1. Nothing lasts forever.
The good times, the bad times, it all comes and goes. I cannot even begin to count the amount of times I sat crying on my bathroom floor thinking something was the end of the world, but guess what, I'm still here. No matter how much pain you are in or how much you think life can't possibly ever get better, I promise it will. I learned that when life is good, you have to enjoy every second of it and embrace the beauty of the present moment, and when you are broken you have to hold onto the promise that someday soon things will be wonderful again. Find happiness in the good times and during the bad seek comfort in the fact that life will not always be that way.
2. No one can fix you but you.
We grow up watching these movies that teach us someone is going to swoop in in the midst of our pain and put the pieces back together for us, thinking that other people are the source of our happiness, but that's not how it works in real life. I spent a long time hoping that someone would show me how to fix everything, how to fix myself, my life, and then I realized that my life isn't a movie, and the only person who has the ability to repair the damage done is me. It's not easy by any means, but you can't expect it to happen unless you take the initiative. Find what's wrong, and then figure out what you want to do about it. Stop waiting for someone to solve all of your problems, because you are your problem, but you are also your solution.
3. Stop being self destructive.
Everyone has their own insecurities and dislikes about themselves, but life is too short to be tearing yourself down. We each get this one life, this one body, and it's a shame so many of us waste it abusing ourselves with hateful actions and words. There is nothing beautiful about self destruction, it's tragic and exhausting. Use the energy you've been using to rip yourself apart to build yourself back up. Find things you love about yourself and embrace them. Do things for yourself. Look in the mirror and see how fucking amazing you are and don't waste another second destroying yourself.
4. Books and Music are important.
Literature and good music can transport us somewhere else when our own lives aren't very appealing. Immerse yourself in your favorite artists and authors and develop a hunger for more. When everything seems to be going wrong in my life there is nothing so bad that a good playlist or my favorite book can't fix. Music has a way of saying all the words we've been holding on to but haven't been able to express. And books take our minds on extraordinary adventures and teach us lessons we didn't know we needed. When all else fails, turn to your favorite songs and books because they will always be there to comfort you when nothing else will.
5. Eliminate toxic people.
There are so many people in this world that see all of the beauty and color inside of you, stop surrounding yourself with people who try to dull your sparkle. I wasted so much time trying to prove my worth to people who were NEVER going to see it and I failed to see the people who actually saw how fucking amazing I am. I cried tears over harsh words people spit at me and wondered why I wasn't good enough, until I realized people like that will never think I'm good enough, so I instead turned to the people who thought I was. Life is too damn short to spend time with people who don't make you glad you are alive. Anyone who brings negativity into your life does not deserve a place there. Eliminate anyone who robs you of your joy and surround yourself with genuine people.
6. Laugh often, and don't be afraid to laugh at yourself.
Laughter honestly is the best medicine. Laugh as much as humanly possible and don't care what other people think about it. Be silly, make a fool out of yourself, don't be afraid to laugh at yourself. To quote George Strait, " I ain't here for a long time, I'm here for a good time." I used to take myself so seriously and then I just stopped caring about the little trivial things and learned to let go. Laugh at your friends, laugh at movies, laugh at yourself, just fucking laugh. Laughter is contagious and can instantly make any day a bit brighter. Stop taking everything so damn seriously and just laugh it off. When I look back on my life I hope that I have countless memories to look back on and laugh about.
7. Be kind.
Every single person you meet is fighting their own battles and dealing with their own shit, so don't be a dick. Kindess truly goes such a long way. I remember in elementary school they were always telling us "treat other people the way you want to be treated", and it honestly is that simple. Be the kind of person you needed when you were younger. Be the kind of peron you want to be friends with. Put kindness out into the world and it will come back to you. A friendly smile, a simple hello, holding the door open, a warm hug, a word of advice, it's the little things that make a difference in people's lives. There is so much hate in this world and if everyone could just do a few simple acts of kindness a day it would be a much better place.
8. You matter.
Silence that voice in your mind that tells you otherwise, you matter more than you will ever know. There were people that destroyed my self esteem and made me feel totally worthless, but a few years ago I read a book that taught me not to take anything personally, and that others words and actions towards you say nothing about you and everything about them. Don't let anyone make you feel like you don't matter because you do, you do so much. There are millions of people out there, but only one you. You are one of a kind that cannot be replaced. You fucking matter.
9. Do what makes you happy.
Don't waste time doing shit that doesn't make you happy. So many people live each day just going through the mundane actions of their daily lives that don't bring them any joy, and why? Tomorrow isn't promised, do things that bring you joy, do things because you want to and not because you have to. I recently found myself at the end of each day realizing that everything I did that day was for someone else, each thing I did was because I had to, but none of it was making me happy. That's when I decided it had to stop, that I was sick of not doing the things I wanted to do. Find whatever it is that makes your soul shine bright and do it, do the hell out of it. Of course there are some things that we don't want to do but have to do, but don't forget to make time for the things that make you happy and make life worthwhile. Where are you the happiest? Who are you with? Spend time doing things with good people and bask in your happiness.
10. It's okay to not be okay.
This one took me forever to accept. It is okay to cry, it's okay to be angry, it's okay to be heartbroken, it's okay to be tired, no one is happy all the time. You are human, and part of being human is knowing it's okay to be sad sometimes, it doesn't make you any less good, just human. There is this horrible stigma against expressing emotions and talking about pain and sadness and depression, but it's real, it's happening, and it's okay. Allow yourself to feel what you need to feel and don't be afraid to reach out to people because chances are they've been in the exact same place. Your feelings are valid and you have every right to express them and feel them, and it is 100% okay to not be okay.
