As I'm approaching my 20th birthday on 20 March, I've taken the time to reflect on what I've learned so far in my life. I've travelled, I've volunteered, I've taken a gap year and I'm now finishing my first year at University studying English and American Literature and Sociology.
1. It's okay to change your mind
I have... lots of times. From taking a gap year to my degree choice. I don't regret any of my choices.
2. Think happy. Act happy. Be happy.
Sometimes acting happy and confident will help create the fact.
3. You CAN pick your friends.
We're not in high school anymore and at university you have the chance to start fresh. You will meet people who you instantly click with; who like the same music and films and books as you and there's the chance you'll meet people who you aren't so fond of. That's okay. The best part is you can honestly pick and choose who you would like to fit into your life. As Oprah Winfrey said; "Surround yourself only with people who will lift you higher."
4. Only you can measure your success
I had some friends who decided that university wasn't the place for them and they found full-time employment. Some decided to do an apprenticeship and while you may feel like your parents won't approve or you're letting your teachers down the truth is; only you can measure your success. When it comes down to it, you are the one living the life that you create for yourself. Choose something you enjoy and the chances are you will be more successful at it.
5. You can't predict the future
I've always had a 'five year plan' however even I couldn't of predicted that I would fall in love at the most unexpected time with the most unexpected person over the summer.
6. Unexpected moments are the most memorable ones
As I was waiting for a lecture to begin, in the first few weeks of university, I spoke to a girl standing alone, like myself. That girl is now one of my closest friends and she will be one of my housemates next year.
7. You don't have to yield to peer pressure
I'm not a big drinker and I'd never set foot into a nightclub before attending university. I was worried that people would judge me, or worse, pressure me into doing either. However, when asked numerous times during Fresher's week to go partying, I declined. I found the strength to say no and I've found most people respect that.
8. Trust yourself
Explicitly. Wholly. Always.
9. Take a chance
Join the Harry Potter society even though you don't know anybody. Apply for the job you think you'll be good at but don't have much experience in. You never know what will happen.
10. Wear the red lipstick
Don't feed into the stigma that's attached with certain beauty treatments or fashion accessories. Be yourself.
11. Be organised
Keep to a schedule while taking organised breaks and above all, stick to deadlines. As I read on a module guide; "No one died from handing in an essay early."
12. The importance of 'me' time
Invest some time in yourself. Be it alone or with friends, make sure you do what you love and you'll instantly feel renewed.
13. Read... lots
It doesn't matter if it's online or in paper form. Just read.
14. Learn something new
Academic fact or general trivia; make sure you keep your mind active and alert to new things.
15. Stay connected
It's easy to remain in a bubble when you're at university. Don't rely on Facebook or Twitter for filtered news; ensure you stay updated with world events from reputable sources.
16. Write a letter
Put pen to paper and revel in the moment you seal the envelope shut and send it to its receiver.
17. Date a range of guys
I'm not telling you to sleep around but if you're doing to date; don't worry if your parents would disapprove or your friends don't like him. Even guys that are 'wrong' for you will teach you something about yourself and about what you do and don't want from a relationship.
18. Be open minded
I did a body shot. Yes, a body shot, at Halloween. You're young. Enjoy this time.
19. Try something new
Whether it's a new food or listening to a new genre of music, be active in your growth as a person. Your older self will thank you for it and you never know- you might actually like it.
20. Family is gold
Keep in contact. Call, email or Skype your family regularly. Keep them updated and make them a priority in your life. You never know when you may need their advice, support and love.