As I turn 19, I see my childhood begin to slip away from my fingertips.
Lately, I have reflected on my life: what I have done, what I have yet to do and what I've learned through that journey. I've said it time and time again: life is short. I'm happy to say that within these 19 years, I was able to learn a lot through both the bad and the good times. I think so often that people are too focused on the future and where they will end up. It's important to remember that the journey is the destination. It is within our individual journeys that we learn, grow and become better. Never forget that there is nowhere to arrive at.
Here are some things that I'm happy to have experienced and learned these past 19 years. If you focus on what is going on right now, the rest will take care of itself.
1. People will leave
People aren't meant to stay in your life forever and I think that I've accepted that. I believe that the people who you are surrounded by at each moment in your life are there for a reason. So when people do leave, it just means that they are not needed to help you in life anymore. Whether it's an ex or a friend, these people just taught you everything that you needed to know, and it's time for the future. You can't live your life fearing that others will leave. You must be strong enough that even if they do, life will still go on and you will be OK.
2. Life isn't fair, but it's still good
In this life, things aren't fair. You might be the nicest person ever, but still have the hardest obstacles come your way. Life isn't fair and everyone (whether it seems like it or not) experiences hardships. Everyone has had insecurities and pain before. It's important to realize that although things might not be going your way right now, life is still amazing and so many of us take it for granted. Be happy with what you have because it's something that someone else envies. That idea brings me to my next point.
3. NEVER compare yourself to others
How many times have we said to ourselves, "I wish I was this person" or "I wish I had their relationship", etc. Behind every beautiful photograph and every smiling person, there is still pain and sadness. You can't compare yourself to someone else because you are simply not the same as the other person. It's as if comparing french toast to bungee jumping ... the two have nothing to do with each other. Know that everyone is a complete and utter mess sometimes; some people are just way better at hiding it. You should focus on yourself rather than compare yourself to someone else who might be just as upset.
4. Make peace with your past so that it won't screw up your present
Everyone has a past that they're not proud of. Could be as simple as an embarrassing middle school glasses and brace-face wearing stage, or something deeper. In order to fully move on and look toward the present, you have to make peace with your past. Otherwise, you'll be stuck and will never be happy because it will be dragging you down.
5. No one is in charge of your happiness except YOU
If there's one thing that I have learned in my 19 years of being alive, it is that. Many of us, myself included, have relied on others to receive true happiness. That is not right. You are in charge of your own happiness and no one else is. Since learning this, people have left my life, and I've still stayed the happy smiling girl I am. People will disappoint you. It will hurt, you will cry. There is always a lesson. Life is not fair and it does not make sense, but we adjust, adapt and move on. The pain will subside. Sure, sad things happen, but I make myself happy and I don't need to rely on others for creating my happiness, and neither should you.
6. Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger
Just typing the above lesson out, I am hearing my mom saying it. My beautiful mother and many others have taught me that sometimes things have to come crashing down to test our strength. When going through a tough time, always remember that those tears are making you stronger. You will come out better than before and you'll be thankful that you went through the tough times to get to the amazing place that you can now reach.
Laugh and enjoy those special moments because they are something worth remembering.
8. We make mistakes; forgive yourself
Everyone makes mistakes. Don't beat yourself up over something that you recognize that you did wrong and have apologized for repeatedly. Time moves on, and after a while, so should you. It doesn't make what you did right, but it's in the past and if there's nothing more that you can do to help it, forgive yourself and move on in the right direction.
9. Not everyone will like you
Yeah, I know right? It's terrifying to hear, but some people are just not meant to be in your life. Move on from that. Don't wait around and try so hard to be in someone's life because you shouldn't have to kill yourself to have a friend around. It's their loss.
10. Dance like no one is watching as often as you can
Yeah, there are times when I literally blast music and dance around the room like an idiot. In fact, I just did that before writing this article to celebrate the end of freshman year after finishing my finals. Sometimes it's OK to be a little cooky. You deserve some fun and it's a great stress reliever. So whether you're with your friends at a party or alone in your room, blast your favorite song and let loose. You'll be surprised how great it feels to be yourself and dance like you don't care who sees.
11. Hold the door. Smile at people when you walk by. Say 'please' & 'thank you.'
Not only are these things polite, but they can make someone's day. I remember earlier in the year when I started college, I was so nervous about making friends. One girl held the door for me and smiled, it turned my whole thinking around. Like I've said, you don't know what someone's going through. So how hard is it to be friendly to people that you may not even know? It's effortless, so go make someone's day because it's as simple as that.
12. If you love someone, tell them
Whether it's a boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend, mother, sister, cousin or your 76-year-old grandpa, tell them that you love them. Every day if you can. You don't know when the last time you'll be able to say that will be.
13. Life's too short to be spent hating someone
Sure, someone could have wronged you, but spending your life with resentment is such a waste of energy. They're not worth your time; forget about it.
14. Don't be afraid to be yourself
Never pretend to be someone that you're not just to "fit in." That is for middle school and high school. Grow up and find people who will love you just the way you are because there is nothing wrong with being unique.
15. Your family is the most precious thing that you will ever have
I can't reiterate to say 'I love you' to your family members each day. Sure, they are, excuse my language, a giant pain in the ass most days, but when it comes down to it, they're your family and will do anything for you. At the end of the day, they are all that you have, so don't take them for granted.
16. Failure is good
We try so hard to avoid failure, but failure is the real evidence that we've tried. If you avoid failure, you avoid taking action. Expect and accept that failure is part of the experience. Learn from it and move on. In my mother's words, "Just do the best you can and that will be enough."
17. You aren't always right
We think that we have the answers, know what's right and wrong, good and bad, best for ourselves and other people. We aren't always right, though. There's always more than one version. There are many perspectives that are valid. Keep yourself open to that truth and doing so will allow you to grow no matter how old you are. We learn something new every day.
18. You matter
Never think of yourself as just one person in a world of billions. You matter. You are unique, special and here for a reason. Love yourself because it is the only thing that you can do in a world full of hate.
19. Don't take anything for granted
Life is so short. A month, a week, a minute — it could be taken away from you. Experience the pain, the happiness, the fun, and appreciate it. Never take this crazy, unexpected life for granted.