Blogmas Day 22 | 21 Things I’ve Learned by 21

Sadie & Sage dress

Today I turned 21 and, although I don’t physically feel any older, I’ve grown substantially over the past year because of my values and priorities. 2017 has felt like one long kick in the nuts and I don’t know how I would have survived without the people I love and the belief system I’ve established. Although to most people, 21 means legally getting drunk and gambling, I see another year of time spent with the ones I love, football games (please sign Kaepernick and hope Baylor does well in CFB), blog posts, travel, and finding new ways to stand against injustice and truly help people. While the political leaders and authority figures checked off nearly every box on their bigot list in 2017, I hope 2018 will bring me less anxiety and fear and more hope for a better future.

  1. Discover what you’re passionate about and pursue it wholeheartedly. As I’ve grown up, I realized that helping oppressed and marginalized people is what I love doing, so I’ve donated my money and time toward causes by which I’m inspired. 
  2. It’s okay to not be okay. I started seeing a therapist during my senior year in high school when my anxiety, panic attacks, and random outbursts of anger were drowning me and I’m thankful I asked for help when I did. There’s often a stigma around discussing mental health, but if I had a broken bone I would go to the hospital, so why not treat my mental state the same way? 
  3. Talking to my family everyday is one of the best gifts. It’s hard being away from the people I love 9 months out of the year and living alone, but I try to discuss my day and other topics with my family as much as possible so I don’t get lonely!
  4. Wear what makes you feel good. As soon as I saw this dress in store, I loved everything about it. But when I tried it on, I starting judging myself through the eyes of other people, even though I hadn’t even left the fitting room. I worried I was being too revealing, but I realized I loved this dress and it made me feel like $1,000 bucks and that’s all that matters. Even if your clothes aren’t what’s considered trendy or stylish, as long as you love it and it makes your eyes sparkle, wear the damn clothes. You’ll feel better that you did!
  5. Take more family pictures. As I put our holiday card together, I discovered we had zero family photos together from the past year. I know it’s difficult to remember pictures every time I come home from school, but we’re all getting older and it’s nice to have a memory of the family from each year.
  6. True friends are one of life’s greatest treasures. I don’t talk to my best friends every single day while we’re all away at school, but when we reconnect at home, it’s like no time has passed at all. That kind of friendship is rare and beautiful and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.
  7. Long distance relationships are a bitch, but they’re worth it. Being separated from Jacob for 3+ months at a time is one of the most difficult experiences I’ve ever put myself through. Even though we FaceTime multiple times a day and text all the time, I still feel like that’s not enough. I often wish I could reach through my phone screen and pull him through, but I try to remember how incredible our real time together will be. It’s painful to think about being apart from him but I hope that getting through the distance will make us stronger.
  8. If you have the opportunity to travel, just do it. I purchased a plane ticket to New York to visit Brandon and Parker back in March for Easter weekend and it was one of the best trips of my life! Exploring the city with my best friends for a few days revived my spirit after a long semester and I can’t wait to make our reunion an annual tradition.
  9. Don’t eat so much Chick-fil-A. My friends Lo, Jonathan, and I often go to Chick-fil-A for lunch (or dinner or for shakes only) and although the food is freaking delicious, the cookie pouch I now have on my belly isn’t cute. Maybe make a salad every once in a while in between nugget meals. 
  10. Take a break from the bad news every once in a while. 2017 was filled with shit news all day long every single day. With Trump and co. being actual Satan all the time, natural disasters in Houston and Puerto Rico, prominent men sexually assaulting dozens of women, North Korea threatening to nuke us poor kamaʻāina, congress constantly trying to kill us, police getting away with murder, California turning into hell due to huge fires, guns shooting through hundreds of innocent bodies, genocides in Syria and Yemen, etc., 2017 was horrible. I was on Twitter all day long, constantly refreshing my feed to see the newest tweet, death, and attack, and the news almost enveloped me. I always want to stay updated on what’s happening in the world, but not at the risk of my own mental stability. It’s okay to turn off the news and log off Twitter as many times as I want.
  11. Monetized sports can sometimes be pretty gross. After hearing NFL owners and supporters refer to Africa-American athletes as prisoners, I opened my eyes to how problematic the sports world can be. Many scholars refer to the NFL as modern-slavery and I now see it. I’ve watched rich old men make millions off of injury-ridden black and brown bodies while hating or disrespecting those very athletes themselves. The addition of Colin Kaepernick’s blackballing by NFL owners/coaches has turned me off from the game until these issues are changed. I still love football and I always will, but the operations behind the sport itself have adjusted my thought process completely. 
  12. The future is scary. I have absolutely no idea what I want to do with my future. I don’t even know what I’ll do this summer! Maybe I’ll apply to sports management programs after I graduate, or maybe I’ll volunteer with programs related to prisoners or politics. My anxiety often flares up when I think about my lack of direction, but I think that’s okay.
  13. Play more music as much as possible. I haven’t picked up my guitar lately, but when I do, playing brings my spirit up. I need to create more music in the next year!
  14. Don’t apologize for who you are (unless who you are is an asshole). I used to constantly ask forgiveness for being myself, crying, feeling “too much”, saying sorry, assuming I’m doing everything wrong, taking up too much space, sharing my personality and ideas. But now I’m saying eff that because there’s nothing wrong with who I am and I have to stop thinking the worst of myself.
  15. Forgiveness can sometimes be excruciating, but offering it to others is important. Even if I don’t want to forgive someone (and I usually don’t!), I try my best to take the first step in repairing or guiding a relationship. 
  16. Treat yo’ self from time-to-time. I’ll occasionally have a gel manicure or Brazilian wax when I want to feel pampered and having that time for myself is worth the money.
  17. Sentimental gifts are worth more to me than any diamond (although I do love me a nice diamond). I would rather receive a sweet picture, letter, or DIY gift from someone I love than a fancy product I won’t use as much.
  18. Dogs are the most phenomenal companions. When I feel lonely at school, Reggi instantly perks me up by cuddling with me and laying on my shoulder. Even though I’m alone, he makes me feel better when I take him for walks and when he keeps me company on the couch.
  19. Stop going to sleep at 4 a.m.! My sleeping schedule is always messed up no matter where I am. Nearly every day I’ll go to sleep at 2 or 3 a.m., take a four hour nap in the day time and repeat the process. Shit, hopefully one day I’ll find the strength to go to bed and wake up at a respectable hour.
  20. Always say how you feel, even if you’re scared or the timing isn’t right. Telling the people I love how I feel is important to me because I want everyone to feel cared about everyday. I’m often scared that I’ll suddenly lose someone dear to me, so saying “I love you” or “I care about you” makes me honest as much as possible. 
  21. Don’t “just get over it”. Whether the ‘it’ is sexual assault, police brutality, murder, corrupt politicians/leaders, racism, misogyny, or bigotry, don’t forget about how ‘it’ made you feel and how it changed you. After you recognize or discover what happened, do what you can to make a change and help others involved.