At the ripe young age of 20 years old, its quite impossible for me to say that I’ve experienced even a fraction of the things in life that I have planned – and the reality of which I am fully aware is that the experiences I am so desperately searching for are often those that are unplanned. But with 20 years under my belt, there is quite a bit that I have accomplished, experienced and learned – while the lessons are innumerable, here are the 20 most important ones.
1. When you plan, God laughs.
I plan – and I plan meticulously. I have tomorrow planned, I have next year planned. I have every next step of my life planned simply for the comfort of having a plan – but the reality is no matter how thorough your plan, the universe has its own agenda for you, and I’ve come to realize that’s okay.
2. Social media likes aren’t everything – neither is the approval of others.
We’re often looking for the validation of others – how many likes can this photo get? How do I look in this? What will this person think of this? etc. – and while criticism can be constructive, validation isn’t the ultimate indication of success – this is something that many, including myself struggle with, and it is definitely an issue I plan to work on in my 20’s.
3. The future can wait – enjoy the now.
When I was 8 years old I couldn’t wait to be 10. The enchanting idea of having two numbers in my age instead of just one was exciting beyond words. When I was 10 I couldn’t wait to be 14 to start high school, when I was 14 I couldn’t wait to be 16 and start to drive, when I was 16 I couldn’t wait to be 18 and start college, when I was 18 I couldn’t wait to be in my twenties. Now that I’m in my twenties I’ve realized – I can wait. Graduation can wait, getting a job can wait, it can all wait until the time comes – there’s no reason to rush.
4. With that being said, if you don’t chase after it – someone will.
Yes, it can wait. Whatever you’re looking forward to can wait, but it doesn’t hurt to have your eyes on the prize. Going after your dreams and aspirations is such an essential part of life, and if you don’t do it- someone will!
5. Failure is almost always a prerequisite to success.
Behind the scenes of great success is often devastating failure – and this is one of the most simple yet difficult concepts to understand. Bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people – it happens. The failures are worth the success.
6. Comparing yourself to someone else will not make you more like them.
Admittedly, I’m incredibly guilty of this. “I want her body, I want his job.” Message to self: stop comparing yourself to people who are not you. It will never make you more like them. Go after your goals without the temptation of envying someone else.
7. Anything you give, you will get back.
I am a firm believer in what goes around comes around. When your actions are for someone besides yourself, you are rewarded ten-fold. I’ve had this happen to me time and time again, and it is a life lesson forever embedded in my brain.
8. You’re not entitled to anything – everything is a blessing.
I will always advocate for my generation and our numerous advancements and forward way of thinking, but the classic cry of “entitlement” from our predecessors is as valid a point as any. I am not entitled to anything that I have, it is a blessing, or an earning, not something I receive for simply existing.
9. You can’t hate somebody that you understand.
At some point in time, you come to a realization that everyone is not like you. They don’t talk the same, look the same, act the same, make the same amounts of money, believe in the same God – because they aren’t the same. Our world is full of people from all walks of life and instead of avoiding them, learn about them. This is literally the only way we can progress as a society.
No, I’m not talking about staying at a resort and posting pictures on Instagram with the hashtag #cancun2015 or #springbreakbitches
I’m talking going to another country, eating their cuisine, speaking to their people – immersing yourself in the culture and world of others. I full-heartedly believe travel is the best way to grow as an educated, worldly human being.
“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”
11. Love your job – whatever it is.
You could be a waiter or a CEO – in my opinion the level of success a person has in their career is not correlated with how far up they are in the corporate ladder, it is their own personal idea of success and happiness with what they are doing. If you spend the whole week, every week looking more forward to Friday than Monday – I dare to say you’re in the wrong occupation.
12. Stop the condescension. It’s ignorant and unattractive.
You’re not better than the person serving you, nor are you better than the person you are serving. Some people will be better than you at some things, some things you will be better at than some people. Acknowledge it, understand it, move on.
13. Forgive – do it for yourself.
Forgive, forgive forgive. Grudges are too painful to hold on to.
“Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.”
14. Be independent
Write your own checks, do your own taxes, pay your own bills, make your own food – have your own life. Stop relying on others for the things that you’ll eventually have to do yourself.
15. Partying and being sloppy every weekend was fun at 18 – but it won’t get you where you need to go.
I’m not hating or looking down on those that do this – its your life choice. But in the past few years I’ve learned that there is more to life than loud music, being around drunk people and repeating this scenario over and over and over again.
Two-thousand Facebook friends but only about ten real, honest to goodness friends. This concept is something that I’ve struggled with for a while. As an extrovert, I am constantly looking for people to talk to, to be friends with, to provide companionship to – but the reality is that people are in your life for a reason. Those who choose to be in your life will make an active effort to do so. You can’t be friends with everyone.
At 15 years old I thought my parent’s goal in life was to keep me from having fun – no, I’m not exaggerating, I genuinely thought that. Five years later and they are my everything. They are the first ones I call when I face failure and the first ones I call when I receive success. They gave me everything, literally everything – but the truth is, it took me 20 years to realize this, and I still don’t believe I’ve fully realized it.
18. Positivity is the most important trait to have in life – hands down.
Negativity will ruin, I repeat – ruin your life. Stop complaining for a day, two days, a week – see how much your life will change. Positively spin all of your adversities and the world becomes a much brighter, tolerable place.
19. Trust- sparsely, but trust.
With lack of trust comes great lonliness. Open yourself, trust others, but also trust yourself – you are capable of more than you know. We’re often scared of our own expectations and the expectations we give to others, let go of the fear of betrayal – and trust. Admittedly, easier said than done – but this is so important.
20. Stop worrying about things that are out of your control.
Last one because this is the one I want everyone to remember. You CAN’T control everything in life – you just can’t. Stop worrying about this and that when you know it is out of your control. Take what you do in your life seriously, but don’t take your life too seriously.