21 things I learned at 21

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Well that was fun, I guess. In just a couple more hours, I’ll begin my slow, torturous ascent into post-21-year-old adulthood, a land of ruin devoid of girlish joys. Abandon all hope, folks. My goose is cooked and my best years are behind me. I’ll be just another shell of a human being slithering this earth looking for a glimmer of promise at the bottom of a cosmopolitan on a weeknight.

In all seriousness, 21 was by far my most transformational year yet. I feel like a fucking platinum blonde butterfly slowly emerging from a coddled, naive cocoon.

OK, let’s try that again — I feel like I had never truly met myself until this year. Funny how being on your own will do that.

So without further ado and tomfoolery (Who am I kidding? My entire life is tomfoolery), here are in no particular order:

– 21 things I learned at 21 – 

1. Cats are literally the best thing ever. Period. The end.

pride

“Juno baby” has undoubtedly become a staple in my vocabulary. I’ve come to adore living alone, which I’ll go more into later, but she gives me just the kind of sweet company I need. This curvy, spunky girl is the light in my darkest hour, my ray of sunshine. She’ll follow me around and meow until I pick her up. And she comes scampering when she hears me unlock my apartment door — every day is a high-intensity game of getting past my arms to run a short distance down the hall, only to stop and look up at me questionably. But I really think she’s just trying to help me talk to my cute musician neighbor. Smooth kitty to the rescue.

2. I don’t like cooking.

cooking

I try, but it always seems to go this route. Bon appetit, bitches.

3. Always, always tour before you rent.tower

Or Holy Hell, find someone to go for you if you can’t. Housing was a struggle when I moved to Gillette. There wasn’t much available at that time, except for mostly outrageously expensive options (to me, anyway). So for what I’m paying now for what I would consider a pretty nice space, I got a hole in the wall with discolored water, faulty plumbing and treacherous, decrepid stairs with at least three registered sex offenders in the complex. But hey, it was a place! And I wasn’t going broke paying for it. Plus, everywhere I move from here on out will feel like a goddamn palace by comparison.

4. Jalapeño popper burgers solve anything.

popper

I’m anxiously awaiting one tomorrow night (although nothing does it quite like Point After). Get in my belly.

5. Don’t feel like you need to race through college at the speed of light.

cup

Do I regret technically graduating as a junior? Definitely not. I’m debt-free, which is just a tad bit insane at (almost) 22. I’m very grateful for that and everyone/everything that got me there. It’s allowed me to freely adventure and “find myself,” I would even say. But do I think I could have explored my passions more thoroughly with more time? Oh fuck yes. Do I wish I would have studied abroad? Goodness gravy, yes. But at the same time, I was bound and determined to take on as much as I could, be as time-efficient as possible and squeeze the pennies. At the time, there’s no way you could have convinced me to stay another year. But not all is lost, I know. I could always go back to school someday if I wanted to explore more options — and I’d be lying if I said grad school didn’t still cross my mind from time to time. And as far as traveling abroad goes, I plan to get on that ASAP.

6. Silence is beautiful.

silence

It took me until this year to truly appreciate peace and quiet. I never used to be able to stand a second without some kind of music, talk radio, TV, etc. buzzing in the background. In fact, I couldn’t really concentrate without the chatter. But I can finally appreciate a few hours alone with my thoughts. When I’m in the car now, I often find myself reaching for the radio dial only to pull my hand away. Sometimes you don’t need all that noise.

7. Being alone is wonderful.

book

In that same vein, I can finally appreciate being by myself. Just being. I’ve always been a social being — and still am. I enjoy good conversation and shenanigans just as much as the next gal. But that doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes sit at my work desk practically salivating over the thought of getting home alone in the quiet to read or get engrossed in some “Bates Motel.” I  somehow used to be turned off just at the idea of getting fast food by myself. Now I’ve come to love not just that, but sitting down at a diner, going to a movie or getting out of town solo. It’s refreshing, relaxing and all that other good stuff. I’m even looking into planning my first solo vacation, but that’s a story for another time, kids.

8. It’s never too late to reconnect.

fuzzy

If there’s something you need to say, say it. Don’t let time keep you from telling people how you truly feel.

