20 Things I’ve Learned at 20

As I have reached another decade in my life, I decided to take some time to write down some important life lessons I’ve learned at this age. These are not philosophical breakthroughs and certainly not even close to them, but rather timeless advice and knowledge learned through many first-hand experiences.

1.Remind yourself of what you have accomplished rather than what you haven’t

In times of self-reflection, it is tempting to criticize ourselves for our short-comings despite the many thresholds we surpass on a daily basis. Every new day comes with a full itinerary so any progress made towards a personal goal should always be fully appreciated.

By affirming our achievements with positivity—no matter how small or unimportant they may be—we encourage progress and in turn, flourish even more. On the contrary, self-deprecation from past failures leads to a feeling of inadequacy and will be detrimental to productivity as we begin to view ourselves in a negative light inevitably, leading to much frustration.

2.Stop worrying about what others do

Related to the point above, focus on your own personal growth and do not worry about what others do especially what they share on social media. At the risk of sounding like an adult, social media can be harmful because users will share positive aspects of their life in contrast to the negative ones.

People share the fancy food they’re eating and the fun they’re having, or if you follow any celebrities, the luxurious lifestyle they live. I would not advise that you should delete all profiles, but always distance yourself and recall that it is not a full portrayal of people’s lives.

3. Netflix before sleeping is a trap

I don’t think this requires much explanation. That one episode will turn into another one and another one. Suddenly, it’s four in the morning and you start contemplating if quitting school or being unemployed for awhile is worth it. After a sleepless night, you promise that you’ll never repeat the same mistake again but of course, you do. Eventually.

4. Blogging is way harder than it seems

That blogging would be easy was definitely not what I had in mind. I had already anticipated the dedication and time it takes to be successful yet you don’t truly understand the stress until you actually start. Taking pictures, updating social media, and writing quality posts every day of the week sounds doable, but when you begin to factor in your daily errands, school, work, chores, and occasional laziness it seems as though you never have enough time to meet your quota.

5. It’s okay to have lazy days

Seriously. The tempo we live our lives is incredibly fast-paced especially within a major city; the holidays rush through in a blink of an eye and the new year seems to approach faster every time. So whenever you have a less busier day, remember this: Treat. Your. Self.

Go sleep all day. Watch trash television. Play video games. Read some books. Or do nothing and stay in bed all day. There’s nothing wrong with it and when done occasionally, can be beneficial to have an ease of mind.

6.Material items do bring (partial) happiness 

Undoubtedly, there is a lot that materialism cannot fix, however that does not imply that we cannot receive satisfaction from what we buy. Things give us joy even if it is ephemeral and purchasing new clothing, appliances, or video games does not make anyone shortsighted or foolish. It is perfectly acceptable to buy items that we don’t need as long as you are financially responsible and do not use shopping as an emotional coping method. Otherwise, go purchase that jacket you’ve been eyeing!

7. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

It’s easy to fantasize of the life we’ll live once we accomplish our ambitions but it is even easier to overlook the amount of work needed first. If success is desired in one’s life, then determination, following-through, and a certain degree of impulsiveness is a necessity. Hesitance and self-doubt only furthers us away from the finish line. When we dive in headfirst, the goal will no longer remain a fantasy, but an attainable possibility. If you never start, your success exists solely in your imagination and never anywhere else.

8. Lighting and angles are everything

I repeat, lighting and angles are everything for an Instagram-worthy picture. I could seriously go from pizza-face Shrek to an attractive, organic, and non-GMO potato with the right settings. Bad lighting can often create unsightly shadows across your face and most importantly, not highlight the beautiful parts such as your eyes or smile. When these two work simultaneously, the pictures are golden.

9. Sometimes, following your passions is better than following the practical route

I was lost in my senior year of high school. Last minute, I chose a safety school and majors that were considered highly marketable and while I found them interesting, I felt empty and cringed at the idea of obtaining a job for which I only felt indifference. Eventually, I switched to a major that I actually enjoyed even when it came to reading the textbooks. While practicality is always a safe choice, the energy and love you give to your passions may possibly take you to further lengths.

