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 Hawaii is Better than Reality

What’s your fantasy escape from the real world? On a rough day, where does your mind drift away to, just to forget the stupid stuff going on?

My personal favorite escape, at least lately, is Hawaii. I fantasize about going away to the tropical islands, drowning in hibiscus flowers and the romance of wearing a lei and sitting out on the beach, tanning with a good magazine. I put on some Jack Johnson music {personal favorites on a particularly difficult day include Constellations, You and Your Heart, Breakdown, Banana Pancakes, and Better Together}. Everyone has somewhere they can go in their head and be miles away from wherever they are in real life. Sometimes, when Hawaii doesn’t sound so great, I go to Disney World. That’s when I’m in drowning in adult responsibilities and just want to feel like a kid again, because Disney takes me away from all that.

But Hawaii is where I go when I just feel overwhelmed by life in general, and don’t mind being an adult, but just want to escape work/school/life for a few days/weeks/millennia.  I love my life, in general. I have a great family, a sweet boyfriend, and I’m a college student {many people claim these are the best years of your life}. But even with all that, there are days that get hard. I spend too much time worrying about money. How will I get through the rest of school without accumulating a nice chunk of federal loans? And will I make it through my hardest classes without failing and having to retake them, thus setting me off track for the whole rest of my life?  Will I make it once I get out of school? Will I be able to find a job? I gained a few pounds this semester—am I getting fat?

Hawaii me doesn’t worry about any of these things. She’s only concerned with reapplying sunscreen every two hours, staying hydrated out on the beach, and keeping a refreshing drink in her hand. She worries more about what to do for dinner tonight than anything else. She meets friendly local Hawaiians and stays in a luxurious hotel. Sometimes she goes to the spa, just because laying on the beach every day gets old. Money is no object. Hawaii me can read books, play on her phone, whatever. She’s thin and looks great in her bikini without trying. Every guy wants to date Hawaii me. And all she wants to do is listen to her iPod and relax.

Someday I want to go to Hawaii. I want to spend a week there doing absolutely nothing and enjoying every moment of it. Until then, it’s back to hitting the books, and hoping that I make it through another day.

More soon.

Why Being a Romantic is Hard On the Heart

Life is complicated and messy. There will be conflicts and confusing moments. I feel like real life is filled with people like myself and people like my boyfriend. I’m on one end of the spectrum. I try to make something out of everything. I look for signs. I pretend I’m starring in my own movie. I romanticize the little stuff. And he doesn’t. I think he believes in a much more functional type of love. Not the big romance and the movie moments, but the simple facts that a long-term relationship implies. Brushing your teeth because you had onions on your burger at dinner and you don’t wanna kiss until you feel confident about your breath.  Meeting in the library to study together, instead of jetting off to a bed and breakfast for the weekend. I don’t know. I think I have this unrealistic view of love that books and movies gave me growing up. I won’t apologize for it, because I love the way my mind looks at love. But sometimes I worry that I’m always going to be desiring more and more from a guy, and I know that that isn’t fair to him.

The older I get, the more I think lots of girls {at least, the dreamers like myself} have this same problem. We want the first kiss to be under fireworks after the perfect date, not a drunken kiss in a bar after six mixed drinks and seeing your ex-boyfriend out with another girl. But that’s real life. Real life is meeting a guy on Tinder, fighting over who has to do the laundry this time, complaining to your friends about how annoying your boyfriend’s mom is when he tells you his parents are coming to visit for the weekend. Real life is hearing the guy you’re dating say goodnight before you go to sleep, instead of having a beautifully-scripted paragraph ready to go to send you off to bed each night. And it can be really hard to revise your expectations. Especially if you’re like me, and you spend too much time listening to Matt Nathanson, Jack Johnson, and John Mayer. Songs will lead you to believe every guy is thinking these amazing things about you. That love is going to be bigger and grander than anything you could ever imagine. And maybe there are some guys out there like that {hit me up}, but I don’t think too many people are like that. I think we’re all too shy and nervous and vulnerable to be like that in a relationship. Because we look at relationships as being a contest. The person who cares more about the other person instantaneously loses by default. So we play the I-care-less-than-you game. I refuse to play. I’ve always been of the belief that competition kills a relationship. Mini-golf and bowling scores don’t count, of course. But comparing how many girls he’s kissed to how many guys you have isn’t healthy. It doesn’t matter. You both have a past. But you’re together now. And it can’t be a contest if you ever want it to work out.

Romantics everywhere, I know it’s hard to give up this preconceived notion of love and romance. It’s hard to let go of that and realize that real life isn’t the same as our fantasies. It’s hard because, in theory, the real thing isn’t nearly as exciting or enchanting as what we’ve created in our heads. But when you find someone who makes you truly happy, you’ll forget the fantasies you’ve built up for years and realize that the real, tangible thing you have with another person is a thousand times better than you ever could have imagined.