Twenty-One Things to Learn Before Twenty-One

I bet this isn’t going to be what you expected. You’re probably expecting things like “kiss a stranger” or “travel to 21 different places,” but that isn’t what this is about. It’s exactly one month until my twenty-first birthday, and I thought I’d write a blog post that reflects how much I’ve grown over the years. These are twenty-one things that young women should do to improve their life by the time they turn twenty-one.

1. Learn How to be Alone.

I was always the girl growing up that needed to have someone near me at all times. I was scared to even walk down the halls alone. This fueled my need for a boyfriend as time went on, and that was one of the worst things that could have happened. My need for a boyfriend led to me picking people who were not meeting the standards of a decent guy. It took me a long time, but I’ve learned how to be by myself. It’s awkward sometimes, but it’s no longer scary. Quite honestly, it’s much better to be single and independent than taken and unable to have your own life.

2. Learn How to Say No.

If the last one wasn’t hard, this one sure is. I know it was for me. I’m the type of person who wants to make everyone happy. This led to saying ‘yes’ to everything that was asked of me, and it caused me to overexert and over exhaust myself all throughout my life. I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that you cannot please everyone, and my life is much better after coming to that realization.

3. Learn How to Have Positive Self-Talk.

How many of you sit there criticizing every move you make, judging it against someone else on social media, or in person? I’d bet that you all have negative thoughts about yourself on a daily basis. Something that has really helped me over the past few years is positive self-talk. Wake up in the morning, look yourself in the mirror, and tell yourself that you are beautiful, you are kind, you are intelligent, you can make it through. Write it down in a journal. Remind yourself every day that you are your own unique person and that makes you beautiful. It all starts with loving yourself.

4. Learn to Give Back.

One hour a day, one hour a week, one hour a month. It doesn’t matter how often you volunteer out in your community, but it matters that you do. Giving back not only makes things better for those around you, it makes things better for you. You realize how truly blessed you are, and you are able to use your gifts to benefit those less fortunate than you. How amazing is that? Don’t make it seem like a burden. Find something you’re passionate about and volunteer to help that cause. It really makes you feel great and brings positivity to the community.

5. Learn to Let Go.

The past is the past and that’s where it belongs. No, I have not mastered this. I’m not sure I know anyone who has mastered this, but what I do know is that I am definitely growing into a better person as I learn how to let go of the things that don’t matter. Bad test grade? It will be okay. Hurt feelings? It will be okay. Boyfriend cheat on you? It will be okay. Everything happens for a reason, and as sucky as it is to not know the reason, something bigger and better is coming.

6. Learn to Love.

So many people are scared to love. They’ve been hurt in the past, and they are scared to open their heart up again. All this does it hurt you more. You have to open your heart up and be prepared for an amazing person to come along because they will. They will see that you are an amazingly independent person and that you are willing to give your heart to them if they are deserving of it. Love with all your heart because sometimes your love, or a caring heart, is all you can give. It is worth every heartache.

7. Learn to Have Fun.

This one was a bit hard for me when I first realized it was important. I was always the girl that focused on school and didn’t do anything fun with my friends unless I had no work to do. In college, I was able to branch out and involve myself in many different organizations and activities, and that is and always will be a crucial part of my life. Socializing and being with friends isn’t the only way to have fun, though. If Netflix is more your style, just do something you enjoy.

8. Learn to Be On Time.

There is nothing more important than punctuality in the adult world. If you’re late for a meeting, it’ll start without you. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone is late. Learn to manage your time so that you are early to everything, and it’ll help get rid of a lot of extra stress. There’s no reason to be late to anything unless it’s an emergency, and even then, if you are used to being early and accounting for that lost time, you may still be on time.

9. Learn to Take Risks.

Can you really learn anything if you don’t take a risk? Can anything change if you don’t take a risk? The answer to both of these is no. You have to take risks in order to change the things you don’t like about yourself and your situation. Take any previous presidential candidate who ended up winning the presidency and changing things for good for example, if they hadn’t taken a risk and run for president, would they have been able to make good changes? No.

