19 Things I've Taught Myself In The First 19 Years Of My Existence

19 Things I've Taught Myself In The First 19 Years Of My Existence

I've learned how to live the way I do and how to do the things I do.

I am 19 years old. Wow. Even writing those words down scares me a bit. I remember my 13th birthday like it was last year, and my inner self keeps denying the fact that I am a full year past "adulthood."

It just doesn't feel real yet, and I suppose it never will.

The past 19 years of my life (the ones I remember, of course) have been absolutely crazy. I've been around the world, met hundreds of people, experienced countless feelings and accomplished some of the most incredible achievements.

The most amazing thing of all, however, is that I've learned. I've learned how to live the way I do and how to do the things I do. Most of these things I've taught myself, which makes them even more special to me.

1. Taking yourself seriously is not nearly as fun as lightening up a bit and enjoying yourself

There is a time and place for being professional, but being with your friends isn't one of them. Laugh a little, crack a joke or two. You'll be so much happier.

2. Your mom is your best friend

She is always there for you, and she always will be. She also is brutally honest with you and sees the beauty in you when no one else does.

3. If your friends aren't there for you through the good and bad times, they're not your friends

This sounds obvious but really think long and hard about the people you call your true friends. Are they there for you through everything? If not, drop them. They're not worth your time.

4. High school means absolutely nothing

Anyone who tells you that high school is the best four years of your life is lying. It's a good time to experiment and find your passion, but other than that, graduate and leave it in your past. Popularity is pointless.

5. Having two or three close friends is so much better than having five plus friends and not being extremely close with any of them

All you need in life are a few people to help you through the good and the bad. Plus, it makes Christmas shopping so much easier, don't you think?

6. You are the best you there is on this planet

Although you'll go through times where you feel useless and constantly upset, there is absolutely no one like you, and that is the most beautiful thing in the world. Always know this and never let it slip your mind for a second.

7. Do not take your life or opportunities for granted

There is someone out there who would kill for what you have, so don't you dare get cocky.

8. Hard work comes through when talent fails

When I was a freshman in high school, one of the most amazing choir directors I've ever worked with told me that talent can only take a singer so far, but those who work for the voice parts they have will get so much more out of the experience. But this applies to so much more than singing. Working hard is always better than relying on pure talent.

9. Learning by doing and seeing is so much more valuable than learning in a classroom

Get out and see the world. Watch people. Notice how the universe works. It's so much more beautiful and powerful when you witness how this world functions rather than sitting in a classroom and taking notes on it.

10. Being mature and professional will get you further than being irresponsible and stupid

Sure, it's good to loosen up a little bit and have fun sometimes, but handle yourself well. Be the one people say, "They deserved that" about. Not the one people say, "How did that happen?!" about.

11. First impressions are important

But they're not everything! Making a good first impression on someone (and them making one on you) is important, as that's probably what will stick with you (or them) for the longest time. However, you may get a chance to prove that impression right or wrong, so carry yourself accordingly.

12. Don't do work or activities you hate just to add them to your resumé

Companies and colleges will be able to tell when you joined something just for the heck of it versus when you participated in something you actually care about. Also, it's exhausting to work on something you're not passionate about. So not worth it.

13. Your mom and your friends can see red flags before you can

If they're telling you that one boy is trouble or the decision you're about to make is a bad one, trust them. They know you better than you know you.

14. Follow your heart

Do you want to pursue a major you love but that makes no money? Do it. Have you found something you are passionate about? Keep working at it. At the end of the day, you are your number one priority, and making yourself happy should always be your number one goal.

15. Your mental health is so important (so listen to yourself!!)

If you feel as if you need any help regarding your mental health, get it. You will thank yourself later. And P.S. — receiving help for your mental health is so OK! Don't be embarrassed--you're allowed to get support when you think you need it.

16. Voicing your opinion is better than keeping quiet

Your voice matters, and it deserves to be heard by anyone who chooses to listen.

17. You're allowed to be sad, but never let it consume you

Sadness is an emotion, and you're allowed to have emotions--you're a human after all. But never let it take over your life. Always remember that if you won't remember it in five years, don't be upset about it for more than five minutes (although that is dramatic, you get the point).

