20 Things I've Learned Through the Years
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20 Things I've Learned Through the Years

As I turned 20 I took time to reflect on the things I've learned over the years.

20 Things I've Learned Through the Years
Michaela Nolan

All throughout life we are constantly learning things. These things may not always be from teachers or textbooks, but rather from things that we have been through on this journey that we are lucky enough to call our life. We may not realize that we are learning something at the exact moment that it happens, but when we look back on everything that has happened in our lives, we can see that we have been put through certain things in order to learn a life lesson. As I turn twenty this week I thought that it would be the prefect opportunity to reflect back on the past twenty years of my life — it's been one hell of a ride!

1.People come into your life at the exact moment you need them to. But at the same time, people also might leave especially when you least expect it. New people will come into your life when you least expect them to. This happened to me last year, I just happened to be in the right place, at the right time. I might not have known what this person was supposed to bring to my life, if anything, or maybe it was me who was supposed to bring something into theirs. Even if we might be opposites, we balance each other out. Yes, I do admit we get on each other's nerves more often than not, but at the end of the day we are always here for each other, no matter what time of day or what the situation.

2.It doesn't matter what other people think of you. Yes, this is admittedly cliche but I truly believe this to be true. We shouldn't care what other people think about us, especially those who are strangers to us. I get that this is sometimes very hard to do, but in the end we will only benefit from it. We need to live for ourselves, rather than living to make other people happy. So wear whatever you want, like what you like and do what ever makes you happy.

3. Don't get your hopes up or set your expectations too high. Sometimes things don't work out the way that you hope that they will. I've learned many times that whenever I get my hopes up, nothing good ever comes from it, whether this is about people, or even opportunities. I think that sometimes it's better to have low hopes so that you aren't really let down. Also, if something good happens then you can be happy about it.

4. It is okay to have fun and act like a kid once in a while. While in college the stress can sometimes be at a high, not only with school work, but also with personal drama. I've learned that it's okay to let loose sometimes, especially when having an overload of stress in life. My roommate and I find ourselves listening to Disney music, which never fails to put us in a good mood. Over the past couple of weeks I found myself thinking back to when I was a little kid, wishing that I could go back to those days. It's the times that I am the most stressed that I wish that I could be a kid again, living the simple life. A couple of times over this past week I found myself watching "Hey Arnold." I used to watch this show when I was younger, so watching it now almost transports me back to much simpler times.

5.Say "yes" to new experiences. Living the same day over and over again can get genuinely boring. There are so many things to do in this big world that we should never be bored. Saying "yes" to new things can open a new door to many different opportunities. You might even discover something that you didn't think that you could ever see yourself enjoying. Open yourself up to the new music that your friends introduce to you, the foods that are put in front of you that you've never tried -- just try anything. After all, they say this is time to try new things, make mistakes and find out who you are. So put yourself out there -- what do you have to lose?

6.Family will always be there for you, no matter what. Growing up I always knew that everyone in my family would be here for me, especially my parents. Growing up with three older brothers, we didn't always see eye to eye on things. Although we are now at different points in our lives I know that I can always count on them. They are here for me at times that I need them the most, or even if I just wanna talk to get my mind off things. Family is something that is irreplaceable, and I honestly have no idea what I would do with each one of my family members. They always help me to see the bright side of every situation and always find a way to make me laugh, no matter the distance between us. I know that I can go to them with any problem that I have and they will talk me through the best solution.

7.It's the little things in life that make a difference, and bring happiness to your everyday life. As life gets more and more complicated and hectic I find myself appreciating the very little things in life. The silliest things like the color of the leaves in the fall bring me so much happiness. I love watching the sunset from my room and just taking it all in. Something that I really enjoy is just laying in my bed, under the covers on a cold night with the lights off, wax burning on, just listening to music and either writing or drawing. This is something that really relaxes me especially on a Sunday night before everything that I am about to face throughout the week with classes. It's also the little things that other people do for me that just bring a smile to my face. Getting a card in the mail, going to grab food or even just talking brings so much happiness into my life on a daily basis.

8. It's okay to not know exactly what you want to do with your life. Yes, I am in college. Yes, I do have a major. But that does not necessarily mean that I have my entire future planned out. I might be able to tell you the dream company that I would love to work for — Kate Spade, of course, if you know anything about me it's that I absolutely love them. I will probably tell you that I it's one of my dreams to live in Paris for a bit of my life. Beyond this I'm not entirely sure what I want out of my life. I want to be someone that other people can look up to. I would like to find someone who I can share my life with, like my brothers have, but this is something that is not always on my mind. The only things that I really know right now are my class schedule, my dorm room, that I love Paris and a bunch of other useless information that probably won't help me in the future, but oh well.

9.Travel as often as you can. I started to travel internationally when I was only in the fourth grade. My parents, brother and I went to Italy for the first time. Little did I know that this would be the first time of many that I would be out of the country. I'm not really sure what got me into traveling, but I would say that it was probably my dad because I swear he's been everywhere. So far in my life I have been to Italy, Paris (three times) and most recently Ireland. By far my favorite place is Paris, and it has always been my favorite place even before the first time that I visited it. Whenever the plane touches down on the ground I am immediately just put into such a great mood. I feel like it is where I belong. I'm not really sure that there are words that could describe the feeling that I have when I am there, but it just instantly feels right, like I am finally where I belong.

