When I was younger I thought that by the time I was in my 20s I’d be a proper adult. Well as of this October I’m 22, and I’m here to report the reality of it is a bit more like: “Welcome to your 20s! A span of time where you’ll feel like you should have it together, but whether you actually do or not is super questionable.”
I feel like I’ve grown and learned more in the past two years than I have in the previous 10 combined (potentially a mild exaggeration, but also definitely not). So, I thought I’d share 22 things I’ve learned in my first 22 years on this planet. This one is for you, younger self.
- Planning is great, but don’t let you plans for the future get in the way of what’s meant to be. Be open to other possibilities. Something even more wonderful, that may have never crossed your mind, could be in store.
- When all else fails, make a cup of tea and take a bath.
- Always fold sweaters. Those pulls in the shoulders from hangers will haunt you if you don’t.
- There’s no need to be suspicious of genuinely kind strangers no matter how much your inner New Yorker is twitching.
- Washing everything in cold water makes laundry less complicated, AND more sustainable.
- You may doubt even the people closest to you at times, but that doesn’t mean their love or support is wavering. Your insecurities can distort reality — love yourself first and you’ll realize the only person’s support you were lacking was your own.
- When you find a pair of jeans that fit, and fit well, buy more than one. They are your wardrobe lifelines.
- There’s no bad night to have a movie night.
- Some people enter your life for a reason. Some people leave for a reason. And some people, you’ll find, will stay by your side the entire time.
- Pay it forward. Little things can have big impacts.
- Change your toothbrush after you’ve been sick. Some may say this is unnecessary, I say having strep twice back-to-back is miserable.
- You know the saying “it’s not you, it’s me”? There are situations where that’s actually the case, and someone else’s problems have nothing to do with you.
- Naps are wonderful. People who say they’re for little kids have clearly never experienced the magic of an afternoon nap.
- Decisions don’t have to be rational if you feel in your gut it’s somehow right.
- If you suddenly develop a food allergy, speak up in situations that might make you sick. Stop worrying about inconveniencing people — your health is more important.
- Spend money on experiences.
- Don’t wait for the “perfect” time to do something.
- Be kind and work hard.
- Drinking enough water each day really does make a world of difference. If you forget to drink water, set yourself reminders.
- Stop being skeptical about meditation and just try it already! You’ll love it and wish you had listened to your mom’s recommendation years ago.
- Get outside as often as possible.
- Tough or sad days don’t last forever, and they’re the best way to fully appreciate good times.
Photos by Jessica Whitaker