The 22 things I’ve learned in my 22 years of life.

We’ve all heard the Taylor Swift song, “22”. Repeatedly. On my birthday, my younger sister threatened to play the song constantly, all day long. And while I am not the biggest fan of T-Swizzle (as she is lovingly called between my sister and myself), with lyrics such as “We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time; It’s miserable and magical oh yeah”, now that I’m 22, I can relate. With that being said, I want to share with the rest of the world twenty two wonderful life lessons/tips I have learned so far. 

Note: These are in no particular order.

1.) Chivalry isn’t dead. And it’s not just for men.

Ladies, listen up! Yes, we swoon when a boy holds a door open for us and buys us flowers and pays for our meals. We make so much effort to promote equal rights for women, yet for some reason we seem to think that chivalry is only for men. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a feminist, though I do believe in equal rights for everyone. However, I grew up not believing in chivalry, but instead believing in basic human goodness. If we don’t want chivalry to die, then all we have to do is remember to say “please” and “thank you”. Hold the door open for the person behind you. Pay for your date (ladies) once in a while. Be kind without attaching strings. As long we all do our part, chivalry won’t be able to die. 

2.) Don’t just be book smart.

Book smart isn’t going to get you everywhere in life. I mean, it’s definitely great to pay attention in school. However, no matter what you’re doing or where you are, you always have an opportunity to learn. Volunteer at a local animal shelter or soup kitchen; travel, even if it’s somewhere local; try new foods; learn a new language; the list is endless. By opening yourself to new people and experiences, you will learn so much more than you thought you could.

3.) It’s okay to fail (sometimes).

So, you failed the pop quiz or missed the game winning goal. So what? Failing builds character. Now, I’m not saying don’t meet deadlines or party so much you fail a class. But don’t stress about small failures! Those are the things that push us to do better.

4.) Love your family (but not like Cersei and Jaime).

Blood truly is thicker than water. Countless times I have heard people talk about how much they hate their parents and how unfair their parents are…because they didn’t get the iPhone they wanted or their mom made them go to a family event. SO. WHAT? Our lives are like plays, and while we’re center stage, our parents are doing EVERYTHING behind the scenes. They sacrifice so much for us to live our lives. Yeah, we’ve all been through that teenage phase where we hated our parents and wished they were like so-and-so’s mom who got her the newest iPod. But we are not entitled to a damn thing, and it is through their love for us that our parents make sure we get the best of everything. Don’t be ashamed to be best friends with your parents; I know I am. And it’s not just parents. When everyone else deserts you, your family-parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins-will be the only people standing by your side. They don’t judge, and they love you unconditionally.

5.) Don’t be ashamed to be a child at heart.

I am twenty two and I love seeing what movie Pixar is going to release next. I loathe the child who reaches the last swing at the playground before me. I can’t wait to think of what I’m going to be dressed as for Halloween this year. We all want to grow up and graduate and have jobs and live on our own, but honestly, as much as I want all that I also do not want to lose my childhood. And I don’t plan on it either.

6.) There is a right and wrong way to put toilet paper on the bar.

There just is.

7.) Don’t be too bothered by what other people think of you.

If someone doesn’t like you, it shouldn’t concern you. Don’t waste hours of your life obsessing over why someone doesn’t like you. Sure, you may be the nicest, prettiest, funniest person around, but that doesn’t mean you’re entitled to the world’s adoration. Live your life, and if someone doesn’t think twice about you, it’s their loss. You probably don’t want to be friends with someone like that anyways. If someone goes out of their way to say unkind things about you, let it roll off your shoulder; they’re the ones who have to live with themselves, and it only shows what type of person they are. You know who you are and who your friends are, and you should be happy with that.

8.) Do go to school. Don’t wear pajamas.

