22 Things I Learned Being 22

Surprise! It’s my birthday! I was born on 6/16/1995 and turn 23 today. I know, I look like I’m 10 but I feel like at least 40. This past year has been a long journey of discovery, self care and learning more about myself than I could have ever imagined. So in honor of moving another year older and wiser, I thought I would share 22 things I learned in my 22nd year on this Earth.

  1. Graduating college is terrifying. I may have a degree in my hands but I definitely was not ready to go out into the real world. I didn’t know where I was going to live or what I was going to do. I didn’t have a job lined up and I was absolutely unprepared for living outside of college. It’s hard. Adulting is hard and I was so worried I wasn’t going to be able to survive. But I did, not the most glorious thing I’ve done but I made it through.
  2. Living by yourself is hard. I’ve never felt more like an adult than moving into my first apartment by myself. I absolutely love living by myself but its a lot harder than I thought it would be. I have to do all the cooking, cleaning, taking care of bills and pay. If something happens, its all on me. If I lock myself out, I have to call a locksmith (which I’ve done and it was one of my most panicked moments I’ve had this year). And its lonely. I spend a lot of time by myself which can be difficult for someone with a history of depression. However, it did provide the opportunity for me to learn a lot about myself and grow into this new chapter in my life.
  3. Owning a dog is the most rewarding experience even though it can be hard. I don’t know where I would be without Mele. She is my pride and joy and I can’t tell you how she has changed my life. But owning a dog can be stressful, especially when the dog has medical issues. I have had more anxiety attacks around Mele’s health than I could have imagined when I got her. As crazy as she can make me sometimes, I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s Mele and I together forever. I love my bubby.
  4. Working 8 hours a day is exhausting. I come home every day and I’m so tired. I feel like I could be at least 40 years old just because I’m so exhausted from work. Sometimes I feel like I’m not meant for a regular job. I never thought that it would be so hard to work for that long of a shift, especially in an office. If there isn’t much going on during the day, I can get really bored and end up wandering around.
  5. Plans change. I turned 22 in Hawaii when I was working in a forensic anthropology lab hoping that I would take a year and continue in that field. Little did I know that I would be accepted into ASU’s higher education masters program a few days later and go straight back to school. It may not be what I had originally planned for myself but I’m happy. Life is not going to go every way that you think it will and adaptability is one of the greatest skills that a person can have. I say skill because it can be learned over time and that is something I am proud to have worked on this last year.
  6. Never stop learning. Going back to school for higher education has been an incredible learning experience. I have renewed my love of learning and expanding my mind. When you find something you love learning about, it stops becoming a pain and becomes a passion. I took a leadership class that has changed my mind. Learning about leadership and how to instill leadership values into my students has become something I want to focus on during the course of my career in higher ed. I want to continue to seek out new things to learn about and hope I never stop.
  7. Being an adult is hard work. It’s definitely not easy being in charge of your finances, bills, social life and everything else you have to do as an adult. It is so overwhelming to learn how to budget, especially when you are not making that much money. The first few years as an adult are so difficult because everything is  new again and you are responsible. I’ve had a lot of difficulty in managing my finances and stopping myself from doing things that I didn’t actually need to do.
  8. Everyone should work in a customer service job at least once. I learned so much during my time working in retail. I learned how to deal with people I don’t get along with or are rude and entitled. I learned how to work hard so the team does well. I learned how to talk to people and become more outgoing. I hate talking to new people but I had to in order to do my job. It also teaches you to respect people in service jobs more because you know what it is like to be on the other side.
  9. You have to be able to work with people you don’t get along with. Every where you go, you will have to work with people who have different views, values and generally annoy you. However, you need to put that aside all of that in order to work as a cohesive team. In every job or class I’ve been in, I have to work with people I don’t necessarily get along with. I’ve learned more respect over this past year and how to keep my thoughts to myself. It is an essential skill and you have to be able to do it.
  10. Travel. Travel as much as you can when you are young. I had the chance to live in Hawaii for three months and even though I was born there and have been there more times than I can count, I never stayed for longer than a couple weeks. I had all the time in the world now so I got to explore and do things that I normally wouldn’t do. I also had the opportunity to go to London which was one of the best experiences of my entire life and I can’t wait to go back. I definitely caught the travel bug and I can’t wait for my next adventure.
  11. Do things by yourself. When I was in Hawaii, I didn’t have many friends to do things with. I knew that to keep myself sane, I needed to go and do things. I went to the movies almost every week by myself, the beach, zoo and even aquarium. It was nice to get out and just take time to myself. I was able to just wander and not worry about waiting for someone or being rushed. It was usually a very relaxing experience. Since I don’t have an easy transportation method in Arizona as I had in Hawaii (the bus system is much better there), I don’t go out as much in AZ and I would really like to change that in my next year here.
