With my 22nd birthday approaching, here are some things I’ve learned (Part One)
In 2019, Taylor Swift wrote an article for Elle Magazine called “30 Things I Learned Before Turning 30”. This article was a reflection of the major life lessons she learned before turning 30. I use this article as a guide in my life because I think that sharing our experiences with others is what makes us human. Learning from others’ mistakes and successes can help us rationalize things and avoid replicating the errors of others. As my 22nd birthday and graduation are quickly approaching, I’ve been very introspective. I decided to do my own take on Taylor’s article with 22 things I learned (in college) before turning 22. While it was very hard to narrow down, here is part one of some life lessons I have learned.
1. Not All of Your Friends Are Your Friends
There was a study done in 2016 that only half of your perceived friendships are actually mutual. I’ve learned over the years that there are a lot of people who I considered close friends but have not seen me that way: whether that is someone who is creating drama behind your back or they just do not see you as a close friend. It is very hard to find friendships that are 50/50. It is important to put effort into your friendships and be kind to the people you love, but also recognize your worth and evaluate whether your friendships are truly fulfilling.
2. Find Your Hobby
In college, you are often asked what you like doing in your free time. That answer is always hard to find as most college students just go to class, do homework, eat, sleep and repeat. It is important to have hobbies and things you can do to relieve stress. I decided to start a coffee blog on the side and set a reading goal for myself so I make sure to take time and do activities that I enjoy throughout the day. It is a stress reliever, encourages a work/school/life balance and is often a great way to make friends.
3. Things Are Popular For a Reason
I spent a lot of time trying to not be like other girls. I tried to find what made me different from everyone else and relished the fact that I was not a trend follower. In college, I learned that things are popular for a reason and you do not have to be ashamed of being like other girls. I love listening to Taylor Swift, going to Starbucks and going to yoga just like most other college students. They are popular things because they are fun! Missing out on trying popular things for the sake of “looking cool” is actually miserable.
4. Make Your Bed Every Day
It is really easy to struggle with mental health in college. With a demanding schedule, lack of mental health resources, and pressure about the future, mental health is often neglected in college. I highly emphasize going to therapy and finding what works for you with regards to your mental health. The thing that unexpectedly helped me a lot was making my bed every day. I was always told that it helps, but I did not believe it. I tried it and found that the simple task of making my bed every morning made me feel like my life was together and stopped me from crawling back into bed once my classes ended. It was something I could consciously do to start my day on a good note. It is important to take time out of your day to take care of yourself, whether it is therapy, making your bed, or a combination of things.
5. Your Relationships With People Will Change Over Time
I spent a lot of time stressing about my relationships and comparing them to past versions of them. The thing is, relationships are never stable. You grow closer and further apart from people at different stages of your life. There is a graph that I saw that detailed this linked here: https://ourworldindata.org/time-with-others-lifetime. This made me realize that it’s okay for my relationships to waver, especially as my life and identity changed. If they were someone worth keeping in your life, they are someone who sticks around during the points when you are not as close and all of the weird stages in your life. The people who you cannot see or talk to for months but pick up right where you left off when you are together are the ones worth keeping around.
6. It’s Me, Hi, I’m The Problem, It’s Me
Sometimes you are the problem. This was one of the hardest things for me to realize. It is so easy to feel like you are the victim in every situation and feel angry at the world for wronging you. Sometimes you need to step back and see a situation from all sides. Sometimes you are the villain in someone else’s story. We are all human and we all make mistakes, and sometimes other people get involved in the fallout of those mistakes. People will hurt you and you will hurt them too because we are all just trying to figure it out.
7. The Only Opinion of Yourself That Matters is Your Own
A lot of people will have things to say about you. These will not always be positive. People will perceive you in different ways without truly knowing you. You cannot make everyone like you, and you cannot make everyone see you the way you want them to. Their opinions are not the ones that matter. As long as you know yourself and stay true to what you believe in, you will be okay. If someone has a bad opinion of you, maybe they weren’t worth keeping around in the first place.
8. You Will Not Have The Same Body You Did in High School
I always heard stories about things like “The Freshman 15” and “Second Puberty” and I did not listen. I was shocked when I got to college and my body changed, even though I was eating healthy and working out regularly. It is not normal to have the same body you did in high school. I went from playing sports and practicing every day of the week to having to balance more priorities in college. My metabolism slowed down. This happens to everyone in their 20s and everyone has a different version of what healthy looks like. Working out can be fun but do not get caught up in trying to chase a body that will not exist again.
9. You Are Not Forced to Stay in Touch With Your Siblings
As a kid, it is easy to see your siblings as someone who is just there. They experience life with you and are always there- until they aren’t. I did not realize how much I depended on and how important my siblings were to me until college. I realized that even though we were forced together as children, we did not have to be close. We were lucky to get along so well and become friends as adults. They are people I can always count on and who know me fully and chose to love me anyway. I was so lucky to have them growing up and I think my perfect day would involve all of us sitting in a room together and playing games like when we were kids. Siblings are the family you didn’t choose, but you choose whether or not you want to be friends.
10. You Will Become Your Parents
I was always dreading this when others told me that I would become my parents. I saw adults as boring and I never wanted to be the person who stayed inside on a Sunday night and said no to McDonald’s because we “had food at home”. I found that as I grew up, I carried elements of my parents with me. I carry the things that were taught to me and the things I learned on my own to become a combination of myself and them. This is not a bad thing. My parents are smart, successful and some of my favorite people. I am honored to carry parts of them with them and am so excited now when I recognize the traits that they gave me. I am happy now when someone tells me that I look like my Mom because I am carrying out her legacy and continuing her story. I would be lucky to be half as great as my parents. This being said, you do not have to become your parents or carry the negative qualities you associate with them. Generational trauma exists and those patterns often need to be broken, however, there can still be positives in becoming similar to your parents.
11. The Power of Female Friendships
Female friendships are so powerful. They are so complex, beautiful and life-changing. I have always been a “girls-girl” and always will be. I have found so much purpose and meaning in my life through my sisterhood with my friends. I think female friendships are a wonder of the world and they can teach you so much about life and yourself. I love the small moments of doing makeup together, studying at a coffee shop and gossiping over ice cream. There is childlike magic in a true and meaningful friendship that should be held onto and savored with everything in you.
This is the end of part one. Stay tuned for part two with tips #12-22.