22 Things I Learned by 22

Photo of Kristina Khodai.

22 is not a particularly pivotal age. Nothing really happens in comparison to the big milestones at 16 or 18 or 21. 22 is an awkward, in-between age of kind of being an adult, but also not really.

Oh, and Taylor Swift owns this year of your life (which I am totally fine with).

I’m two years into my twenties, now. They’ve been some of the best, strangest, and hardest few years. You could even say that I’m happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time.

Anyway, in no particular order, here are 22 things I learned by 22.

  1. Sunscreen is important.  

I used to think because I have naturally tan skin the sun didn’t affect me as much. Wrong. After getting severely sunburned a few summers in a row on my body, face, and even lips, I use sunscreen every day. You probably should too. 

  1. Self-care is not selfish.  

This is on my list every year. Making time for myself is a key component to my well-being. As an introvert, I sometimes get socially exhausted. I know I don’t have to hang out with someone every time I’m asked. Hanging out with myself can be just as good. 

  1. God is making things happen for you.  

Even when you don’t see it, even when you can’t feel it, even if it’s not evident. One day you’ll look up and realize God was making something beautiful out of you all along. For years I felt like God didn’t see me or hear me. I kept facing hardships and pain, not realizing that the hard times helped me grow and grow and grow. 

  1. You’re never as alone as you think you are.  

My mantras for this have been from two of my favorite spoken word poets: 

“Whatever you are feeling right now, there’s a mathematical certainty that someone is feeling that exact thing. This is not to say you aren’t special. This is to say thank God you aren’t special.”

Neil Hilborn

“I am not alone because I feel alone.”

Sabrina Benaim
  1. There is no such thing as meeting the right person at the wrong time.  

If they were really the right person, there is no wrong time. I swear by this. For friendships, relationships, mentors, bosses. Anyone. What/who is meant to be yours, will be. 

  1. There is enough room for all women to be whole without tearing each other down. 

Celebrating other women is one of my favorite parts about being a woman. I used to believe this lie that there are only so many seats at a table for women and that I needed to grab mine before someone else did. The world tells us this because they know that when women work together, we are a force of nature. 

  1. Not caring what other people think of you feels amazing.  

Wear whatever you want. Be whoever you want. You know whose opinion actually matters? Yours!! 

  1. The power of no.  

This applies to all boundaries in general. If you are a people-pleaser like me, saying no feels like one of the worst things you can do to someone. Let me tell you, it is liberating and necessary. And if people are angry when you draw the line on your own well-being and space, they’re not the right people.

might make them angry.
it will make you free.
– if no one has ever told you, your freedom is more important than their anger

Nayyirah Waheed
  1. Saying “I know what I don’t know” isn’t nearly as powerful as “I don’t know what I don’t know.”  

I recently learned this an intercultural communication class. Not knowing what is out there doesn’t make you uncultured or uneducated. Instead, it gives you the opportunity to go into the world with an open mind and heart and accept that you don’t have all the answers. 

  1. Life is just too short and too sweet not to cry.  

This is something I’ve been saying a lot lately. I said it for the first-time when my dear friend, Alyson Jones, got engaged. I said it again when Ms. Lauren Stockam wrote about me in her blog. I’ll keep saying it because I cry a lot, whether they’re happy tears or sad tears. 

  1. Knowing what you can and cannot control keeps you grounded.  

Things I can control: my thoughts, how much sleep I get, what I put into my body, my grades. Things I cannot control: how other people feel about me, world peace, the weather. 

  1. It’s okay not to be okay, and it’s okay to be okay.  

After dealing with depression and anxiety for so long, it was a weird feeling to not be those things anymore. For a long time, I felt like I was abandoning those feelings of sadness. So much of my identity had been based off who I was when I was mentally ill. I had to learn that it was okay that I was okay now, that I had healed. 

  1. You can’t love someone’s sadness away.  

Whether this is long-term mental illness or a bad day here and there, you can only do so much for the people around you suffering. Trauma is not black and white. Healing is not linear. I’m not saying not to love on people who are suffering, but be aware that your kind words will not heal them.

  1. Sometimes you are the villain in someone else’s story.  

There will be times you look back on a situation and realize you shouldn’t have been so harsh, should’ve had more patience, been kinder, more selfless. Don’t dwell on it. Make peace with it. Learn from it. Move on. 

  1. You can’t stop climate change alone, but you can do your part.  

I used to think that me not using a straw in my fountain drink or separating my trash from recycling couldn’t make any difference. But the point is that millions of people think this. There is more you can do to help than you think.

  1. Bottling things up is never a good idea.  

It always ends with a fight and/or tears that could’ve been avoided. 

  1. Nothing would be the same if you did not exist.  

Truly. You have no idea how much you exist in other people’s lives. 

  1. Water is important.  

Drinking enough water is good for your skin, organs, and headspace. Water lets us take long showers after a long day. Swimming in the ocean or a lake is fun and refreshing. Rain gives life to the food we eat. I am grateful for access to clean water. 

  1. If you don’t know something, ask.

Ignorance is not bliss. We live in a time where information is the most accessible it’s ever been. If you want to know something, look it up or ask someone or go out and experience it. You won’t learn anything if you don’t go out and seek answers. 

  1. Words are one of the most powerful things in life. 

Check out my first blog for a more in-depth look at my thoughts on this. 

  1. I am more capable than I think I am at times.  

Imposter syndrome is real, and I feel it all the time. But I’ve been put into a lot of situations in the past few years where I realize that I am qualified for a lot more than I let myself believe. 

  1. Life is really freaking short.  
Image result for kobe bryant and daughter
Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant
Source: latimes.com

Shortly after I finished the draft of this post, I learned Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, died. Even though I don’t regularly keep up with basketball, it shook me. A lot. It put things into perspective. Death does not care who you are, what your dreams are, what your story is, or where you’re going. So, ask yourself. Is this the life you want to live? Did you say it? “I love you.” “I don’t ever want to live without you.” “You changed my life.” Say it. Do it. Tell the people you love that you love them. Life is just too short not to.

Here’s to 22 years and the next 22.