My 22nd birthday is approaching and I am starting to feel that this last year been quite a learning experience. Last year at this time I was in my last week of college, and senioritis had hit pretty hard. Chris, my boyfriend, and I were rearing and ready to be out in the real world. And I have to say that the past year has really sobered us. Growing up isn't easy, and so here are 22 things worth sharing which I have learned before my 22nd Birthday.
1) Don't settle for a job. Of course you need to pay your bills, but don't belittle yourself by taking a job that is far below your talent level. If you don't practice to your skill level then you will not only feel under appreciated and under utilized but you will begin to lose those skills you worked so hard to gain.
2) Don't underestimate yourself. In particularly with money. Don't let someone tell you that you are worth X dollars an hour if it's way too low. It's not about having a hot head, but knowing what you are worth and not allowing others to discount your expertise.
3) Family is very important. Always make time for your family because when you need help, they are the people who are going to be there.
4) You need a hobby. Once you get out of school and there are no longer any requirements to further your mental capacity you need to have a hobby in order to do it on your own. I suggest books, although there is no deadline, it's good to engage your mind with a good book. Also you can learn a lot from books.
5) You will drift apart from friends. When you go your separate ways life gets in the way. Sometimes the things that you had in common with those friends could be the class you were taking or the place you were living. Those things change, and people change too. The ones who matter will be there and stay there.
6) Nights out are over rated. Seriously. When you work super hard and so much, more often it's exciting to curl up in your pajamas on the couch rather than use your energy to dress up and go out. Not to mention it's expensive.
7) Sometimes you do deserve it. When you are on a budget, conserving money is very important. But every once in a while you need to tell yourself that you deserve it, whatever it is.
8) Where you live is very important, so make sure you are happy with it. If you are renting an apartment, you are paying money to live there and it is your home. Make sure you are comfortable with your living situation because the worst thing is not feeling safe or happy in a place you are paying for.
9) 8 hours of sleep is very important. Gone are the days of late nights and early class. Now are the days of early work and working late. In order to use your body to its full potential you really need to let it rest for at least 8 hours. For some of you this may sound crazy, but once you start getting a solid night's sleep, you will never go back. Make sleep a priority and you will thank yourself later.
10) Water is essential for your body to function. There are so many other drinks in this world but none are as good for you as water is. Water will flush anything out of your system, whether you are under the weather or have an infection, the more water you drink the faster you will feel better. Water is good for your skin. It makes it clear and sometimes it even makes it glow if you are lucky. Water helps increase your energy level and also is a natural headache reliever. They say if you notice that you are thirsty you are already dehydrated. Water is very important, 64 ounces is the minimum amount of water you should consume every day. Try to keep track of how much water you drink daily, try and meet the requirement, you will be happy with the results.
11) Become aware of your budget. Keep track of your spendings and your income. Set some limits and then follow them. If you keep to your budget then you should have some extra to splurge-which is important. You need to have fun and spoil yourself sometimes (see #7). You also need to have a nest egg for emergencies. Don't cut the money too close, you never know what could go wrong.
12) Take care of your car. Your car is under appreciated. It takes you everywhere that you need to go and you only give it attention when it fails you. Check your fluids regularly. You will always be paying for things that have to do with your car. Everyone encounters car trouble, if they didn't then car repair shops wouldn't be in business.
13) Get fresh air when you can. When you can't you will complain so when you can, get all the fresh air that you can. Enjoy nature. When it's -20 degrees out you will be so unhappy that you are stuck inside, so put on a raincoat in the spring and the sunscreen in the summer and get in touch with your outdoorsy side. It's good for your health.
14) Bargain food shopping is a must. There are so many places out there, it's a crime not to shop around. Sure you may want to get your meat at the best grocer in order to ensure freshness but Aldi's or Price Rite are a big benefit for pasta, canned items, bread, and cheese. If you have a farmer's market you should take advantage of it. Not only are the pricers great but you are supporting local farmers and the food is fresh.
15) Only buy clothes that are on sale. I can't even fathom people who buy clothes at full price. The best finds, the clothes you will wear most often, and those that you will be proud of are the best deals. That two dollar pair of pants that you wear twice a week, the dress you found at the Salvation Army that still had the tag on it, the sweater you splurged 12 bucks on at Marshall's and have had for four years. With so many options for resale stores or discount clothing, it can't hurt to look.
16) Breathe. Life gets overwhelming often. Your brain can overload. The easiest way to remedy this is to focus on your breath. It really brings you back to Earth. Breathing is an involuntary action meaning that you do it without having to think about it. Your body knows what you need: to breathe. Sometimes making this involuntary action voluntary can really calm your whole self.
17) Plan things to look forward to on your calendar. Life gets busy and can also get rough. Plan mini-vacations or day trips in order to give yourself something to look forward to. These will not only make the tough times go faster but will give yourself a reward for being busy and getting through a hard week.
18) Keep up with your laundry. This may seem silly, but it will catch up with you. If you have access to a washer and dryer, do a load every other day so that on your day off you don't have to spend it doing all of the laundry in order to wear clean under ware the next day.
19) Connect with people who are at a similar stage in life as you are. If you have someone to talk to who knows what you are going through and who have similar misfortunes or triumphs as you do then you will be happy to share yours and hear theirs.
20) Come up with a positive out of a negative situation. This is a hard one. Sometimes I like to break this down into days and not label the day as negative but come up with something positive that happened every day. Some of these positives can be small accomplishments or things that made you happy. For instance one day I was so happy because I found the perfect dish soap that left my glasses sparkling. It may be a little triumph, but I allowed that positivity to bring my day to an end on a high note.
21) Be creative in the kitchen. Alright I know this may not be fair because I am a chef, but I know that it makes a huge difference. Try new recipes, experiment with your own recipes, enjoy new ingredients it really makes your life more interesting if you aren't going to have the same rotating schedule every week. That doesn't mean that you can't have pasta every week- but there are a million different ways to make a pasta dish- Macaroni and cheese, red sauce and meatballs, white wine and cheese sauce. One of my favorite ways to spice up pasta is to buy a different shaped noodle. I know it may sound bizarre but it can really change your dining experience. Whoever eats at your house will be happy if you spice it up, you can always fall back on the classics.
22) Be thankful for what you have. Too many times we complain about what we don't have, we need to be thankful for what we do. Sometimes it feels like the worst is happening to us, but it's very humming to realize that that is not true in the least. Your car broke down- there are people who don't have cars and walk 6 miles to work. You hate where you live- at least you have a roof over your head. You are sick with a 24 hour bug- at least you don't have cancer. There are so many things to be grateful for. Don't spend your life being ungrateful, before you know it, it will be over. Life's short, make it sweet.