“‘I had to make you uncomfortable, otherwise you would’ve never moved.’ – The Universe”
I turned 21 today!
On my 18th birthday, I published a post called 18 Things I’ve Learned at 18. At the time, I was a freshman in college, who had only been away from home for about two months. I didn’t know half as much of the things I know now, so I thought I’d try to make an updated list, three years later.
Here are 21 things I’ve learned in 21 years.
1) I knew absolutely nothing at 18
At 18, when I wrote the post, I thought I knew what I was doing. But no one knows anything at 18. At 21, I am still learning so much about the world and myself, and I’m sure at 30, 40, 50, etc., I’ll still be learning new things everyday.
2) Environment affects mood
Wake up and do your bed every morning. Buy a salt lamp, an essential oil diffuser and that tapestry you’ve been eyeing. A peaceful and stimulating environment helps with productivity.
3) Stop being afraid to take up space
Growing up, I used to “shrink myself” by being the quiet kid. I wanted everyone to think I was chill and laid-back. I was afraid to seem too opinionated or a try-hard.
I’m still pretty quiet, but everyday I am working on speaking up. Studying to become a journalist and getting experience working in the field taught me how to insert myself into places and conversations that I once thought I could never be a part of. I’m learning to question things and speak up. I’m also discovering that words really are power and that I am just as deserving as anyone else to be in the room and be heard.
4) Failing is not the end of the world
I failed my driving test twice and passed on the third try. The first two times I failed, I literally wanted to scream at every car that passed by me. But, failing is not the end of the world, as long as you try again. (Btw, always merge into the bike lane before you make a right turn…)
5) What you see on Instagram is never the whole truth
You see what they want you to see.
6) Your early 20’s are meant for you to be selfish
20 is too young of an age to sacrifice your goals just to align with someone else’s. Focus on yourself.
7) Education is very important
College gets so much better when you’re studying something you love and are actually passionate about. During my freshman year, I went to my professor’s office hours and the second she asked me how I was feeling, I unexpectedly broke down in tears! At the time, I was feeling so out of place socially and within my major.
Now as a graduating senior, I know I chose the right path. Though college is stressful, I will never take this experience for granted. Studying hard and getting involved gave me so much in return. I’ve done two journalism-related internships and I’m currently web editor of the campus newspaper, editor in chief of the magazine and president of my major’s honor society. If only freshman Eliz knew how far she’d go…
8) Use social media sparingly
I can’t remember the last time I sent something on Snapchat or even thought about the app itself. I deleted it over summer, and my mental health has improved. I no longer feel the need to document every single second of my life anymore or rely on slimming nose filters to feel pretty. I’m not forcing anyone to delete their social media accounts, but just keep in mind, apps like Snapchat thrive on giving users instant gratification and feelings of FOMO. If an app feels like it’s draining you, maybe take a break and see how you feel without it.
9) Ditch the timeline
I am learning that I don’t have to adhere to anyone else’s timeline or even the timeline I originally planned for myself. I can move at my own pace, because life is more than just reaching milestones. The adventures and mistakes that sit in between the achievements and milestones are all part of the journey.
10) Attachment can easily be confused as love
11) Trust the timing of things
I experienced a break up and was offered an intern position in the span of 2 weeks. While one part of my life felt like it was falling apart, another part felt like it was just beginning. When this was happening, I honestly thought the universe was playing tricks on me with the timing. But looking at it now, I am so thankful things happened the way they did and when they did. Time heals all and overtime, you’ll understand that these things were all meant to happen to you.
12) My parents are actually cool
I had to get older to realize how insanely lucky I am to have parents who are practically my best friends, try to relate with me and who actually support my goals. (Mom and dad, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry for being a brat and thinking I was too cool for your stories when I was a teen. I now brag to my friends about how cool you guys are.)
13) I don’t actually love Los Angeles
This was the hardest truth to learn. At first, I was madly in love with LA. I couldn’t wait to graduate and become this fashionable LA “it” girl, who thrifts on Melrose every Sunday and casually runs into celebrities at PR events. But ultimately, working in San Francisco confirmed that LA and I will never work out. I realized I am a city girl and that forcing myself to enjoy LA felt like staying in a toxic relationship and prolonging the breakup, just because we looked cute together and sounded nice on paper.
LA, you and I were like first love. But first love is blind.
14) Life is a series of mountains
When I was interning, I grabbed tea with a writer who was leaving the company to work somewhere new. We had a little chat about life and I opened up to her about how everyday of 2019 felt like an emotional rollercoaster for me and she told me to think of life as a series of mountains. You go through heartbreak and climb up a new mountain. Get a new job and climb up another mountain. Life isn’t flat. There will constantly be ups and downs and we can’t just give up when we think we’re at the bottom. Rock bottom just means we’re on our way to climb another mountain and see another view.
15) Realize that you are your “person”
No matter how amazing your friends are or how caring your significant other is to you, if you can’t be happy on your own, you’ll never be fully happy. Learn how to be your own person. Take yourself out on dates and do things alone. I spent my summer exploring the city on my own and visiting bookstores, finding rooftops, writing in the park and taking myself on shopping trips. I even went to a concert alone. Once you realize you are your person, then you’ll start attracting what is meant for you. But first, you gotta treat yourself right.
16) Love people for who they are, not for their potential
#1 rule for avoiding disappointment
17) I need to stop telling myself to “get over it”
I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve told myself to “get over it” when something bad happens or I’m feeling down. Whether it’s heartbreak, rejection or simply a bad day, allow yourself all the space to heal and not feel ashamed about it.
18) Food is not an enemy
When I was in high school, I started having this unhealthy relationship with food. I never wanted to eat and if I did eat, I was super picky and nervous about it. Eating in public made me uncomfortable and nothing ever seemed that appetizing to me.
Now when I eat, I think of this scene from “Eat, Pray, Love” where Liz sits on the floor of her apartment in Italy and tells herself to appreciate the food in front of her. She takes her time eating and makes sure to enjoy every bite and every moment of quiet solitude. When I was interning in San Francisco, I did the same thing. During lunch, I went looking for rooftops in the city and would bring a book with me. By doing this, I became comfortable eating alone and realized how great it is to just spend time with food.
Enjoy this list of things I like eating at 21 that I didn’t like at 16: Raw fish, soup, dark chocolate, burgers, bread, churros, combination pizza, pasta, spinach smoothies, chicken wings, cheese, sandwiches, ice cream, cake, peanut butter and much, much more.
19) Not everyone is meant to be in your life forever (and that’s okay)
Some people are seasons. They come into your life and leave when they’re supposed to. Let them go.
20) Go to counseling
There’s a huge stigma around mental health and asking for help. I am someone who gets very stressed, and when this happens, I bottle everything up and avoid people at all costs. This is not healthy! Earlier this year, I was at rock bottom emotionally. For weeks, all I wanted to do was sit on the couch with my pink blanket, eat ice cream and just cry for hours. This was not normal, especially for someone like me who loves productivity. I finally forced myself (it took a lot of convincing) to walk into my school’s counseling office and seek help. I was so surprised that it actually made me feel better? Like who knew? Talking about my problems to a paid and trained professional would help? Excuse my sarcasm, but yeah. Go to counseling. Talk to a therapist. Know that you aren’t alone with your issues and that there are people there to help you! You just have to get out there and seek the help.
21) Do things for you
At the end of the day, you gotta be your own best friend/biggest fan/etc. You can’t expect anyone to do anything for you.
“Perhaps we should love ourselves so fiercely, that when others see us they know exactly how it should be done.” – Rudy Francisco
Year 21, be good to me.