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Dear 20-Year-Old Me

09/01/2015 03:01 EDT | Updated 09/01/2016 05:59 EDT
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Women at beach having quiet moment

Something about turning 20 made me feel absolutely grown. Maybe because I was fresh out of my teens. Or maybe it was because I was about to finish college and had my first apartment. Aww my first apartment. I had the ugliest living-room ever. I still have no idea where that burgundy velvet sofa came from. Oh, and I had green carpet. Don't judge me, I was college poor.

It was an amazing time. You couldn't tell this Dr. Carter G. Woodson reading, Zeta loving girl anything! My college years were everything. I don't have any regrets, but if I had the chance to whisper some wise words to the afro-puff rocking young Shanita I would do it. I would join her as she ate Papa John's Pizza and rocked out to Lauryn Hill and dish out the following heads up about life:

1. Selecting a person to marry will be one of the biggest financial decisions you will make. Before you get all sensitive on me just listen. Yes I believe in marrying for love. That doesn't negate the very business element of a marriage. It's a huge merger. A merger is when two CEO's agree that joining together is in the best interest of both their companies. Do you think you will ever read a headline that states "Apple just merged with The Dollar General"? Now, I'm not saying only marry somebody with money. I am saying marry someone who has the drive, mentality and skill-set to help you build an empire. Be stronger because of what they bring, and not weighed down because of what they lack.

2. A degree is NOT a golden ticket. You're going to need a lot more than that piece of paper in the real world.

3. You can't pass a JOB onto your children. There is nothing wrong with working hard for a company with a mission you believe in. Give it your all and excel. However, when you retire or die make sure you've established something your children can inherit. While you're getting experience, making money and enjoying your job, don't forget to build your own empire on the side. Write that book. Start working on that side business, until it can become the main business.

4. One day Sallie Mae won't let you be great so you should probably strip your way through the remainder of college. I'M JOKING...about the second half. Use some of your summer job money to pay for school. Student loans are a mixed blessing. One day you will get your first job and the salary will be less than your loan balance.

5. Getting to know yourself better and understanding your purpose will help you select a suitable mate. Trying to select a mate before you understand your purpose is like getting dressed in the dark. When the lights come on you may find that things don't match.

As I write this list it doesn't foster any ill feelings regarding current life decisions. I've actually made some good choices on the road to adulthood. However, for everything on this list 20 something Shanita didn't know, the grown-up me will pass the information along to my daughter. Besides, I'm still breathing and growing so I have the opportunity to learn and apply tons of lessons. Give me some time and I will make a great list of tips on how I became a complete powerhouse ;-)

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