20 Things I’ve Learnt In 20 Years

On Monday of this week I turned 20 years old. 20!! I am officially no longer a teenager. It may not be a milestone to many, but to me, entering my twenties is a big thing. I’m no longer a teenager but I’m not really an adult… yet.

There’s something about the transition from nineteen to twenty that makes me feel like I’ve aged ten years instead of one. I’m in my twenties. I don’t like it. I feel old.

I may not be old enough to know everything there is to know about life, but for my twenty short years I feel I’ve learnt quite a lot.

1. Family is important

The older you become, the more you begin to realise just how important family is. I’ve especially learnt this since moving away from home. I miss not seeing my mum and dad’s faces everyday and being able to hear their voices. I wish they could pack up and follow me on my travels but it makes it extra special when I get to go home and visit. I value my time more when I’m with them because I know it’s only for a few days here and there.

2. Sometimes you need to go it alone

Being an only child meant I spent a lot of time on my own and learned from a young age how to be independent. I wouldn’t change this quality for the world. If anything it’s my favourite quality. I could move to the other side of the world by myself and it wouldn’t phase me in the slightest. I learnt to do things for and by myself and I think sometimes you just need to up and leave and make a life for yourself before you become too settled.

3. You’ve got to put yourself first

Don’t do things just to please others. If you don’t want to do something, don’t do it. Simple as. Everyone is out for themselves, you might think they’re not but they are. You are the most important person and you should never do something that makes you feel uncomfortable or pressured.

4. Trust no one but yourself

It took a long time to learn, and my dad used to hammer this fact into me from a young age, but no one can be trusted. Even your closest of friends will let you down at some point. Have no expectations and you’ll never be disappointed. Be wary and keep your wits about you.

5. If you want something you have to go out and get it

Life doesn’t fall into your lap. If you want something bad enough, you’ll go out of your way to make it happen. So many people sit and let life pass them by and make no effort to get what they really want in life. We only have one life, you have to make it the best or you’ve wasted it. Be passionate, be eager and stay determined.

6. Don’t take any day for granted

Wake up early. You’ll feel so much better for it. Take everyday as it comes as it could all be taken away tomorrow. Cherish the time you have with your friends and family because they won’t be here forever. We go through life thinking we are eternal but life goes by in a flash and wouldn’t you rather look back and think ‘I achieved so much and had a great life’ rather than ‘I could have done more’?

7. Bad things happen so that you can learn from them

We all go through heartache. Weeks when we want to stay in bed and feel like we can’t go on. We think we’ll never get over it, but time truly does heal. At the time we feel like it’s the end of the world and nothing could ever make you feel better again, but it gets easier. A few months, years down the line you’ll look back at that time and realise you needed to go through that. You had to know what it felt like to be heartbroken and to feel that pain so you know how to cope when it happens again. You can also see the warning signs and know what to look out for. Everything in life is a lesson. It helps us become better people. Shit happens but it will be ok.

8. Do it for you, not them

Live your life for you. Don’t do things just to show off to others or to brag. Do it for the rush you feel and the fulfilment that you’re achieving something. Do it for you, as more than likely, everyone else won’t care. You think they do, but they really don’t.

You also can’t please everyone. You could walk on water just like Jesus and that still wouldn’t impress certain people. A good quote I once read was, ‘Pay close attention to the people who don’t clap when you win’.

9. Success is the best revenge

For those that ever bullied you, said you would become nothing, or just downright hurt you – get back at them by being super successful. For the people that didn’t believe in you, laughed at you or judged you – stick it to them. They’ll all come running once you’re living the high life and successful. Show them how much better you are without them. Let them know that they were your motivation for success.


10. It’s never too early to work towards the life you want

Plan. Have a two year plan, a five year plan and a ten year plan. Think about the future you want and plan how you’re going to get there. Be organised. Know where you’re going and when. Keep on top of your deadlines and commitments. It’s never too early to work towards your future. The earlier you start, the earlier you’ll get there. There is no downside to working for your future, only positives. You’ll be miles ahead of your peers when it comes to getting a job or being financially secure.

