On my twentieth birthday, March 27th, I bought myself carnation flowers (because self-love and because it’s not peony season yet). As I was putting those flowers into an intricate narrow glass vase, my mind drew to the word “bloom.” When I hear the word bloom, I think of growth, specifically when someone starts to find themselves and understand who they are, growing into who they are meant to be. I’m not one at all to describe my years of life, or anything for that matter, into one word but bloom was the perfect fit for this jump into a new decade. Does that mean I’m suddenly a total different person between 11:59pm on March 26th and 12:00am on March 27th? Definitely not, but I just feel like I’ll understand my “bloom” in my 20th year and when I later write about turning 21.
When I was younger, everyone I knew who was 20 years old was so mature and “cool.” They had their life together, they were successful and knew who they were. I couldn’t wait to be that age. Well, now I’m here and I don’t feel nearly as ready or successful as they seemed, nor do I feel any amount of “coolness.”
At my age, my parents got married, moved to Toronto from Germany and Turkey, establishing a new life for themselves in a brand new city, in a brand new country. Now that I’m at that age, I couldn’t imagine being in their position. It’s something so out of my comfort zone, and even more, out of my reach. How could I survive with nothing?
Turning 20 means you’re no longer in your teens. You’re two decades old. There’s no going back to the teen years except through memories. So for my 20th year orbiting around the sun, I want to set five mottos to keep in mind to help me grow personally, academically and ultimately try my best to make it my best year yet.
1. You’re so much more than your Instagram feed.
Don’t tear yourself apart because your Instagram feed isn’t perfect or because it’s “not cute.” Stop wasting your money going to cafes just to take photos for Instagram. You don’t even like lattes, or any sort of caffeine for that matter. It’s not worth it. More than that, realize that comparing yourself to others, especially through social media, isn’t helping you, it’s harming you and your creative and mental well being.
2. Don’t be afraid to reach for something way out of your comfort zone.
Because the only way you’ll ever grow is doing something that’s challenging you. Getting comfortable is dangerous and when you find yourself falling into that stagnant rut, change something. It doesn’t have to be a big change, but small changes that push your limits. “You can only go as far as you push yourself.” Take on that project that you’ve always wanted to do but never did because it was out of your comfort zone. Try it out and if it fails, try again. Keeping pushing yourself because one day, you’ll look back and regret the things you didn’t do.
3. Underestimating yourself is slowly killing you.
There’s a fine line between overestimating and underestimating yourself. The only way you’ll find that balance is not only by realizing your strengths and weaknesses, but embracing them. If you know you’re strong in one skill set, have confidence in yourself to embrace that. At the same time, take note of your weaknesses and work on making those better. You’re standing at the bottom of the mountain, looking up and thinking, “I want to get to the top, but I probably won’t be able to” rather than, “I can get to the top and I will.”
4. Stay focused.
You may think everything is going to go in a straight path. News flash, it’s not, and that’s totally okay. You might make a right when you needed to go left, or you may start walking down hill instead of moving forward. That’s going to make it easy to lose track of your goal. You have control of your time and as much as you’re going to want to rush it through, stop and take a breather. Reflect on why you started in the first place and where you see yourself at the end.
5. Take time everyday to appreciate your surroundings.
It’s easy to take things and people for granted in your life, especially your own life. So instead of spending an extra 5 minutes on Instagram every evening before you go to bed, put that time aside to reflect on your day. Don’t rush it, it’s worth taking the time .
So far you’ve been 20 years-old for an hour and 44 minutes. The clock is ticking. Make every second count.
This article is written by me, Janine Maral, and was originally posted for RU Student Life.