24 things I’ve learned before I turned 20
Dear No One,
as my birthday is approaching, I thought I’d review some of the life lessons I’ve picked up this year, as well as revisit some lessons from last year.
- Learn to enjoy your own company. You’ll be stuck with yourself for life, so learn to enjoy your alone time. It might even help you understand yourself better.
- Trust your gut when it comes to dodgy situations. You aren’t crazy or paranoid if something feels off. In fact, ignoring those feelings tend to be the nr. 1 cause of death in horror movies.
- It takes two people to make a connection work, so don’t blame yourself too much if it fades away. You’re allowed to mourn the loss of a bond you have with someone else, but don’t let the pain define you forever. (see nr.4)
- Allow yourself to be sad. You can’t be happy and rational all the time. If you need to bawl your eyes out, or scream in a pillow because you had a bad day. Just do it, even if it takes a little time. After you’ve processed all the emotions, you can properly move on.
- To quote Captain Picard from Star Trek: “Sometimes you can commit no fault and still lose.” Failure is a part of life and it cannot be avoided, even when you try your best. Don’t worry, you’re definitely not the only one who messes up. Just remember to get up and try again.
- Don’t forget to take care of your body. Your body needs sleep and a relatively healthy diet in order to keep functioning. Remember that when you’re busy kicking academic ass in university.
- If you don’t understand the study material ASK THE TUTOR. Don’t be afraid to look stupid. The teachers are paid to help students out, so just ask for help if you need it. (9 out of 10 times, other students in your class will have the same question)
- You look perfect just the way you are, so ignore the Instagram models and the ripped teenage pop stars in the Clavin Klein ads. Just eat that pizza! (But still don’t forget to take care of yourself by eating healthy sometimes, as mentioned in nr. 7. There’s a stark difference between starving yourself to look like an edited image, and occasionally eating a salad to not die of scurvy.)
- The phrase, “What will people think” is absolute BULLSHIT. You can’t control people’s reactions, you can only control your actions. Don’t worry about what people will think of you or what they will say about you behind your back. You are enough, so don’t pretend to be more or less than that just to please others.
- Take more pictures! You’ll want to remember these uni days when you are old, grey, and as wrinkly as a raisin.
- Don’t be afraid to talk about mental health! The only way to remove the negative stigma around is to acknowledge these problems almost all students face. And if you feel that a conversation with your friends won’t solve the problem, don’t hesitate to reach out to the university counsellor/ psychologist. There is no shame in getting the help you need, I promise.
- Your parents are humans too. They won’t always agree with your choices and their opinion may affect you: but it should not define you. It’s your life in the end. Your parents can’t live that for you, so make your own choices and live!
- Often with relationships: age does not matter, your level of maturity does. (disclaimer: JUST MAKE SURE IT’S CONSENSUAL AND LEGAL!)
- Don’t be afraid of what’s to come. You (probably) aren’t a psychic, so you can’t tell what the future will hold. Just be comfortable with where you are right now and keep doing your best.
- Be honest with yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to talk about feelings of confusion or unhappiness within a connection or relationship. Quite often, you’re not the only one who’s lost. Managing an open and honest flow of communication will help maintaining the connection
- With communication about stressful topics, timing matters. Delaying having conversations tends to just worsen the situation.
- Also: don’t forget to occasionally shut up, listen to the other person, and try to understand their point of view. (Listening is a part of communication too.)
- No really, check your schedule: Sincerely, the girl who ran from Wijnhaven, to Schouwburgstraat, to Stichthage because she forgot to check where she had her workgroup.
- There’s no set time for events to happen in your life. Love and engagements, career opportunities, and many other things will happen when they happen. Don’t feel pressured by what’s happening on everybody’s Facebook page to ‘keep up’.
- Write a note or maybe even try to have a last conversation with someone before you leave a connection. It will give the other person closure. (If wanted, it could also provide you with a foundation to later rebuild the connection. see nr. 21) Don’t be the one who ghosts and ignores others. It’s immature of you and hurtful to them.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out and try again. People come and go in and out of your life: and that’s okay. But, don’t let that stop you from trying to restart or renew a connection if you really miss that person.
- Infatuation, sexual attraction, romantic attraction, platonic appreciation, and love: learn the difference between these terms and see which ones are applicable to a connection with someone before you pursue a romantic relationship.
- Say thank you more often. Workers in retail stores and restaurants will appreciate it, and so will your friends and family.
- To quote the band AJR “100 bad days make 100 good stories, 100 good stories make me interesting at parties”. Do don’t worry too much about the bad days, they’re also a part of life and they tend to make it a bit more interesting.
Thank you for growing and learning with me this year 🙂