21 Things I’ve Realized At 21

1. Never, ever, ever, ever over analyze someone’s message to you. I’m speaking specifically about the person you are interested in. Do not sit late at night reading through those couple of messages he or she said where you think they meant one thing but you’re not actually sure. Because believe me, you will drive yourself crazy.

2. Every time you are stuck on someone–when you’re friends are telling you to move on but you don’t want to, just think to yourself: if this was your favorite niece who you love more than anything telling you about a guy and he was treating her the way you were being treated, would you tell her to keep trying? Or would you tell her that he doesn’t deserve a minute of her time?

3. Travel every fucking chance you get. It doesn’t have to be a long trip to Australia; it could be a spontaneous weekend trip with your friends to see your favorite artist or getting in the car and driving through as many states as you can. If you have the time and the means, then you do it. Oh, and if you can take that long trip really far way, do it in a heartbeat.

4. Always appreciate you pets. I’m one of those people who will end your life if I see you treating your animal badly. That’s an exaggeration, but not really. Your pet sees you at your lowest points as well as the opposite. You could leave the house for three hours and they will greet you with the biggest welcome–as if you’ve been gone for a month. Sit with your dog/cat/whatever and talk and let them know you love them. They will easily just sit there and perpetually smile on the inside.

5. If you get into a fight with your siblings, you should just make up. Even if it was entirely their fault. I know this is kind of a stretch but no fight is worth losing the people you literally grew up with. Siblings have so many good perks: they give you nieces/nephews, they are always down to do things your parents wouldn’t approve of with you and most importantly, they love you unconditionally. Even though they won’t hug you because ‘it’s gross.’

6. Don’t use Thanksgiving to be thankful for everything you have.

7. If something makes you happy then just do it. If you like playing World of Warcraft, just play it. If you want to spend hours in bed on the internet, avoiding the world then go right ahead. And if you’re like me–if you want to dance all night when you have work in the morning, then just do it. If it makes you smile and you’re not hurting anyone then what is the problem? The morning after that long night won’t be so terrible.

8. Make up with your parents. I know that not everyone has the best relationship with his or her mother and/or father or whoever was there. I’ve learned that despite the fact that a relationship may not have been good once upon a time doesn’t mean it’s doomed forever. Always be understanding, remember: they are people too and life does get kind of hard sometimes.

9. Save money. I’m giggling as I write this because I wish I had been smarter over the past couple of years with this one. As easy as it is to put aside money, I’m not sure it’s something a lot of us do. We like new clothes, we like concerts, we like alcohol and fast food amongst other things we could actually do without. And having that extra money, even if it’s a small amount is better than having absolutely nothing.

10. Stop worrying so much about what people think about you. This was something that was really hard for me to accomplish because well, for most of my academic career I was nervous as fuck to do a presentation in front of the class. And we all know it’s because secretly you know people are judging. But seriously, who the hell cares? I realized you can’t go on living every day worried about what people think. Chop your hair off, dye it pink, if you like it then that is all that matters.

11. You should keep tangible memories as well as the one’s you can’t physically hold. Keep a box or a special dresser drawer with old movie tickets, photos, anything that brings back a flood of thoughts at the mere sight of it. Keep a journal too. I know every time I go back into my old room and look through the dresser drawer and read my journal, I remember how far I’ve come.

12. Everything literally happens for a reason–in a creep my-life-is-prewritten type of way. This is the oldest cliche in the book and probably the most true. You needed to let go of what’s-his-face because if you didn’t you wouldn’t have met someone better. You waited an extra couple of seconds before going through the newly green light, missing the guy who was running the red. Going with your gut is important, and accepting what happens next is more important. Everything is the way it is for a reason, and you are where you are supposed to be. So just embrace it.

13. Make sure you have at least one song that makes you feel so good you wish you could have sex with it. And another song that is so emotional that it brings out every melancholy feeling in you – that starts the breakdown that has been harboring inside of you. And of course, the song(s) that make you so fucking happy you alive.

14. Be friendly with your professors and the people you work with. Take the extra couple of minutes to ask them how their weekend was. I promise you – it will help you later on.

15. There is nothing and I mean nothing wrong with crying. This year alone I think I’ve done more crying than I have in the years before. You know, crying because you’re worried you won’t find a job when you graduate college. Crying because that totally awesome guy doesn’t like you, but you really thought he did. Or crying just because you’re so happy it’s the only thing you can do. A lot of people believe that melting down is being weak and it’s not allowed. But honestly, take a shower, cry your eyes out–I mean not even you can see your tears in there. You’ll feel better when you let it out, trust me.

16. Words mean nothing and everything. Let me break this one down into two parts. First, the ‘nothing’: if someone talks a lot but doesn’t back it up with any actions then whoever they are, they suck. Actions will perpetually speak louder than the words on a screen ever will. Now, for the ‘everything.’ As someone who spends a lot of their time reading, I like it think words have a profound impact on a person. Constructed knowledgeable sentences containing the jumbled thoughts in your head so beautiful that they are read over and over is something special. Oh, you should also read if you aren’t already.

17. If you’ve found a group of friends, or even a friend who makes you happy that you are alive, then hold them close and let them know from time to time what they mean to you. There is nothing corny about telling someone how you feel, saying, ‘thanks for listening to me bitch.’ These are the friends that typically help shape you and guide you in this crazy shit we call life. Remind them of this, as I once told my best friend, ‘thank you for being there but still letting me figure it out along the way.’

18. If you like someone, or to take it a step further–if you think you love someone, just fucking tell him or her. Honestly, what is the worst that can happen? They say they don’t feel the same back? Well, you saved yourself time and effort then. I’ve definitely learned this year by not saying anything you miss out. They may find someone else (in my case, he did) and then you’ll find yourself even more upset because well, it could have been you, had you not been a pussy.

19. Don’t let one person or one situation cloud your feelings about something. When I was a sophomore I failed the midterm of my hardest law class. I went back to my apartment that night and cried, completely second guessing my career choice. My friend then said to me, ‘Sam, it’s one class and it’s one test.’ Don’t let someone tell you that you can’t do something, or try to scare you. If you’re confident in what you want, then get it. You always have my permission to flip-off the person who tried to convince you otherwise.

20. Nothing is as bad as it seems. This is something so broad that I can’t cover it with specific examples. It happens to people everyday–situations in which we truly believe wow life sucks. False. That’s another thing, stop saying your life sucks because it doesn’t. It’s not as bad as you think, and as long as you continue to be positive it’ll all get better.

21. Lastly, if it feels right, don’t over-think, just let it flow. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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