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6 Life-Changing Realizations I've Come To In My 20's Thus Far

"Stop caring what people think of you and it will change your life entirely".

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1-Don't wish your life away. (Sounds cliche, I know). But we are all in such a hurry to grow up that we don't realize how quick time actually passes. When your 13 all you can think about is turning 16. When your 16 all you can think about is turning 21. What we don't realize is what comes with age. Turning 21 means you're officially an adult... in the "real world". It means you have responsibilities. College loans kick in, then there's your phone bill, then your car payment and don't forget about paying rent or saving money to move out of mom and dads. On top of all that, you are supposed to find time and money to maintain a social life... I mean don't get me wrong; being of legal drinking age is cool and all, until you look at your bank account. Say goodbye to basement parties and stealing alcohol from your parents stash.. say hello to $12 vodka sodas and $10 cover charges. Unless of course, you go out on a random week night just to get $2 dollar drafts at the local dive bar (which you always end up regretting when you wake up the next morning exhausted and hungover yet still expected to participate in life). The point is, the older we get-the more responsibilities we have.

2-Heartbreak is a necessity. (I know I know.. I sound insane) but it's true. When you first get your heart broken, it tends to feel like your entire world is crashing down, it feels like you cannot survive without that person and it may even feel like your chest is so tight that you might actually stop breathing. This goes away. (Eventually) And in the end, you learn SO much about yourself and about other people. Heartbreak forces you to take a step back and re-evaluate your happiness. It forces you to stand on your own two feet and face life head on. It gives you time to learn who you truly are as a person: your strengths, your weaknesses, your flaws, your best qualities, what inspires you, what hurts you. It forces you to learn how to make yourself happy, how to fulfill your own needs, how to survive on your own.

The most important thing heartbreak teaches you...

3-You need to love yourself first. You cannot have a healthy and happy relationship until you learn how to love yourself. I never understood or believed the expression "You have to love yourself before you can love someone else" until I went through my first heartbreak. It made me realize how unhappy I was with myself and how that transferred over to my relationship. If you have insecurities about yourself, lack confidence in yourself, second guess yourself-- you are going to end up projecting that onto the person you spend most of your time with. This can ultimately ruin your relationship. I mean who wants to be with a person who questions every move you make? Or who needs constant reassurance and attention? Or pushes you away every chance they get?

I think we can all admit that at one point or another we've gotten so wrapped up in finding a significant other that we lose part of ourselves along the way. We can become so desperate to have someone in our lives that we begin to neglect our own happiness. We focus so hard on finding someone to depend on that we end up forgetting how to be independent. You need to find balance. You need to find stability. It is possible to both love yourself, but also love another person and your relationship.

4-Learn how to say "no". Say no to boys (or girls) who don't respect you, say no to friends who take advantage of you, say no to people who don't deserve a yes. If there is anything I've learned about myself, it is that I have never been good at saying "no". Growing up I've constantly found myself being upset over someone using me, disrespecting me or taking advantage of me. Little did I know, I was allowing them to do so. I wasn't standing up for myself. I wasn't saying no. I used to be afraid to say no... I used to think if I said no I would lose people who I thought were important to me. If only I realized then what I know now, which is that those people didn't and don't deserve to be in my life. If someone can abuse your generosity, character, kindness- they don't care about you. If someone can manipulate your emotions, thoughts, actions- they don't respect you. You have to realize that saying no doesn't make you a bad person... it makes you a strong person, a smart person, a happy person.

With that being said..

5-Accept people for who they are. I've always struggled with this because I'm the type of person who always try to see the good in people even if they give me absolutely no reason to. I believed in the saying "treat others the way you want to be treated". The reality is-- not everyone is going to treat you the way you treat them. Not everyone is going to love you as much as you love them. Not everyone is going to respect you the way you respect them. Not everyone is going to have as big of a heart as you do. Learn that, accept that, and stop holding people to a standard that they are never going to reach. You are only setting yourself up for disappointment. Once you learn to see people for their true colors, you learn how to determine who deserves a spot in your life. You learn who is worth your time and who is simply not.

And last but not least,

6-Stop caring what people think of you and it will change your life entirely. People are going to judge you whether you are smart, dumb, tall, short, skinny, fat, white, black, blonde, brunette, loud, quiet, old, young. So honestly, WHO REALLY CARES!!!! Think about it, someone out there is judging you for something you cannot control and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.... so forget it. Dress how you want, eat what you want, do what you want, be with who you want, act how you want, say what you want, look how you want. Be blunt, be straightforward, if you love someone- tell them, if someone brightens your day- tell them, if you want someone in your life- tell them. You never know what is going to happen so live your life the way you want to. Be yourself. Don't let the opinions of others control you. I'm telling you, when you come to this realization your life becomes brighter. You start living with no regrets, you stop second-guessing your every move, you stop revolving your life around others perceptions.

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