10.Don't read old text messages. Something that I have done ever since I can remember is overthink. This is something that I find myself doing all too often even when I don't mean to. This typically happens at the worst moment possible, usually when the lights are out and I am trying to go to bed. This can be very frustrating, especially when I'm tired but my mind won't shut off, and the thoughts won't stop spinning in my head. Reading through old text message conversations is something that definitely adds to this — at least for myself. I overthink everything I saw, wonder if I interpreted something wrong and even look at the time that it took for someone to reply. Looking back at old text messages usually brings nothing good for me. I usually end up wishing that things weren't said, or that I had said something different. I think about all of the endless possibilities of how things would have played out differently if I had or hadn't said something. I learned that I can't undo past messages, but I can think out the future ones. I realized that I can't predict or change what other people say to me, but I can have a say on my reaction to these things.

11. Things don't always go as planned. Just because we want something to happen doesn't necessarily mean that it will. We can't rewrite the past, and we definitely can't predict the future. All we can do is try our best to take what life hands us and make the best out of every situation. We just need to think that things happen for a reason and maybe some things are just not meant to be in our lives.

12. We are each fighting our own battle. We each go through different things through our lives. Everyone has a different story and just because something is happening in one person's life doesn't mean that it's wrong that it's not happening in yours at the exact same time, or even ever. A lot of the reason behind why people are the way that they are is because of what has happened to them during this journey of life. Don't judge someone until you truly know their back story. One of my friends has gone through things that I couldn't even imagine going through at this age — I honestly have no idea how they do it. Just because we may not be going through something doesn't mean that someone else isn't.

13. Having a heart too big isn't also a great thing. I am the person who literally feels everything, sometimes even too much. If something is going on in my friend's life, I feel the pain that they are going through. At times this can be a good thing, allowing them to know that there is someone here that can empathize with them. On the other hand, it can be something that can become very distracting. It is sometimes hard for me to concentrate on my own life when I am so concerned or worried about what is happening in one of my closest friend's lives. This can be physically draining. Over the past couple of weeks I have admittedly done a lot of crying, and lost a lot of sleep because of what one of my friends is going through. I understand that it is okay for me to feel for them, but to some extent it can be very debilitating. I need to find a way where I can still feel, but not always feel 100 percent when I don't want to.

14.Goodbyes aren't to be taken lightly. Goodbyes are something that I have taken very seriously ever since I was in the seventh grade. Sometimes in life we don't get the chance to say goodbye to someone and that is when it truly hurts the most, when you don't get the chance and you never will. When I say goodbye to someone even if it is just for the weekend I give them the biggest hug in the world, like I am never going to see them again. Along with goodbyes comes the topic of letting go. In life we might meet people who are not necessarily the best for us. We need to understand that they came into our life to teach us a lesson rather than to stay in it. We need to be able to let go of the toxic people, because ultimately nothing good will come from them, only that we will be dragged down.

15.Just because someone isn't physically here, doesn't mean they are gone. Loss is something that becomes prevalent to almost everyone's life at some point. We can't really run away from death in our lives — even if we wish we could. When you lose someone close to you your whole world will feel like it is upside down. It might not hit you immediately after it happens, and that is completely normal. You will miss that person when you see something that reminds you of them. The thing that I learned from people not physically being in our lives anymore, doesn't mean that they aren't here at all. In fact, I like to think that they are always with us, looking over us. They are here in spirit through the good times and the bad. Sometimes this can be hard to remember when you just want to see that person's face, but we just have to remember that one day we will see them again.

16. Chinese food and a nap never hurts anyone. Food, food, food — yes I love it. Comfort food is one of the best things to ever be created. The list of my favorite foods go on and on. Grilled cheese made by a particular person, take-out Chinese, mac & cheese and Chunky Monkey Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream are just a few of my favorites. I learned that these foods, along with a good nap, can fix a lot of things – even if just for a little bit. Nothing bad ever really comes from a good nap, except for procrastination, but who hasn't done a little of that? So go out and enjoy your favorite foods without the guilt and take a good nap and feel rejuvenated.

17.People deserve a second chance. Yes, we are humans, and yes, we make mistakes — actually, plenty of them, maybe even to many to count. These mistakes may be getting the answer incorrect on a test, or messing up with friends. Lesson learned, everyone deserves a second chance. We have all done something that we wish we hadn't, or said something that we wish we could take back. Giving someone a second chance, allows them to see that you want them in your life. Not only do other people deserve a second chance, but so do you. You must be willing to forgive yourself for things that you've done, especially if other people forgive you. This is the best way to move on from any situation.

18. Gaining sisters as your grow older is a blessing in disguise. Growing up, the one thing that I missed out on was having three older sisters. As my brothers have gotten married, I have gained two sisters. Just because they might not have been in my life when I was growing up doesn't mean that they don't know everything about me. Something that I didn't realize until recently is that they have most likely been through everything that I am going through. It is good to know that I can call them for advice anytime that I need it. I'm honestly not sure what I'd do without them.

19.You can learn a lot from people's eyes. The eyes are one part of the body that doesn't age with time. Just by looking into someone's eyes we can see so much into who they are and what they are going through. I think that this is something that is really special, and this is why I think that people's eyes are the most beautiful things. You can read their emotions by looking through their eyes. People can smile through their eyes and not their mouth, you can tell when someone is upset if it looks like their eyes have water in them. I'm not sure why, but I find this really fascinating.

20.You don't know what you have, until it's gone. Yes, as cliche as it sounds, it's true. We tend to take many things for granted these days. We get so used to not only people being in our lives, but also our belongings. In life sometimes things are taken from us or people leave our lives for a certain amount of time. It is in these times that we are reminded what those people truly meant to us. I can barely go an entire week without talking to people before I feel like my world is crumbling down. You don't realize how much different your life is without people in it. The people who at times you want to kill, but also they make you laugh to your stomach hurts. We need to learn that what we have we should be thankful for, because it might not always be here.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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