20 Things I Learned During 20

Being 20 was a weird year. A weird, crazy year, but such a good one. In this past year, I feel like I've grown and changed a lot from the person I was when I was 19, and to see that growth and change in myself makes me really excited!

So this year, I tried to keep a list of lessons that I learned or things that affected me in a positive way, as reminders of my progress. And so, we have this: 20 things I learned during my year being 20 years old. These range from pretty light hearted to pretty serious, but I think they're all just as important as each other. 

  1. Vegetables don't suck. Yeah, I know, that's what your mom told you, right? Well, consider trying a few things that you used to hate; I now happily eat salads, corn, and I freaking LOVE avocados. You'll be surprised! 
  2. You will eventually lose someone you love. This year was full of happiness, but it was also full of a time of sadness, when one of my best friends, Ryan, passed away in a motorcycle accident at 18. Life throws absolutely crazy curveballs your way, and no matter how much you say that all of your friends and important people in your life will always be there, sometimes, there are tragedies that you will not be prepared for. So, while I never wish it on anyone, be mindful of the unknown and unexpected.
  3. Quality > Quantity. This goes for almost every aspect of your life. People, your clothes, your coffee, etc. It's better to have 5 amazing friends in your life than it is 15 mediocre ones. Just the same as it is to have one high quality pair of boots instead of 5 crappy ones, and to buy one smaller bag of good coffee than a huge canister of Folgers. (Folgers. Yuck.)
  4. Getting up at 8 AM feels so much better than 10 AM. Yeah, you're going to fight me on this one, I know it. And I'm not saying I don't have days where I sleep in until 11. But it's 9 AM as I'm writing this blog post, and I guarantee those extra 2 hours in the morning will make all the difference in your day. 
  5. Wholeheartedly pursue your career, or a relationship, but not both. I'm not saying you can't be successful at both, but 20 is a critical time in your life to set your path. Choose one, and focus on it. Who knows, you might be extremely successful in your job, or you may meet the love of your life. Both are good things. But I guarantee, because I've been there, that when you choose to focus on one, the other one lacks. (If I choose to spend my free time with a guy, I won't be shooting nearly as much as I'd like to.) So far, my career has always won out. And I don't regret that at all. 
  6. Appreciate your parents, and stay in contact with them. When you move out of home and your life starts to get busy, it's understandable that you can't talk to them every day like you used to. But don't forget about them; shoot them a text every once in a while and make sure you make the time to catch up with them. Oh, and they were right about everything. And that boy your dad doesn't like, he's a jerk. No, your mom will not be there to clean that stain off the carpet that you just spilled. But you still need them.
  7. No one will be there to take care of you when you get sick. Long gone are the wonderful sick days living at home where your mom sets you up on the couch with pillows and blankets, brings you soup and water, and medicates you on a timely schedule. You will probably still go to work sick because that paycheck is important, and you'll have to drag yourself to the store feeling like death to pick up your own soup and cough meds. And yeah, it sucks. Try to take care of yourself by always drinking lots of water and taking vitamins. I promise that they actually make a difference. (I got sick 5 times this year. FIVE.)
  8. No sleep will catch up to you. Yeah, those late nights with your friends are a blast. And please, continue to have them. But just know that you will be paying for it later, and when you can't hold your eyes open at work, you have no one to blame for that one but yourself. Sometimes saying no to plans and going to bed at 11 just feels so much better in the morning.
  9. Be in the moment. Put your phone away. Hell, turn off your phone. Even if it's just for an hour, don't miss out on life because of a screen. You will be truly happier because of it. Please, don't be that person video taping and snap chatting the entire time at a concert, take a couple photos that you like for your Instagram, and then put the phone away. It's a much better experience that way!
  10. Some people will not grow out of the high school mindset. Just because you've graduated from high school and have been out for a couple years now, doesn't mean that everyone's grown up and matured with you. Some people will just always act childish, and that's okay. You don't need them in your life. And most importantly, you absolutely don't need the ridiculous high school drama in your life either. No adult has any time for that. I sure don't.
