As of today, December 9th, I've been alive exactly 6,815 days. And, according to the average life span of an American woman, I have approximately 23,501 days to go. With my life nearly 1/5th of the way over, I've decided to compile a list of the eighteen most valuable things I've learned during my eighteen years on the planet. Everyone's experiences are different; this list is in no way universal. Looking back, I'm happy to say that I feel like I have a solid basis to build the rest of my life on, so I can continue learning for as long as I can.
1. It's okay to be wrong.
Sure, admitting that you aren't right can hurt. But, there's so much you can learn from other people and their points of view. Sometimes being wrong can lead you to look at something from an entirely new perspective. That, to me, is one of the most exciting parts about life.
2. There's nothing wrong with not having a "friend group".
In the age of "squad pics" and online articles about how having a friend group is the best thing ever, this seems like a very unpopular opinion. Having a solid group of friends is fantastic, and it can carry you through some of your most difficult times. Realistically, though, not everyone is going to sail through life with a cohesive group that always stays the same. Friend groups change. People change. And one day, you might find yourself feeling completely different from the people around you. Don't let that get you down. If you have to go it alone for a while until you find your tribe, it's not the end of the world.
3. Don't try to stop yourself from standing out.
For the longest time, I carefully crafted my appearance to match as closely as I could with my peers. Fitting in was absolutely everything to me. Then, I got to college. I saw people with multicolored hair, people wearing no shoes, and hordes of students mulling about campus in fuzzy pajama bottoms. Surprisingly, no one said a word. That's when realized that nobody really cares. Most people are too absorbed with worries about themselves to even shoot you a second glance.
4. It's not your fault if someone is jealous of you.
Those who are envious of you are acting out of their own insecurities. You can't control how they feel, and you likely didn't do anything to make them feel this way. Take time to talk to this person; help them understand that they're just as valuable as you are, even if their talents and characteristics are different.
5. Try to limit procrastination (something I still haven't figured out).
Although some people do their best work under pressure, most don't. If you set aside time daily to break up big tasks, you'll feel much more accomplished and proud of your work.
6. Be picky when you're looking for a boyfriend/girlfriend.
Try your very hardest not to settle for someone who you know you're not compatible with. Even if it seems like it will take forever, if you value yourself and are being authentically you, the right person will come along.
7. You should make friends with your teachers/professors.
They're not just there to dish out endless homework and tricky tests...they're there to support you. I know it seems lame, but their experience and insight can help you in so many ways.
8. It's important to thank your parents.
Most parents don't expect their kids to say "thank you" for everything they do, but they'll appreciate it so much if you take the time to let them know how grateful you are.
9. You know that person who you think has their life completely together? They probably don't.
Even the most well-organized, positive, motivated people have their personal struggles; it's just part of the human condition. Don't ever think that you are less than someone because you're experiencing challenges in your life.
10. Be kind to strangers.
You never know what's going on in that person's life. Be generous and compassionate to those you don't know; a friendly smile and a door held open can turn someone's day around in ways you didn't think were possible.
11. Social media doesn't define you.
The numbers of followers you have or the amount of likes you get doesn't say anything about who you are as a person. You're a human being; your value as a person simply cannot be summarized by a number.
12. Appreciate every second you have with your grandparents.
So many people don't have the chance to spend time with their grandparents. Realize how special they are and enjoy all they have to give you.
13. Challenge yourself to do things you never thought you could.
Even if it's something you think is tiny, like raising your hand in class or talking to someone you never have before, with perseverance, you can do it. You'd be surprised at just how capable you really are.
14. Regrets are pointless.
Unfortunately, you can't change the past. But, as a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, I always like to think that you wouldn't be where you are now without your past actions.
15. Life is really, really short.
It's about this time in your life when you begin to realize that you only live once. And, unfortunately, people do die. This gives you a million more reasons to be thankful for every day you spend on earth.
16. It's not worth it to pretend you're someone you're not.
It takes a lot of courage to "just be yourself". But life becomes so much easier when you're living congruently with who you really are.
17. People aren't mind readers. Tell them what you're thinking.
By this point in my life, I've realized just how important communication is. Oftentimes, you have to be the one to open up first, as difficult as that may be.This is the only way to effectively assert yourself and get what you need.
18. Live in the now.
Be spontaneous. Dye your hair a different color. Pet random dogs on the street. Enjoy the warm sunshine, and try to catch snowflakes on your tongue. Take a moment to enjoy just being. Realize just how rare and beautiful of a gift life really is.