With my ever-elusive twenty-first birthday finally around the corner I’ve been thinking a lot about my past year. Since turning 20 I gained friends and lost others, broke my own heart and had my heart broken, got a new phone, new tattoo, lots of new shoes and more than anything: new lessons. I went to Hard Summer, Nocturnal, Escape, Audiotistic, Countdown, and Cocahella. I’ve seen Fleetwood Mac, Brockhampton, Blue Face, met Cody Ko, started (& graduated from) intensive therapy, watched my best friend graduate and laughed (& cried)… a lot.
When the clock strikes midnight on my twenty-first birthday I’ll be with my best friend at Odesza’s finale show — after missing their shows three times and eventually accepting that seeing the Moment Apart a tour was simply, impossible. It’s a sugary sweet way to bring in what I hope will be an equally sweet year. I am excited to keep growing and exploring this amazing life in the coming year. In the end I am nothing if not Cody Ko’s biggest fan so without further ado — here are 12 things I learned while being 21. (I know, I know but I didn’t learn 21 insightful things this year. I learned like how to button pants to make them tighter and how to sell clothes online but I don’t think those things are worth writing a blog post about.) (If you want to learn more about either of those topics hit me up though and we can discuss.)
- You already have everything you need, you just have to believe it
This was a big one for me and basically changed my entire perspective on life. I know, groundbreaking. It seems like a simple idea but it’s a powerful thing to truly believe that your capabilities stretch as far as your own imagination. Own your power.
2. Protect your energy
So now that you know that you have this amazing galaxy of endless possibilities within you don’t you want to take care of those little stars? Some people might not be looking for your energy at the time — that’s fine. Some people want to drain your energy without offering any in return — cut that off. Surrounding yourself with positive people will always put you in a better mood than hanging around people who exude negativity.
3. You are not your emotions
Another radical, life-changer here. I used to fly over my emotional handlebars about any little thing. Spilled milk would devastate me, an argument would obliterate my self-worth — I was volatile and dangerous, mostly to myself. I explained this issue to my therapist and she looked at me and said, “you have the power to control how you feel,” as if it was obvious. I doubted her and told her that was hard, potentially even impossible. She responded with “you only say it’s hard because you haven’t thought to try it,” and she was right (obviously). You’ll never be able to control what happens to you but you can always choose how you react. If you don’t want you life to be devastated by a small inconvenience then don’t let it be. If you don’t want to be lonely, then see it as quality time with yourself instead. You can make as much positivity as you want — the good news is that it’s free.
4. The only way to truly love yourself is to truly be yourself
I used to be terrified of drawing attention to myself and the thought of being noticed made my palms clammy. I wore unassuming clothes and shied away from most social interaction. I had a constant monologue in my head telling me that my hand placement was weird or my eye contact was awkward or my walk was funny. It was exhausting and miserable. But ever since I’ve been fostering positivity I’ve been wearing what I want, laughing loudly, meeting new people and dancing when I walk. And what if people don’t like it? Well I don’t really care because that’s none of my business. My business is my happiness and my happiness alone and I will never again stop doing something that makes me happy to try win over the opinions of others.
5. There is always someone if you need someone
This is one I’m still looking at the flashcards for some days but I’ve been trying. I didn’t have many close friends before college so a lot of the time I still feel very lone wolf about my issues but I’m trying to be more open. People love you and there is always someone willing to give a hug and a listening ear. Talking about it really does help.
6. Don’t be so hard on yourself
On my journey of healing (I know, I know, yoga guru here I come) I was often frustrated at my slip ups and set backs. It’s hard to see the bigger picture in the moments where you’re sobbing on your bathroom floor and feel right back where you started but the progress is still there. Mental health is tricky and the brain is the slipperiest eel in the whole ocean — it can be hard to hack the computer that literally programs your entire being. But that’s okay. Because as long as you remember that you are on a journey towards positivity, the days will get easier. And the tears will stop and you’ll dust off your knees and keep going.
7. The good times don’t last
But that’s okay. Because the bad ones don’t either. My advice for the good ones is to write it down, take a picture, try really hard to soak it all in. Let the moment change your life. Relax your shoulders from your neck and imagine you’re exhaling all the bad things that happened before that moment. Let it be transformative and special because it’s your life — anything can be noteworthy. And that’s the story of how my life changed at Coachella while walking through the rainbow tower (lol).
8. If you love something, dedicate time to it
This seems like common sense but when people get busy it tends to be the first thing that’s forgotten. Love only grows when watered. I used to think I had nothing to dedicate my time to because I don’t have what some would call “traditional hobbies”. I don’t play sports or video games and have fallen significantly off my reading books for fun game. But there are things I love. I love music, so once a week I dedicate a couple hours of my time to sitting down and seeking out new music. I also take the time each morning to have a dance party in my room each morning before getting ready. The dance party sometimes involves working out, sometimes not. Either way, starting every day doing something that I love makes me happy and affects my mood throughout the entire day.
9. People will treat you exactly how you think you deserve to be treated
Okay maybe not 100% of the time (there’s always that one asshole) but generally speaking. If you think you’re not worth anything, people are going to treat you accordingly. The only way to avoid getting trampled is to stand up for yourself and what you deserve. No one else is going to do it for you. Like I said earlier, own your power.
10. Time alone is crucial to a good relationship with yourself
My ex boyfriend would be laughing hysterically if he ever read this but here it is in writing — you were right. One day I woke up and it suddenly clear to me: if you need to spend time with a friend to have a good relationship then why don’t we treat ourselves the same way? The more time you spend with yourself doing things that make you genuinely happy (for example: singing in the shower, doing your makeup, eating an entire bag of hot cheetos in bed at 3 am, etc.), the more you’ll enjoy it and want to do it more often. Every morning and night I take a couple hours to myself to relax and do the things that I want to do, exactly how I want to do them. And I can finally say that I now truly do enjoy being alone.
11. It’s okay to not have it all figured out
This is one I’m still having trouble believing but people keep saying it to me and it keeps working out so I guess there’s something to it. Appreciate the process and don’t rush too much to the finish line. Whatever is meant to be will be and everything happens for a reason. These popular maxims all seem to have the same undertone that reassures us that there is a plan for our lives and the universe will relentlessly move us towards that path.
12. It’s okay to eat cheetos for dinner
Obviously. Also when dipped in nacho cheese you can add the element of heat which is makes it then consistent with traditional dinners.