Unless you are going to university on a full ride-and if you are, congratulations!-you or somebody you know is paying for your education. MAKE THE MOST OF IT. I cannot stress that enough. Why pay hundreds of thousands of dollars on an education when you’re not even going to go to class? And if and when you do go to class, don’t wear pajamas. It doesn’t matter if you’re class is at 7:30am or 7:30pm, DO NOT WEAR PAJAMAS.  Dress appropriately; even if you’re having a horrible day and you’re running on an hour of sleep, the least you can do is wear sweatpants. Sure, they may not count as real pants, but they’re a hell of a lot better than wearing your pajamas. You are paying good money for the education you’re getting, so you probably want to dress like you care. Whether or not you believe it, your professors are evaluating you from day 1 to final exam day. Meet your professors one-on-one; at the end of your first day of class just introduce yourself and let them know that you’re looking forward to their class. Go to class, participate in class, go to office hours and supplemental instruction, don’t procrastinate on assignments, and don’t be afraid to ask questions! As the daughter of a professor, I can’t stress how important these things are. When you’re looking for jobs, internships, or volunteer experience and you’re asked to provide references, the people you put down will be your professors and previous bosses. If you sat in the back of the class and never spoke once or never went to class (even though your professor “never took attendance”), your professors know exactly who you are and what type of student you were, so make your life easy and go to class and receive the education you’re paying for.

9.) Own at least one suit/formal outfit.

Everybody needs to own one suit. Business and law students should probably own two. You never know when the occasion will arise when you need to be dressed formally. Girls, not only should you own a suit (or at least formal pants), but you should also own at least one formal dress as well; it doesn’t need to be floor-length, but it also should not be able to double as something you would wear to the club. Also, when I say “own a suit”, I mean the whole package; at least two dress shirts and shoes to go with. It’s better to buy a well-fitting suit before you need it and be prepared than scramble around at the last minute looking for something that kind of fits. 

10.) Work in retail or the food industry.

Everybody should work in retail or the food industry at some point in their lives, for at least a month. You’ll probably hate me for it, but by the end of it, you’ll be thanking me. Working in retail proved to me that some people really are worth bitching about for days on end; however, it also taught me a lot of skills, such as teamwork, time management, patience, and in general how to have a good work ethic. 

11.) The Backstreet Boys are THE boy band of the ’90s.

Sorry N’Sync fans. You’re just gonna have to live with it.

12.) Travel

I totally understand that not everybody has the means to travel the world. However, that shouldn’t prevent anyone from traveling. Don’t go far; hop on over to the next city, if nothing else. Traveling broadens our horizons and teaches us so many things that we will never be able to learn just from reading, going to school, or watching TV. 

13.) Read

Like traveling, reading is another way to broaden our horizons. It lets us explore new worlds and lets our imagination thrive. I know plenty of people who abhor reading; however, even if it is only one book every six months, I believe reading is a critical part of our lives. It not only helps us expand our literary knowledge, but it allows us to be exposed to different views and ideas.

14.) Participate in extra-curricular activities.

One rule my parents really enforced while my sister and I were growing up was that we had to be involved in some sort of activity. We both played soccer and tennis, we both took swim and gymnastics lessons, and my sister took ballet lessons while I played a season of softball. We also both did Kumon, which, when we were younger, was seriously the bane of our existence. In high school, we were both in marching band, and my sister was part of the Model United Nations club, which she has continued to participate in now that she’s in college. Looking back, I am definitely thankful that my parents were strict about our participation in extra-curricular activities (even Kumon). Of course, what extra-curricular you participate in is completely dependent on what you’re interested in; however, I still strongly suggest that everybody participate in at least one extra-curricular throughout their period in school, as well as after. Join a sports team, a dance team, an association/school group (Indian Association, Student Government, Programming Board, Greek life, etc.), a book club…anything! Not only does this give you an escape from school or work, but it allows you to learn and become good at something new, as well as make friends who are interested in the same things as you are.

15.)  When someone tells you that what you post on social media or what pictures you send to people will be accessible forever, don’t laugh them off.

Thankfully, this is not from experience. However, I’m a college student, which means that when I can’t sleep at 2am, I’m browsing the Internet, and all those photos of kids partying and smoking and doing illegal things are everywhere. You posted that picture of you doing a keg stand at a frat house when you’re only 15, and then you deleted it…well guess what? It’s still there. Maybe not on your Facebook or Instagram, but it’s somewhere on the Internet. Most of those photos on websites like Reddit and Imgur are screenshots, which means even if you deleted it, someone (besides yourself) has already shown it to the mass public. Even Snapchat, where the photos automatically “disappear” after however many seconds, can be screenshot. Now, there are even apps that allow people to access such photos. My point? Be smart! Don’t post photos of you smoking a joint, drinking copious amounts of liquor, or making fun of people online. If you absolutely have to, then make a private album that only you and a select few people have access to. Trust me, current and potential employers are looking at these things, and oftentimes we’re friends with our co-workers on social media sites. Just be smart about what you post.

