Lessons For My 21-Year-Old Self

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Left: 21-year-old Val enjoying a cup of gelato in Rome. Right: 28-year-old Val at an MBA brunch.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading through some of my older blog posts. For those of you who are new here, I actually joined the blogosphere in 2010 as a freshman at UCF, with my blog’s focus more heavily geared toward relationships and college advice. It has been fun to look back at my earlier posts and think about where I was at that particular stage in my life and what was important to me.

One of my favorite posts I came across was a list of lessons I wrote to my 16-year-old self, courtesy of my 21-year-old selfIt feels like a lifetime agoand yet, I can remember vividly who I was dating, which friends I spent the most time with, what my struggles were, and where I hoped I would be someday. A lot has changed in the past 7 years — I’ve graduated with my BA and my MBA, I’ve been working in community engagement for several years, I’ve gone from hosting theme parties in the dorms to hosting baby showers, and the list goes on. Because of all the changes that life inevitably brings, I’ve decided to revisit my old post with some lessons to my 21-year-old self from my now 28-year-old self.

  1. You won’t completely forget the one that got away, but you’ll look back on the relationship with fresh eyes.
    At 21, you knew that your high school crush was ancient history, but the guy you fell for in college? That’s another story. You’ll be heartbroken when the relationship inevitably ends, and rightfully so — he was your first real love. You’ll also find yourself in some not-so-sunny relationships in your twenties, and start to look back at that college relationship through rose-colored glasses. But with time comes perspective, and you’ll start to remember the cracks in the foundation: the arguments you had, the tattoos you hated, the fundamental differences that pulled you apart. And then, something miraculous will happen: you’ll realize that you were, in fact, the one that got away.
  2. Making friends as an adult is a lot harder than it is as a college student.
    Some of the friends you make in college will be your friends for life (or at least until age 28 — jury is out on what happens next!). However, as everyone parts ways for graduate school, career moves, and relationships all across the country, those friendships will require a lot more TLC. Be open to meeting new people and exploring new friendships, which will be harder as an “adult” but still important for maintaining your sanity and quality of life. Talk to people you meet at work functions, go to places and events that interest you, and continue to be authentically yourself.
  3. Social media will stick around longer than you think.
    You may now split your time between Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the occasional Snapchat, but your pictures will survive online for a lot longer than you realized at 21. Now, you’ll not only laugh at what you wore or how you styled your hair, but even more so at what you posted and how you captioned it. Embrace this and be kind to your younger self — college was a weird time. 🙂
  4. You still don’t have to know what you want to be when you grow up.
    Don’t pigeonhole yourself. There are jobs that exist that you aren’t even aware of right now, so it’s important to keep learning, be open, and build your relationships. You’ll grow into whatever you end up doing, so my best advice is to say yes to the things that interest you, challenge you, and scare you, as long as they fit within your values. Learn to say no when you need to, and set boundaries when the situation arises.
  5. You won’t fit every expectation you had for yourself at 16, at 21, or at 25.
    At 28, my life is not what I pictured in high school or college. It has evolved in ways I never expected, and that’s great! As a college student, I never imagined that I would be invited to public speaking engagements, attend blogger events, or do half of the cool things I get to do today. Life will always be full of surprises. Embrace the unpredictable and keep saying yes to the things you love.

What would you tell your 21-year-old self?

Link Love September: Salvador Dalí, Trader Joe’s, and Environmental Consciousness

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Happy October! To me, there’s always something poetic about the first of the month taking place on a Monday. It feels more than ever like the time to begin anew, and I’m excited to see where the month takes us. September was a great month — I spent time with family, celebrated my birthday, checked a few items off my 28 at 28 bucket list, took a mini vacation, made an on-field appearance at a UCF football game, practiced yoga with baby goats, and much more — so here’s hoping the adventures continue in October.

What have you been reading lately? Check out some of my favorite links from September and share your own favorites in the comments section.

What links are you loving this month? Sound off in the comments below!

Link Love Wednesday: Christmas Dinner at Hogwarts

85fcbf058d017908542b481c196b3daf32c7d45244d2a52e65a5c29acabf7ffb_1Happy Wednesday, readers! It’s almost October and you may have noticed that my posts dropped off quite a bit for the month of September. In that time, I launched my very own fantasy football league, turned 25, taught Junior Achievement classes at a local high school, started a new fitness program, spoke on a business career panel at a local community college, spent lots of time with friends and family, and hung around the mall much more than I’d care to admit. September was a busy month! 🙂

October isn’t slowing down, but I hope to have more posts for you as we make our way into fall. In the meantime, take a look at this week’s Link Love, and feel free to add your own favorites in the comments section below!