  11. You don't make friends based off their age anymore. After high school, you are no longer making friends based off the people who are within the same age as you, and that are forced into all the same classes as you. This is the time in your life that you get to choose your friends based off their personalities and your common interests with them. And trust me, it's much more fulfilling. The majority of my friends are photographers, because that's a huge part of my life now. I have friends that are 19, 24, 35, and one who is even 65, and they are all in my life because we had common ground and I liked them as a person. 
  12. Hang on to your close high school friends. Make new friends, but keep your old ones too. They are just as important! They watched you grow up, they know all your tendencies, and they went through all your awkward phases, first hand. You may not be able to see them as often as you'd like, but if they're truly good friends, they'll be there for the rest of your life. I've lost about half of my high school friends since graduating, due to either drifting apart or having conflicts, but the ones that I do still have mean the world to me.
  13. Get up early to see the sunrise. Getting up at 4 AM sucks. But oh, man is it worth it. Drive up to a mountain with your friends and watch the sun come up, I guarantee it will be one of the most memorable mornings of your life. 
  14. Have passions, ambitions, and goals. Please, please, PLEASE, do not be boring and surface level. Even if you have passion about straws, that is better than nothing at all. Nobody likes someone who doesn't have plans for their life. I'm not saying that you need to have it all together by 20, but have something in life that gets you excited and is something to work towards! I don't know if it's just me, being very goal oriented, but I absolutely cannot stand people who are indecisive and don't know what they want, or have no opinions. Don't be a people pleaser, and don't do things to get other people to like you. Do what truly makes you happy and work really hard for it. 
  15. Spend your money wisely. Accept the fact that as a college student, you will always be broke, and you will probably be living month to month for a good few years of your life, unless you have a really well paying full time job. (Which, you probably don't.) When you get your tax return, or some birthday money, think about saving it for the day when you need to buy new tires, or your hard drive with all your important files on it decides to die on you. Do treat yourself every once in a while with a new pair of shoes, or dinner out, but try to be as frugal as possible. Absolutely nothing is worse than having to constantly worry about money.
  16. Go hiking. This could be more of one for me personally, but I've really grown to like hiking in the past year. Your feet can take you places a car can't, and you will be rewarded with amazing views! Especially living here in Washington, there are so many good places to hike for either a beginner, or someone more advanced. It's good exercise and it's much more satisfying than walking or running on a treadmill. 
  17. Respect is #1. If someone can't respect you, your opinions, your standards, your thoughts, ideas, or decisions, you don't need them. At all. Seriously, just say goodbye to people who have no level of respect. Whether it's a co worker, a friend, or a significant other, it doesn't matter. You deserve just as much respect as the next person does and it says a lot about a person's character if they can't respect you.
  18. Do NOT base your appearance off of what a boy likes. When girls do this, it makes me so sad. Don't do your hair a certain way for him, don't wear makeup because of him, and don't put on that really uncomfortable dress to impress him. It ISN'T. WORTH. IT. Do it for yourself. Do you want to cut all your hair off, but you haven't because you don't think guys like girls with short hair? That is absolute bull crap. Wear what makes you happy, and put on makeup because it makes you feel pretty, or better about yourself. Changing your appearance for someone else will not make you happy, and if you are just truly yourself, the right guy will come along who actually likes what you really look like. 
  19. Have standards. It's okay to be picky and not settle for someone because you are desperate for a boyfriend. Please don't be that girl that always needs to be in a relationship to feel validated. If someone doesn't meet your standards, don't lower them so they do. Waiting for a decent one is a lot better than dating a bunch of crappy guys who aren't right for you. Be happy on your own first, that way you will still be able to be happy if or when relationships end.
  20. Ultimately, you are number one in your life. Put yourself first, and do what's good for you. If there are toxic relationships in your life, cut them out! Only surround yourself with people who will support you and build you up. Always make your decisions based off of yourself, not someone else. At the end of the day, all you have is you, and you need to make sure that you're living a life that you would be proud to look back on.

While this seems like a lot, these are just a few of the things I learned in the past year. Whether you are 17 and still in high school, or 30 years old and reading this, just know that these things are just as relevant to you, too. Do you agree or disagree with any of these things? What are some important life lessons that you learned this year? Let me know in the comments! 

Jessica Mumm1 Comment