Turning 20 in April prompted me to think about what I wished I had known in my past.
Unfortunately, I think most of these things are things that we know intellectually but don't realize to actually practice them while they're happening. In that same vein, I think most of these life lessons are lessons that you have to learn through experience, as the lessons don't seem important before you're faced with the moments from which they derived.
In any case, I would hope that you spare yourself the heartache and simply learn from my mistakes, but if you don't, that's alright, it'll be a lesson you won't forget.
1. You cannot love someone into loving you back
Loving people comes with a risk and, unfortunately, that risk doesn't always pay off. That doesn't mean stop loving people, it simply means that you will be hurt. You will be hurt, despite your efforts, and you will survive.
2. Judgment is not always a bad thing
Judgment is there to protect you. If you have a bad vibe, acknowledge it, watch it, and adhere to the boundaries you've created. You can simply watch a person without opening every door to them in your life.
3. There is a thing as "too friendly"
Oversharing is a coping mechanism meant to disillusion you into feeling "known". It opens you to betrayal and is maladaptive.
4. Let it be
We've all heard the phrase "let it go". Maybe it's just me that has an issue with letting things go, but I doubt it. Learning that letting it go does not have to mean forgetting or changing your feelings toward the situation has been a life savior. I'd say a more appropriate phrase might instead be "let it be". Recognize that you can't change it and that it will be what it is. Let it be.
5. If you want to be an artist- be one.
Creativity is like anything else- you must practice it in order to be good at it. You need it. Write more. Sing more. Draw more. Paint more.
6. Just write
The more you read, the better you will be at writing. And forget your imposter syndrome. You can write. You are a writer.
7. Caring gives the world meaning
You are never too much. They are simply too little. Your intensity and passion are a result of your care. You care- revel in it.
8. Know what you need and ask for it!
You are not asking too much. You are asking the wrong person. We all have issues. The secret to interpersonal relationships is knowing how to match your issues with the issues of those around you, and frankly, sometimes you'll realize that your issues aren't compatible enough to maintain that relationship.
9. It's okay to laugh
Hiding your excitement over things, hiding yourself through dressing down, hiding yourself through presenting one aspect of yourself as your whole- only hurts you. You are more than the kid who reads during recess. Don't hide under that façade.
10. You miss you
That loneliness you feel deep inside you has a fix. And it isn't other people. Spend time by yourself and enjoy it. Go out to eat. Walk the town square by yourself. Do what you want, when you want. I promise, you'll come to realize that you're the key to your own happiness, and it is much easier to find than you think it is.
11. Everyone is self-centered, and that's okay
You are loved and valued; however, everyone has a life. They have not forgotten about you. They are simply focused on themselves, and that is okay. You're focused on yourself too!
12. "No" is not a bad word
Creating clear boundaries saves yourself from a lot of pain and resentments. Don't allow your feelings of false responsibility and false guilt force you into doing things you don't want to do.
13. You'll drown holding onto a sinking ship
Holding on to things and people is not always a sentimental value (especially for you); it is an attempt to stay inside the known. In fifth grade, you will be asked what your biggest fear is and you will be told that your answer is profound when you say, "the unknown". This fear will follow you (as it does most everyone). You must actively fight it.
14. Failure is inevitable
Choosing to exert no effort rather than risking failure is still failing, you've simply guaranteed it. It doesn't save your ego and it hurts just the same. So what if you fail? Your life is still just as present before you, as it was. Try again- or try something new!
15. There is no timeline
You are behind and will always be. It is not a bad thing. You are a different flower from every other flower in the garden, but rest assured, when you bloom, you will be just as beautiful. Have patience. Your life is not on a timeline.
16. It's for you
Forgiveness is not for them. It is for you. Forgive- even when they aren't sorry. Give your heart a rest.
17. You will never be enough for someone who is not enough for themselves
You will never be enough for someone who is not enough for themselves. That is not your burden to carry. You should strive to love and to support, but do not lessen yourself to do so. When you are 18/19 you will be in a position with someone, in which their friend will tell you, "He's changing. I can see it, and it's because of you". You will let this thought keep you in a friendship that has you writing not one, not two, but multiple pro/con lists debating the whether you should leave. Spoiler alert: writing a pro/con list about a person and your relationship with that person is a HUGE red flag. Leave. The sooner the better. It will hurt, but the peace you'll find afterward will be worth it.
18. Moderation is key!
Too much of anything is a bad thing, truly. You can love someone too much. It looks like giving up boundaries and giving up key parts of yourself for someone else. You can care too much. It looks like allowing yourself to be destroyed by things that would never hurt you if someone else did them. You have a tendency toward lovingness, you must remember to belong to yourself first.
19. It'll all be back
Life is cyclical. You will be happy again, and unfortunately, you will be sad again. It's okay to be somewhere in the middle of the cycle, you'll go through it and then back again. Live in your happiness and make art during your sadness- it all has its purpose.
20. A thankful heart is a happy heart
Gratitude changes everything. Your perception is your reality. Stop looking at everything that's hurt you and start looking at what you have in front of you. Thank the universe for the sunny day, and the flowers, and the birds chirping. Thank the universe for reminding you of where your car keys are. Thank the universe for getting you home from work safely. The day is full of blessings, all you have to do is count them.