Somebody told me a picture of me when I was nine years old could've been taken yesterday as an 18-year-old. It was an exaggeration, but I personally believe I didn't "glow-up" physically. My most dramatic change has to be my personality and my values. Take it as a more personal 10-year challenge, 1 lesson I learned since I was 9 years old.
1. Learn to see your own potential
Honestly, my self-esteem plummeted immediately in 3rd grade when my teacher refused to put me in the "Gifted and Talented" program. Probably because she didn't like me very much after I accidentally called her favorite student chubby. But since then, I thought I wasn't smart or talented.
I just knew I enjoyed music, dance, and stories. I never thought I was exceptionally good at it. I only learned recently during my senior year that my third-grade standardized test scores were actually very impressive and that my teachers didn't encourage me as they should have.
2. Learn from others
I started to take ballet seriously because of my ballet teacher. At first, I applied this purely to dance, by listening to other corrections, even if they weren't directed for me. It paid off because I grew as a stronger dancer. My parents recently reminded me to learn from people and their experiences too, not just research and other personal anecdotes online.
3. Being honest is easier than keeping up a lie
I might like stories but making one up to get out of a tricky situation doesn't help at all. The only time I am okay with lying is if I never catch it, which is usually a rare occasion. It's just better to come clean because at least the truth is honorable, maybe a little embarrassing, but it won't kill relationships and trust.
4. Being the bigger person is easier said than done
The truth to "being the better person" isn't satisfying in the fact that you've gotten even, but knowing you're better morally to sink down to that level. It's definitely a battle when you want to call people out and confront them, but harsh impulsive words do more damage to you later.
5. Anxiety is real and shouldn't be ignored
My first panic attack was extremely overwhelming. The best way I can describe it was "feeling stuck" and unable to breathe. I felt like I was out of my own body. Later, I kept trying to ignore those uncomfortable feelings, but it escalated to anger. Confronting negative emotions is difficult and sometimes feels lonely, but at the end of the day, you come out as a stronger person.
6. Trust your gut
At this point in my life, I was deciding to go to a technical school. I was torn between two programs, dance, and film, at the same school or just staying in my hometown instead. I knew deep down dance and media were passions of mine, but at the same time, I knew I wasn't ready to dedicate myself to them completely. It worked out for the best because I was able to branch out and experience more than just my concentrations
7. Genuinely nice people exist
8. Don't set expectations, but keep standards high
Standards are significantly different from expectations. Standards are more about the quality and expectation is how you want to be treated or want to happen. Setting the latter too high is a sign of entitlement. Standards measure a person and what they want from life. More likely than not, persona high standard, strong willpower, and no expectation lead to less pressure and a better experience.
9. Choose who you call your friends wisely
Unfortunately, friendships don't last forever. Whether it's you lost touch or had a bad falling out, friends do not make me cry, make me question if you're unloveable, make me doubt my self-worth. Some friendships can never be fixed, but it does not make either party a bad person. Consider the relationship had an expiration date and move on to people who truly want to be around you and appreciate your presence.
10. Alone doesn't mean lonely
Loneliness was my biggest fear, but then it turned into independence, which ended up being one of my strengths. I can proudly say I lived through one of my worst fears. I really learned how to appreciate my personal space, privacy, and my own thoughts.
All of these lessons are a work in progress. I'm constantly trying to improve myself as a person and know I have a long way to go. The adults in my life have always called me wise for my age, but I hardly think so.