Things I’m Loving Lately

  • Getting my morning news updates from The Skimm each day.
  • Why Not Me?the latest book release from Mindy Kaling. Fantastic read!
  • Fantasy football — in particular, the impossibly handsome Julian Edelman.
  • The Mathematics of Love, by Hannah Fry, which relates mathematical theories to dating and relationships. It’s a fascinating read and I’m tearing through it!
  • Kate Spade online flash sales.
  • Community. Why didn’t anyone tell me over the past six years how great it was?

What are your favorite links and articles from the week? Sound off in the comments below!

Link Love Wednesday: 23-Year-Old Edition

online datingHappy November! The temperatures have gotten lower, the Halloween candy is gone and the pumpkin-spiced drinks are in full bloom, so it’s starting to feel a lot more like fall around here!

This week’s roundup delves into a few of life’s greatest mysteries. Kidding – just a few interesting articles to get you through the week!

  • Having just celebrated my 23rd birthday in September, I can’t help but relate with these soul-crushing truths about being 23, as I’m sure many 20-somethings will.
  • Which professions have the most psychopaths? Here’s hoping that your career doesn’t pop up on this listing!
  • This article discusses why online dating can be a good thing.
  • Of course, this article suggests that online dating is making us miserable in our love lives because of the number of choices available to us. What are your thoughts?
  • For many of us, middle school was a miserable time in our lives. This BuzzFeed list reminds us of the things we are definitely not missing out on, now that we are all grown up.
  • I stumbled across this site, Forty Days of Dating, a few days ago and was completely glued. Two friends in New York with completely opposite relationship problems decide to date as an experiment for forty days, and the lines between friendship and love become increasingly unclear. You will want to stick around till the end!
  • Looking for a good read? This article will guide you to a classic book you’ll love based on your TV preferences.
  • The most retweeted tweets of all time will give you a greater insight into social media and society itself. (Sad to know that more than one of these tweets came from a member of One Direction!)

Any great articles this week?

Link Love Wednesday: From Goosebumps to Mr. Darcy to Miley

GoosebumpsHope everyone is having a beautiful week and a lovely October – I know I am! With the fall now here and the weather finally beginning to cool down, it’s time to lounge outside on the porch and check out some of the latest interesting links to hit the web. Enjoy!

What are some of the interesting articles you’ve picked up this week?

Link Love Wednesday: Ashton Kutcher and Rejection

ashton kutcherThe past few weeks at work have been completely packed, as we gear up for the fall semester. From a football kickoff luncheon to several all-day tabling events, I’m loving my job but completely ready to unwind with some Link Love. What are some of the fabulous articles and blog posts you’ve been reading lately?

Link Love Wednesday: Brackets & Buzzwords

jargon_push-envelopeHope everyone is having a wonderful week! I can’t believe the first week of fall semester is about to begin, and for the first time ever, I’m not enrolled in classes! Coincidentally, my schedule at work happens to be at its busiest yet, only to get crazier next week. Because of that, I find it more important than ever to uncover some interesting articles and links to de-stress and maintain a fresh perspective! 🙂

What are some of the best articles you’ve come across lately?

Link Love Wednesday: 20 Before August Edition

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Happy Wednesday! Can you believe it is almost August?

This feature, Link Love Wednesday, was postponed after a series of difficult Wednesdays throughout June and July. However, this week, I wanted to share a few interesting articles I found – especially pertaining to our age group of twenty-somethings!

  • This list of 21 Secrets for Your 20s is fun, practical and easy to relate to your own life. The blog post even inspired a book!
  • Thought Catalog posted a list of superpowers that 20-somethings don’t actually have. If you’re part of this age group, you will probably laugh your way through it, as many of these will apply to you or your friends.
  • Where would we be without one more article about millennials? This article talks about the things that millennials just don’t get. What are your thoughts? (Personally, I can’t stand all the negative commentary that people have about our generation – I think some of it is blown way out of proportion or incredibly misguided! I also think that a lot of this article would pertain more to someone starting out in a new job, rather than specifically to all young people.)
  • Take this quiz to find out if you can tell the difference between quotes from The Bachelorette and Taylor Swift lyrics! (I am proud to say that I earned 100 percent on this one!)
  • Check out the cast of Edward Scissorhands, then and now. The movie (one of my favorites) came out the same year I was born, so it is interesting to see how much has changed since then for many of these actors and actresses!
  • Flavorwire recounts several children’s book film series that failed to become the next Harry Potter franchise. (I was a huge fan of A Series of Unfortunate Events, by the way!)
  • There is a Twitter-themed hotel in Spain, where you can flirt and interact with other guests by tweet and hashtag. Personally, I would prefer if a guy actually walked up to me instead of just mentioning me through social media, but to each their own!

What are some of the interesting articles you came across this week?