I hit 21 earlier this month and wanted to share some life lessons I've figured out thus far. These range from general life hacks to long term career advice, and are in no particular order.
Here are 21 things I've learned in 21 years
1. You are in charge of your own social life
The only person who cares that you're sitting at home with some serious FOMO is you. It was only very recently I realized people aren't very likely to walk up to you and say "Hey! Do you need something to do this weekend? I've been dying to see this new documentary!" You've got to decide what type of friends you want. I wanted the type of friends I can have brunch with and talk about our goals and influences. You've got to be the one to text first, make plans and actually follow up with those "we should do this again sometime"s.
2. It's easier to take care of things now, rather than later
This applies to all sorts of things like wisdom teeth, oil changes and even getting in shape. Those small, annoying tasks are what make mental clutter. And I'd much rather doing something productive than worrying about that molded-over Tupperware in the fridge that I'm too scared to clean it out.
3. Making your bed is actually really important
When my boyfriend and I moved in together I though he was crazy for always making the bed. But a made bed is awesome for a few reasons: a) It's so much nicer to get into at night b) you have somewhere to lay stuff out on in the morning when picking out outfits or packing your backpack and c) It makes you feel like a real adult–and isn't that half the battle of becoming an adult?
4. You have to tell people what you want or need
This can stand as relationship or even work advice. Passive aggressiveness gets you no where and it certainly doesn't make you feel better about yourself or the situation at hand. I grew up in a very non-confrontational household, so when my boyfriend and I started getting more serious I felt really uncomfortable talking with him about important things. I've started to realize that people can't look at me and instantly know what I'm thinking or feeling. And yes, that means you have to have some difficult conversations sometimes, but it's so much better than letting things fester.
5. You don't have to feel lame for being nerdyThe type of people who comment on how much of a nerd you are for liking to read, or for how much you dislike drinking probably don't need to be in your life. For some reason I really enjoy watching really complicated nail tutorials and cake decorating videos on youtube. At no point in my life do I plan on sponging a gradient on my nail or making a hamburger out of cake, but hey, it's what I like.
6. Screen protectors and phone cases save livesWell, maybe not lives, but they can definitely save your phone. I'll spend some good money oh phone cases. Forget those flimsy cute ones you change out ever three weeks, get a basic one you know will last. Also, register your stupid screen protector. I got the Zagg Glass Screen Protector have gone through two already, save yourself some money by filling out the stupid form online.
7. The dentist and OBGYN are your friendsGoing to the dentist and OBGYN are so important in your early 20s. Dental work goes into the very-not-fun-to-pay-for category, but avoiding problems aren't going to make them go away. Scheduling and going to a regular cleaning appointment appointment takes approximately 3 hours out of your year. In the same vein OBGYNs are just as important, especially if your sexually active. I promise they're not going to scoff at your number of sexual partners or cringe at your pubes. And don't lie to your OBGYN, leave your mom or sister at home if you don't want them knowing your answers.
8. Social media can make you feel really shitty about yourselfEspecially Instagram. It's so hard not to compare yourself to peoples' fabulous lives online. Followers, favorites, likes and retweets are the new measure of popularity in the online world, especially as a blogger. I've learned to stay off social media just to kill time.
9. You don't have to change yourselfEver since I could remember I've been trying to change something about myself. I wanted to lose weight, become a morning person, dress super cute, be a social butterfly and have the confidence of Howard Roark. The funny thing is when I stopped trying to change myself, I found it so much easier to wake up earlier, dress super cute and be the person I want to be. It's because I don't have some end goal in mind. I meditate and do yoga in the morning because it makes me feel good right now, not to share my insane inversions on Instagram. I dress cute because it makes me feel good about myself, and I wake up early so I have time to relax before work.
10. You can get clear skin, but you got to work for itThe past month I've been following a morning and night skin care routine to a T, and my skin has never looked better. Not being 16 and hormonal probably has something to do with it too, but there was a time in my life I didn't go out without makeup on. Now I feel weird putting on more than some brow gel and chap stick. Your early 20's is the time to create good skin care habits, It's so much easier to prevent problems than to fix them later on (see no.1).
11. Nightly routines can save you when you sleep lateI try really hard not to sleep in, but it happens. Each night I pack my purse or backpack with everything I need to bring with me the next day. Sometimes that even means sticky notes on my backpack to get my lunch from the fridge, or putting my flash drive in my shoes. You're probably not going to remember to print some homework assignment you put off last minute when you're flying out the door.
12. You've got to be really bad before you can be really goodThis applies mainly to skills like iPhone photography, graphic designing and even studying. It took me a good two years to finally figure out how to take notes and do really well in college classes.
13. Thank you notes are never a bad ideaA little bird told me there were a lot of applicants for my current position, but I was the only one who sent thank you note. You may consider it a coincidence, but I sure as hell don't.
14. Drinking to get drunk never ends wellI've only drank to get drunk one time, and let me tell you it was enough. I genuinely dislike being so drunk I can brush my own teeth and get ready for bed. But if you do plan on getting wasted, be sure it's before a day you don't have to be any where and that you have plenty of carpet cleaner and bleach on hand. Just saying.
15. Internships are really really really importantIf you don't already have an internship you should take some serious time out of your weekend to research and look for one. I learned so much from my internship, and not just about my field of study but about the workforce in general. I had a year-long, graphic design internship, that turned into a part time gig in a different department that I'll probably have through the rest of my degree. If you're really serious about your career then get an internship and get one early.
16. Fiscal responsibility is not sexy, but it is necessaryBudgets are gross and boring, but also insanely important.
Some people get really energized by hanging out with other people, but I'm just not one of them. I'd much rather be sitting in Starbucks reading than hanging out with people. For a while I felt really bad about my empty social calendar, but going to parties or having people post pictures of you on your birthday doesn't mean those relationships are stronger than others
17. It's ok to be an introvert
18. People don't really care about youOk, that sounds a little harsh. Of course there are some people who really care about you, but as a general consensus people don't care. People aren't amazingly interested in the problems you're having with waking up on time, or the fact that your cat has been to the vet three times this year already. They've got other things to worry about like their own cat.
19. People like talking about themselvesThis one sort of springs off of the one above. Small-talk secret: people love talking about themselves. Avoid awkward silences by getting people talking about themselves. How was your weekend? What classes are you taking this fall? How long have you been a Ranger's fan?
20. Talk is cheapNo, it isn't the thought that counts. Following through with things is one of the adulting cornerstones.
21. It's not who's the best, it's who works the hardestI'm one of those people who love learning new things, so I go out of my way to learn more about the things that interest me. The thing is there's always going to be someone who's smarter, faster, and overall better than you, and unfortunately we have no control over that sort of thing. What we can control is how hard we work for the things we want.
I hope maybe you picked up some life tips or inspiration. What are other important life lessons you've learned?