20 Things I’ve Learned in 20 Years

Teresa Barker

My 20th Birthday

Wow, 20 years. I always get sentimental around my birthday and especially on my birthday. Maybe it’s lame, but my birthday is a big deal to me. I know some people shrug it off as just another trip around the sun, but to me it symbolizes more than that. I get to look back and see how I’ve grown over the past year. Reflect on all the good times I’ve had, and all the bad ones, too. Everything is a part of who I am and it changes who I am. Sometimes I sit on my birthdays and think back on where I was on my last birthday, and just think to myself “wow, I’ve come so far.”

No more teen Terry.

This birthday in particular is extra sentimental because I’m no longer a teenager. I’m 20, so no more being back on my bullshiz… well, maybe just a little. A girl’s gotta live, you know. Seriously though, this year marks a big progress point for me. I’d like to think I can put all my teen memories in a box, slap a bow on it, and not look at it from here on out unless I want to. On one hand it’s a like scrapbook of all the good memories, as well as like a box of all the stuff your ex gave you that you don’t want to look at anymore.

So while I’m feeling all mushy and gushy about being 20 and having 20 years of life to look back on, I wanted to reflect on and share some of my best life lessons I’ve learned. And not the usual “Be nice to everyone” and “Don’t care what people think about you” and “You can never be overdressed” type of things, because we’ve all heard those and learned those (I hope). This list is more personal, and more about specific things I’ve gone through. But The human experience isn’t really all that different person-to-person, so maybe there’s some truth in my words that you can connect with, too. That’d be cool. Anyways, onto the mushy-gushy stuff.

20 Things I’ve Learned in 20 Years

  1. The secret to being a hot girl is literally deciding that you are a hot girl

    This concept became clear only after I realized it’s what I had done. Not trying to toot my own horn or anything, but I like the way I look and the way that I am, and I’m confident. Nothing’s wrong with that, especially since for so many year in middle school and high school I was insecure in myself and my looks. I always thought I had to look like another girl to be a “hot” girl or whatever, but then I realized, the best way to have that hot-girl-glow is to have confidence in myself and embrace all that is me. And don’t be shy about it.

  2. Dress for myself

    I only buy clothes that when I put them on, I feel good in them. If not, it’s back on the rack for you. I don’t care if it’s trendy/not trendy, my bf hates it, or whatever – if I like it, and I feel good in it, I’m wearing it.

  3. Music affects my mood so much

    I cannot wake up in the morning and listen to some sad freaking music because it will ruin my day. I need some hype music, some lovey-dovey tunes, some dancey jams, all that good stuff. The best way for me to be in a good mood is to play music that puts me in a good mood.

  4. I learned about who I was by learning who I wasn’t

    This is true for almost all teens, but I’ve really tried on some different hats over the years. I thought there was someone I wanted to be or something I wanted to do, so I’d be that person or do that thing. And then, it’d feel totally wrong. That’s how I’d learn that it was actually this totally different thing that’s actually right for me.

  5. Partying doesn’t make me a bad person

    And only studying and going to doing productive things doesn’t make me a saint. I think that only having fun can make me irresponsible, but having fun in here and there doesn’t make me irresponsible. It makes me 20 years old. It means I’m alive and making memories.

  6. Just buy the damn shoes/dress/earrings/concert tickets/coffee/makeup/etc.

    I’ve been on earth for 20 years and I still overthink every single purchase I make, like, ever. I need to chill with it, and just get it while I can enjoy it (and if I can afford it).

  7. Take. More. Pictures.

    Looking at a picture for me just brings back so many memories. That’s why lately I’ve been driving my bf crazy going “can you take my picture?” “Can we take a picture babe?” Because I was MEMORIES. I want them documented for me to hold on to forever and always be able to look back and instantly remember everything wonderful or terrible or exciting or otherwise about that day.

  8. How to love myself

    This one took time, and effort, and support from loved ones around me. I haven’t really talked about it to all of you, but I’ve mentioned it before. I went through a long period of time with an eating disorder, and I really struggled with even liking myself, let alone loving myself. But with my own effort, therapy, support, ups and downs, and time, I am really exciting to enter into this next decade of my life with all of that in my past. It’s like seeing the world through a whole new lens, one where I actually love myself. There world really does look a lot different.