10.Buy less clothing, experiment with new combinations

Statistically, 1 in 3 fashionistas have admitted to wearing less than half of all the clothing they own. If that sounds unbelievable, then it might be because I just made that up, but regardless, it’s a problem that I know many people face. Among the drawers and racks of past shopping hauls, it’s easy to want more however it is surprising the number of ways you can style a simple sweater or even a pair of denim jeans. Trying on different outfits can bring back to life all the clothing that’s been hiding in the shadows of your closet.

11. “Wake up and smell the roses”

Careers. Friends. Relationships. Sleep. Work. Exams. Family. Finals. Food. The future. It’s easy to go on autopilot when we’re dealing with the ever-growing list of things to worry about. Take your time to step back, relax, breathe, and appreciate all the blessings in your life. Don’t worry so much about tomorrow that you forget to enjoy today.

12. Embrace your alone time

Humans are biologically social creatures however, this does not mean that having moments of solitude is necessarily unhealthy. Being alone is perfectly acceptable and can be liberating since you don’t have to worry about other people. You get to choose what you want to do and how you get to spend your time, and these spare moments of freedom allow room for much needed relaxation and bliss.

13. Don’t criticize others

Aside from constructive criticism such as in creative writing, making judgments upon others will almost always be taken in a negative light and can seriously harm relationships with other people. Even if there is good intent, it is always best to keep these opinions to ourselves otherwise others may interpret these critiques in a negative light and will feel victimized. Speaking up should only be done if the effect might outweigh the consequences, otherwise keep your opinions to yourself.

14.Don’t buy something because of a coupon

I am an avid abuser of coupons and discounts while shopping that I probably would’ve ended up on Extreme Couponing. I make it a priority to save whenever it’s possible but at times, a tempting coupon makes it difficult to contain my spending urges. Only buy something if you truly desire to own it. Any other reason, whether it be discounts, sale items, or last call is inexcusable and will result in careless spending.

15. Don’t work on important tasks in bed

Every day I create a mental list of things I would like to get done and at the end of the day, the list is never complete. It may not have been a particularly busy day, but because I’ll pull out my laptop and use it while lying down cozily in bed. Suddenly, two hours later, I wake up from a deep nap extremely confused while groggily wondering if it is morning or evening. This is never a great idea unless of course you just read #5 and you’re having a lazy day.

16.Friendships grow or fade, and that’s perfectly fine

As humans beings, regardless of being an introvert or extrovert, we will naturally make friends and acquaintances from many places. Over time, several of these will fade and that’s simply the game of life. People will change as they begin to find themselves or they’ll go down a route which may differ from the one you’ve chosen. This is only natural. Enjoy the people you spend time with now, and hold on to the friendships that you deem invaluable. Change is the only thing certain.


17.Acai bowls are expensive but so worth it

Okay, I know I’ll sound like a total valley, suburban kid, but acai bowls are honestly so refreshing regardless of the time of year. Like, top it off with Nutella—yes, i know that cancels out the healthy part—and add some honey drizzle and I’m on cloud nine. Would I say that they are worth the eight bucks? My wallet says no but I am currently devouring one as I write this so yes. Yes, indeed.

18. Make sure your photo subject is in focus

I’ve had so many times where I carelessly take a myriad of photos only to discover that they are out of focus or completely blurry. Sure, some photos can be redone but others taken while traveling can be harder to replicate. Don’t risk it!

19. Stop procrastinating

“I’ll do it later” really translates to “I’ll do it an hour before the deadline” and the nervous breakdown that follows right after is never worth it. Working on tasks in small increments is always beneficial and to be frank, is the only reason why this blog has not been completely abandoned.

20. Smile

I know it’s cliche but life is really a rollercoaster. There are times where it can feel overwhelming, yet nevertheless, we must always remember to enjoy the ride!

-Valley Boi

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