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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Dear Max

Dear Max,

I can’t believe I’m not going to see you again. Honestly it’s completely surreal that you’re gone. I love you so much that I’m okay with you going to heaven, because I know you’re so much better off there than you would be if you were still here, struggling to breathe and make it through each night at home. I’m so sorry for not coming home since Christmas Break. I know that I should have tried to come home, and I promise you baby that I would have if I had known. But it’s probably better that we didn’t know the last time we saw each other was going to be the last time. I was able to hug and kiss you goodbye without tears, and now the next time I see you will be when I’m in heaven with you.

Please don’t get frustrated with me for crying a lot over losing you. I know you’re probably up in heaven, chasing little yappy dogs and bubbles {if there are little girls there to blow you bubbles—maybe that’s just between you, me, and Mom}, and can’t understand why any of your family down here would be upset over knowing how happy you are now that you’re in heaven. But I guess that’s the selfish nature of grief: you cry over your own sadness at losing someone rather than celebrating the fact that they are in a place infinitely more comfortable and joy-filled than we on earth can even begin to comprehend.

There’s so much about you that I love so much. I love the way you would rest your head on my lap once in a while when we’d lay on the couch together. I love the way you would put your paws over my legs to keep me from getting up and leaving when I would lay down next to you. I love the way you chomped for bubbles when I’d blow them for you. I love the way you followed Mom and I if we left the room for a moment. I love the way you would walk right in front of the TV, making the awful clacking sounds on the tile floor. I love the way you would beg for my lunch or dinner, and I love the way you never failed to convince me to save you a French fry with your cute begging face. I love the way you devoured your treats. I love the way you would let me hug you {or force-love you, whatever you want to call it}. I love you so much that right now it feels like I can’t bear this loss.

But I know you were suffering, and I want you to know that I in no way am upset with you for being sick. If I had it my way sweet boy, you would have lived forever and been my companion for the rest of my days. Your body would have stayed young and healthy for years to come, and I would never have wanted you to leave my side for a minute. I don’t know why dog bodies don’t get to last as long as human ones, but I do know that human bodies wear out eventually, too, and that when mine does, I’m going to come back as your girl. I’m going to do everything I can do in my life to be kind and good, so that I can go to heaven, just like I know you have. I know that because you are the best kind of creature.

Please do me a favor up there and check on Citrus. I think you’ll remember him—we had him before we adopted you, but he went on to heaven four years ago. He’s orange like you, and he’s a good kitty. You used to be worried he would scratch you, but he was such a good boy that he never did.

Baby Mac, if you can read this or get this message somehow {I really hope you can}, please visit me in my dreams sometime. Your spirit is always welcome anywhere I am, I promise. I will look for you.

Don’t forget me, Maxwell. I love you so much. I will never ever forget you, no matter where I go or how many other nice dogs I meet. I know you could always be sort of jealous when I would pet other dogs, so just know that you’re my number one.

When Mom said that you were having some heart problems, I prayed so hard that you would recover. I wish I could have done more. I can’t believe the amount of pain and stress you must have felt when you got sick. I’m grateful beyond words that you got sick fast and did not suffer for very long {sweet baby, I hope you did not suffer for long at all}. I hope you know that we all selfishly would have liked to keep you alive out of sheer love for you, but at the same time, we loved you so much that we could not bear to keep you in pain. And now I know that you will spend every day that I am stuck in school or work outside playing and chasing rabbits and other animals {pick on someone your own size!!!!}.

Look after Mom and the rest of our family, and your sisters too. Visit them at home sometimes, and keep them in your heart. They all love you so much. You are so much more loved than I can even express to you, but I know that you understand it because you have an incredible capacity for love, way more than I’ve ever seen in any other doggie.  You were my best friend during my whole childhood and my teenage years, and I am so grateful to have had you for all that time. I wouldn’t have chosen another dog to be mine for anything in the world.

Love,

Your Girl