5 Important Lessons I've Learned in my 19 Years of Life

5 Important Lessons I've Learned in my 19 Years of Life

Sure, they're a bit cliche, but they're true.
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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?

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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Part 1: Necessary Changes

One of my favorite movies is "Fried Green Tomatoes" with Kathy Bates. In the movie Bates' character Evelyn Couch says, "Someone helped put a mirror up in front of my face, and I didn't like what I saw one bit. And you know what I did? I changed." I know the feeling.

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I looked in the mirror over the weekend and didn't like what I saw.

The person I saw looking back at me is petty, selfish, manipulative, and unattractive. It wasn't that I hated what I saw, but I definitely didn't like what I saw either. It's a surreal feeling, looking at yourself through a critical lens, and it doesn't make you feel good in any way shape or form.

The image that I see of myself is not how I want others to perceive me. I want to be someone that people look at and see kindness, compassion, strength, and confidence.

I have enough general life experience to know that these types of changes aren't going to happen overnight, and not all of them will be physical; most of these will have to happen from the inside, from within myself.

When you find out you are all broken and damaged, it's hard to know where to start putting the pieces back together. I figured the best place to start would be the most literal: my actual insides; so, I decided to embark on a deep-cleansing journey to get all of the toxins out of my body, from the inside out.

I found this book on 10-day green smoothie detox stashed away in the dark corner of my bookshelf. The science behind it seems accurate and legitimate. By eliminating certain foods, your body is able to detox itself off of chemicals and foods that are slowing down your metabolism; the smoothies are specifically designed with combinations of foods that help restart your metabolism. Part of the detox process is getting rid of all dependencies on caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.

Every day you are given the recipe for a specific smoothie; you make the smoothie (about 40 ounces) and sip on it throughout the day whenever you get hungry. Every smoothie is a combination of leafy greens, water, fruit, and flax seeds. If you do happen to get hungry throughout the day, you are encouraged to eat raw nuts, hard boiled eggs, and a wide variety of crunchy green vegetables. There is also a detox tea that you have first thing in the morning, but other than that no other beverages are allowed except water.

I know that this is only the beginning of a very long, emotional, and draining journey. But I think I'm at the point in my life where I have to make these changes. I have to put my pieces together, I have to become a normal functioning adult, I have to find out who I am. I think that this is the perfect way to start.

For the next 10 days I am going to be documenting my experiences, how I'm feeling, what my emotions are doing, and any results that I see.

Stay tuned!

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