So today I turn 22 (yes, I am feeling 22), and usually I get a little sad because I’m getting older and it’s less acceptable to walk around declaring it’s my birthday. But this time, I started thinking about everything I’ve learned. We’re always changing and growing and expanding. We’re never the same person we were five years ago, and that’s okay. It’s an inevitable part of life, just like your chips will get stale if you leave the bag open.
So here’s 22 things you’ll learn:
1. Boys suck. They smell nice and their clothes fit amazing, but ultimately they suck. But never fear because your girlfriends will be there with a tub of your favorite ice cream and re-runs of your favorite show.
2. Your parents actually have good advice. They’ve already experienced life, and know most of what you’re going through. So listen to them, and save yourself some trouble.
3. You will get hurt. You’ll have your heart broken, maybe several times. You’ll be crying alone on your floor at two in the morning wondering how you’ll ever be okay again. But the secret? You will be okay again.
4. Friends are important. Remember to create memories with them while you have the freedom and time. Your homework will still be there when you get back. Lose a night of sleep and spend it laughing over a bottle of wine because you haven’t seen each other in too long. Never be too busy for friends.
5. You’re never too old for Disney movies. Sure, they may have raised your expectation for “Prince Charming” but they also taught you valuable lessons. They also take you back to your childhood, when things were much simpler and it was perfectly acceptable to lay around in your underwear and drink juice boxes.
6. Always carry an extra pair of socks and underwear with you. You never know what crazy thing will happen that will render you underwear-less. And God forbid you get your socks soaked and get a foot disease.
7. Say “thank you” often. Especially in restaurants and clothing stores. The world is full of rude people. Don’t add yourself to that list. Plus, you’ll get better service if you’re nice. Customer service employees love people who have manners.
8. People will leave you. Especially the people who promised they would always be there for you. Sometimes it’s a huge falling out, and sometimes they just disappear. There’s not always a reason why they leave, and most of the time there won’t be. It’s a painful part of life that you’ll have to accept.
9. Nap time is the best time. Seriously. Don’t ever think you’re too old for naps. Take naps while you still can.
10. Oversized sweaters are life saving. Not wearing a bra? No one will know! Bloated? No one will know! Slept in it the night before? Throw on a cute scarf and leggings and no one will know! Want to look extra cuddly? Everyone will know! Seriously, sweaters are a blessing from God. Bring on the sweater season.
11. Pairing your socks makes life easier. How many times have you been running late and end up putting on mismatched socks? You feel like a slight failure when you can’t even match your socks. Pairing them into those cute little bundles will make your life a little easier and quicker.
12. No one knows what they’re doing. You’re not alone. Everyone at this age is stumbling around, trying to find the free food and figure out how to make a doctor’s appointment on their own. So just go with it, and enjoy the ride.
13. How to put on a fitted sheet (if you’re lucky). Seriously, why is this still so difficult?! You think you’ve got it figured out, and then BAM you somehow end up cocooned in the sheet.
14. The world is cruel place. Don’t let it harden you. Be caring. Be sensitive. Be loving.
15. Mac and cheese counts as dinner. I mean, that’s all you can afford, right? Let’s face it. You’re broke. But so is everyone else in college. At least make it fun and get the Spongebob shaped ones.
16. Family is important, too. Sure, there may be arguments and hated cousins, but for the most part, they’ll have your back when you slip. And when you can’t afford rent, you’ll need somewhere to come back to.
17. Emotions suck. But they’re inevitable. You’ll go from crying to laughing to throwing something across the room. You’ll think you found “the one,” but then the next day decide you like pizza better.
18. Never rely on the weather report. It’s just not a good idea. Be prepared for anything.
19. Always make sure to have a granola bar or some snack. Who knows when you’ll be stranded in the middle of nowhere for hours? Gotta keep those hangry vibes down.
20. It’s the small things that matter most. Everyone is so busy with their life and the small things–like birthdays–mean the world when they’re noticed. Even if it’s a text saying, “I thought of you” with a picture of a cat in a hat.
21. What people think doesn’t matter. Not one bit. You’re too busy trying to get through your life, so don’t let the thoughts of those around you interfere with that. Do the best you can with what you’ve got, and you’ll succeed.
22. You’ve got this. No matter how hard things may seem, you always get through it.