10. Learn to Take Control.

People aren’t going to do things for you. Life isn’t going to be easy. You are going to have to work hard and do it yourself if you want to see good things happen in your life. Nothing is going to come to you unless you take control of your situation and change things yourself. It’s just not.

11. Learn to Stop Making Excuses.

“I don’t have time” is the biggest and dumbest excuse in the book. You don’t have time to do this project, but you have time to binge watch Netflix? You don’t have time to exercise, but you have time to sit on the couch and eat a whole bag of chips? Look, if there is something that you’ve been meaning to do, do it. (Also, combine things together if you want to make more time. i.e. watching a new TV episode while walking on the treadmill).

12. Learn to Save.

This one is very tricky for a lot of people, but good spending/saving habits should be started as soon as possible in order to prepare you for when you are out on your own. Save as much as you can. Think before you buy. If you won’t use it more than once, don’t buy it. Don’t buy anything if you can’t afford to buy it straight up.

13. Learn to Be a Better Friend.

Your friends deserve the best. They deserve someone who is there for them, always. They deserve you at your best. They deserve a friend who will be there when they need to cry, when they need a ride, when they need to vent…anything. Good friends are hard to come by, so don’t take them for granted. Appreciate them.

14. Learn to Say What You Feel.

Don’t let anything get in the way of you putting your feelings out there. I know fear of rejection is real, but it’s better to get it out there than to wonder ‘what if’. Face your fears and let them know how you feel.

15. Learn to Be Honest.

Be honest with yourself. Be honest with your friends. Be honest with your family. The hardest thing to do is be honest with yourself when you’re in denial, but you can do it. You have to be honest with yourself or you will never truly have the life you deserve. If you are in an abusive relationship (emotionally or physically), get out. Be honest with yourself and admit that it is unhealthy for you.

16. Learn to Stay Close to Your Family.

Your family is super important. They are the ones there for you when you need them the most, no matter what. They may be far away geographically, but they are always in your heart. Spare some time and call them once in a while to catch up, or just to let them know that you miss them. It will make a world of difference in their lives.

17. Learn that Your GPA Doesn’t Define You.

Who really thinks an employer is going to ask you what your GPA was in college? What about a future partner, are they going to ask you that? No. GPA is not important because it isn’t a testimony to who you are as a person. It does not prove your intelligence or lack thereof. It doesn’t matter. Try not to stress so much about it that it drives you crazy, I know I’ve done that for as long as I can remember, and it makes you miserable.

18. Learn to Stop Complaining.

Do you really have it so bad? I know sometimes it feels like the world is caving in on you and nothing is going the way it should, but it could be worse. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I never complain, I’m just saying that the less you complain the happier you are. It’s a proven fact that being grateful for what you have instead of being ashamed of what you cannot have makes you happier.

19. Learn to Detach.

And by this I mean, learn to be away from your phone and social media when you are with people. I’m one of the worst people when it comes to this, but I’m getting better. I know it’s hard being a millennial and having a phone with us 24/7, but trust me, life is so much better when you step away and enjoy your time. I’m not saying that you should never be on your phone, but limit it when you have the chance to experience something worthwhile. I know I need to work on this, and I know I’ll feel accomplished when I am able to.

20. Learn that It’s Okay to Cry.

Crying isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. Don’t be afraid to cry. When everything gets so hard that you just want to sit there and cry, do it. Crying helps you get all of your emotions out without hurting someone or hurting yourself, so do it.

21. Learn that Life Doesn’t Follow Your Plan, and That’s Okay.

Life is a wild ride, it’s a tough ride, but it is so worth it. Every little unpredictable moment is an important one in the story that is your life. Don’t regret anything. Make mistakes, learn from them. Be okay with change. Fix what you can and forget the rest.

All in all, enjoy your life. Stay happy and healthy,

And always…

Stay Golden.

Emily

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