Sunday, October 16, 2016

10 Things I Learned at 21

Happy birthday to me! So yesterday was my birthday Australia time, but back in the States it is technically my birthday so I think a birthday post is still pretty relevant.

The year of 21 felt unreal to me. I started off 21 super sick from jumping into the ocean in 50 degree weather, then went on to finish my Bachelor's degree, move to another country (and continent), get married, and pretty much adult to the fullest. I'm sure you get the picture of what this last year must have been like for me.

I've learned A LOT. I've learned a lot of practical things, but I've also learned lots of "life lessons" and things about myself as well. So without further ado, here are 10 things I learned at 21 (I originally was going to do 21 at 21 but this post would go on forever):

1. I learned how limited my alcohol intake is (BUT I've also enjoyed the journey of trying different things).
Okay, so I kinda already had an idea of this before 21, but since I then officially became legal to drink, I've drank and tried a few different drinks this year, but I've experienced first-hand that I really cannot handle too much alcohol. I don't like most of it anyway, but it's been fun trying different drinks and feeling so grown up in doing so as well, haha.

2. If you want to move to another country, you need to be committed to it.
Around this time last year I made the decision to move to Australia this past February. I decided that I would move not long after finishing school and surprisingly and miraculously, I made it. In about 4 months I managed to clean up my life in America, save up enough, and move to Australia.

I will be honest, it was probably one of the hardest times in my life. I had prayed a lot about moving & God had confirmed it in so many ways, but once I jumped on board with the plan fully, everything seemed to be going wrong. Issues with my classes in my last semester of school, not working as much as I had wanted in one job, forcing myself to have 2 jobs plus tons of extra side gigs at one point, roommate situations not working out, getting into an unexpected car accident, plus so many other things. It seemed like everything was going against me but I also knew in my heart that it was where I was meant to be. I'll talk more in depth on my journey getting here in a future post.

3. Just because people may disagree with a decision you make doesn't automatically make it wrong.
As a journalist, I would hear this quote that was something along the lines of, "if there's no controversy it's not true journalism" or something like that. Pretty much, it's saying that everything you write (or in this case, do) should say something and get people talking. If people are talking about what you're doing or saying (good or bad) you are getting people to think and have conversations about certain things. It also definitely means whatever you're doing isn't boring which suggests that you're doing something with your life.

Anyway, what I was trying to get at was that lots of people questioned the decisions I made this past year. Around this time last year I made what seemed like an impulse decision to move to another country that my then-boyfriend was living in right out of college with no money. I mean when people on the outside look at it, it can seem really cool but when you're living it or someone close to you is living it, it may look foolish. Especially if you're not even engaged to your partner.

I definitely didn't do things "traditionally" after college (aka get a full time career) which worried a few people in my life, mostly family. But in my perspective, I always did things "right"--I did really well in school, I participated in tons of extra curricular activities, I was involved with the local church, and I didn't party/smoke/drink. So to me, I wasn't doing anything wrong, it was just different.

I had to learn to be confident in my decisions because at the end of the day no matter what anyone said, I would be the one living with the direct consequences of my actions. & for me, I felt in my heart & soul & from God that I needed to make this change, despite what outsiders may have thought of it. It's been a long journey this past year learning to be more brave, but it has been so good, so healthy for me.

4. Marriage (so far) isn't as scary as people make it seem. 
Okay so granted, I've only been married just under 3 months, but I feel like the scariest part of the whole process from boyfriend/girlfriend to engaged to married has been dealing with backlash for getting married as young as I am (which honestly isn't that bad).

Maybe Darell & I are still in the "honeymoon stage" or maybe it's just because Darell & I have been together for so long already, but the adjustment period to marriage has been easy so far, and other than bickering that we do every now & again, we've been doing great!

I know that lots of people say that the first year of marriage is the hardest, but someone once also said it's healthier not to have that mentality because expecting it may actually make it more likely to happen. And it's stuck with me because my whole life, people have tried talking me out of marrying young (this was even before I met Darell and even before I ever considered marriage). People always said to me growing up that marriage meant that you couldn't do the things you wanted or it meant that children would happen not long after so marrying young would pretty much end my independence as we know it.

I will talk more about this in a future post but marriage isn't, nor should it be like that. Maybe it was the people in my life just trying to get me to accomplish something greater than myself, but maybe it was also their honest thoughts on how they view marriage, but either way it is not a healthy way of thinking and I suggest that you should learn to develop your own ideas & attitudes on marriage on your own as you grow & experience relationships & life.

