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

To my and everyone else’s surprise, last week I turned twenty years old (ageing is absolutely crazy)! All jokes aside, I’m very lucky to be able to see another completed rotation around the sun with all my favourite people, even if this last year might not have been my personal favourite. In the spirit of growing old and wise (although the latter is up for debate), I’ve decided to recap 20 things I’ve learned in my 20 years for all the youngsters out there, but I’m no life coach, so take these with a grain of salt!

1. It really does not matter what anyone else thinks.

This one applies to just about everything. From the colour you choose to dye your hair to the things that you like to post about on your Instagram story to tough choices you might have to make; other people’s opinions should really be a minor factor in guiding your decisions. I will admit that I’m still working on this one myself (like most things on this list), but I’ve realized in retrospect that a lot of the things I was once worried about being judged for didn’t end up being a big deal at all. And if it was a big deal, what mattered is that the right people in my life understood and stuck around.

2. Choose your friends wisely.

That last lesson leads really nicely into this one. Yes, this is common sense and I know your mom probably told you the same thing all the time while you were growing up, but it’s true. Having a tight-knit chosen family makes the highs that much higher and the lows that much more survivable.

3. Call your loved ones, even if the only thing you have to update them on is the PB&J you ate today.

I’m extremely guilty of not having called my mom enough in my first year of university, which is pretty common, but I feel bad nonetheless. If COVID has taught me anything, it’s that you really can’t take time with your loved ones for granted. I know that one day down the line a random conversation with my mom about a sandwich might be something that makes me smile, so it’s worth taking the time to do. Your loved ones miss you too!

4. Give love to the people in your life without expecting something in return.

Unconditional love is something that we all think we’ve nailed, but truthfully it’s a lot trickier to master than it seems. Do things for your loved ones because you want to––relationships are not transactional. That being said, there’s a big difference between giving unconditional love and being underappreciated and neglected. Don’t accept less than what you deserve.

5. Putting your pride aside to communicate is a gift both to yourself and the people around you.

This one seems obvious too, but again, it’s much easier said than done. I’m a very passive-aggressive person when I’m upset, which serves no purpose other than making things more difficult for me and the people in my life. The best fix for something that’s bothering you is just to be direct about it rather than sit around and expect that somebody will figure it out and bring you the solution on a silver platter.

6. Allow yourself to feel pain just like you would any other emotion.

I think this lesson is the one that requires the most rewiring of your brain. I know it did for me. Unfortunately, there are huge premiums on not being sad or in pain, but just like any other emotion, these things go away by working through them rather than bottling them up. Sometimes that means not cracking jokes like you usually do, taking whole days to just be alone and enjoy some quiet, or crying really loud. Whatever it means for you, sadness is an emotion just like any other and it needs the space to be felt, so make some room for it in your life.

7. Healing is most definitely NOT a linear process and you shouldn’t treat it like it is.

100% of the time I’m my own biggest enemy, and usually, I notice this the most when I’m trying to recover from something. Whether the trauma might be physical or emotional, there always comes a point in the healing process where I get frustrated and tear myself down even further, when what I really need is extra support. Like most other things, healing doesn’t happen perfectly and letting go of that expectation really takes a weight off your shoulders when you need it the most.

8. Taking a 10-minute break to grab something to eat will not prevent you from getting that A+ on your finals.

I know this one might seem unnecessary, but I used to forget my own health during exam season and wouldn’t take breaks for something as simple as eating. Unfortunately, while I thought I was saving time, over the long haul, I really wasn’t. The hunger would make me sluggish and more irritable, which meant that even though I was doing work for hours at a time, it wasn’t amounting to anything significant at all. Take that break to eat that sandwich or buy that coffee, and keep going.

9. Getting work done on time *is* a form of self-care.

This one is actually very new to me! I’m a pretty big procrastinator, but recently I’ve been trying to get my work done in focused bursts so that at the end of the day I can have a little bit of time to read a chapter or two of a book or to catch up on an episode of one Netflix original or another. Ultimately, the time that I waste during the day is just time I lose for myself at the end of the day, so now I try to think of doing work at an appropriate time as a form of self-care because it keeps my stress low during the day and it gives me the chance to unwind at the end of the day.

10. Stop waiting for the perfect time to do something––it’ll never get done.

Not learning this one sooner actually held me back from enjoying a lot of my hobbies. I have a huge perfectionism problem, so I always hesitate to start things unless I can be sure that I can do them all in one perfect go. Unfortunately, I wait so long that the time never comes, and eventually, my passion for said hobby fades, and then I’m just left feeling very unsatisfied with no one to blame but myself. Whether this lesson applies to your hobbies or anything else, just rip off that perfectionism band-aid and go do whatever it is you’re putting off––starting is always the hardest part!

11. Just because you’re not immediately brilliant at something does not mean it’s not worth your time.

Yes, this one is extremely hypocritical coming from me, but it’s TRUE. I’ve had an acoustic guitar for almost 2 years now and I’ve only ever picked it up sporadically because every time I do I’m shocked and surprised that I’m not a prodigy. Very hard to believe, I know. At the end of the day, I know I’m not going to get better unless I put the time in, but I never do, so learn from my mistakes and pick up your equivalent of the acoustic guitar and put in that work.

