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”

Why You Need to Take a Hard Look at Your Love Life

I could tell you a lot about my ex-boyfriend. I could tell you about how we met, why we broke it off, and what kind of people we both were. But all those things would not capture the very essence of my feelings towards our long, tumultuous relationship.

It was, undoubtedly, a tumultuous relationship. And what I’ve learned, more than anything else, when it comes to love, is that good relationships (healthy ones) shouldn’t be tumultuous. They shouldn’t be perfect, with no occasional bumps in the road. No, that kind of love is a love between two people who are so infatuated with one another that they’re terrified of making a misstep and upsetting the other person. A perfect, romantic love between two people involves joy, tolerance, communication, and compatibility between your personalities (I think).

Perhaps he and I were compatible, for a brief amount of time.

After we broke up, he sort of stalked me. He would call, text, show up, etc., crying over how sorry he was and telling me how terribly he felt for letting me go. And when that happened, I inevitably questioned whether I had made the right decision in breaking up with him.

But there were a million reasons I left him. I think the most important reason was that he made me miserable. He made me cry on a daily basis. He made me question his faithfulness by flirting with other women right in front of me, and texting other girls. He once kissed another girl while I was out of town. He was unkind to me, and would say mean things about me to his friends, which would usually come back to me, because his friends liked me.

And I know you’re probably questioning why I would waste my time on someone if all this was happening.  In all honesty, it’s because I didn’t see it then. It’s because I couldn’t see all the horrible things about him when I was with him. Even when he did terrible things, I believed that I was going to change him, and make him better, and that our relationship was going to be perfect as soon as he was just a little bit nicer.

But he was never going to be nicer. He was who he was, and no amount of time, energy, and commitment on my part was going to change that.  When we broke up, I was heartbroken. I had left him, but I still spent days, weeks, months crying over him and questioning my choice. What if, now that I had let him go from my life, he had magically transformed because he saw what life was without me? That kind of stuff happens in movies all the time.  The couple gets back together because whoever was the problem has completely transformed, and their relationship is ideal from then on out. I was repeatedly tempted to give him another chance.

Thank God I didn’t.

He will never be worthy of my time. He is still pulling the same bullshit on his current girlfriend that he pulled on me for three years, and I regret that it took me three years to see how bad of a person he was, but when we met I was very young, and completely inexperienced with men and with love.

The other woman that he kissed when he and I were together was an old acquaintance of mine. I wouldn’t call her a friend (because the only way I can describe our relationship was that she was always very unkind to me, and I just tried to ignore her), but it still broke my heart that he would cheat on me with someone that I knew. When I found out about his infidelity, it was because she wrote me a letter and gave it to me, apologizing. He didn’t even have the balls to own up to it, and when I confronted him about it immediately afterwards, he admitted that it had happened and shrugged it off as though it had been no big deal. He was a horrible person. He is a horrible person.

Anyhow, because I knew this other girl, we’re Facebook friends. The other day, she changed her profile picture and it came up on my news feed.  Right underneath it, it shows who has liked the photo, and the first person it listed was my ex-boyfriend. So then, two years after our relationship ended, and about five years since he and I had our first argument about whether he had feelings for her, he is still liking her photos on Facebook while seeing another woman.

I should have known when, immediately after breaking up with him, he went home and talked to her about how “sad” he was about losing me. She was the one who told me that also. I yelled and yelled and yelled, when I should have just accepted that he was a pain in my ass who wasn’t worth my time.

Every fight we had and every time we would break up, my heart would feel broken, unmendable, absolutely torn in half. And now, in all honesty, I am so so so so so so grateful for that pain. That pain was all that came of our relationship. There was no marriage, no children, no horrible proposal that forced me to pair up with this loser for the rest of my life. The heartbreak was a blessing. The heartbreak forced me to get the hell out. If he had not shown his true character to me then, I might still be with him now.

Instead, I get to be with someone who is kind. When he and I first met, I was still dating the jackass. He did not ever flirt with me. He did not ask me to break up with my boyfriend. He and I had probably spoken only one or two times when I dumped the loser. And when he and I broke up, I was devastated. I would lay in bed and cry and not be able to move for hours. He would sit with me, tell me everything was going to be okay, and just listen to me when I talked. He never tried to kiss me, or get too close. He just let me decide what I wanted to do, and I am eternally grateful to him for that.

People were surprised when my ex and I split, because they thought (honestly) that he and I always seemed super happy and perfect together. That is just a tribute to the fact that nothing is ever as it appears. Nothing is perfect. No guy is going to “fix” you. You have to love yourself. You have to love yourself enough to get out if a guy isn’t making you happy. You have to love yourself enough to decide to wait until you’re ready to do what guys will want you to do. You have to make your own choices about things because you just don’t know how long whatever guy you’re seeing will be in your life, and you owe it to yourself to do things your way while you’re young and still have the opportunity to ditch guys who suck, to date guys who may not be the one, and to go single when you feel like taking some time for yourself.

I wouldn’t trade my boyfriend now for anything. It almost broke me to find him, but here I am. He isn’t perfect. I am not perfect. Together, we are probably not even perfect. There might be someone out there who, if we took a compatibility test, would score higher than my boyfriend. That’s fine. I’m not looking for him. I hope he finds a nice girl. But calculations and numbers and tests cannot compare to that indescribable chemistry between two people who just love one another, who cherish each other’s company, and each other’s imperfections. I cannot ask for more from a man than what I have (except that I wish he wanted to go to Disney World as often as I do—only ten times a year, okay?). But I believe we can work through the arguments and disagreements to have our happily ever after.

He treats me nice. He rubs my shoulders and plays with my hair. He does not toy with other women with the sole purpose being to make me jealous. He laughs at my lame jokes. We say the same things at the same time on a daily basis. He makes Frozen references with me, because he knows that my obsession with Disney isn’t going anywhere soon. I tolerate his shows, because I love him, and I want to get to know as much as I can about him. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Don’t settle for something that doesn’t make you happy. It can be different than my happiness. But you know what it is, and I’m challenging you to go out there and grab it.