On October 14th, I turned 19 years old. Once again I am astounded by how fast a year has gone by, but I am grateful for all the lessons my 18th year provided. With that, here are 18 valuable things I learned at 19 years old.
1. Nostalgia isn't always a good thing
I used to revel in the past, because it used to give me a dose of hearty and healthy nostalgia. But when nostalgia started to convince me that things were better back then, I knew it was time to let a lot of those feelings go and focus on moving forward.
2. It's okay to have bad days, or weeks, or even months
There was a time when my outlook on life was so optimistic, that I hardly considered any of my days to be "bad." When I started to experience genuinely bad days or even weeks and months, it was a lot more difficult to bear than if I had known that these days were a product of life and not necessarily of my character.
3. But it doesn't last forever or define you
With accepting that the bad times weren't a product of my character, I also had to accept that they weren't a product of my failures either. I equated happiness with success, and I believed that as long as I wasn't depressed, that I wasn't a failure. I eventually had to learn that these spurts of depression weren't without an expiration date, and that my sadness didn't define me or outshine all the other days where I was overwhelmingly happy.
4. Success doesn't come easy
This seems like a kind of obvious revelation to have, but in my 19th year, I never had to work so hard to achieve the bare minimum. This kind of lesson can seem discouraging, but it reaffirmed my hard work and made the little successes all the more worth it.
5. It's okay to have a small circle
I used to pride myself on having an abundant amount of people that I was genuinely close to, and the idea of having a "small circle" always seemed unfulfilling to me. However, with growing up, comes growing apart from people you were once close with, limiting the size of your circle. But there's nothing wrong with being close-knit, and in fact, it makes you appreciate those few people a whole lot more for being the gems in your life.
6. Good will grow from the bad
Of course, I didn't go my 19th year without a little bit of heartbreak. When things in your life burn down, it can be both disheartening and discouraging. But beautiful things grow from the ashes — such as new experiences and friendships that wouldn't have otherwise happened if there wasn't new soil for it all to grow from. It's all about rising above, and appreciating what you do have.
7. Going to the doctors is extremely important
Long story short, my disregard for my health and convincing people that I was "perfectly fine" resulted in me getting emergency surgery. If you're blessed to have accessible healthcare, please reap that benefit, as I will from here on out.
8. Adventure is out there
It is definitely a cliche, but the cliches are often the most true. I've learned that the world is mine for the taking, and in the small amount of time that I have on Earth, I want nothing more than to explore all that it has to offer.
9. It's okay to walk away
Sometimes new opportunities seem good on the outside, but you might later learn that it does more harm than good. I had to walk away from a job that ended up being extremely toxic, and it took some time to convince myself that there was nothing wrong with that. I learned that walking away wasn't the same as "giving up," especially if it was for the sake of putting my overall health first.
10. Keep with a set skin routine
The way I see it, there is no better way to treat yourself than to cater to your skin as needed. It seems kind of trivial, but if you've dealt with acne, you might feel my pain. Love yourself enough to exfoliate, drink water, and wear that mud mask. After all, your skin is the largest organ in your body, so you ought to take care of it.
11. Spontaneous friends are a gift
My 19th year, I learned how much of a blessing it is to have friends that are up for anything. Who says that the best days need to be planned ahead of time? Sometimes an adventure to IKEA or just the next town over can cultivate some of the best memories, so cherish low-maintenance friends and go for it.
12. Reap the benefits of an education
I won't pretend that I love having to go into fathoms deep debt to pay for my education, but that encourages me to make the most out of it. Knowledge is such a powerful tool, and I learned that what I'm getting from the classroom will give me leverage to attain success for the rest of my life. You can't beat that.
13. Comparing yourself is abuse, so don't do it
I definitely used to have a problem with comparing myself, whether it be my college success to someone else's, or if some girl had shinier hair than me. We are all dynamic human beings, a constant work in progress building at our own rates. Comparison is futile and the person you're looking at probably has insecurities of their own as well. So focus on your own growth, and don't compare the beginning of your book to the middle of someone else's.
14. There is beauty in being alone
I've talked about this before, but as someone who used to literally fear being alone, learning to overcome that was one of the most empowering things I've ever done. I'm satisfied by my own company, as it provides a type of comfort that being around other people doesn't always provide. So get to know yourself a little better and go on a walk alone, or treat yourself out to lunch. It's a matter of self-love.
15. Listen more, speak less
If you know me, you know that I'm an extroverted individual who almost always has something to say. While I pride myself in being able to channel empathy well, I've learned that a lot more can be achieved in letting someone else do the talking and leading the way. You can learn from others as much as others can learn from you, as we are a mosaic pieced together by our experiences and life lessons. So see what other people's words have to offer, and maybe it'll end up impacting you in ways you didn't even know were possible.
16. Don't put everything on social media
I've developed a philosophy that is "people shouldn't know everything that's happening in your life by looking at your Twitter." When someone angers you, it can be difficult to not subtweet in rage. But for the sake of maturity and rising above negativity, put your energy towards something more productive. Tweet something hopeful. Call someone's selfies beautiful. But don't contribute to the culture of petulance, as I've learned that not everyone needs to know my business.
17. Don't care about what other people think, wear those funky pants
What I've loved about turning 18 and going to college, is that all at once, I've learned to stop caring about what other people think of me. In all honesty, high school is so judgy , and being yourself can be hard. I am now who I am unapologetically, I stand firm in my beliefs and I wear what I want. After all, "those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."
18. Change is inevitable and scary, but it should be embraced
My 19th year, I overcame one of my biggest obstacles with grace — and that is embracing change. I had always had a difficult time confronting the possibility of change, the possibility of letting people and comfort go. But to grow, is to not be comfortable. It is to experience heartbreak and learn from the pain. It is change. But if things didn't ever change, I wouldn't be the person I am now, and I am happy. Here's to my 19th year, a year of love and my last as a teen. My arms are open towards change.