9. Whatever you do, do it confidently.

confident

I spent a good portion of my teen years fumbling around in what some may have considered a timid, endearing way. But getting out on my own, now more than ever, has taught me that you just can’t give a flying fuck what people think of you. You’ll ruin yourself if you do. I’ve been fortunate enough to have strong female managers in my first two jobs, which is outright amazing. I’m awkward by nature, but I like to think I’ve gotten better at going after what I want and owning it. Do no harm but take no shit, as they say.

10. Some things never change.

slim jim

It was lunch. If there’s one thing I’ll never quite be able to kick, it’s processed beef/pork/mechanically separated chicken product. I grew up on it and can scarf one of those suckers down in 5 seconds flat and not even feel bad about it. Heaven.

11. Angels are around every corner.

devils tower

Shirley was one of the very first people I met in Gillette, and she welcomed me into her beautiful family like I’ve never seen before. To Shirley, Josh, Ethan and Gracie — thank you for your kindness, all the adventures, advice and inside city employee info 😉 (plus all the delicious dinners and Mountain Dew!). It will never be forgotten. And if I’m ever passing through, you know I’ll be calling! ❤

12. Red hair fades way too fast.

8.jpg

But it’s fun and sassy while it lasts.

13. It’s OK not to know.

big sky

I used to think I had it all figured out. To be fair, a lot of other people did, too. I thought I had my entire career mapped out, knew exactly what I wanted and how to get there. And woah, big shocker … now I don’t. But you know? That’s alright. We’re all just trying to guess and get by on this crazy ride — and no one makes it out alive. I might not know what I want to do with the rest of my life, but it’s pretty good right now, and that’s all you can really ask for.

14. True friends are rare and fabulous individuals.

rain

I don’t keep many close female friends, but this chick is a wonderful, hilarious exception — and the reason I’m currently in Iowa. Thank the lord for Communication Theory, the fluff class that brought our madness together.  I’m so lucky to have a cool cat like her who I can confide in about anything and not feel judged, but who is honest enough to tell me when I’m being more naive than usual. Let’s get caught in a rain shower again soon.

15. Blondes do have more fun.

blondes

I mean really.

16. No amount of casual dating can “fix” you

wedding.jpg

At 21, I engaged in what I like to call dating for sport ( I use the term “dating” loosely). And don’t get me wrong, I love it. I love meeting new men, different “types,” going new places and trying new things. I’ve probably had some of my most memorable adventures as a “Tinderella.”  I’ve hiked through the Black Hills, shot an AK-47, had a midnight burger in Los Angeles, went on a spring break road trip, gotten butterflies on the back of a motorcycle and slow danced the night away to Eli Young Band in Sheridan. (I’ve also gotten lots of free food and help moving furniture — no shame) But no matter how many outings you go on with how many people, you won’t be able to open up if it’s just not the right time in your life for something serious. Every damn time anything got close to being more than just a fling (even if that’s what I thought I wanted), I found an excuse, flaw or way out. But as I said before, I’m just starting to get to know myself, and as much like an excuse as it sounds, I’m not emotionally ready for a relationship. And that’s OK. Because I have a cat now. 

17. While I’m at it, #votetrumpgetdumped

trump

Simple as that. Ghosted.

18. Don’t feel pressured to take your first job offer out of college.

dirt pile

Despite what it may look like from the short time I spent there, I would NEVER in 5 million and a half years change running off to Wyoming a week after graduation. This isn’t about entitlement or being a millennial. It was my first grand solo adventure, I learned more in six months about the business than I did in three years of courses, met some amazing people and found out a shit ton about myself. BUT after a week on the job, I got calls back from places I had applied to months before in Arizona and California and felt like banging my head against the cement. Who knows if I would have actually gotten offers, and would they have been a better fit? Maybe — who knows. All I’m saying is I desperately did not want to be the college grad at home on the job search for months on end, so I chose the other extreme and went with the first plausible offer without doing much research at all. Don’t be afraid to take your time before jumping head first, but don’t be too timid either.

19. Tattoos are addicting.

tattoo

But oh so worth it.

20. Don’t take yourself so seriously.

backpack

Life flies by — soon I’ll no longer be “only 21,” one of the youngest in my first two workplaces. There’s no sense wasting it stressing yourself to the max . All that does is lead to “juicy bumps.” 

21. There’s so much to look forward to.

wine

21 was a year of constant change, chaos and mayhem for me — let’s face it, just the way I like it. Here’s to at least a few more — we can only hope. 

Peace, love & fairy dust,

YourKayla

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