5. Trying not to eat out every day when you work full time is actually really hard!
So I bring my lunch to work about 4 out of 5 days a week, give or take a day depending on the week.

Darell & I are trying to save money for major expenses we have but also just in case something comes up & we need it, so we've been setting aside a huge chunk of money every week & limiting eating out so that we can save.

It's pretty fun & I feel really accomplished bringing my lunch to work every day & saving myself $10-$15 a day because I'm bringing my own food, but the temptation to buy "freshly" (depending on where you're getting food from) made food, or even a snack or dessert to go with my meal is still there!

Sometimes I still buy a chai latte or a hashbrown from McDonald's in the mornings because I get whiny & antsy when I don't eat anything in the morning, especially if I have lots of time to think about it. I work in a retail store that is VERY SLOW in the mornings (like sometimes I'll be lucky if I can get people to even walk into the store before lunchtime) so if I don't eat, I'm just standing there thinking about my grumbling stomach until I can shut it up with a drink or some food.

Don't be like me. Save money. BUT, having said that...

6. It is very possible to live on half your income (if you work full time) as a married couple. 
Darell & I both work, but since he's in school most of the time, I work full time. To save money faster, I set aside almost half of my income into savings right when I get paid. I also set aside a small portion of what I get paid to tithe.

If you aren't familiar with tithing, it's the Christian ritual(?), for lack of a better word, of giving a portion of your best to God. This is usually what most people refer to when they think churches are just conning people to give money to the church. & unfortunately, some churches do that, but most churches will never force anyone to give money to the church. It's supposed to be about your heart & not how much money you give.

ANYWAY, with the income I have left over from setting aside all that money, I am still able to pay rent (in Australia it's weekly), buy groceries, & if Darell & I want, we can eat out a couple times a week. We can't eat nice food, but we can still eat decently if we get lazy one night. & what Darell gets paid pretty much goes to gas & anything he may need during the week. Or it can go towards us eating out as well.

So technically, we aren't *poor* or living that broke life at all, but we choose to so we can save up. If we didn't have to pay for school or bills that come every few months or whatever, we could live a pretty nice life. But I think we're just fine with how we live.

Shoutout to Buzzfeed for the inspiration for this recipe!
It got really sweet after a while but omg it was amazing.

7. Buzzfeed Tasty is my best friend for cooking.
Since getting married & moving into our home (that we share with roommates), I've been experimenting so much more with food since the kitchen we have is the kind of kitchen I've always wanted. It's not my dream kitchen but it sure is the nicest kitchen (and house in general) that I've ever had.

Listen, if you need recipes for anything, Buzzfeed Tasty is AMAZING! & their recipes are pretty on point & easy to follow if you keep replaying the parts you need over & over again. They have saved my life & also helped me really get into my desire of wanting to bake/make desserts from scratch.

(btw, this is in no way affiliated with Buzzfeed or Tasty at all, I just love their recipes!)

8. Many people actually think they're very entitled. 
I pretty much do the work of a store manager at my work, and from spending so much time with so many people, I've realized just how entitled people think they are.

People will damage a shoe because they walk a certain way & say it's a manufacturer's fault. (There isn't even anything wrong with the shoe beyond a couple scratches!)

Our return policy is that you can't return for choosing the wrong shoe. We have a sign in the store that says this & our receipts say you can't return. You can exchange, but not return. But people still come in demanding refunds because a shoe didn't go with an outfit. Sorry, not our problem!

Don't worry, I have a whole list of these that will also go into another post.

9. The best friends are the ones that you can go months without talking to but once you do, it's like nothing has changed. 
This is something I've always known, but moving away from my closest friends has really emphasized this & brought this to light. Because of differing schedules and time differences, it gets pretty hard to talk to some of my closest friends, but when I do get to talk to them, things feel so normal & it's great.

10. How to drive on the opposite side of the road.
As many of you probably know, Australia drives on the left side of the road while America drives on the right. I've had to learn how to drive on the other side of the road & while it's a little frightening because laws are slightly different here & roundabouts are everywhere, it's actually not that bad. I think it's good to be able to drive on both sides of the road so that no matter where you are, if you need to, you can navigate things yourself.


So I know this was a long post but 21 was a very pivotal year in my life, probably one of the most pivotal so far. So many changes, so much growth has happened in the last year. I only hope & pray to continue to grow & learn in all aspects of my life this upcoming year. Here's to 22!

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