Just recently, I completed my 20th revolution around the sun, which is a pretty impressive feat. To be honest, I don’t feel that much different than when I was 19, but if having a birthday means I can have cake and ice cream, then you better believe I’m gonna celebrate it.
In celebration of my 20th birthday, I’ve decided to keep with my trend of making lists (18 Facts About Me and 19 Things I Want to Do) and share 20 things I’ve learned over the course of my life. Some of them will be ridiculous, others serious, but either way, these are the things I’ve taken to heart over the years.
1) A good night’s sleep makes a lot of things better
When your computer or phone is doing weird stuff, the first think you usually do is turn it off and on again. That doesn’t fix everything, but it’s a good first step to take. Humans are kinda the same way – if our brains or bodies aren’t working like they normally do, sleep can help a lot. Even after a bad day, I almost always feel better in the morning.
2) It’s okay to like weird stuff
Hi, I have an obsession with unicorns, video games, and hardcore music, and none of those things really go together. For the longest time, I’d get kinda embarrassed over the “weird” stuff I was interested in (even when it really wasn’t that weird). Eventually, I realized that if it makes me happy and there’s nothing inherently wrong about it, then what’s the problem?
3) Don’t always have your headphones on
As previously mentioned, I love my music. It inspires and motivates me, and so when I’m having an especially rough time, I tend to listen to music more. However, I think there’s something to be said about silence too. Learn to appreciate the little things going on around you.
4) Friendship isn’t a Disney Channel movie
In fairness, I didn’t actually watch a lot of the Disney Channel as a child, but I think it expresses my point well – TV shows, books, and movies designed for young people tend to portray friendships as always being great. In reality, they’re a lot more work to maintain, but they’re all the more worth it.
5) Words are more powerful than you can imagine
Maybe this is just because my love language is Words of Affirmation (no it’s not Pokémon as my blog may have led you to believe) or because I’m a writer, but words have an incredible impact on the people around us, for better or for worse. Use your words to build each other up, because a little goes a long way.
6) If you believe in what you’re doing, people are more likely to listen
I don’t know about you, but when I know someone is passionate about what they’re saying or doing, I pay more attention to them. Whether it’s a school presentation or your future career, caring about what you do goes a long way in getting people to listen.
7) Wear clothes you like
I don’t know what it is about combat boots, but I always feel ready to TAKE ON THE WORLD when I wear them. Clothes seem to do wonders for a confidence boost, so wear what makes you feel ready to take on the world.
8) Grades aren’t everything
Yes, you need a decent GPA to get into college, but when it comes down to it, no one’s gonna care about what your grades were ten years from now. Do your best, but remember you’re doing more than getting a good grade – you’re teaching yourself the responsibility and skills that will help you excel in the future.
9) Have things to look forward To
I have a list in my bullet journal of “things to look forward to.” It has big things like finishing the semester, and little things, like seeing my friends on a weekend. Whenever I’m feeling bogged down by life, I can always turn to that list and remind myself of what the future holds.
10) Singing/Dancing to your favorite song can cure many things
So go ahead and blast that music through your car stereo (just, y’know, be a responsible driver and all). There’s something powerful about music, and when we embrace it ourselves in a verbal or visible way, it makes the experience that much more amazing. It’s one of the reasons I love concerts to much.
11) Always have an escape plan
I’m not talking in case of actual emergency (although that’s good too), but in conversations. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, we always end up in conversations we don’t want to be in. If you know one is coming, have an escape plan. It saves a lot of stress.
12) Cereal without milk is PERFECTLY FINE
I’m not lactose intolerant or anything, I just don’t like the way milk tastes. Just regular milk, too (chocolate milk is fine). I’ve been eating dry cereal all my life, and no one’s gonna stop me now.
13) Do spontaneous stuff
Like making marble slides with pipe insulation, gigantic ring toss games with recycled objects, putting on impromptu magic shows, and having eight-minute-long fake guitar battles with your friends. Do crazy stuff as a kid (and as an adult!) – you’ll be better off for it.
14) Not everything needs to be on camera
Pictures and video are great, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, however, we get so worried about capturing the moment that we forget to be in the moment. That’s partly why I’ve stopped bringing my camera to concerts – I want to be in the moment, and I can always reminisce later.
15) Being proud isn’t the same as being prideful
We’re often taught not to be prideful, which is very important, but I think a lot of us err too much on the side of self-deprecation (myself included) that we forget it’s okay to be proud of ourselves sometimes. Accomplishments should be celebrated!
16) Books are an important part of a balanced breakfast
Or any meal, really. I don’t know how old I was when I realized I could read books AND eat my meals at the same time, but let me tell you, that day changed my life forever.
17) It’s much easier to parallel park if you just park somewhere else
Look, I CAN parallel park if I have to. But if I don’t have to, why go through the trouble? I will park further away from my destination if it means the parking job will be easier. I don’t need more stress in my life, thank you.
18) The simplest stories have a lot to show us
I love good vs. evil stories, but in general, simple stories have some amazing truths. I’m all for complex plots and all, but I’ve always found that the simple stories are comforting when I need it.
19) Learning how to do part of the thing well is better than nothing at all
This sounds really profound, but really, it’s just about me not being able to cook anything well other than grilled cheese sandwiches. If you want a four-course meal, you’ll have to look elsewhere, but my grilled cheese sandwiches have been highly praised.
20) Take time to pet dogs
Or cats, goats, lizards, or whatever your animal of choice is. Talk to your succulents. Make goofy faces at your fish. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about that that always makes me feel better.