10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Turned 20

There are so many things I wish I had known before I grew up. I think most things that we learn throughout our early adulthood are universal {that is to say, everyone individually must learn them}.  But I think there are some things that need to be constantly reinforced by the people around us for them to really sink in. So, without further ado, here you go: the top 10 things I wish I had known before I turned 20.

 

  1. Many girls are inherently mean and catty. Nothing you do or say is going to change that. A lot of girls, especially in high school, I think, have a problem with other girls, regardless of whether or not they’ve actually done anything to deserve unkindness.  It took me a long time to realize {and, to be honest, I’m still realizing} that girls aren’t mean because of something I did, but rather because something is wrong with them. Maybe they’re jealous, or maybe they’re just confused about their lives. Either way, it doesn’t excuse their behavior, but it makes life so much easier when you let go of anger that other people feel towards you.
  2. Boys are boys. You deserve a man. You can’t change a person you’re dating, and I think we’re taught as young women today to chase after the boys who seem to need a strong female influence to make them “right” or “whole.” But come on—do you really need another person who needs you to do stuff for them? These are your formative years, and you don’t need some dude leaning on you to take care of him and make him whole.  Boys can’t help bugging you to let them copy your homework or asking to borrow a few bucks to pay for their movie tickets. And guess what the scariest part is?  Some guys never get much more mature than they are in high school {I’m looking at you, ex-boyfriend}.  But a lot grow up fast when they get to college, and become more interesting, kinder, and much better boyfriend material.  If I wish I’d had one piece of advice in my younger years, it would be: don’t bother dating anyone seriously in high school. Go out with a few guys just to experience dating and not be unprepared for a relationship someday, but focus on your friends. You don’t even know who you are yet.
  3. The mean girls really are just jealous. One of the hardest parts of my post-high school experiences with the people I had gone to high school with happened a couple years after I graduated. An ex-boyfriend texted to ask if a horrible rumor he had heard about me was true {it wasn’t}.  I told him that, but underneath my calm words, I was pissed. Who would say something like that? He wouldn’t tell me who said it {asshole}, but he did imply that it was one of the girls in high school we had always joked about for being jealous of me. I was nothing to be jealous of in high school. I was head-over-heels for a guy who treated me like crap, completely unaware of the fact that I deserved more. I was okay-looking, but going through the many awkward parts of growing up.  So I couldn’t understand why someone would envy me, especially not enough to make up some cruel lie about me.  But then I realized, people probably didn’t see all the hard parts of my life {because I choose not to display that on Facebook and Twitter, duh}, and maybe they thought my life was better than it really felt to me. To those “haters” I say: thanks for making me realize that I’m someone wonderful and special enough to make others jealous. But making up rumors {especially two years post-high school} is pathetic, and you need a life, come on.
  4. The first time you love someone will change your life, but might not last, and that’s okay. Your first love is going to feel big and earth-shattering. It’s probably going to change the way you look at every other man you ever date.  But it probably isn’t going to make you happy for the rest of your life, because you’re in such a formative, transitional period of your life.  You’re going to grow up and start to become interested in lots of other things, and people often grow apart as they get older. Maybe if you don’t start dating until you’re finishing up high school you’ve sort of figured out who you are {if you’re lucky—I still had a lot of growing up to do}. But if you start dating a person at fourteen or fifteen, you probably still have a lot of growing up and changing to do. Somehow, friendships withstand our personal changes better than relationships usually do.
  5. There are far better things ahead than any you leave behind. I wouldn’t say I had a particularly terrible high school experience, but I also can’t imagine wanting to go back to any of my reunions. Our generation doesn’t need that stuff: we see everyone on Facebook and we know what their college boyfriend looks like.  I don’t need to fly across the country to see them in ten years, because I honestly just don’t care that much. My college friends became my family to me. They saw me at my worst, and they loved me anyway. I met someone who made me forget all the losers I dated before him.  I fell in love like I was fifteen again, only this time, the guy treated me like a princess, and I didn’t want to break up.  If someone would have told me what was lying ahead for me when I was feeling my worst in high school, barely able to force myself to go to school because of the catty drama or the jerk I was dating, I would have felt so much better. But part of the beauty of life is the sheer mystery of what lies ahead, so just trust me when I say, there is always something better than whatever’s going on right now waiting for you, you just have to keep going and get to it.
  6. You won’t stay friends with everyone, and that’s a good thing. High school graduation is a great time to drop all the toxic friendships and relationships you’ve entered into.  Give yourself space for new friends. The person you are when you’re entering college is a lot more like the person you’re going to be for the rest of your life {although I assure you there will still be a lot of growth ahead for you}. You’re supposed to ditch the friends who talk behind your back. You’re supposed to let go of all the people who make you unhappy. You get to replace them with people who make you laugh and take you out for ice cream when you’ve had the worst day.
  7. Roommates are not the devil, and having one is not as difficult as everyone would have you believe. Some of my favorite friendships have been with roommates.  They are different than other relationships in some ways, but especially once you aren’t sharing a bedroom anymore {so basically any year after freshman year} having a roommate or two is really fun. They live with you, so you can ask them to hang out anytime, and if they’re people you’re genuinely friends with, you can ask them to watch a movie or go do something if you get lonely.  They’re just comforting to have around, and mine always provided entertainment and good conversation.  My college experience was unique because I had a serious relationship. My roommate also had a serious boyfriend, and our two boyfriends were roommates, so we spent a lot of time together, both at our place and at his. It honestly made us closer, and we’re still best friends.  She helped me get through all the tough parts of college, because she knew both me and my boyfriend so well.  And I was able to do the same for her.  Our third roommate hung out with us just as much, but got to bring along random guys. We both lived vicariously through her wild dating stories. I can’t imagine having any other two roommates, honestly.
  8. There will come a time when you have money troubles and you will have to ask your parents for help. I know, I know, nobody wants to ask their parents for money. For me, it was so stressful having to ask my dad for a check to help me eat and pay for my textbooks that I would practically make myself sick for it. But the more I talked to my friends, the more I realized that everyone had been through a similar time, and their parents had helped them as best they could. College is a transition period, you’re not financially independent, but you’re not living under your parents’ roof anymore, either {which means they aren’t paying your way}.  I recommend getting a part-time job. It’s not too hard juggling a job with school {I’m expected to do it in grad school}, and it makes a huge difference in being able to do fun things like go out to dinner or splurge on a dress for a fraternity formal or function. 
  9. You will make mistakes and regret them the next day, and later they will be the best stories you have from your youth. No real description needed here. Go places, meet people, have fun, and only regret things for a short amount of time before moving on and letting go.
  10. Never give up. There are going to be times {for the rest of our lives} where things feel difficult. There is probably never going to be a day from now until I die where I don’t feel a moment of fear or hesitation, or at least frustration with something I have to do.  That is called life.  Don’t give up, though, because there’s so much amazingness to experience if you’re willing to hang on, push through, and find it.  You can do it, and having a strong, supporting group of friends/family helps so much. 

