22 things I learned at 22

It’s so strange to think about the fact that I’m 22 years old. What? I feel like I’m still 16 sometimes. Each year, I learn and grow more and more. Even thinking back to who I was six months ago, I feel like I’m a different person already. I’ve been through a lot since then, especially this past summer when I turned 22. With that said, here are 22 things I learned at 22.

1 // You believe anything you tell yourself

I didn’t believe this until I tried it. It was around two years ago when I was trying to get over someone I really liked. Instead of being sad and thinking about the positive things, I would tell myself that he wasn’t good for me. I would remind myself why and tell myself it could never work and that I will find better one day. After a while, I truly started to believe it. It’s like I was convincing my brain to stop worrying about it. I do this a lot now and it really works because we are in control of our minds.

2 // You can learn from everyone and anyone you talk to

When I’m in a social mood, I love talking to anyone around me. A classmate, barista, homeless, middle schooler, doesn’t matter! It’s amazing to hear different perspectives and stories. Everyone has a story, and it can teach you something.

3 // Happiness is a decision (for the most part)

Unless you suffer from depression (if you do – please don’t be afraid to seek professional help), happiness really is a decision. However I don’t think it’s as simple as saying “I’m happy” and just being happy. There’s more to it. You have to learn to react to every situation in a positive manner and learn to accept things the way they are. This will make it easier to also look at life in a happy perspective and feel happier.

4 // It’s okay to not be okay – give yourself time to be sad

When I’m feeling sad, I like to give myself a specific timeframe to sit and really feel sad. If I know I straight up failed a midterm, I’ll let myself buy McDonald’s, go home, get into bed (maybe cry a little) and watch Netflix for three hours. After that, I try my hardest to accept whatever is making me sad and move on.

5 // Communication is key

It’s upsetting when you lose someone due to lack of communication. I like to think that I’m a really understanding and apologetic person, so all I want is for my friends and family to tell me when I’ve done something to upset them as soon as possible to avoid any resentment. I hate hurting and disappointing people, so I want to know what I did wrong so I can improve. I know communication is difficult, but it’s the only way people will know how you feel.

6 // Sometimes you need to be selfish

It’s ok to be selfish sometimes – it really is. I used to hate saying no to people, even if it disrupted my plans. I’ve learned how important it is to put yourself first in certain situations. Obviously if your friend needs you, be there for them. But if you planned to sleep at 10pm on a Saturday so you can wake up and go to the gym, don’t hesitate to say no to going out with your friends. There will be other nights. Plans with yourself are just as important as plans with other people.

7 // Keep your space clean and tidy

I’ve been really bad about this lately, but when my space is clean, I am 10 times more productive. There’s something about a clean, tidy, relaxing room and workplace that will make you want to wake up at 7am and read three books. There’s a hint for my next tip!

8 // Read books

Read. Books. A lot of them. Just do it. Books have changed my perspective and motivated me in many ways. It’s important to find the genre of books you enjoy or you’ll assume books aren’t for you. I love motivational and growth books, so stay tuned for my recommendations! Books will also extend your vocabulary and writing skills.

9 // Apologize even when you’re “right”

I can’t stress this enough. It is so incredibly important in any relationship to apologize even when you think you’re right. This is true especially when someone is upset about something you did. You may not agree that it was wrong or want to argue that it wasn’t your intention, but it’s not up to you to decide what hurt someone else. Apologize, take their opinions and feelings into consideration, then improve.

10 // Stop taking life too seriously

I’m going to get deep and scary for a second here, but if you think about it, life is temporary. We aren’t going to live forever. Nothing is forever. So why spend your moments alive taking it too seriously? It’s just not worth it. We don’t know how long we’ll be here, so laugh at yourself. Don’t stress too much because you will figure it out in the end.

11 // Never apologize for who you are

Never ever ever. You are who you are and you should never be sorry about that. If someone doesn’t like you that’s their fault, not yours. Continue to be yourself and the right people will love you regardless.

12 // Settle your debts

As soon as possible. I really dislike like owing people money, even a bank. If you suddenly pass away, you can never settle those debts. Something about that makes me uncomfortable because someone could be waiting and resenting me for not paying them back and that’s the last thing I would want. People work hard for their money, so it’s important to respect that and return it as soon as you can.

13 // Stop defending yourself

I mean this specifically when you are given feedback or constructive criticism. You may not agree with what is being said to you, but take it anyway and try to see the other perspective. If you spend your life defending yourself, you won’t grow as much. Self awareness is incredibly important.

14 // Stop comparing yourself to others

Don’t do it. Everyone is different. Different personalities, appearances, mindsets, life goals, incomes, lifestyles, careers, paths and so on. Love yourself for who you are and accept that we’re all different people. That doesn’t mean you’re behind or inferior to someone else.

15 // Befriend the “unpopular”

Remember when you were 16 and you would hate whoever everyone else hated? Well I’ve learned it’s important to form your own opinions about others through your own experiences with them. You can spend all day telling me how horrible someone is, but I’ll still recognize that there are two sides to every story. You can’t trust everything people say. Always be nice to others and don’t judge them based on other people’s judgments.

16 // Take social media breaks

Ahhh. I love social media breaks. Whenever I eventually re-download social media apps again, I naturally become less addicted to them. It’s nice to focus 100% on your own life without seeing how others are living theirs.

17 // Give people the benefit of the doubt

More often than not, people have good intentions. If someone hurts you, it’s a huge possibility that they didn’t mean to. Communicate with them and give them the benefit of the doubt. If they continue to disappoint you in the same ways, then maybe consider cutting them out of your life.

18 // Start journaling

Visualizing your thoughts and feelings will clear your mind and help you to destress. Whenever my friends and family would tell me to try journaling in the past, I would just brush it off. A couple of months ago I started to actually do it and now I can’t go a week without writing my thoughts out. I really recommend trying it.

19 // Look at every situation with a positive perspective

I know, I know… Easier said than done, but at least try. Every single situation has a positive to it. If you focus on that, your stressful times won’t be so bad anymore.

20 // Be there for others, even when they aren’t there for you

Don’t treat someone a certain way just because they treated you a certain way. Instead, communicate how you feel to avoid treating them in a way you usually wouldn’t. Be there for others because you never know what someone is going through.

21 // Treat your parents like royalty

As we get older, our parents do too! It’s sad because we don’t realize it until we look at old pictures or take them to doctors appointments. No matter how you were raised or your relationship with your parents, all they want is the best for you. They may not have the same opinions as us, but they love us and want us to succeed. Remind yourself of that when you ignore their calls or yell at them. Appreciate every moment with them. Make them feel loved and appreciated.

22 // Self care is essential to happiness

Take care of yourself. Get your nails done, put on a face mask, go to the gym, or cook yourself a healthy meal! It’s important to treat our bodies like a temple because that’s where we live.