11. Spend time alone.
Sometimes the world gets to be a bit too much and you just need some time alone, and that's perfectly healthy. Spend time with yourself, get to know yourself. Address the thoughts that linger in the back of your mind, figure some shit out, watch your favorite movie, just be with yourself. At first I was uncomfortable being alone with myself because I didn't want to deal with everything I tried so hard to ignore, but slowly I started to stop running away (literally I would run for miles instead of being in my room alone) from myself and came to terms with the discomfort and began to enjoy alone time. My high school English teacher told me you have to be your own best friend, and she was right. Time alone is time well spent, make more of it and enjoy it.
12. Home is where you feel loved.
Just because you grew up somewhere doesn't make it your home. I struggled a lot with always feeling out of place but realized that home is where you feel happy, wanted, and loved. It doesn't have to be a house, or even a place on a map, it can be where the people you love are, or where your soul feels free. Wherever or whoever makes you feel at home, cherish it and know that no matter where you go or who you meet along the way, home will always be waiting for you whenever you need it.
13. Be a good friend.
No matter what's going on in your life, never forget to there for your friends. Being a good friend is so incredibly important because you never know the difference you can make in someones life. I've had my fair share of shitty friends but instead of being bitter about it, I used it to make myself a better friend and vowed to always be there for my friends no matter what. Friends are the family we choose and good friends can make all the difference in the world, so be one. Be a shoulder to lean on, be there through the highs and lows, because when you are a good friend then your friends will return the same favor. Tell them you love them and how much they mean to you and always stand by their side.
14. You are not invincible.
Yes, you are young and wild and carefree and feel as though nothing can touch you, but you are wrong. Yes drinking is fun, but in moderation. It's not cute or cool to blackout every weekend, and it sure as hell isn't good for you. Yes, you will try new things, some worse than others, but is it worth the consequences? Live your life, make your own choices, but make sure they won't leave lasting marks on your future. I used to think nothing could touch me, but after some of my own experiences, along with the mistakes of others and tragedies that continue to unfold around me, I have learned that I am not indestructable, none of us are. Life is a hell of a lot stronger than you are kid, proceed with caution.
15. Eat the damn cake.
There is too much delicious food in this world for you to not eat it. Anything in moderation won't kill you, one burger won't make you gain 10 pounds. Treat yo self every once in a while and don't feel guilty about it. There should be no guily associated with eating what you want. Most days of the week I eat salads and grilled chicken, but sometimes I'll eat a whole bag of party sized Doritos or scarf down four rice crispy treats, and you know what, that's okay! Life's short, eat the damn cake.
17. Don't be afraid to say no.
Don't want to or can't do something? Simple, say no. I used to feel like the guy in that movie "Yes, Man" because I said yes to every single damn thing no matter how exhausted I was or how much it inconvenienced me because I wanted to please people so badly, because I felt too bad saying no. But I realized that saying no is a part of life, and it's so fine. People get it, you have the right to say no, and they've probably done the same thing. It's not rude or mean, you are just looking out for yourself and your best interests and that's perfectly okay. Learn your limits and accept when it is time to say no.
18. Ask questions.
You can learn something from every single person you meet if you ask the right questions. Don't be afraid to dig deep past all the surface level bullshit and ask tough questions. Every single person has endured their own battles, their own hardships, their own bliss and successes, and they have so much wisdom and insight to offer if you take the time to ask. Strike up a conversation with a stranger, make an acquaintance into a friend, ask people their best childhood memory or the first time they experienced heartbreat. Ask people for advice, ask people what they've been through, ask them their likes and dislikes, ask whatever your heart desires. Everyone we meet can teach us something, don't be afraid to ask these teachers questions when the opportunity presents itself. Embrace your inquisitive nature and see where it takes you.
Love, in all forms of the word. Love your friends, love your significant other, love your family, love the world, and most importantly, love yourself. Open your heart and let love in and allow yourself to give it in return. Don't be afraid of getting your heart broken, you are young, it'll heal. Don't run away and shield yourself from love in fear of getting hurt, because in the long run that'll just hurt you even more. Love everything with all of your heart and being. I know you probably fucking hate a lot of things, but don't resent everything because it just leaves you bitter and broken. It isn't cool to not have feelings. Love can be scary, sure, but it doesn't have to be that crazy love you see in all the movies. Love your pets, love your hair, love summer days, just find things that make you happy and love them with all your heart. Tell people you love them. Love the hell out of yourself because you are young and beautiful and unique. Just love.
20. I am still learning.
No one has all of the answers, I sure as hell don't, and that's okay. Make mistakes, but don't let them define you. You're going to stumble and fall and have to pick yourself back up a few times before you get it right, but eventually you will figure it out. No one expects you to be perfect or to have your life together so stop putting so much pressure on yourself. Be open to the world and all it has to offer and teach you. Learn from your past experiences and mistakes and learn from the people around you. Read books, watch movies, pay attention in class, absorb all you can and use it to live your life. It's not a sprint, it's a marathon, you may trip a few times along the way but you will make it out okay. Embrace everything life has to offer and know it's okay to be lost or confused, trust that you will figure it out eventually. I am 20 years old, to anyone who is telling me to get my life together, to figure it out, to have a plan, fuck off. I'm young, I have learned a lot, but I still have so much left to learn, and I'm perfectly okay with that.
So there you have it, twenty of the most important things I've learned by age twenty. There are definitely a lot more, but those are ones that are near and dear to my heart. I can only imagine what wisdom is going to come in the next decade and I welcome it with an open mind and an open heart.