20 things I have learned in the past 20 years.

These are the last few months of my teen years, and as I look forward into the new year, one big adventure awaits me – my twenties! I am running into my 20’s with open arms and no regrets (whether I am ready or not). I have learned a lot in the past twenty years. I feel more at peace with myself as I enter this new chapter of my life. My teenage years have taught me a lot of valuable lessons, that I continue to hold close to my heart. I am more confident in myself than ever before – and I cannot wait to see what awaits me in this new decade. Here are the 20 most important lessons I have learned over the past 20 years! Enjoy!

  1. Take Care of Yourself First

It is true what people say – you can’t pour from an empty cup! It is so important to take care of your mental, emotional and physical wellness, as a number one priority. It is equally important to recognize that self-care goes beyond fancy bubble baths and luscious chocolate truffles – self-care takes work. It is a conscious effort to become aware of what your body needs, and to take steps towards meeting these needs. Sleep, social interaction, exercise and fueling your body will always be foundational. You need to love yourself, before you can love anybody else. 

2. You’re Going to Feel Lost

One thing that became very evident to me upon graduation, is that nobody really has life figured out. People are just doing the best that they can. People still harbour doubt, even when they are doing well. Adulthood is a rough transition and harder than you will ever imagine it to be. You’re not alone and this is completely normal. There will be many obstacles standing in the way of where you are and where you want to be. You are going to feel like you can’t handle it. You are going to want to quit. You are going to wonder why you started in the first place. But that is okay. Nobody has it all figured out, you can only do what you can do. One step at a time.

3. Take Pride in Everything You Do

No matter how much you may feel that something is beneath you, take pride in everything you do. Every situation that presents itself has something to teach you. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a practicing lawyer. But that didn’t stop me from working lower-level jobs all throughout high school and university. You will always learn something, you just have to be open to it. Good work ethic does not stop depending on your position or placement. 

4. Stay Humble, Always

You work hard for something and you have every right to be proud of that accomplishment. But always stay humble. My dad always taught us that the loudest person in the room, knows the least. Remember to take as much time to listen, as you take to talk. You can learn a lot by observing others. When you finally get where you are going, be proud. But also know, that your success speaks louder than your words. 

5. Don’t Make Excuses, Apologize

Immature people do not take responsibly for their actions. Professionals take responsibility for their mistakes and don’t make excuses. This allows everybody to move on and speaks volumes to your own character. Nobody wants to hear excuses, people want to know it won’t happen again. Knowing how to make it sincere is one of the best skills you can have. People don’t want to hold grudges, so do not give them a reason to. With that, know that not everybody will accept your apology – and that is okay. Take what you have learned from that situation and don’t do it again. 

6. Time is Your Most Precious Resource

Time is the one thing that you can never get back. Do not waste it on work you don’t want to do and people you don’t want to be around. Do not aimlessly read social media accounts for hours on end. That is so much time slipping through your fingers. Spend that time surrounded by people you love.

7. Tell Those Around You, How Much They Mean to You

There is never as much time with those you love, than you hope for. Whether it be friends, family or lovers, never hesitate to tell those around you, how much they mean to you. Surrounding yourself with people that make you happy will add so much value to your life. 

8. Be Your Own Source of Happiness 

It is important to allow yourself to get close to people that you love. But that being said, do not make people around you, your only source happiness. A friend once told me, “Only you can make yourself happy.” Search for happiness in the things you love and that benefit you. Work on making yourself better, instead of relying so much on other people.

9. Eliminate Negative People

Life is too short to let people make you feel like you aren’t worthy of what you want. Don’t waste your time with people trying to feel better about themselves by tearing you don’t. You should want people in your life, who want to be in your life. There is nothing selfish about purging unhealthy relationships from your life. 

10. You and Your Friends Will Change

You will all begin to decide who you want to be – and so will your friends. Sometimes you are going in the same direction, and sometimes you are not – that is just fine. Most relationships aren’t meant to last a lifetime, most are meant to help you form who you are in certain stages of your life. It can be hard to accept that sometimes the people you thought would be a big part of your future, won’t be after all. You cannot assume that people will care for you, the way that you care for them. You can adjust your expectations and your level of attachment.

11. Invest in Experiences, Not Things 

Most young people don’t have a lot tying them down. No children, maybe a partner, no house purchased etc. You have more time and fewer obligations now, than you ever will. Take advantage of it. Travel, pursue hobbies, experience things you want. Maximize this time. 

12. Dreams Require Sacrifice

Nothing in life is handed to you, ever. If you have big dreams, this will require big work. Putting in the time and the effort that it takes to make these dreams a reality. You will have to work through the night, weekends, birthdays and vacations. You will have to turn down things you want because of the effort needed to achieve these goals. You will have to make short term sacrifices to make your long-term goals happen. Try to find healthy ways to manage it. 

13. Do What You Love

Do what you love, love what you do. Always do something you are passionate about and the rest will fall into place. 

14. Embrace Failure 

Everyone fails. Failing is what success is built on, so embrace it and do not fear it. Failure means you are doing something – the more you take risks and make hard decisions, the closer you are to succeeding. 

15. It is Okay to Be Uncomfortable

A fundamental part of being human is eliminating anything that makes us uncomfortable. But, a lot of the “aha” moments in life come from discomfort. Discomfort is a part of learning. You can’t be good at anything at the beginning and this means discomfort is the basis. It is a fundamental aspect of growth. Put yourself in situations that are unfamiliar to you, and you will discover so much about yourself.

16. Relationships Take Work

The most excellent relationships, whether family or friends, are not taxing. If it is, that is the sign that something needs to change. You have the ability to change the dynamic of every single one of your relationships. Speaking from somebody who has had a long distant relationship for the past three years, distance means so little when someone means so much. The best relationships, take work. But the best ones, are so worth it. 

17. Embrace the Moment

Stay present, stay focused. So many experiences in life happen in a blink of an eye. Don’t enjoy these experiences through the lens of your phone. We are all so obsessed with capturing the moment, that sometimes we miss out on the most important parts. 

18. Don’t Get Too Caught Up in Making Plans 

Rejection hurts in the moment, but it also means that the right opportunity or person is still out there. It is so important to have goals, but it is equally important to be spontaneous. Don’t get so caught up in making a career, that you forget to make a life. You can always make plans, but you never know what each day will bring. Value the chaos. 

19. We Are All a Work in Progress

None of us are perfect, none of us are complete. We are all just a work in progress. Take each day, one step at a time. Be empathetic of others too. My friend uses this brilliant saying, “If they can’t change it in 10 seconds, don’t point it out.” We are all just doing what we can to get by.

20. Never Stop Learning

Some of the most valuable things you learn about yourself, come from listening to others. It is a big world out there, filled with so many stories and experiences. Never stop taking opportunities to learn and challenge yourself. Always seek out opportunities to make yourself better.


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