22 Things You Should Know by the Time You Are 22

DISCLAIMER: I strongly suggest you to read my post on 19 Things You Should Know by the Time You’re 19. Not only has some insight of my 19 year old mind, but it also compiles with the new things I have learned in two years–wow, I’m old. Not seeing something on this list? I probably learned it at 19, so check that out! [shameless plug again]

Anyway, as I’m about a few days away from turning 22…
[Not feeling it like Taylor Swift, though]

…I’ve been reminiscing and looking at what my 19 year old self wrote almost makes me want to hug myself. I’m such a philosophical baby, and I haven’t changed that much, but I have learned a lot more since then! Not saying that now I’m an expert, but three years has been enough to trip over and get up again to share, once again, my piece of advice with you. Also, they need to be shared because they are things you need to know. Note that these are things I learned and believe you should learn, because 22 year old peeps are a year into official adulthood!

1- Be culturally open

As an international person, it is easy to expect diversity, but that doesn’t mean we’re completely open. When I came to the US, I was just 17 years old. I was really anxious about classes, but also about culture. I was in culture shock for a year, homesick for the second, accepting the third – and so on. I got to meet more people outside of my Venezuelan circle, bonded with my roommates, made friends in the organizations I was involved with. I feel like I just needed that first friend to open myself up.

2- How to be in a group

I also talk about this [here], but I’ve finally learned what being a good team member means. Right now I’m taking three classes based on group work, and I’m working with the same people until December for one of them. So what should you do in a group? You might have a specific task or position in this group, but you should always be able to communicate, not try to get ahead  by yourself and be willing to help on other things. Be open to help, but also do what you need to do. I used to be more helpful to everyone else than I was to myself.

3- Be a leader

This is probably one of the things I talk about the most – but it’s so important. Throughout my years of building and stepping my way up in my involvement, I’ve learned how to be an effective leader. These experiences have tremendously made me grow as a person and find a good fit in my life. And you know what? You’ll eventually be in charge of something – or someone’s boss. It’s good to start out early.

4- Get comfortable being uncomfortable

Everything. Is. So. Awkward. Every new situation you face may be awkward…it just has to be. However, you need to embrace that. It is that stage of uncertainty where we learn to adapt. So whenever your inner voice alerts you, put it aside, set a personal goal to reward yourself for being willing to immerse in said uncomfortable environment. It’s quicker if you just take the leap.

5- “You only need one reason to do something”

There could be 1001 excuses to not do something, but it only takes one good reason to be willing to do it. Just think about that one factor. Experiences are limited.

6- Effective research

Not necessarily the kind of research that gets you a publication, but just knowing how to look for things and go beyond what you learn in class. Why? Because the work industry – or even one or two classes in your college career – you will need to apply your own skills. What if you’re not that knowledgeable in what you’re required to do? You guessed it, you’d have to investigate. For instance, Senior Design starts with a given issue and we’re coming up with that solution ourselves. The class itself won’t help you do that, and you’re given a time-frame for this. Time to learn something new!

7- Understand mental health is important

Oh dear. Those all-nighters, all that stress, all the personal stuff… How can we handle all that? It’s hard, I know. There are people who manage through the stress and find a happy medium, and then there are people that struggle more to find it. It’s so important to be aware of what holds you back, why and be open with others – and yourself, most importantly – about it. I have learned, and I hope you – if you’re struggling mentally – are able to take this as a part of you, and work towards finding your own happy medium.

8- Put together a Resume

As an engineer, we’re required to create a resume our freshman year for the career fair. I remember mine was awful. It looked so boring I didn’t even want to look through it. However, I’ve been able to master it over time. You see, it’s good to at least have some sort of idea of what a resume looks like in your first years of college, find best practices, and organize all your involvement on this important piece of paper.

9- Survive by yourself in a different city

Ames (or wherever you are for college) doesn’t actually count. To explain further, I’ll talk about two things that happened to me last year:

  • First, I had difficulties coming back to Ames at the end of the summer. What was supposed to be a couple of two-hour flights from Florida turned out to be a three-day journey. I got stuck in New York when all flights were canceled. I couldn’t find a reasonable priced hotel (because New York, duh) and it was already late at night, so I ended up staying at the airport overnight. I was freaking out at first, but I started to feel a lot better when I started talking to people in the same situation. Next day, I get to Detroit and miss my flight back to Iowa, another night away.  Finally, I got back and it was glorious.
  • Later that year, I needed to go to Chicago – a city I’ve never been to – and stayed for two whole days. After turning in my paperwork, I strolled around Chicago and walked my way around the city until it was time to check out of the hotel and catch my flight back. However, the weather was so terrible all flights were delayed or canceled. “Oh look, a summer repeat! Neat!” I had a clearer mind this time and was able to solve all issues the best way I could think of

Moral of the story: Romina has really bad luck with fights. I definitely learned a lot of things in those short days. I put my independence to practice and was able to look at the silver lining of unfortunate situations. The first one felt like a project you procrastinate until the very last minute.