16.) Take care of yourself.

A few months ago, I had an incident where I fainted in my lanai. Thankfully, I live at home and it was one of those weekday nights where my mom chose to stay up until 11pm.  I was rushed to the ER, and long story short, the prognosis was that life had caught up to me and I needed to take better care of myself.  Working in retail and being a full-time college student, plus being a night owl and eating about as many meals as a hibernating bear, basically meant that my eating and sleeping habits have been skewed forever. I never eat breakfast (except weekends, when I eat with my family), and I know that that is one major cause of all this. It didn’t help that I was eating two, sometimes one solid meal a day and sleeping around 3am. Since I fainted, I’ve been to the doctor numerous times to make sure everything is working the way it’s supposed to. It’s annoying, and easily avoidable. So this is a lesson from personal experience: eat right, sleep enough, and just take care of yourself. 

17.) It’s okay to like things that other people don’t like.

I don’t like bacon. Seriously. Luckily, my friends are amazing and love me (with numerous threats to “un-friend” me) regardless of this fact. One of the greatest things in life though is having friends who not only like some of the same things as us, but also things that are different. How many times have we said “I would definitely be friends with me, but I’d probably kill me if I had to marry me.”? I know I’ve said it a million times. I have friends who are going to go see the 1D movie (and they’re in college), who prefer N’Sync over Backstreet Boys, like water parks instead of roller coasters, etc. Having friends who have different interests as you is what keeps things exciting!

18.)  It’s okay to not know what you want.

There is no way we’re always going to know what we want. When I started college in fall 2009, I went to school with an abundant amount of credits from AP classes and dual enrollment that would allow me to graduate early, and I was majoring in Biology, hoping to do the pre-med track and become a pediatrician. By spring 2011, I knew that I had to change my major, and that’s exactly what I did. I changed my major to Management, only to realize that is also not what I wanted to do. So in fall 2011, I went back to the advising office and changed my major to Marketing, adding two minors in Advertising and Supply Chain Management. Now, fall 2013, I am finally in my last year of college. I should have graduated early, and should now be in the stage where I’d either be employed or looking at/enrolled in grad school. Am I? Nope. Do I wish I had started off majoring in Marketing? Yes. However, we’re never going to always know what we want in life, and that’s okay. Though I’m ready to be in the next stage of my life, so many wonderful things have happened because I’m a fifth year senior in college, and I think those definitely outweigh the regrets.

19.) Do what you want.

Kind of linked to my last little tidbit, even if you don’t know what you want, when you figure it out, do it. Don’t let anybody stop you (unless it’s illegal, then please take their advice when they say “no”).  If you decide you want to go skydiving, then go skydiving! Anything that brings you joy in life is something you should do, and you shouldn’t let anybody rain on your parade. If your dad wants you to join his law practice, but you want to pursue a degree in music because that’s your passion, then follow your dreams and pursue that music degree! The only way we will truly be happy in life is if we do things for us.

20.) Some things are worth sacrificing.

Again, linked to my previous tidbit, while it is important to do what you love, it is also important to remember that some things in life have to be sacrificed. There have been many times in my life when I have looked forward to something but have had to give up the chance to do them because of something more important. Yes, it sucked and it hurt, but it’s important to understand that sometimes what you want to do and what you have to do are not the same thing and you’ll probably have to give up what you want. While this may hurt and suck initially, in the long-run you’ll see it was the better choice.

21.) Technology isn’t everything.

I am glued to my phone, just like every other preteen, teenager, and young adult. I am constantly checking my e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and who knows what other social media and websites. However, it’s important for us to all, once in a while, take a break. Leave your phone at home for the weekend and go somewhere. Go to the beach, rock climbing, the local market…wherever! Get some fresh air! Read a book, watch a movie, learn how to cook something new. Our lives are flying by, and we don’t even realize it. Technology isn’t everything, and it’s better that we realize that sooner rather than later.

22.) Love yourself.

Probably the most important thing I have learned in life is to love myself. That doesn’t mean act like an egotistical asshole. It means that no matter what anybody says to you or how much they try to put you down, you don’t let them rain on your parade, ever. Follow your dreams, aspire to be something great, wear what makes you comfortable, surround yourself with people who love you, and love the life you live. 

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