Thursday, February 13, 2014

22 Things I Know at 22

I turned 22 last Friday, which is crazy. I still listen to boy bands, and watch Pretty Little Liars, and all kinds of other things adult-aged people shouldn't do. My purse currently contains fun dip valentines and a One Direction notebook, for Christ's sake. But as my dad pointed out to me over the weekend, no one ever really feels like they're an adult. You just slowly learn how to do all the things "adults" do.

I still have a lot to learn about life, but I thought I'd share (with the help of some of my favorite pop culture references) twenty-two things I've learned to be true, as of my twenty-second birthday. Because as Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself."

1. Give yourself time to sit with your big decisions. I've said this before and I'll say it again. It's really easy to get caught up in emotions and make rash choices. I do it all the time. I'm so sure something is right, or something is wrong, and a week later I'm convinced of the opposite. That's why it's so important that when you're making big decisions- whether it's about a relationship, or a career path, or whatever- to give yourself time to think about it. It'll help you from doing things you'll regret later.

2. Learn to balance business and friendships. In life, a lot of the friends you make will be through a class, or a club, or a job, which means that you might have to work with them in some capacity. A mistake I see often is people taking work criticisms personally and letting it affect a friendship. You need to learn to be able to talk work and disagree with a friend professionally, and then switch gears and talk about personal stuff without getting offended. And there needs to be an off switch, where the stuff a friend says to you as a friend doesn't leak into professional life.

3. There's more to life than romantic relationships. Seriously. I promise you. So much of the media aimed at teen and twenty-something women centers around guys, and finding the right one. From what we're spoon-fed from the age of Disney princesses, you'd think that's the most important thing in life. It's not. Make sure you're filling your life and your time with things that fulfill you personally, rather than waiting for a guy to come along and make you feel whole. I guarantee you, you'll be a lot happier.

4. Hating things isn't cute. So often in my life I've seen people bond over mutual hatred of something or someone. I'm definitely guilty of it too. But the older you get and the further away you distance yourself from high school behaviors, the more you'll realize it's an unhealthy habit. So many people think it makes them cool and aloof to talk about how lame something is, but all it really does is make you look like a jackass. The right people will want to hear all about the things you love, not the things you hate.

5. If you don't make time for yourself, you'll go nuts. I love being busy. I thrive on it. But I also know myself, and I know that sometimes I need to just take a Sunday to lay on the couch and binge watch New Girl. We're taught to always be moving, and most of the time, I am. But I also think it's so important to take breaks, and do things that make you happy that aren't necessarily part of your to-do list. Watch your favorite movie, do yoga, take a nap- whatever it is. Just save time for little things that relax you and put a smile on your face.

6. The harder you work, the luckier you get. So this one's actually a pinterest quote, but it's so true that it's now the background on my phone. I know so many people who want things in life but aren't doing anything to tangibly get themselves to their goals. I know that if I want to be a writer, I can't just sit around and talk and daydream about being a writer one day. I have to sit down and write, now. Things aren't just going to fall into your lap- so start taking the steps you need to and work toward something.

7. Make your decisions for you and only for you. Because to be honest, you never know what life is going to throw at you. That guy who kept you from taking an amazing job in another city because you thought you were going to marry him? He may not be there in five years. Caring about friends and boyfriends and family is great, but never let that comfort zone hold you back from life and opportunities.

8. Invest in some high quality pieces of clothing. I keep buying leggings from Forever 21. They keep ripping. This is a monthly process. I know it seems silly to pay crazy amounts of money for brand name clothes, but a lot of times, they're expensive because they last. Do your research and get some basic pieces that won't go out of style. Don't buy an expensive, trendy dress that won't be cool in six months. Buy an expensive black blazer you can wear for the next five years.

9. It's okay to be upset. I feel like we're constantly taught to keep our emotions in for fear of upsetting someone. Don't let people invalidate your emotions because they don't understand or agree with them. If someone is shitty to you, you have every right to be angry or upset. If someone hurts you, you have every right to be sad. Don't shrink yourself down because you're afraid of offending someone.

10. Make sure your friends know you appreciate them. It's in human nature to get so caught up in our own lives that we forget about the people who care about us. Don't be the friend who's constantly going to friends with your problems but never returning the favor. Don't assume your friends know how much you appreciate them- show them.

11. Educate yourself. College isn't necessarily for everyone, but that doesn't mean you can't seek out everything there is to know about whatever field you're interested in. Don't stop learning after formal school stops. There's always something new you can learn that will help you grow as a person.

12. Stop talking to people that make you sad. It's literally that simple.

13. Thank your parents. Having divorced parents and step-families and some occasional turmoil often leaves me in a place where I forget how lucky I am. But parents are only human, and in spite of the mistakes we've all made through the years, they have also done and continue to do amazing things for me. Make sure your parents know how grateful you are that they went to all your t-ball games when you were five, or sat through your long, boring, foreign-music choir concerts.

14. Accept that not everyone is going to like you. This will make doing things for yourself a lot easier.

15. Know when to let go of things. This is something I'm not great at. It's important to know when a relationship or friendship has run its course. If it's hurting you more than it's helping you, it's time to let it go.

16. Get used to rejection. Especially if you're going into a creative field. Taste is an objective thing, and not everyone is going to like what you wrote or painted or performed. It doesn't mean it isn't good. But at the same time, accept constructive criticism. It's one thing to be protective of your work, but if someone turns you down, use their reasons why as a way to do better next time.

17. Make changes. Whether it's a cross-country move or a new haircut, change is what keeps you growing.

18. "Once you have accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you." For the most part, flaws are only flaws because we perceive them that way. I once had a boyfriend who hated how dramatic I was. I would apologize for it and attempt to dull it down, until one day I realized that I love that about myself. I've been theatrical and hyperbolic basically since I could speak, and I'm not interested in changing the things I like about myself because someone else doesn't. If I stopped being loud and dramatic, I wouldn't be me. Own the parts of you that might be seen as flaws: they don't have to be.

19. Don't spend all your time worrying about how you look. There are way more important adjectives than "pretty" or "thin."

20. Retire the term "guilty pleasure." Like what you like. If people have a problem with it, they can go to hell. There is nothing inherently better about someone who likes indie music as opposed to someone who likes Selena Gomez. Nothing.

21. Treat Yo Self (Sometimes). Part of being young is being broke. I'm constantly flustered about the money I need to save. So save that money, but also don't beat yourself up if you have a bad day and really want to drop five bucks on a milkshake or go buy the MAC lipstick you want.

22. Stop trying to pin yourself down. You don't have to fit in a box. You don't have to be the nice girl, or the smart girl, or the dancer, or the serious one. You can be all those things and fifty more in any given day. Once you stop trying to live your life in an attempt to fit in a character type and just do the things that make you happy, you'll feel a million times lighter and more authentic.

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