I remember when I turned 19, pretty vividly. I thought I knew it all. Now I’ve realized, the more you think you know everything, the less you actually know.
Now I’m about to turn 23, and I know I still have so many questions unanswered. So many things to learn. But as my birthday nears, I’ve started to think about the things I have learned. The progress I’ve made. The things I’ve accomplished.
I decided to make a list of things I’ve learned over my 23 years, in hopes that y’all can relate, or maybe even learn something new. This is in no way saying I’m an expert on life. I mean, come on, I’m practically still an infant. Should be interesting to see what I’ll learn over the next 23 years. When I’ll be 46. Now there’s a scary thought.
(1) “Love is all you need.” On the surface, the Beatles song may seem kind of shallow. But love is the key to a fulfilling life. Showing love, feeling love, living love is necessary. Love is positive energy. It’s the law of attraction. Positive attracts positive. So in order to have the life you want, you have to show love.
(2) Happiness is a choice. Just like a positive mindset. It’s very easy to get caught up in the negatives, and the complaining. It takes practice to think positive, but it makes a huge difference.
(3) Change is the only constant in life. Everything changes. All the time. Accepting that change is inevitable saves a lot of time and energy. Let go of what was, accept what is, and embrace what will be.
(4) Find your passion. Pursue it. Life is too short to waste it with anything less.
Let the beauty of what you love, be what you do” -Rumi
(5) Life is not a popularity contest. Stop trying to impress. I can count on one hand my truest, and greatest friends, and that’s okay with me. It’s quality that matters, not quantity. Being well liked is nice, but that’s inevitable if you’re genuine, if you’re honest, and if you treat others with respect.
(6) Fear is a waste of energy. As a person living with anxiety disorder, this sounds pretty funny coming from me. But why waste your time worrying about things you cannot change? Being scared only wastes your energy; it will not prevent the inevitable, and more times than not, you’re scared of something that may not even happen.
(7) Gossip. It doesn’t make you feel any better about yourself, and it actually says more about you than the person you’re talking about. Why talk about what someone else is doing, when you could be doing something to better yourself.
Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter. And ruining Regina George’s life definitely didn’t make me any happier. All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.” –Mean Girls
(8) Break ups. They’re necessary. It’s very rare to find your person on the first try. How would you know the right one, if you haven’t dated the wrong one? They might be painful, but they should not be avoided. Speaking from experience, it’s better to break up and feel the pain in that temporarily, than to continue on suffering for an unknown amount of time. On the other side, don’t avoid a break up for the other person’s benefit. You’re only hurting them.
(9) Relationships, or as I like to call them, relation-shits. While we’re on that subject, do not let anyone make you lose sight of your own value. And ditch the one-sided relationships. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
(10) Honesty. One of the most respectable qualities in a person is honesty. Enough said.
(11) Always follow your intuition. Listen to that little voice in your head. Your gut is right almost 100% of the time. Unless you struggle with anxiety, in which case, you tend to over think. See #12.
(12) Over analyzing never helps anything. By thinking too much, I find that I create problems that didn’t exist in the first place.
(13) SLOW DOWN. What’s the hurry? Life is not a race; everyone has their own timeline. Your time for that dream job, your perfect person, and a family will come. Until then, enjoy the ride.
Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.” -John De Paola
(14) You cannot please everyone. There’s always going to be someone with something to say. You’ll spread yourself too thin by trying to make everyone else happy.
(15) Do not say yes to someone else, if that means you’re saying no to yourself. Don’t let people take advantage of you. Think of others, but don’t forget to think about yourself. It’s okay to be a little selfish once in a while.
(16) Your parents are your best friends, your biggest fans, and the ones with your very best interest at heart. As I get older, I appreciate my family more and more. It’s hard to think that there was a time where we didn’t get along. I can’t imagine not having them in my life, and I’m so thankful to have such amazing, loving, giving, and inspiring parents. And I hate to say it, Mom and Dad, but you were almost always right.
(17) Words have more power than you know. If you say something hurtful, that will stay with someone. I still remember things girls said to/about me in 8th grade. They’ll never understand the damage they did, and they may not even remember. Being a writer, I know the affect words can have. Think before you say things. You may say something you’ll one day regret.
(18) Forgiveness is healthy. Sometimes forgiveness is more important for yourself than for the apologizing party. And sometimes, the person that should be doing the apologizing may not. But learn to forgive. It’s not healthy to harbor hate, to harbor resentment. Learn to let go.
(19) Celebrate your uniqueness. Being different is a GOOD thing. Embrace your flaws and love yourself for who you are. Chances are, people will love you for your true self too. And if they don’t, screw ‘em. They don’t matter anyway.
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” -Dr. Seuss
(20) Don’t judge others. It doesn’t feel good when you’re being judged, so why do that to someone else? Chances are you don’t have the first idea about the person you’re judging, anyway.
(21) Learn to accept constructive criticism. That’s a tough one. We all hate hearing things we can improve, but how would you ever improve without hearing them? The people giving constructive criticism usually have your best interest in mind, too.
(22) Random acts of kindness. Who’s had a cup of coffee paid for by the time they get up to the drive-thru window? By far, one of the best feelings. Do these things for others. Make someone’s day. You never know how much it could mean.
(23) Mistakes are a part of life. Make them. Learn from them. Wisdom comes only from making mistakes. How do you think I really pulled 23 life lessons out of my ass? I didn’t. I made a lot of mistakes.
These are only a few of the things I’ve learned thus far on my journey. I’m sure there are things I did not touch on, and things I still remain ignorant to. I’ve got plenty of time and countless mistakes that I’m sure I’ll make, but I’d like to hear about your favorite mistakes or lessons learned. If you feel inclined, leave a comment below.
To live remains an art which everyone must learn, and which no one can teach.” -Havelock Ellis