Turning nineteen this month is something that almost slipped my mind. It wasn't until around a week before my birthday I realized how soon it was. Simultaneously as I had a mini-crisis of my age, I realized how much I've learned in nineteen years. Every birthday I look back at the previous years and evaluate the good and the bad. With COVID-19 pausing all celebrations possible, I took extra time to see how much I've learned. Here are nineteen of the most important ones that truly made my life better.
One of my most significant flaws is my inability to say no to people. For years I'd feel incredibly guilty denying somebody anything, even if it caused me more bad than good. It took years to realize how much damage my inability to say no truly was doing to me. Now don't get me wrong, it did not change overnight - it took a lot of time. But once I finally began to say no more readily, it made everything so much easier. It's okay to say no.
Don't say sorry so much
One of my most significant habits was, and is, to apologize for almost everything I think I did wrong. It used to be so bad if I got close to you in the grocery store, I'd apologize, if you bumped into me, I'd apologize, etc. Not everything is your fault - it's okay not to apologize. Hell, don't be sorry if you wouldn't expect anybody else to apologize for it.
Don't be afraid to take risks
Go for that drive with no directions. Go to college across the country. Take a backpacking trip across Europe this summer. Take risks because if you don't, you'll regret it later in your life when you can't anymore.
People are going to pass judgements no matter what, don't let it rule your life
Judging is a part of everyday life. I even try to lie and say I'm perfect, and I don't judge people during the day, mostly when I'm on the road. But you shouldn't let it overtake your life. I used to avoid so many places and things because I didn't want somebody to judge me for making a mistake or doing something they wouldn't. Who cares, though. It's YOUR life - not theirs.
NEVER let people talk above you. Speak your heart, your mind, your soul. You only have one voice and one life - use it and don't be afraid too.
Follow your heart and do what you're passionate about
This is such a cliche but so needed to be said. I avoided wanting to be a history and international relations major because I didn't think I could do anything "logical" with it. But, I finally realized my "far fetched" plans of being a history professor and working in the U.N/Nonprofit is doable, and I needed to follow my heart to reach my goals. Don't let fear hold you back; do what your heart says.
Help as many people as you can
It will give you so much joy to see people's smiles at the end of the day. Even if you can't see it, know that you're changing a person's life.
Don't let people take advantage of you
Don't waste your energy on people who take advantage of you. You are one person and, ultimately, think of yourself first. It is so, so good to have a heart of gold, but people will come in, see it, and want to milk it for all it's worth. Drop them. They are not real friends and do not deserve you.
Don't be selfish sometimes
Think of yourself first. Say no, take that day off, take the last slice of pizza. Do what makes you happy in the end.
Some sticking to toxicity in your life - drop it
It's easier said than done, but in the end, it'll cause so much more damage than is necessary. You need to put your wellbeing and mental health first and above everything else. Cutting out toxicity is one of the most freeing feelings in the world - trust me.
It's okay to grow out of friendships
It feels weird, and sometimes it hurts, but it's normal. Friendships are meant to allow you to grow, but sometimes you grow out of what the friendship can give you and away from the other person. That's okay and don't feel guilty; it's life.
Being vulnerable is not being weak
Cry. Vent. Rant. Express how you feel. You aren't weak; you're strong for it.
Smile as big as you possibly can, and sing at the top of your lungs
Let your hair down and be the happiest you can. Play your favorite songs as loud as you can, and scream along, smile at the dog walking by, be unapologetically happy.
Take advantage of the time you have with your family - they won't be around forever
When my grandpa was diagnosed with dementia after not having contact with him for years, it made me realize how little time you have with your family. Please take advantage of every time they ask to hang out, see you, or talk to you. You'll regret the time you missed when it gets to be too late.
Second changes should not be given out like M&Ms
Give them out wisely, and not to people who will only toss them aside like candy.
It's okay not ot be okay
You don't always have to be strong. Cry, it'll make you feel better. I promise.
Forgive, but don't forget
Forgiving is not the end of being wronged - there truly never is an end. People may repeat what they did to you in the past, and it's best to remember that so you know when to drop those who don't deserve you.
Trust your intuition
Don't go down the alley that makes your skin crawl, and don't go with the person that's giving you bad vibes. It's better to be safe than sorry or worse.
Never give up
Life is hard and messy. There will always be moments when you will want to give up and lie in your bed forever. Do NOT give in. You are strong, and you can get through the bump in the road. When you do, you will feel so much better. You will reach your goal, and you will get to the happy parts of life. You will make it.