20 Things I Wish I Knew Before Turning 20

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Last week, I turned 20 years old. I lied in bed, staring at the white textured ceiling as Bon Iver’s “For Emma, Forever Ago” spun on the record player and created the perfect white noise to let my mind run. I’ve been everywhere in my teen years, from battling the blistering winter of Canada to dripping in sweat under the cool breeze of the Bahamas. I’ve managed to injure myself in a hundred and one places and have the scars to show for it. I’ve even managed to wake up on the beach as the sun began to rise without any recollection of how I got there. There’s so much that I wish I had known before turning 20.

1. Being 20 Is The Biggest Tease

20 year olds still can’t legally drink. While all my older buds party at the bar, I sit at home watching Forrest Gump. Sure, reciting lines like “I love you Jenny” and “I was runnin” is always a blast, but I’m missing out on what might possibly be the greatest nights of the year.”This is true for every 20 year-old, you feel so old but you can’t even drink legally, or even be able to check in to a freaking hotel room!” said Florida State University junior Kenny Carrill. It’s like being in limbo. And limbo sucks.

2. The Easiest Part of Our Lives Is Over

The days of sitting in our rooms playing video games and snacking on a Lunch-ables without a care in the world have officially ended. When I was 13, my biggest concerns involved making sure my mom signed my school agenda and feeding the fish. Now, we’re bona-fide adults, expected to graduate, land the perfect job and figure out where to live. Remember when we were forced to take naps in kindergarten and we refused? I wish somebody would force me to nap now. “Turning 20 is like reaching the end of a really shitty zip line,” said University of Pennsylvania junior Sergio Guadix. “The journey is exciting, wild, and carefree–until you crash into the tree of never-ending responsibilities waiting on the other side.”

3. We’re at the Halfway Mark in College

Didn’t we just start this adventure like two weeks ago? College flies by faster than Roadrunner can run. From weekend-long escapades of barhopping to impromptu beach trips and 12 credit hours of classes every semester, we never have time to breathe. But there’s nothing wrong with not breathing, because you’ll remember these stories and adventures as the good ol’ days when you’re sitting in your office. Be your own Van Wilder and enjoy these ever changing times to the fullest.

4. Nothing In the Past is Worth Dwelling On

We’ve only lived about a fifth of our lives. So your first relationship didn’t work out and you failed your history exam—so what? Don’t let the little things deter you from happiness. These things happen to help build a better, stronger and smarter you. Don’t be Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite, and stop letting your past dictate your actions in the present. “For sure it’s the decisions that we make now that affect our future. We have lived through 20 years of our lives and there are many more to enjoy to with new memories to be made,” said FSU junior Manuel Garaboa.

5. If You Haven’t Been Cut Off Yet, The End Is Neigh

If you’re one of the lucky few to make it this far without receiving the boot from the parental units, congrats. I know it’s only a matter of time before I receive the “new bank account who dis?” text from my mom when I ask her to add some dinero. It seems like it’s time to take the “jobs with no experience near me” Google search of shame.

6. Your Needs are Only Going To Get More Expensive

Remember when our biggest expenditure was a $7 chicken nugget meal at McDonalds? Yeah, me too man. Now we’ve moved on to paying $500 every month for rent, literally giving your arm and a leg for a book or crying every time you see your gas tank on “E.” What’s the point of having a wallet if it’s just to hold a Chipotle gift card?

7. Criticism is Meant To Build You, Not Break You

People will criticize for everything, from the way you dress, to the way you write, to the way you sleep. Don’t be defeated by these words. Instead, use them to learn from your mistakes. If you only know how to take good criticism, you’re not going to make it far in the professional world.

8. The People You Know Now Might Not Always Be Around

I wish this one weren’t true, but sadly as you grow older friendships will dissolve, family members will pass away and those important to you may move away. However, don’t lose hope—your family will grow with upcoming births and marriages, and you’ll meet new friends. Who knows, the love of your life might even be less than 365 days away from showing up at your doorstep. “I  know I always thought that I would always have the same group of friends forever. And although we are still pretty close life gets in the way,” University of Central Florida sophomore Elizabeth Bello said. “And I’ve come to learn it’s always a good idea to try and expand your friend group. You never know who you might meet along the way.”

9. Pets Cost (Too Much) Money

I know, I know. We all dream about that house in the suburbs with the white picket fence and your German Shepard waiting by the gate for you to come home. However, between vet check ups, food and toys, you’re looking at somewhere around $1000+ a year to own a pet. Sadly, some of us might just have to wait until we establish ourselves in the real world before spending our evenings napping with a corgi.

10. Don’t Wear The Clothes You’re Going To Go Out In While Washing Dishes

Trust me, just do them in your underwear. “Be prepared to send that ‘sorry bro, running late’ text to the group chat,” said FSU junior Michael Monroy.

11. Never Dance In Public Unless You Want To Be All Over Facebook

I don’t know about you, but I’m no Michael Jackson on the dance floor. What I do know is that my friends will take any opportunity they can to embarrass me. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of becoming the next meme, so I’ll be standing in the corner whenever we do go out.

12. Treat Your Phone Like A Baby

Your phone is your lifeline. It’s keeps you connected to your family, your friends and the world in general. Not to mention that you probably can’t afford to buy a new phone, so make sure you’re watching your six inch brick at all times.

13. Treat Babies Like Your Phone

Have you ever tossed your phone up as high as you can while standing on concrete and watched it smash into a million pieces when it hit the ground? It turns out the same applies to babies.

14. You Can Wear Jeans More Than Once

Don’t forget to wash your jeans altogether, but you can definitely stretch out the use to three or four times. Unless you drop a whole pizza on your pants. Then they’ll become totally unsalvageable, and you’ll be the idiot who wasted good pizza.

15. Don’t Get a Job Just For The Money

I get that now in college we desperately need the money, but don’t let that be the main takeaway from a job. You’ll learn how to work on a team, deal with pressure, help customers—the list of valuable skills never ends. It’ll help you in the long run when it’s time to start applying for real jobs.

16. You Can Sleep When You’re Dead

Great stories never come from those who stay in. Go on a hike, eat a foreign piece of food and ask your classroom crush out regardless of what they say. Throw your cares to the wind, and live life to the fullest. “As a college student that loves being involved in politics, I wish the day had much more than 24 hours, and that the body didn’t need 8 hours of sleep a night. Those eight hours are time that could be spent doing something pretty awesome instead of laying in bed doing absolutely nothing” said Miami Dade College sophomore Carlos San Jose. 

17. Hot Dogs are Love, Hot Dogs are Life

They’re cheap, they’re easy to make, and they taste incredible. Need I say more?

18. You Can Never Get Enough Of Your Family

Sure, they may piss you off, drive you crazy and steal the food right off your plate, but they’ll never stop loving you. The most you can do is reciprocate. Look forward to whatever chance you get to see them, because in the end, they’re what truly matters.

19. You Love and You Learn

You’ll fall in love and get your heart broken a million times. However, each heartbreak will prepare you for the day you fall in love and never fall out. Don’t hate yourself or he person you broke up with. It’s just a part of growing up. “Sometimes you’ll meet somebody that seems perfect in every way your standards demand, however your expectations will get in the way of your reality and you can’t let that blind you”, said Florida International University junior Alejandro Jesus Morales.

20. In 40 Years, You get a Sweet Discount at Ihop

Who doesn’t want half-priced pancakes just for being old?

Brandon is a Junior at Florida State University studying Editing, Writing and Media. He can be found raving about his fantasy football team that came in second place last season or eating something chicken related.

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