Sometimes I feel like I've been alive forever. Sometimes I feel like I've only been alive for a brief moment. So much has happened, and I've learn a lot. So much more will happen, and I have many more lessons to learn. I have grown as a person, and I have so much growing to do. Lately, I've been reflecting on that.

1. No one owes you anything besides a general respect.

I used to think the world owed me everything. I was an entitled jerk. When something didn't go my way, I assumed it was because the world hated me. But that was never true.

You should be respected as a person. But beyond that, you aren't guaranteed anything. If you want something, if you want people to see you a certain way, you have to earn it. You can't go out into the world and expect to be entitled to everything. This may seem bleak at first, but I don't think it is. Isn't there some joy and satisfaction to be gained from achieving things through your own merit, determination, and hard work? If everything were handed to you, would you really have anything to show in the end?

2. It's okay to be selfish sometimes, but not all the time.

I've been both too selfish and not selfish enough. I've cared only about myself, and I've forfeited my well-being for people who only took advantage of me. There is a happy medium, and though I've yet to find it, I know it exists.

You can't sacrifice yourself everyone, every day. You are your own person with your own wants and needs, and therefore you have the right to do what you think is right for yourself. Don't give yourself to people who don't appreciate what you do, and don't ever forsake yourself completely. Sometimes you just have to say no, even if the person you're saying it to doesn't like it.

That being said, it's also important to consider others. You are a member of this planet, and you have a role to play. You have something to contribute. Do your part by helping others. Ask people how they are doing, ask them if they need anything. Be willing to be there.

3. Forgive yourself.

I used to have trouble letting go of the past. Sometimes I would sit and think about every word I've ever uttered, every mistake I've ever made. But that wasn't useful. I couldn't go back in time and change anything. I was just torturing myself. Today, I still fall back into this pattern occasionally, but I try to remind myself that I have grown. I'm not the same person I was in the past. I'm a better version of myself, and that's all I strive to be.

You've made mistakes. You have regrets. Sometimes you can't make amends. Sometimes the most you can do is acknowledge where you went wrong, forgive yourself, and try to do better in the future. You won't learn anything if you keep holding onto the past. Let go. Move forward.

4. Be yourself.

I used to think I had to pretend to be like the popular people. All I wanted was to fit in, to be cool. I thought fitting in and being cool would make me happy, as if I would somehow be a better person because of it. But I never became popular. I used to let that bother me. I used to stress out over what others thought of me. I used to go to extreme measures to make myself resemble the popular girls. When I realized that wasn't working, I went to extremes to make myself seem different. But that wasn't who I was either. Now I'm just content being me. I'm weird. I'm awkward. But that's okay. Everyone I care about likes me for who I really am.

It doesn't matter what other people think, and allowing yourself to believe that it does will only deplete your sense of self-worth and your self-esteem. The people who matter will appreciate you no matter what.

5. There is a bright side. There is a dark side. Live for the glimpses of the bright side.

I will admit this is something I still struggle with. This is one piece of advice I can't take myself. When things go wrong, I tend to focus on the negative. I have trouble seeing the positive. But when I am able to walk over to the bright side, however brief my visit may be, I am relieved. There are simple pleasures in life that I think make everything worthwhile. I don't always see it that way when I'm going through something, but when things start to get better, I am glad I'm here. There's nowhere else I'd rather be, even if it isn't always easy.

Life is crazy. Horrible things happen, and sometimes you start feeling like that's all there is. But you have to do your best to keep moving, even if- no, especially if- you feel like you want to give up. Life is not completely negative; there are positive experiences too, and they exist in the smallest of moments. You don't have to keep waiting for some grand light display. Just look up at the sun, right where you are now. Isn't it beautiful?