 

“Celebrate we will, ‘cause life is short but sweet for certain”

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Why Finding the One is So Important

I built love up in my mind to be this insanely beautiful thing that nothing in the real world could ever live up to. I think real love is accepting another person, just as they are, with all their flaws, with the zit that randomly popped up on their face, even though they ate the last piece of pizza, even when they’re doing something that’s annoying. It’s the kind of thing that makes you feel warm and happy inside, even when it’s cold and rainy. It’s the kind of feeling that brings a smile to your face at the end of a long day. You get to go home to someone who just makes you happy. Someone who you love.

It isn’t going to mean that you get a present every day. It isn’t going to mean that you get to complain about your day endlessly and never listen to any of their boring stories, or complaints about their job. It definitely isn’t going to mean completely smooth sailing. Real love means some fighting. It means telling someone that you want to spend next Christmas with your family, not theirs, and hoping they’ll compromise with you.

But when you find someone who you love, it’s all going to fall into place. The world is going to seem a little less scary. You’re going to have someone to text when something funny happens, and you’re going to be able to trust that the person you love is going to put up with all the quirks that exist in you. I think the most loveable people in this world are perhaps the quirkiest. I know I myself possess a good number of goofy traits, and I think anyone who didn’t love me would find them odd. But my family taught me to embrace my imperfections, and so when I met new guys I forced myself not to conform to being the girlfriend that they wanted, and instead decided to be myself. It’s important. It’s important to be loved for you, and not be loved for who someone wants you to be. It’s important to always stay true to yourself. There will always be another person out there for you if the one you’re with isn’t making you happy.

I think the fear of being alone and not meeting someone else is one of the primary reasons people stay in unhappy relationships. I know every time I’ve hesitated to break up with someone who made me unhappy it was primarily because the person I was with was okay, and being in a mediocre relationship had to be better than being all alone and having no one to share my time with. Sometimes, especially when you’re in your twenties, it seems like everybody you know is paired up, and you don’t want to be the only single one. How much does it suck getting asked to go to an event with a bunch of couples and trying to find a date? No one wants to be a third wheel.  But I think it’s time we face our fears and accept that being alone is much happier than being part of an unhappy or only moderately happy couple. 

Being alone means taking a book to the coffee shop instead of your boyfriend. It means reading or people-watching when you’re out in the world. It means watching your favorite show or movie on Netflix tonight instead of trying to find one that you both like (which, in an unhappy relationship, is usually a difficult task).  It means traveling to the places you want to see, instead of traveling to the places they want. It means spending holidays with your family  completely, instead of splitting the special times with their family, then running off to have the rest of the day with yours.

I’m someone who’s happy with my relationship, and I can still say all this stuff. I’ve been there. I’ve been in that place for a long, long time, and I was so scared to be alone that I didn’t escape from my own cage until I had already been in the single mindset for a long time. In the end, I missed out on some really great opportunities that I could have had as a single girl, that being in a long-term relationship took away from me.  I could have gone out with my friends on nights I instead spent fighting with my ex-boyfriend. I could have spent more time with my family. I could have simply spent the time on myself. I think spending time on yourself is one of the most commonly neglected but most important things a person needs to do.  I believe that spending time just doing things that make you happy are what makes the world bright. This life doesn’t go on forever. And in the end, you’ll remember the things you did that made you really happy over the things that were mundane.

There’s certainly no reason to be with someone who is “average.” Find the one who’s amazing. Don’t stop searching until you’ve met them. It’s hard to find them when you’re in your twenties. Like…really, really difficult. Everyone you know is either in a relationship or completely committed to the single life. The good guys are taken or boring. The hot guys aren’t nice, and the ones who are nice are definitely already taken. But keep looking. You’ll find them when you’re least expecting it.

Now, go!