This week I officially closed the door on my teenage years, and began a new decade of life — 20 years old! I welcome the concept of aging — probably because I already live like a content mid-40s woman. All jokes aside, although saying goodbye to the label of “teenage” is a bit daunting, every birthday is an indication of how lucky I am to live this life for another year.
In what I hope to become a tradition, I have taken some time to reflect on what my past year — my 19th year — has taught me. Here is what I came up with.
Double meaning. First, I have perfected my banana pancake recipe — the key is adding walnuts, chocolate chips and a drizzle of real maple syrup. Second, I have truly learned the immense love I have for the song “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson — a lovely little tune filled with nostalgia and memories.
Family over anything and everything
I knew this before I was 19 and I get the privilege of learning this over and over again. I simply adore my family. But I had to put them as number two on my list to make sure their egos don’t get too big.
People can say whatever they want to
People have to choose to tell you the truth or to share their feelings. They can just as easily choose to lie or hide their thoughts.
Change leads to where you are
Change normally sparks an uneasy feeling in me. At the moment, I certainly am not a fan of change, however, I have learned to recognize that change is needed in order to evolve into the person I will soon be.
Mundane adult things are fun
I love grocery shopping and thinking about how many vegetables are in my meal, reading before bed and watering my plants. But I am still not sure about taxes.
If my world is falling apart, time is the only thing that can put it back together. Healing does not happen overnight, and it is never a straight progression, but slowly and surely, I end up okay.
The less social media, the better
A big part of the second half of my year was focused on the self-experiment of limiting social media and noting how it impacts my mental health. Major takeaways — Snapchat was deleted, Instagram usage is shockingly lower and TikTok is harder to lessen. More importantly, only Pinterest makes me happier!
Mornings set the tone
A productive morning leads to a productive day.
Share books with your friends — including my mom and brother
Hearing “I think you would like this book” makes my heart flutter. On the flip side, having friends follow through with my book recommendations is equally as lovely. Both instances lead to some very intellectual conversations.
I love being a stereotypical teenage girl
There. I said it. I just want to eat sushi and listen to Taylor Swift while discussing Emma Chamberlain and whatever 2000s show I’m rewatching.
Text your mom every day
Self-explanatory, but very important.
We are taught that being selfish is a negative attribute, but I have found I am the best version of myself when I put myself first. Put your oxygen mask on before you help others.
Additional $1 for gluten-free bread.
This also applies to gluten-free pasta. 19 taught me that having dietary concerns is expensive.
I will wear my UCLA sweatshirt
I didn’t even apply to UCLA, but I have finally gotten over myself and shamelessly wear my favorite sweatshirt to my Boston University classes. Go Terriers!
There is no point in living in a world of hypotheticals. It does not matter what life would be like if I said this or if they did that. It only perpetuates a bizarre sense of longing for what doesn’t exist.
The aisle seat is better
Coming from an ex-window-seat-lover, the aisle seat is superior.
Show gratitude as much as possible
I know how good it feels to be appreciated. Someone’s day can always be made with a baked good to say thank you or a quick text acknowledging them.
Mindset is everything
Any activity can be fun or horribly annoying. Choose fun! Suddenly, cleaning my room is a game and going to class is exciting.
You do you, I’ll do me
Probably the biggest lesson of my 19th year. As long as others’ choices don’t affect me, I have learned to respect that my decisions may not align with theirs and vice-versa. It doesn’t mean that one of us is right or wrong — we are simply living different lives.