10 Things I Learned From the First Year of my Twenties

They say your twenties are some of the best years of your life. Granted, I haven’t yet completed my first full year of my twenties, but I’m pretty darn close. Throughout this past year, I feel like I’ve learned a thing or two. I’ve accomplished, celebrated, and even made a few mistakes (I’m allowed to make mistakes, I still have nine years left in this decade!). So, without further ado, here’s what I’ve learned:

1. You are in charge of your future: Undoubtedly, this is one of the most important things I’ve learned in the past year. However, it’s also a difficult one to stomach since it somewhat contradicts some of my main beliefs. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. So, if that’s true, I shouldn’t have to really try or do anything, right? It’ll just happen the way it’s supposed to? Wrong. I believe that you alone are in charge of your future and determining the outcome. I think that if you want to make something happen, you must go out and do so. If you desire change, you must allow yourself to change. There will be times unexpected events and circumstances will be thrown you way, but if you deal with them in the right way, you can, too, change the outcome of the unfortunate. One of my all-time favorite quotes sums this up perfectly, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.

2. Planning is okay, but so is spontaneity: As a die hard planner, it’s often difficult for me to be spontaneous. I prefer definite, thought out plans to spur of the moment adventures. However, spontaneity can be great, too. After all, some of the best things in life are completely unplanned! So, while I think it’s important to have a plan and strive for specific dreams and goals, I also believe it’s important to allow spontaneous and never-would-I-ever-do-that moments to occur.

3. Mistakes are great: Wait, what? Yep, I said it. Mistakes are great. We all make mistakes and it’s completely impossible to avoid a mishap or two. However, like I said in #1, it’s how you handle these mistakes that counts. You’ll never learn and grow as a person if you never allow yourself to mess up. How do you think some of the world’s greatest inventions were ever thought of? I can tell you, their inventors probably didn’t invent them on the first try. So if you make a mistake, try not to give yourself such a hard time. There really, truly is a next time.

4. Relationships aren’t easy: This is a big one for me. No matter if it’s a romantic relationship, a friendship, or a family member, relationships aren’t easy. But they’re important, and arguably, necessary for human survival. Definitely necessary if you want to live a happy and satisfying life. What I’ve learned is that you have to really understand the person who you’re dealing with. Everyone expects different things from different relationships, have different traits, and different needs. You can’t expect a relationship to work if you don’t put in the necessary time and effort. Even when they’re not, you should be. I think you should always try to put in more effort in any relationship or friendship, and hopefully they’ll take note.

5. College isn’t the only great time in your life: I’ve spent the past two years fearing the next four. Although I’m only halfway done, I’m definitely not ready to graduate quite yet. Not only does the future continually scare me, but it sounds less fun. I spent so much of my childhood and teens looking forward to college that I think I have downplayed the rest of my life. Although I’m not there yet, I know there is still a lot of fun to be had in my life. Whether that be getting my first apartment, my first job, getting married, having kids, or whatever life throws at me, I know college isn’t the last destination.

6. Positivity isn’t inherent, it’s learned: Positivity isn’t something that is necessarily inherent, rather, it’s learned. It’s something that each of us have to strive for and works towards each and every day if we so choose it. Sure, we could wake up every day and have a negative outlook on the things happening to us, but where’s the happiness in that? Positive thinking really is powerful. You can place a positive spin on anything. However, like I said, it’s something we have to work towards. Whenever negativity occurs, it’s important to reframe your thoughts and see them in a more positive light.

7. …However, positivity isn’t necessarily ignorance:  I’ve also learned that having a positive state of mind doesn’t mean you’re ignorant. Some people, especially pessimists, see optimists as ignorant and believe that being negative is more “realistic”. I don’t believe this at all. Just because you look for the good in the world and strive to be happy doesn’t mean you aren’t realistic. It just means you are simply looking for the good in life, rather than the bad. You still know that bad things happen, however, you are choosing to focus on the good things.

8. Settling isn’t worth it: By far, this is a mindset that will probably play a big part in my future. I’m not just talking about romantic relationships, I’m talking about everything. If you’re not happy with someone, something, anything, why would you allow it to stay in your life? Just because you have a job doesn’t mean you should stay at it. Sometimes, taking the easy road doesn’t mean you’re taking the best road. Do what makes you happy.

9. Value what you have: This is another really big thing I’ve learned in the past year. Oftentimes, it’s easier to wish you were someone else doing something different. However, you aren’t. So don’t waste your time on that. Also, value the people in your life. In the past two years, I’ve lost two of my grandparents. Of course, I knew they wouldn’t live forever. However, I never thought I would lose both of them in a matter of 16 months. Sadly, you never know what the future holds, so value those you have today.

10. Be true to yourself: Finally, a very cliche lesson learned. It’s true, though. You can’t make everyone happy and you never will. So changing to meet someone else’s needs, or trying to be different for the sake of impressing another person just isn’t worth it. If you are your true self, the right people will be in your life, you’ll be happier, and you’ll probably accomplish some of your dreams while you’re at it, too.

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