  9. I have 2 choices in life: sink or swim.

    This realization is actually what got me to recover from my eating disorder. One day, it hit me: I either live like this for the rest of my life (sink), or get over it and start living the way I want to live (swim). So, as you know now, I chose to swim. In 20 years, it was the best decision of my freaking life.

  10. Know my worth when it comes to boys

    I wish I had learned this one sooner withing my 20 years, because it would have saved me a lot of heartache and chasing after guys that weren’t catches. This lesson ties in heavily with learning to love myself, because once I began to love and respect myself, I had zero tolerance for mediocrity when it came to relationships. I wanted to treat someone right, and be treated right in return. I finally figured out my worth.

  11. Don’t take social media too seriously

    It’s meant to post cool pics, with funny captions, to connect with people, and spread my message. It’s not my whole life, it’s not that important, and it’s not that deep. But it’s a big part of my life and many of your lives since we grew up with it, and when used correctly, it’s a lot of fun.

  12. Always have something to look forward to

    This week for my birthday week I have sooo much going on in terms of plans, it’s like all my days are booked. It’s like half work/responsibility plans, and half fun things. Those fun things that I’ve been able to think about all week have put a huge pep in my step. It’s like in high school before a dance, or prom, or other social event where the excitement buildup is half the fun. Or how getting ready for night out or party, putting on makeup, dancing to music, and talking about what the night will be like with friends before going is quite possible more fun that actually going to the event. That feeling, is what I mean. It makes me feel alive, excited, and motivated when I have something to look forward to, big or small.

  13. I like change but only if it’s because I changed it

    I like changing up my room, but hate finding out someone came in and touched my stuff. I’d rather break up with someone, than be broken up with. I’d rather change my outfit, than be told by someone else to change it. I hate being surprised by change that’s out of my control.

  14. Stop obsessing over dumb little things

    Dumb little things that just don’t matter and I shouldn’t let ruin my day or even take up any of my thoughts. Things like pimples, a bad hair day, a small fight with my bf or bff, someone not texting me back promptly… like who cares. Get over it and care about more important things.

  15. Listen to signs life shows me

    I’m big into signs. Not like zodiac signs, but like signs from the universe. When the universe gives you a sign, you take it and run with it.

  16. The best way to have a friend is to be a friend

    College really taught me this one, because I had to learn how to make friends all over again. It’s not like everyone just knew who I was because I grew up with them, so it was like starting from scratch. I learned that the same way I just wanted someone to hangout with, talk to, and laugh with, so did someone else. It was easier for me to have a friend, once I was being a friend to some else who needed a friend.

  17. It’s my life, so I can decide my own direction

    Whether it’s with my major, my job, my friends, my hobbies, my dreams, my… anything. It’s all mine to decide.

  18. I need to write things down if I ever want them to really happen

    I can’t just think to myself “Oh I want to do this and this and this” or “Oh I need to get those things done” because I just won’t do it. I’ll forget, or choose to do something else, or whatever. I need to write it in my planner, pin it on my desk bulletin board, or literally even text myself a reminder.

  19. Sometimes I just need a long drive and my favorite song to “reset” myself

    Doing that can make me feel better about 100% of the time.

  20. Time doesn’t heal. Choosing to heal, is what makes things better

    Just from personal experience over the last 20 years.

I hope you enjoyed this little bonus post. Sentimental time is over for the day.

❤, Teresa

 

My 20th Birthday Wow, 20 years. I always get sentimental around my birthday and especially on my birthday. Maybe it's lame, but my birthday is a big deal to me. I know some people shrug it off as just another trip around the sun, but to me it symbolizesMy 20th Birthday Wow, 20 years. I always get sentimental around my birthday and especially on my birthday. Maybe it's lame, but my birthday is a big deal to me. I know some people shrug it off as just another trip around the sun, but to me it symbolizesMy 20th Birthday Wow, 20 years. I always get sentimental around my birthday and especially on my birthday. Maybe it's lame, but my birthday is a big deal to me. I know some people shrug it off as just another trip around the sun, but to me it symbolizesMy 20th Birthday Wow, 20 years. I always get sentimental around my birthday and especially on my birthday. Maybe it's lame, but my birthday is a big deal to me. I know some people shrug it off as just another trip around the sun, but to me it symbolizes

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