19 Things I Learned Before Turning 20

19 Things I Learned Before Turning 20 | SarahMichiko.com (brooklyn bridge, new york city)

It all started months ago when my best friend turned 20. As the oldest in our group, she texted us in the middle of her personal existential crisis.

“Was I rebellious enough?? Did I really make the most of my teenage years??? Cause that shit ain’t ever coming back.”

Her revelation hit the rest of us pretty hard. The rest of the conversation consisted of throwbacks to our high school days and all of our adventures when we were young and restless. I think that turning twenty doesn’t necessarily feel different; it’s the lull between being a teenager and becoming a (legal) adult. But there is always that sense of nostalgia and regret of everything done and not done.

I’m no longer a teenager. I probably won’t feel any different today than I will in the next few months. For me, being a teenager was the epitome of being youthful. No responsibilities and not a care in the world. However, that does not mean I didn’t learn a few things along the way. I’ll probably look back on this post in however many years and think about how naive I was or how much I have yet to learn. But I was inspired by this post to truly reflect on the last two decades of my life. So without further ado, here we go:

  1. Learning to be alone is the best thing you can do for yourself. You’ll learn how to take care of yourself and how to be your best company. Don’t be dependent on the company of others.
  2. Crying is not a sign of weakness. Whether it is out of empathy or grief, crying is a sign of vulnerability. And that is strength.
  3. Life is too short to be a picky eater. There is a reason we are born with taste buds. Use them.
  4. It’s never too early to start caring about skincare. Figure out what works for you and stick to it. Also, drink water and wear sunscreen.
  5. Don’t candy coat how you feel. Be straight-forward with people and you’ll feel so much better knowing you were honest.
  6. Friends come and go, and that’s okay. Not all friendships are forever. Some of them may end in hurt and others end in time, but no friendship is ever a waste of time. This also means that the friends that last are the best of the best, so cherish them, gosh dang it!
  7. Fit matters more than whatever size is on the tag. 
  8. Spend as much time as you can with your family. They are your first unconditional loves. Learn their stories and let them know you love them.
  9. Being good at your passion shouldn’t matter as long as you love doing it. Recently, I was looking back on old photos I took, and I think of them now as my best and favorite photographs I have ever taken. Not because they are technically refined, but because I had so much taking them. I was naive and in love with it, and I want to make sure I never lose that.
  10. “We all have our own thing. That’s the magic. And everybody comes with their own sense of strength, their own Queendom. Mine could never compare to hers, and hers could never compare to mine.” This quote from Jill Scott changed everything for me. For a long time, I compared myself to everyone else. Admittedly, I still do sometimes, but now I’ve grown to view others as one of kind creatures. How can you compare one thing to another if they are all unique in their own ways?
  11. Age is not a mark of maturity. Some people are mature past their years, and others have yet to grow up. You’re probably a little bit of both.
  12. Don’t exercise to be skinny. Exercise to be the healthiest version of yourself. One of my dearest friends put it into perspective for me: our human bodies are amazing. The fact that we can run miles on end (with training of course!) and climb flights of stairs and lift heavy weights? That’s so cool if you really think about it. So now whenever I exercise, I try to push myself because I know what my body is capable of. And that makes it so much more enjoyable, at least for me.
  13. If you start thinking about someone, for any reason, let them know. Whenever an old friend or new acquaintance pops into my mind, I’ve made it a habit to let them know I’m thinking about them. They may need that from someone, why not you?
  14. Late night drives are the best way to clear your mind. Music and an empty road are perfect for screaming, and crying, and laughing, and thinking.
  15. Read books you are interested in. Reading certain books won’t make you any more or less interesting.
  16. Dress like you’re going somewhere better later. Not only is it fun, but you will feel the confidence you radiate.
  17. Money can’t buy you love, but it can (kinda) buy you happiness. Saving and spending money wisely can help you buy experiences. Concerts, travel, art, things that nourish your soul. Also, spend more money on saving time.
  18. Make your bed every morning. By completing a task first thing in the morning (even if it’s as trivial as making your bed), you’ll feel motivated to complete another task, and then another after that. Plus, crawling into a made bed at the end of a long day is one of the best feelings.
  19. Never stop learning.

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