Photo Credit: the lovely, Alex Hawes.
I turn 18 today. What? I can’t believe it. I have lived for 6570 days — some good and some bad. Nevertheless, I have lived, survived, and learned. I have had the opportunity to be surrounded by a wonderful family, caring friends, and unlimited experiences. I am incredibly blessed.
I have been reflecting and have compiled a list — in no particular order — of 18 significant lessons I have learned up to this point in my life.
1. Less is more:
More effortless. More authentic. More significant.
3. You define you:
I often try to be the person people want me to be (why do I sound like a Disney movie?). However, as time has progressed, I am becoming more and more comfortable being me. A girl who thinks too much, reads her textbook too many times, eats too many donuts — and that’s perfect.
3. You can use your voice:
We have a significant opportunity. If you are reading this: you have a source of technology, you are literate, you are alive. Use these blessings to your advantage. The world is full of horrors, but you can use your power — knowledge, abilities, skills — and make a real difference in the world. You can — and will. (I sound like a self-help book. Haha!)
4. Success is not only hard work:
This one has taken me so much time to accept. Success is not only preparation, quality work, and confidence but also opportunity. You can’t get anywhere if someone doesn’t give you the map, and some people just don’t want to give you the map — even if you’ve earned it, unfortunately.
5. Things are not as they seem:
We live in the social media age, which means nothing is real. The pictures I will likely post from today will without a doubt be posed, forced, and created with multiple takes. That flawless girl you saw on Instagram — she’s probably doing her laundry right now.
6. Struggle is good:
There is something incredibly satisfying about succeeding after an immense struggle. If everything was easy, I would never appreciate the things in my life. Struggle puts life into perspective, and while my struggle is different from the next persons; it is still valid — and significant.
7. Parents are absolutely amazing and awful — simultaneously:
I love my parents — even when they don’t make sense.
8. Money can do a lot:
I always get irritated when people say money cannot buy love or happiness. Look at the economic conditions of the world, sir. Look at the way those in poverty and in broken communities are forced to live. Money can repair the structure of their lives. Money can buy them shelter, food, respect. Money can yield power.
9. Not everything happens for a reason:
I often hear people rationalize events by saying they were meant to be. However, we live in a tragic world where blood, death, adversity, and horror are all too common. The little girl who has lost her father from an act of terror or the mother who carries her dead son contain no justification. Sometimes things just happen. They cannot be explained. It makes me upset when people justify senseless murder.
10. It’s okay to dream:
I am very rational and level-headed. I have dreams, but I often talk myself out of them — because, well, they are not realistic. However, dreams keep you motivated, they make your life meaningful. Dream big, dream small. Dream.
11. Crying is fine:
As a society, we condemn people who cry and dismiss them as overly emotional or dramatic. Let me tell you, though, crying is cathartic, refreshing, and important. Get those feelings out. Grab a pillow. We all possess emotions; it’s healthy to express them.
12. Not everyone will like you:
Some people just don’t like you. There is no reason. There is no justification. Get over it — you are surrounded by people who absolutely love you.
13. Your health is paramount:
Take care of yourself. Please. You matter.
14. Confidence is key:
In order to do well on an exam, get a position, or meet new people — be confident.
15. Dessert always comes first:
This will not apply to everyone, but you can take it as a metaphor (or not — because I eat chocolate every single day. Seriously). Do what you love — and everything else will follow.
16. Plan B can be just as good as A:
I am a planner. My google calendar, planner, and notepad are full of tasks and goals. However, it is important to realize that things do not always work out. Bumps. Detours. Life. They all happen — embrace them.
17. I am trying, you are too:
I have all of these lessons written down, but the truth is I don’t follow all of them. I make mistakes, but I am trying — to be kind, to be open, to be better.
18. Being thankful is the easiest thing:
I cannot even put into words how truly grateful I am for the opportunities, people, and blessings in my life. I take so much for granted every day.
These lessons have guided me through my life thus far! I know, I know, super cheesy but also super authentic. I am way too introspective and often think about my experiences, life, and future. I have come to the consensus that I am an old soul grandma-type — is that good or bad?
On to the next year of my life!