"I'm getting so old."
As I blew out my birthday candle, that was the only thing I could think about: I'm aging and soon I'm going to have to be a real adult. Who has to do taxes, have a real grown-up job, and buy toilet paper (in bulk, of course!). With only one year left of being a "teen" before reaching the two-decade milestone, I decided to reflect upon by full 18 years of existence using two of my favorite things: songs and movies.
Feel free to take my life lessons with a grain of salt (and occasionally, with an entire salt shaker! :)) After all, I'm only 19; what do I know?
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1. "Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."
Unless there's a chocolate cheat sheet in your box. But life has no shortcuts, no definitive answers, no "life hacks." You can plan every aspect out of your life in an attempt to control it , but sh!t always seems to go down. Also, if life were so controllable and predictable, there wouldn't be as much excitement, spontaneity, and fun. "You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you" (Brain Tracy).
(Forrest Gump played by Tom Hanks in "Forrest Gump")
2. "JUST. DO. IT!! DON'T LET YOUR DREAMS BE DREAMS."
"Yesterday you said tomorrow. So just do it! Make your dreams come true." Don't start tomorrow, don't start in an hour, start NOW. We waste our entire lives waiting for the 'perfect' time, the 'perfect' opportunity but there will NEVER be a time or place that's "perfect." One month, one year, one decade from now, you'll have wished you started today. So JUST DO IT. Transform your dreams become your reality. Live the life you have always imagined for yourself.
**Pro-tip: Work on your goals for 15 minutes a day. Just 15 minutes. Start today, and continue for two weeks. You'll be shocked at how much you can progress in 1/4 of an hour.**
(Shia Lebouf's "Just Do It" Motivational Youtube video)
3. "I got enemies, gotta lotta enemies, gotta lotta people tryna drain me of my energy..."
Okay, maybe you don't have that many legitimate enemies but I promise Drake's lyrics are always relevant: be with the people who energize you and avoid those who drain you.
"You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with" (Jim Rohn). Have you ever met someone who just radiated positive vibes or the complete opposite? Or have you ever just completely vibed with someone, as if you both were on the same wavelength? Have you felt energized or drained after being in the presence of someone? Next time you interact with others, think about what type of energy they give off and pay attention to what vibes YOU portray.
Energy, ATP (#BioReferences), time, we have a limited supply. So be wary of how you spend it, who you spend it on, and what type of energy you give off to others.
("Energy" by Drake)
4. "You can count on me like 1, 2, 3, I'll be there 'Cause I know when I need it I can count on you like 4, 3, 2, you'll be there."
On the flip side of enemies... Every relationship -- whether it be romantic, friendly, parental, etc. -- requires mutuality. One must give respect in order to gain respect and the same goes with love and sacrifice. Make sure you're not the doormat or the leech in the relationship. Give love freely but also pay attention to how much is reciprocated.
("Count On Me" by Bruno Mars)
5. "It's just me, myself, and I, solo ride until I die, 'cause I've got me for life."
At the end of the day, it comes down to YOU. It doesn't matter how much others try to convince you; it's only you who can change your own mind. It's you who is going to have to pick yourself back up when you fall.
So get on good terms with the monsters inside your head and be your own best friend.
("Me, Myself & I" by G-Eazy ft. Bebe Rexha)
6. "You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage... of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it."
What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?
Well guess what: you should do it anyway. Fear and doubt kill more opportunities than failure ever will. Whether it be asking out that cute girl in your class, signing up for your first dance competition, or applying to the top med school in the nation, take the chance because you never know what will happen unless you JUST DO IT (Life Lesson #2). What's the worst that can happen? The girl declines, you faceplant during your dance routine, you don't get into WashU Med School. You recover from heartbreak (because your next crush is on the horizon), you know your next comp can only go uphill from here, and you spend another year studying for the MCAT before getting in. Not so bad, right? Life could be much worse.
At least you won't look back on life with regrets and "what if"s because at least you know you tried.
**Here's my challenge to you: do something today that scares you, something that requires 20 seconds of courage. I dare you. I dare you to see what amazing changes happen as a result. Then repeat all day erryday**
(Benjamin Gee played by Matt Damon in "We Bought A Zoo")
7. "Don't be mad 'cause I'm doing me better than you doing you."
Be unapologetically you. Society is always going to judge and it's impossible to please everyone. So might as well be 110% yourself because by being you, you put something in the world that wasn't there before. YOU DO YOU, BOO. Prove them wrong and kill 'em with your success and kindness (Life Lesson #15).
("Sweatpants by Childish Gambino ft. Problem)
8. "Shoot me down, but I won't fall. I am titanium." "I've got thick skin, and an elastic heart."