  12. Making friends is difficult as an adult. I have moved states and jobs a lot this year and I had to meet a lot of new people. Thankfully, most people let me have some time to adjust and get comfortable but I made a lot of amazing friends. Let me say that I did get to work with a lot of incredible people this year. I started being more outgoing and it did pay off. I did see some people outside of work but its hard as everyone is so busy and has their own thing going on. I’ve learned that its just harder to see friends often and its actually been difficult for me. It something that I’ve struggled with a lot and realized that it doesn’t always mean you’re not friends. People also drift apart which is okay. It happens.
  13. Self care is so important. In order to take care of my health and my mind, I have learned that self care is so incredibly important to my mental health. I have to know when I need to take time for myself and just be alone. When I’m too overwhelmed in a situation, I step away. When I am feeling a bit down, I stay home. When I need to, I stay home to give myself a break from the exhaustion of interacting with people. If there is one thing that I’ve learned, I have to take care of myself first and foremost. My health, mental, physical or whatever it may be, always comes first. Always.
  14. Do things that make you uncomfortable. For me, I was only going to get over anxiety was by doing things that scare me. I know what my limits are but I had to start living and just doing things. I couldn’t let my anxiety and depression stop me from living again. I went out at night like a normal 22 year old, I went to concerts and events that I normally wouldn’t, and I met people. It wasn’t easy but I did it at my own pace. Now, I hope to continue being more comfortable with being uncomfortable.
  15. Do the things that make you happy even if people may judge you. I’m a weirdo. I know it. But I am not going to let people stop me from being who I am in fear they may think I’m weird. I love watching Disney shows and movies. I still play Pokemon Go. I watch weird Youtube videos. And I wear a lot of makeup because it makes me happy. I’m not going to stop doing the things that make me happy because they can be hard to come by when you have depression. Be you. Just be you.
  16. Find your creative outlet. I have always had a creative outlet in my life. I grew up dancing, singing, and playing the saxophone. I always needed it to express myself. When I went to college, I lost that. Thankfully, this past year I have found new ways to express myself. One being makeup. Makeup is something that allows me to be creative and take time for myself doing something I really enjoy. I may not be the best at it but I absolutely love it and have an addiction to buying makeup. Also writing has become an expression. Starting this blog has allowed me to share my thoughts and feelings in ways I haven’t before. I’m happy that I have new forms of expression and hope I continue to expand that.
  17. I’m in no hurry to settle down. I know that a lot of my friends and peers are either in long term relationships or getting married, but I’m not in that place. And that’s okay. I’m at a different point in my life than other people. At the moment, I am focused on learning to love myself and control my mental health. That takes precedent over any man right now. I’m happy for everyone who is at that step but I’m not yet.
  18. Loving your body is a process. It takes a lot of time to learn to love yourself as who you are. With how much we are bombarded with images of what we are supposed to look like or what people think is attractive in pop culture and social media, its no surprise that we as a society have a lot of trouble accepting our bodies. I believe this past year we have made a lot of leaps in body acceptance but we still have a long way to go. And every person’s journey is different. I still have a lot of self doubt about how I look, my weight and just what people think of me. I still have trouble comparing myself to other people. I have to continue to work on it at my own pace. Everyone is different.
  19. Take care of your health. I have been sick more times that I know this past year and it has been starting to weigh on me. It has been a wake up call that I need to learn to listen to my body and focus on taking care of myself. I need to be healthier, take my vitamins and relax when I know I’m getting sick. Instead of pushing myself to get past it, I need to stop and rest so I can get better faster. Also, I’ve been to so many doctors and urgent cares that I know it needs to get better.
  20. Floss your teeth people. It may sound stupid but I have never had a cavity until this past year. I was having pain in my tooth and jaw so I finally went to the dentist. I had 4 cavities. 4! That’s ridiculous. And getting them filled was not fun. Especially when you were by yourself. My dentist told me that I could have probably avoided two of them if I flossed regularly. I floss every damn night now because I do not want to do that again. PS- my dentist’s office sent me a happy birthday email and that’s adorable.
  21. Ask for help. I am a pretty stubborn girl. I want to believe that I can take care of everything myself but I can’t. There are so many things that I can’t do on my own. There is no shame in asking for help. I encourage you to ask for help when you need it, whether that be taking me to get my medicine, giving me advice or when your mental health is too much for you to control. There are people out there who will help you in every situation that you have. I know its hard and can be embarrassing, but do it. Swallow your pride and know that you can ask for help whenever you need it.
  22. Life is worth living. This past year, I have woken up too many times hearing news and mass shootings and suicides. When you have a mental health disorder, it can be overwhelming to see. When so many people are giving up from depression, anger, anxiety or anything else, its hard to keep pushing through. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. People out there are fighting for you and rooting for you even if you don’t know it. My life is worth something. My life is worth living. I need to hold that in my heart and mind no matter what I go through. You matter, your life matters. Always know that.

A lot has happened to me in this past year of life that I have learned from. Some good, some bad. But I try to take something from any experience I have. I hope in this new year of life I continue on my journey of self acceptance and love. Here is to 23. May it be an exciting one!

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