I turned 19 yesterday, so I took a moment to reflect on what I learned in the past 18 years.
1. Don't be too hard on yourself.
We all make mistakes sometimes and it's important to learn to not take yourself too seriously.
2. Don't settle for less.
Always aim high and don't settle for anything less than you deserve.
3. Family is always there for you.
I am lucky enough to be blessed with a family that has always supported me and believed in me. It's okay to depend on your family and ask them for help when you need it.
4. Real friends don't need to talk everyday.
As you get older it can be harder to talk to your friends daily, especially if you go to different schools and that's okay. Real friends don't need to talk everyday, but are there for you when you need them and you are there for them when they need you.
5. It's okay to have a small circle.
Having a smaller group of friends is sometimes better than having a lot of friends. It ultimately comes down to who you can trust and rely on.
6. Don't worry about what others will think.
This is your life and you're the one who has to live it. Don't make decisions based on other people; make decisions for you.
7. Do what makes your heart happy.
This one's pretty self-explanatory. Do what makes you happy and follow your dreams.
8. Learn how to be alone.
Having the ability to be alone is a strength. Be comfortable with yourself and take this time to learn more about yourself as a person.
9. Slow down.
Take time to slow down, breathe, and reflect on yourself. It is too easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but we need time to relax and reboot.
10. Don't share your plans/goals with everyone.
It's important to be aware of who your true well-wishers are and who you can trust.
11. Don't be afraid to walk away from someone/something toxic.
I think that this is something that a lot of people struggle with, but if someone or something is causing you unhappiness, realize that it is okay to walk away.
12. Read more!
As someone who is an avid reader I realize that it can be difficult to make time to read, but it is an enjoyable activity that has a multitude of benefits. Read everything, from the backs of cereal boxes to travel brochures; you are bound to learn something new.
13. Write EVERYTHING down.
Make to do lists, journal about your day, write out your class notes, document your life. Write it down. You are more likely to remember things if your write them down and it's nice to have something to look back at when you're older (my fourth grader journal still cracks me up).
14. Appreciate your education.
Education is a privilege that many people around the world do not have. Yes, school can be stressful, but keep your long-term goals in mind and remember that money can run out, but no one can take your education away from you.
15. Just be kind.
It's not that hard to be kind to people. You never know what someone is struggling with so just be kind.
16. Take your parents' advice
Your parents will never give you bad advice because they want the best for you. One day they won't be there anymore, so learn everything you can from them now.
17. Realize that life doesn't always work with your plans and change is not always a bad thing.
This is more relevant now than ever before. You can plan all you want, but sometimes life happens and plans have to change. Adaptability is an important skill to have and you have to realize that things do not always work out the way that you planned. Change can be good.
18. Live in the moment. Take one day at a time.
Life is too short to constantly worry about the future. Yes, it's important to keep your goals in mind, but it's also important to step back and take one day at a time and live in the moment. Feel the sun on your skin, feel the breeze on your face, spend time with your family, watch a good movie, bake some cookies, do your makeup, get lost in a book. Appreciate the little things in life that bring your joy and make you feel alive.
The past 18 years have taught me many things, but, most importantly, I learned that you and only you are in charge of your own happiness. As I enter my 19th year, my last year as a teenager, I hope that I continue to grow and become more self-aware, as I prepare to achieve my dreams.