20 Things I’ve Learned By 20

In the movie Stuck in Love, author and father Bill tells his son Rusty “By the age of 18, a writer has experienced enough to write his first novel.” Today I turn twenty. I have much to learn and to experience, but I think at the age of two decades I can reflect on some of the truths I’ve discovered along this path to adulthood.

1. Everything  happens for a reason.

Now this is what everyone tells you when something goes wrong and my immediate reaction is “yup, okay, but why???” And every time I asked this, I received an answer over the course of time. 

2. Allow a creative thought to unfold.

I remember in 6th grade I had to answer the question when do you use fractions in your life? And everyone went around sharing and I said “tabs on Microsoft word.” The room fell quiet and my teacher just said “You’re an out-of-the-box thinker aren’t you?” Yes, yes I am.

3. Your family should be your best friends.

I’ve grown up always enjoying the company of my family. For me, there was nothing more entertaining than having a big family gathering and hearing old stories, laughing, and eating massive amounts of food. Still to this day, I cherish that. My family makes me who I am. 

4. Hold onto every moment you spend with your grandparents.

Birthday’s can be bittersweet. I used to go shopping with my grandparents every year on my birthday. On one day, my Memere and Pepere would take me to the mall, which would always include a trip to Friendly’s and Pepere getting paged at a department store. My Grammy would take me out on another day and she’d let me pick out an outfit and a toy. It was the best cuz she let me explore my style. I’d come back with some crazy outfit.

5. Faith comes to you when you need it the most.

Whether you’re religious or not, faith helps you get through even the toughest of times. Faith is believing. And sometimes the hardest thing to do in a rough spot is to believe that you’re going to get out of it. That’s when you do it anyway. 

6. People will make you think you don’t belong, don’t let them.

My junior high years were filled with insecurities about fitting in. I always felt it was something I did or something I said or something I wore that made me stand out. Now I realize I totally did stand out, but in the best of days. I want to go back and give that frizzy-haired eighth grader a high five for rocking her Target kids’ section Big Time Rush t-shirt when everyone else was wearing Hollister. You belong in bigger and better places, my friend.

7. If you want to dress up, then dress up. Wear what makes your heart happy.

I’m almost always over-dressed. I live for dresses, fun lip colors, and leather jackets. My style is best described by my father’s complaints. “Hayley go back inside, you can’t move a shed dressed like a fairy princess.” “Hayley’s shoveling dressed like she has an interview with the top designer at Macy’s.” which leads me to my next point: 

8. It’s okay to think your parents are cool. 

You know there’s always moments when you’re embarrassed by your parents. Trust me, my father once stood on his car and waved his arms shouting my name to flag me down when picking me up from high school. But how funny is that? He’s hilarious. My mom’s the same way. She’s funny. But I also brag about how she did undercover work back in the day. It’s pretty awesome.

9. If you feel called to write, pick up a pen.

When I was younger, I wrote songs. My first song was called “Argument.” It was a real hit. Lots of “oh’s”, lots of “woo’s”. Like all the best songs. It pays off to have the courage to pick that pen up. I mean, I’m writing this blog post. 

10. Use the gifts you were blessed with.

If you are a writer, then “write like you’re running out of time.” If you dance, dance your heart out. If you are a talker, then lead that debate team. If you can sing, join that chorus or show choir. Audition for that show. Just don’t let that talent go unnoticed. Let it out. Let it grow.

11. The best of friends always come back to you.

There have been times I thought I’ve lost a friend. And I have. But with time and healing, the friends who belong in your life come back and stay in your life. Those are the keepers. Those friends and the one’s who’ve been by your side all along.

12. Surround yourself with people who allow you to be you.

I have a friend that will listen to me summarize entire episodes of The Vampire Diaries. I have a friend that challenges me to running man challenge to the song “Hey Ya”. (Winner tbd). I have a friend who will sit in the parking lot of an ice cream stand with me blaring Phantom of the Opera and singing along. To the friends who offer me endless support, are there for me through thick and thin, who bring me “Dunks” when I “seem stressed.” Thank you.

13. Sometimes I just want a nice salad and sometimes I just want Ben and Jerry’s half-baked. Why not both?

A healthy lifestyle is a great thing to achieve. I try to find a balance. Allow yourself to have a treat every once and a while. Life’s too short. 

14. “Don’t settle.” -FM

If something doesn’t feel right, then don’t waste your time. Don’t settle for anything less than what makes your heart shine. This goes for anything, career paths, relationship, etc..

15. There’s always room in your heart for forgiveness.

Sometimes I want to hold a grudge and it lasts maybe a day until I feel too guilty. Forgiveness is hard but when you forgive, it makes you stronger and it relieves you from guilt and negativity.

16. Try new things. It’s okay to want to soak up all life has to offer.

One time I decided to play the role of “Romeo” in my eighth grade Romeo and Juliet Assignment. I fell in love with acting and the rest is history.

17. Everyone has their own definition of fun. Don’t let anyone try to change yours.

Sometimes my idea of fun is shopping with friends. Sometimes, it’s having a karaoke night. And other times it’s curling up in bed with a hot cup of tea and a good book and calling it a night.

18. Don’t quit your day job, but don’t quit your daydream.

Walt Disney was a paper boy first. I was a paper girl. Therefore, I am Walt Disney…jk. But my point is clear, every small job pays off.

19. Sometimes the best way to recover from a loss is to turn it around into something positive.

There’s always going to be a way for you to reach out and honor the memory of a loved one. (A theatre group that raises money and awareness for cancer? :O) And if there isn’t, make one. 😉 (Roger A. Cote Run for Courage). 

20. As a kid, I couldn’t wait to grow up. As an adult, I want to keep the child inside of me alive.

When I was little I loved to play dress up. In a way, theatre takes the place of this in my heart. I want to remember my younger self when I take on adulthood. The best advice I’ve received is to “Be the person you needed when you were younger.” 

As I finished this post, I’ve officially turned twenty. It doesn’t feel much different. Maybe I got taller…? Oh who am I kidding!


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