11. It’s ok to be single

You may feel like you’re constantly surrounded by couples but you’re so young! You’re only twenty years of age. You have your whole life ahead of you. If anything, being in a relationship would hold you back from doing everything that you want to. I plan to move to Dubai when I graduate. If I was tied down, that probably wouldn’t happen.

Enjoy your younger years by yourself, learn about yourself and set your standards high. There’s nothing wrong with having high standards. It shows that you know what you want and won’t settle for the sake of it. I see so many people settling at such a young age because they fear they might be alone if they don’t stick with the first person that comes along. Did you know there are 6 billion people in this world? There’s better fish out there than your next door neighbour.

12. Enjoy yourself!!

You’re young. You have very little responsibilities. There’s only so much time that your liver will be able to handle so many tequila shots. It baffles me that there are young people that waste their youth by sitting in every single weekend doing ‘uni work’. Let your hair down, go out and enjoy yourself before you have real responsibilities like a full time job, family or mortgage.

13. Step outside of your comfort zone

Life begins outside of your comfort zone. Face your fears. Do something you wouldn’t normally dream of doing. Take a leap of faith and exhilarate yourself. Imagine how proud of yourself you’ll be if you just do something. Don’t live a comfortable life, that’s boring. Challenge yourself, try something new, be adventurous. If it makes you nervous it’s worth doing. Usually the most scariest things are the most rewarding.

14. Your parents were right even when you always thought they were wrong

When you were younger, you always thought your parents knew nothing and were born in the stone age. But the older you get, the more you realise that your mum and dad were actually right about a lot of things. Your parents knew who was a good friend for you and who wasn’t. Making you eat your vegetables and turning the wifi off to make you go to sleep was actually quite a good thing. Everything they did was in your best interests. You may have thought the opposite at the time, but you’re thankful for it now.

15. It costs nothing to be kind

Be kind to everyone you meet. Who knows what kind of day they’re having. Even smiling at a stranger can make that person’s day. Hold a door open, let someone skip you in the queue if they have less items, give to charity. Just be a good person. It’s free.

16. Keep moving

There’s much more to see in the world than that town you grew up in. Move to another city, another country, another continent. Experience different languages, different cultures and different surroundings. If we fast forward to July I’ll be able to say ‘by the age of 20 I’ve lived in Northern Ireland, Liverpool and London’. When I finish my final year in Liverpool, I’ll hopefully be moving onto Dubai. If not Dubai, either America or Australia. I’m young and I want to move around as much as I can before settling down. More than anything I want to live somewhere warm. Goodbye rainy Ireland and England.

17. Love yourself, love your body

Growing up and constantly thinking about food and my weight was something I wish I could go back and change. My body image took over a lot of my life. Now I am at a stage where I try to eat as healthily as I can, but I also have the odd chocolate bar and takeaway every now and again. Life is about balance and everyone needs those ‘cheat days’. Just watch your cheat days don’t turn into cheat months.

18. I’ll probably die from a Diet Coke related illness

I’ve accepted my fate. I’ve drank that much Diet Coke over the course of my life that I could never see myself without it. You’ll see me in the newspapers in a feature on ‘the effect Diet Coke has on the body over 50 years’. I’m basically a human experiment without trying.

19. Learn to be patient

I am probably one of the most impatient people to walk this earth but I’ve slowly been improving. Anything I want, I want it yesterday. I get this itch inside of me that I need to see the world and travel by the time I’m 25. I feel that if I don’t go places now, I never will. But I’m starting to realise that I am only 20 years of age and I have my whole life ahead of me to travel. These countries aren’t going anywhere. Well who knows these days with global warming, but hopefully I’ll have time to visit.

20. Surround yourself with positive people

Being around negative people does nothing but bring you down with them. Surround yourself with positive and upbeat people and you’ll see life as a blessing, not as a burden. Spending time with those people who are annoyingly happy 24/7 – seriously, who can be that happy all the time?? – is a lot better than spending time with Debbie Downer.

236e2c2726e689d98c662a8e596621cdSo that’s 20 things I’ve learnt by 20 years of age. I’m now halfway to my forties – how scary is that?? I’m excited to see what my twenties have to bring!


A recent graduate of Business with Public Relations from LJMU, Orlagh works in the influencer marketing industry and has just returned to the UK after spending one year working in New York City.

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