"Fall seven times, stand up eight" (Japanese proverb).
Meaningful growth requires challenge and stress. Just like muscles have to be broken down with exercise before growing stronger, sometimes you need to endure challenging situations in order to become a more resilient, a more sympathetic person. Think of it this way: adversity has the potential to shape you into the best version of yourself by building your inner strength. And "if nothing else, one day you can look someone straight in the eyes and say, 'But I lived through it. And it made me who I am today'" (Iain S. Thomas).
So stay strong, continue persevering, and if you're going through hell, keep going.
("Titanium" by David Guetta ft. Sia, "Elastic Heart" by Sia)
9. "It's ok not to be ok."
How are you? No, seriously, how are you?
Many of us walk through our days with a facade, forcing a smile and saying "I'm good" even when we're not. It's ok to express negative emotions, it's ok to cry, it's ok to feel as though the world is ending (it's not, I promise you). Because if we never experience adversity or hardships, we won't appreciate the good times.
("Who You Are" by Jessie J)
10. "Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light."
Regardless of what situation you're going through, there is always something to be happy about and appreciative for. Sometimes, all we can do is hope and more often times than not, it is enough to keep us sane, to keep us alive for the time being. Turn on the light within you even when you are surrounded by pitch black.
(Albus Dumbledore from "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban")
11. "Way up, I feel blessed".
Count your blessings everyday. You can have the most spectacular life, surrounded by the greatest people, opportunities, circumstances, but if you take everything for granted, none of it matters. Wake up naming five things you are grateful for and constantly be thankful for the life you have.
("Blessings" by Big Sean ft. Drake and Kanye West)
12. "Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days when our mommas sang us to sleep but now we're stressed out."
This song screams nostalgia and teenage angst. Growing up means more responsibilities, more expectations, more stress; we all have moments where we wish we could go back in the past, where things seemed much simpler and we seemed much happier. Reminiscing about the past happens, but if it's a constant occurrence, that might be a sign that you aren't appreciating the present.
Don't be a Jay Gatsby longing after the green light, "borne back ceaselessly into the past." ("The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald). Consider this: some of the best days in your life haven't happened yet, because they're somewhere out there in the near future.
("Stressed Out" by Twenty One Pilots)
13. "The mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work unless it's open."
I know that it is from neither a movie nor part of song lyrics but in a world of discrimination, arrogance and narrow-mindedness, this is incredibly pertinent. Strength is the ability to unbiasedly listen to the opinion of others and change your mind if necessary.
14. "I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly. I'll do what it takes 'til I touch the sky."
Our environment has such a vital influence on who we are. Step out of your comfort zone because your goals, dreams, and life ambitions are only relative to your "world." So jump out of your nest, leap from your small pond to the ocean, and open new doors of opportunities for yourself.
You'll never know how high you can fly or how far you can swim if you stay planted where you are.
("Breakaway" by Kelly Clarkson)
15. "When there is kindness, there is goodness. When there is goodness, there is magic."
Every single person walking on the face of this planet is going through their own struggles and inner demons, that we neither know about nor understand. Thus, everyone, INCLUDING YOU, has no reason NOT to be kind. Even if someone is extremely rude or disrespectful to you without reason, realize that it's most likely a reflection of his or her insecurities or current struggles. Genuine kindness and compassion has the power to rebuild communities and spark miracles.
Be the light in a world full of destruction, devastation, and darkness.
(Ella's Mother from "Cinderella")
16. "Unless someone like you cares a whole lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."
In regards to kindness and goodness, find something that you're passionate about and give back! Whether it be petting thousands of lonely dogs or collecting thousands of clothes for the impoverished, volunteer at an organization that adds more purpose to your life.
("The Lorax" movie, original book by Dr. Seuss)
17. "But to live doesn't mean you're alive... 'Cause everybody dies but not everyone lives."
Do the things that make you feel alive, be with people who make you feel alive. We are constantly waiting to be happy, to truly "live" -- "I'll finally have a life after I get into college," "I'll start pursuing my passion after I retire," "I'll be happy when I lose enough weight." Why not feel alive NOW, at this very moment? Life is too damn short to delay living, truly living.
“We all have two lives. The second one starts when we realize that we only have one” (Tom Hiddleston).
("Moment 4 Life" by Nicki Minaj ft. Drake)
18. "Don't stop believin'!"
Believe in yourself, believe in others, and believe in this twisted beautiful journey we call life!
("Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey) but did I really have to cite it for you to know
Which of these life lessons will you take with an entire salt shaker? :) What have you learned during your years of wisdom and experience?