t's quite funny how life runs up on you and catches you when you least expect it to. Like two days ago when one of my best friends said she was eighteen and I had to do a double take, because that means I’m eighteen and about to start my freshman year of college instead of going into seventh grade (back when I thought life was abou to get rough). I’m told all the time that one day, I’m going to look back and think “Man, life just flew right by.” Well here’s the thing, I’m already doing that. I was once told as you grow up, the days get longer and the years get shorter. It’s so true. So here is a montage of eighteen things I’ve learned in eighteen years, because I am in-fact eighteen and things, in-fact, have already flown by.

1. A small amount of close friends is much better than a ton of “friends”.

This is kind-of a personality thing, but I have always found that I would rather have a small number of people in my life who pray for me, invest in our friendship, and who always have my back than have an unlimited amount of friends who are only friends with you because they see you on a regular basis or who don’t really care about your well-being at all.

2. Patience is hard; Patience is necessary

From waiting in lines at an amusement park to waiting for the right guy, patience can be so hard to practice. Trust me, waiting on God’s plan and being patient is always worth it.

3. As soon as you think you have everything figured out, something is bound to go wrong… Go with it.

No matter how much planning you put into something, it probably isn’t going to go without a hitch. Just go with it. Laugh, smile and realize that this is all part of the plan.

4. God’s ways & His will are higher than mine.

When you realize that your plan isn't as grand as the plan God has for you, things begin to make sense.

5. Do the hard things first.

In the mornings I often say I am going to run, but I end up showering or sleeping in which means I don’t have time to run or running would be counter productive. Whether you need to be running, doing your homework or doing chores, whatever you have to do; choose to do the hard things first.

6. Thrifting is always better.

If you are ever in Madison, IN, Jennifer's Simple Fashions is the place to be. If you are in Gulf Shores, Al try Hertha's, and Goodwill will probably do if you are anywhere in between.

7. When you truly try, no matter the outcome, you do well.

“You don’t have to try, try, try…” … but you do. You actually do have to try.

8. There is always enough time

I hear too often that people don’t have enough time to do what they want. They don’t have enough time for bible study or they don’t have enough time for writing. You name it someone probably has an excuse for why they don’t have enough time. Here’s my advice. Make time for it. We all have 24 hours in our days. Use them to their fullest capacity. Whether that is sitting in a hammock or writing a novel, accomplish all that you wish.

9. Listen more, speak less

The more you listen, the easier it is to serve others with the best intentions. Speak less, listen more.

10. Serve with a willing, grateful heart.

It is when we are truly grateful for all that we have that we can serve others in the best way possible. Love your neighbors and serve them accordingly.

11. Don’t miss out on an opportunity because you are afraid. Seek all opportunities to try new things. Apply often.

If you know me you know that I apply for things often. I send a ton of emails. I reach out. I create community. I used to be afraid to reach out to connect with people in fear that they may think I was odd, but the thing is you will never know until you try. Because of reaching out and applying, I’ve partnered with Kerusso, written for companies on my blog (while I was still in high school), I’ve created a blog. I'm a content creator for Odyssey online, I’ve learned how to build websites, I’ve traveled to California as an intern and promotional manager for my High School’s band, I traveled to Washington D.C. as a youth tour delegate, I've gone to business camps both locally and regionally, I prayed at my graduation ceremony, I skyped with John Luke Robertson, I’ve met people from Ohio, Texas, Florida, The PNW, and Australia- all of which I’ve worked with on my blog. A lot can happen when you just say yes.

12. Always make time for family. Always.

Family, in essence, is forever. However that doesn't mean they will always be around. Take every advantage of the opportunities you have to see them. Visit them more, hug them a little longer, tell them you love them more than once.

13. Kindness, Politeness and admitting you make mistakes will take you far in life.

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, if you are kind people will remember you.

14. Love yourself, love others more.

When I was in middle school one of my friends broke up with his girlfriend, his reasoning was that he would always tell her how beautiful she was and every time she wouldn't agree. He asked me, "how am I supposed to love someone who doesn't even love themselves?" When you learn to love yourself, you will be able to love others more.

15. Learn to be honest in all things

This means no white, black, red, or blue lies. No stretching the truth. Honesty will save you from so many sticky situations.

16. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

When you learn to ask for help, you learn submittance and gain a whole new level of responsibility and ownership.

17. Never miss an opportunity to play corn hole in the rain, to watch a sunset, to climb a mountain, to run through a sunflower field or to travel the world and experience new things.

Trust me. It’s worth it.

18. Choose Joy in all things.

I promise with all my heart… Joy comes in the morning. Joy comes after mourning. Joy comes. Just wait, you will see.