10- How to apply for a job

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to the career fair, or have gone online to look for different internship and job opportunities. The thing is, they all have the same formula…and it’s always good if you’re over-prepared.

11- Prioritizing

There is always a line between what you can do and what you can’t do at a time. You may want to do everything – or start with the fun tasks – but there needs to be an appropriate time and place. Learning to prioritize helps tremendously. I usually have lists going everywhere. On my laptop, on my phone, on paper. What needs to be done today? Start with that, and then work your way down that list.

12- How to use resources near you

Iowa State has many, many resources. It took me some time to realize I needed help on some things, and I’m glad Iowa State was there to help. You see, there is student individual/group counseling, tutoring, clubs and organizations, your advisers, etc.

13- How to use resources far from you

This pretty much goes along with doing effective research for yourself. If you need extra help, there are plenty of resources you can find. Nowadays is so easy to find a whole online lesson from that topic you can’t manage to quite get. Additionally, these resource also include your family and friends…reach out, they would do anything they can to help you succeed.

14- Know the appropriate amount of workload you can take

This goes with classes, outside activities, jobs, etc. Once you’ve tested what works for you and what doesn’t, you should be able to identify a suitable amount of hours you’d be able to concentrate on those. For me, I need lighter classwork.

15- Communicate

We all learned to talk more than half of our lifetime ago, so why do I bring this up? To be more specific, you should be able to communicate professionally. Years of emails, writing, planning, interviews, applications finally got me be aware of how to effectively communicate on different settings. You always want to think about your public. It’s all about how they may perceive your message, and you want to do it right – right?

16- You want validation

When you find yourself in a new group, but somehow can’t quite place what still feels off…you might not feel validated. I’ve found this to be 83%

[I just recently finished watching all How I Met Your Mother for the 3rd time – forgive me]

…of the case for me. When I voice an opinion or just talk, I want to be heard and validated. The comfort of being validated helps tremendously. And that is what I ultimately want out of someone. Well, in the past I just kept quiet, but I really learned how to speak up. It feels great! Realizing what you want and working towards that is really important for your personal growth.

17- How to deal with difficult people

[*laughs internally*] Life is full of difficult people. Some of them you need in order to complete something, and some of them you can just cut out – but it’s not usually that easy. Whatever the case is, smart argumentation is the way to go. For instance, if you have an indecisive peer in your group project that is holding you back, take the issue, analyze it, come up with a possible solution they can apply and let it be known. Be direct with the expectations of said task and the importance of completing it. Difficult people want success as well.

18- Get comfortable with your emotional self

I’m an emotional person. Very, very emotional. Well, sometimes we feel embarrassed to cry, laugh, fight or vent in situations we really, really want or need to. I used to feel that way, and as dumb as it sounds, it prevented me from showing my true self. Now? I’m an unfiltered bag of emotions, and I love it. Others are able to see how passionate I am about something (Dance Marathon), how serious and valid my opinions can be (leadership and group work), how life-changing the relationships I’ve made have been (friends, professors, mentors, etc.). It’s important to feel like you are able to be you. So don’t neglect that beautiful part of your beautiful self!

19- Inspire someone

I’ve had my fair share of leadership experience…and it has been amazing. When someone inspires you to be a part of something bigger than yourself, you’re given the power to do the same thing for someone else – and when you do, it feels great. The key of getting through some is making them feel appreciated, get to know what drives them and push them towards learning what they are able to do. Getting helps you get there.

20- College and success take hard work

I’ve talked about how college is entirely your responsibility before. But I also want to emphasize that it is not only your responsibility to attend, but also to work towards it. No matter how hard or long it gets, if you love what you are doing, all the hard work will be worth it. There isn’t really an “easy major.” I feel like that’s an insult to anyone going for what they love. One can’t really compare each if they all mean doing different things in life.

21- Accept help

I’ve talked a lot about getting help, right? Well, it deserves its own number, and I’ll focus on accepting. Sometimes I want to go back to my stubborn days and yell at myself. It probably took me way too long to learn this, but when you’re as stubborn as I am, it’s hard to accept you need to hold back and ask for help.

22- Say “Thank You”

This is common sense, but people take this for granted. I was taking it for granted until I saw how much of an impact it had on me. While you get to do bigger things for someone, it’s more likely to get a verbal thank you – but it is also important to recognize the little things.

If you haven’t learned some of these yet. Don’t worry. We all have our own learning curve and experiences, just be sure to understand and take in those lessons, because they’re important for your personal growth.

Just remember to be open to the many opportunities life gives you to help. Whether it is a person you learn something from, a negative personal experience – or a positive one, yay – an event you happened to stumble upon, etc. I’m personally glad to welcome my 22 years of life with what I feel is the best version of myself.

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