18. Eat whatever you want

Food isn't meant to be stressed over. Food is meant to bring people together, fuel our bodies and bring us happiness. Screw the calories, you deserve that extra cookie.

19. Love with every bone in your body

Don't half-ass it. Love and love hard. Yes, it makes you vulnerable, but I promise you it is worth it.

Cover Image Credit: Abigail Borin

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I May Be From A Small Town, But My Dreams Are Bigger Than Its Population

Have dreams bigger than the amount of people in the stands for a homecoming football game.

I grew up in a small town in Southeastern Kentucky. It was there, in the heart of Appalachia, where I was raised from the ground up. I attended school with the same people starting at the age of four up until I graduated high school. While this sounds truly grueling to some, and at times it was, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It was spending hours painting a new themed poster each week just to cheer for our boys on Friday nights. It was the science teacher who made me contemplate my future career path over and over but ended up being my greatest mentor. It was coaches who made me realize the value of hard work. It was having a support system larger than my immediate family who saw my potential and encouraged me to chase my goals.

You see, growing up in a small town, let alone rural Appalachia, every single odd is set against you. It’s a poverty-stricken region that also so happens to be stuck in the bullseye of the opioid epidemic.

While derogatory stereotypes run true to many individuals throughout the area, it’s a stereotype that blankets nearly everyone living there. And it’s not all true. Not everyone living there fits the mold of these infamous stereotypes. These cold-hard truths of just one sector of this region prevent many young individuals from chasing their dreams.

Though I don’t speak for all, it’s sometimes hard to see big dreams become reality when the place where you were born and raised only has a negative connotation. However, it’s up to you to change the idea society has about the place that raised you.

Over the years my intelligence has been doubted based solely on my accent. I’ve been called a “Backwoods Barbie” (yes, that actually happened). I’ve even been asked if my family and friends back home wore shoes. Though these things disturbed me, to say the least, they only have been motivation.

I’ve had a dream in the back of my head for quite some time now. I am going to be a Pediatric Dentist. There are no if’s, no but’s, no “if it doesn’t work out.” I’m not stopping until I accomplish that goal.

Of course the road there isn’t easy. If it was then you’d see everyone chasing doctoral degrees. It’s because I want to do whatever it takes to prove all those stereotypes wrong. It’s about having that drive and determination to be a kid from Southeastern Kentucky who made something of themselves.

Against all the odds, you became successful. You’re the underdog and sometimes you just have to be your own cheerleader. You’re just as capable as anyone else is.

You just have to find your passion and chase it without fear of failing. I found that “want to,” and so should you.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram | @visitlakelureblueridgenc

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A Love Letter To Stevenson University

Dear Stevenson...

Dear Stevenson,

Let's be honest, you weren't my first choice. It's true. I was looking at more well-known schools and I came across you and honestly, you didn't blow me away. You were a relatively small private school in Owings Mills and when I asked people about you, they would say "Where?". Even when I first looked you up I even got an ad for Strayer University, but nevertheless, I wanted to find out more about you and figure you out. I found that you had a really good program for design so why not add you to my list of potential schools and apply. Somehow, out of the blue, I got a really great scholarship to go to you and I went.

So now it's been about two years since then and we've been on a long road together. From me wishing I had gone to MICA like I originally wanted to finally feeling at home with you, it's been a ride. Maybe it was the fact that you were very welcoming to me and had people that I could really vibe with, maybe it was the fact that I could really do whatever classes I wanted, maybe it was the fact that you offer a close-knit community or maybe even the fact that I can grab free chicken tenders to take to my dorm after my 10 pm class, but I'm happy with you. I've found that even though you're not the most impressive school out there or the one with the most honors or the one with the highest graduation or job after graduation rate, you're the perfect school for me and that's what really matters.

Sometimes now you still do some things that really irk me off, like the fact that we only have one printer in the design building that acts up whenever I need to print something (and yes, I still salty about it) but hey, you're home.

So, thanks.

Cover Image Credit: cloudinary.com

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