spend all of our time with just don’t fit into our new lives. Take comfort in the happy memories you have, and look forward to all the new ones you will make with others in the future.

Moving away from home is so scary but so worth it.

Leaving your parents house and being on your own for the first time can be daunting. Especially if you are on a whole other continent, in a different timezone, in a country where people speak a foreign language. However, the lessons you learn and the responsibility that comes with moving away will force you to mature. 

Your plans will change.

10 year plans aren’t always realistic. I learned this year that what I want to do with my life is way different then the plan I had coming into my undergrad two years ago. Don’t limit yourself to one thing. Explore what inspires and drives you, and don’t be afraid to pursue what you love. You only have one shot at life, so why waste it on mediocrity?

Realizing you are an adult is weird.

Do I look around sometimes and wonder how I got to where I am now? 100%. Sometimes I still feel like the same brace-faced 13 year old theater kid, even though I’m now a 20 year old with a marketing internship and enrolled at a university in a foreign country. Like I’ve said before, change is scary, but inevitable. Enjoy the ride and take the time to look around once in a while and appreciate where you are.

See you next year when I can legally drink in the US!

👯‍♀️ Related: 19 Things I Learned at 19
Alison is a third-year student at the University of Victoria pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature with a minor in Professional Communication. When she isn't planning her next big article you can find Ali in the dance studio, catching a wave in Tofino, browsing the Aritzia clearance rack, or crafting the perfect oat milk latte.