12. Making time for yourself at some point in the day should be normal, not a rare treat.

I’m really bad at knowing when to stop working, and this has only been exacerbated by the lack of boundaries between work and home with the current online schooling situation. I’m not proud of it, but I’m the type of person who will withhold downtime from myself if I don’t finish everything I wanted to for the day, which is not fair to myself at all. All this does is perpetuate burnout and make me a lot less productive in the long term (kind of like lesson #8), which isn’t doing anybody any good. Take your downtime and don’t feel guilty about it––your brain deserves a break too.

13. Be kind to yourself, especially when you make mistakes.

I know this one is incredibly easy to forget, but I promise that being hard on yourself when you make mistakes only makes them that much worse. Now when I make mistakes, I like to treat myself the way I might treat a child who made a mistake. They know they made the mistake and they regret it, so why would you reprimand them just for the sake of making them feel worse about something they already feel bad about? That won’t help them learn to not make the same mistake again in the future, so don’t do it to yourself. You deserve a little bit more from your own self than that.

14. Seek out help when you need it.

This is mostly regarding mental health struggles, but it works for just about anything, including asking your teacher for help with some homework or asking your coworker to lend you a hand. People are always willing to help, but they can’t help if they don’t know that they’re needed. It takes a lot of courage to ask for help but it’s always worth it and doesn’t make you any less capable of handling your own problems.

15. You’ll never regret taking out 15 minutes in your day for a little movement.

I know going to the gym isn’t everyone’s jam, but having a solo dance party or going for a quick walk works too. You don’t need to have full body aches to be healthy, but you should take a moment to incorporate movement into your day – you’ll never regret it afterwards! Most of the time I find that it helps give me some perspective on what I’m stressed about and lets me get back to work feeling refreshed.

16. Invest in your bedroom or some other similar space for yourself.

Taking the time to decorate my bedroom was one of the best things I ever did after I moved out. It might not be something that everyone needs to do, but for me, my room is a huge source of comfort and safety and plays into my mental health, so organizing it was hugely important. I would argue that now more than ever with COVID, having a work/living space that you feel happy and productive in is crucial. If it’s somewhere you spend a lot of time, I think it deserves to be given special treatment!

17. Go to sleep at a decent hour––that book or TV show will still be there in the morning.

I’m really bad at following through on this one, but I’m hoping that writing it down will make me get better at it. I’ve lost many an hour of sleep to texting friends, reading novels, watching shows or movies and so many other things. Ultimately, while I love doing all of those things, losing sleep ruins my entire next day and I quickly get sick if I lose consecutive days of sleep, so take it from me kids: get your eight hours.

18. Go into things with little to no expectations and you’ll be shocked how often you’re pleasantly surprised.

This one might seem counterintuitive at first, but hear me out. In high school I had an English teacher say this to our class and I thought he was crazy, but the older I get, the more I realize that truer words have never been spoken. Not having expectations doesn’t make you a lazy or complacent person, it just sets you up to be a lot happier. Most of my disappointments and frustrations used to come from people or things not meeting the impossible expectations that I set myself. Now I’ve let a lot of that go, and you wouldn’t believe how much better I feel. If someone or something goes above and beyond, I’m floored, and if they don’t, then I never had anything to lose in the first place, so I don’t need to feel hung up on it.

19. Be wise with your money—you never know when a rainy day is coming.

This is an incredibly difficult pill for this shopaholic to swallow, but there’s nothing worse than financial stress on top of all your regular stress. At the end of the day, all the nice things that you may want are likely still going to be there in a week, a month, a year, and it might be nice to cushion your savings just a little bit before you break the bank trying to buy said things. You never know when you might need to fall back on that cushion, and there’s nothing worse than not having anything there to break the fall.

20. Trust that things happen for a reason.

I leave you with this last lesson dear reader, not because I’m trying to push anything on you, religious or otherwise, but because I genuinely believe that things happen for a reason and that what’s meant to be yours, will be yours. It just makes life a little bit easier to get through if you think that things happen for a purpose and not just to make your life more difficult. As they say: trust the process!

And with that, I conclude my excessively long rant that you’ve probably also heard from your mother at some point or another, but just think: you have a written reminder of it now! I firmly believe that nobody ever really knows what they’re doing––we’re all just doing our best. But, if even one of my lessons can save you the trouble of having to learn it yourself firsthand, I’ll have done my job with this article. Cheers to another year in the books, my friends, and here’s to the next one being even better!

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Supreet is the VP Events for Her Campus Western! She is a fourth year student at Western, pursuing a double major in physiology and interdisciplinary medical sciences, with a minor in Italian. When she's not writing articles about her favourite popstars or planning events, she likes to read, binge-watch her favourite shows and movies on Netflix, and test out new hobbies like kickboxing or pilates.
Disha Rawal

Western '21

Disha is a fourth year student pursuing an Honours Specialization in Neuroscience. She has been on Her Campus Western's editorial team for the past two years. This year, she is one of the chapter's Campus Correspondents. In her free time, Disha enjoys journaling, painting and watching Youtube videos.