Everyone is saying that 2016 was a horrible year. Granted, it was not the best. But I have to say that I learned some pretty valuable life lessons. I hit some big benchmarks. Graduating high school. Turning 18. I did some cool things. Some stupid things. I lost love and gained love. Overall 2016 taught me a lot about who I am as a person and what I want to be.
1. Middle School Girls ROCK.
I stepped outside my comfort zone in a big way this year and volunteered at the church camp I attended throughout my childhood as a camp counselor with the middle school week. I was with a tribe of boys and girls, but mainly worked with a smaller group of girls. I loved it! Before this week I had primarily volunteered with children under the age of 5. But considering my brother is middle school age, I gave it the 'what the heck' shrug and said I would do it.
Best week of my summer. I learned a lot about what it meant to be a Christian, a leader, and a friend. These girls sparked a desire in me to continue working with middle schoolers. They are curious and want people who are interested in them: not just getting volunteer hours out of it. When you actually listen and pay attention to what they have to say, they are full of life and excitement. I loved building them up and enjoy the new program I work with on campus. I can't wait to do another week of camp this summer!
2. It's okay not to know the answer.
Working as a church camp counselor, I was asked a lot of spiritual questions. One of the main questions I was asked was: how do I know if God is talking to me?
Well that is hard to explain. And at almost 18, the age I was at the time, I was not quite sure either. I went to an older youth minister, who was very intelligent and explained my dilemma. I felt like an inadequate leader for not knowing what the girls wanted me to tell them. It was then that he explained to me that not knowing was okay. Nobody knows all of the answers, and that is okay.
3. Letting go of people is good.
Sometimes it just hurts too much to have people in your life. Whether they be family or friends, they can cause more heart ache than you need in life. God does not want you to suffer and it is possible to love people from afar.
For a long time I believed that the commandment to love everyone meant that I had to have everyone in my life, regardless of the pain that they may cause. That forgiveness meant letting people back into my life. But that is not what God meant. God wants you to feel safe and secure, not threatened by the people in your life. And sometimes that means telling people that are trying to love you that things need to end.
Breaking bonds can leave you more freedom than pain. It may seem rude or harsh, but sometimes it is the best thing to do. It does not mean that you do not love someone, it means that you love yourself too.
4. I don't need make up to be beautiful.
I know so many girls who write "#nofliter" or "#natural". But the truth is, that is most of my selfies these days. Make up is a nice way to spice things up, when I feel like it. But frankly, between a movement disorder and being a college girl on a budget, makeup is not a priority.
It started in high school when I realized that it saved me time in the morning not to wear AS much make up. It became less and less until I was not wearing it everyday anymore. Makeup was no longer a priority in my life. Now that I am in college, I do not worry about it during my morning routine unless something very important is happening. Honestly, the only reason I wear make up is to not look like a 12 year old, and I don’t mind looking 12 anyways.
5. Sticking with your morals is a challenge.
One of the hardest parts of 2016 was losing my best friend over a conversation of moral values. Recently, I have moved past the anger and frustration of the situation and have tried to reach out to her to revive the friendship. It is hard to admit, but as you grow, sometimes things that seemed like a huge deal change.
But now that I am in college, I still face the dilemma of sticking to my moral values in social situations. Knowing that I regret losing a great friend, it is hard to see the benefit of avoiding situations that seem morally wrong. However, there is a lot of benefit to sticking to it.
6. Being 18 doesn't mean you're an adult.
Legally, 18 years of age is the qualification for being an adult. However, after almost six months of being 18 years old I have come to realize that this does not mean that I need to have everything figured out. Being a freshman in college is a step in the right direction for my age, I don’t need to push to do everything.
Most people I have met say that being an adult starts around thirty, which is very reassuring. There is no need to worry about having everything figured out, or being embarrassed that I still need to call my mom for help sometimes. Age does not suddenly bring about magical wisdom.