Now that I am two weeks into my 20th year, I think it is important to reflect on all of the things I learned during my 19th.
I think every year has something different that defines it for us, and for me, my 19th year was one of incredible personal growth and realization. These are the 19 most important things I learned, and best pieces of advice I can give, having just finished my teenagers years.
1. Peoples' Opinions Don't Matter
Genuinely, it does not matter what people think of you (to an extent, that is). I mean really, who cares? As long as you are making yourself happy and not hurting people along the way, who cares. Before I came tot his realization, I was constantly worried about fitting in and about presenting myself in a way that would be best received. Realistically though, it does not matter. At all. The only opinion of you that truly matters is your own. Anyone worth keeping around will love you for you.
2. Cherish It While It Lasts
This is easily one of the most important lessons I learned at 19. Cherish every single second. Cherish every moment you spend with your friends, cherish every laugh, every tear you shed... everything. The truth is, time really does fly by, and none of us truly now how much time we will have here. Now, I frequently find myself looking back at the year behind me and realizing how many things I took for granted. I am constantly talking about how much I miss being in certain situations and around certain people who aren't part of my life anymore, and I definitely wish I had cherished it all while I had it. You don't get a second chance, so don't take anything for granted.
3. My Worth
At the age of 19, I finally, genuinely learned my worth. Prior to this, I had been treated terribly in countless situations, and I had allowed myself to be treated that way, either making excuses for the other person's behavior or simply letting it slide because I cared for that person so much. Now, when I find myself in situations that I already allowed myself to struggle through, I've realized that I finally have a sense of strength that I did not have before. I am no longer willing to allow people to treat me like you-know-what, because I know that I don't deserve that. No one does.
4. Heartache Is Temporary
When someone you love hurts you, it can feel like the pain will last forever. Heartbreak can definitely be overwhelming and extremely intimidating, and it is easy to fall into a mindset where you convince yourself that you'll never get over it. Truth be told, though, time really does heal, it is just a question of how much time you need. don't ever feel like your progress is taking place too slowly or that your feelings are invalid. Your feelings are completely valid and it is entirely okay to take as much time as you need to heal and find yourself again. Whether it takes a week, a month, a year, or even more, you will heal. I was finally able to experience the end of a healing process when I was 19.
5. If It's Not Worth It, Don't Bother
Don't bother wasting your time and energy on something that won't be worth all of the time and energy spent on it. For example, don't drain yourself trying to save a one-sided friendship or other relationship. Don't give your all to anyone or anything that doesn't give back something just as amazing.
6. Leave The Past In The Past
This is easily one of the most important things anyone can learn at any age. Living in the past does nothing but take away from the present. Allowing yourself to get caught up on something that is history is not only unhealthy, but also unproductive. Focus on the now, and keep looking forward. I learned this the hard way.
7. Procrastinating Really (really) Isn't The Answer
Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking. We all already knew procrastinating wasn't good. Realistically though, we all get stuck in a time crunch sometimes and end up leaving something to the last minute.Or we do it just because we're lazy. Now that I am a college sophomore, however, this simply is not as realistic as it once was. I used to be able to scrape by even if I completed an important project hastily, but now things are getting more heightened and this just isn't what I should be doing (or anyone, honestly). Instead, chip away at big projects little by little, so that by the time the due date begins to sneak up on you, there's only a small amount of work left to be done, if any. Not only does this save you from the last minute scrabble, but it is always a huge stress reducer.
8. Let Them Leave
If someone walks out of your life, let them leave. The people who are meant to be in your life will either stay in the first place (preferably), or come back. On their own. I am a huge believer in fate and in the idea that what is meant to be, will be. If something is meant to happen, it will. I spent 19 years of my life trying to force things into existence and desperately hanging on to people who treated me terribly just because I cared for them and hated the thought of them being gone. Moving forward, I am done wasting my energy on people who don't care to spend any of theirs on me. Let them leave.
9. Don't Start A New Show When You Have Obligations
You will become obsessed, you will waste all of your time watching it, and you will show up to classes sleep deprived from binging season two. Ladies and gentlemen, that's what winter break is for.
10. He Ain't Worth Sh*t
Someone who doesn't treat you right doesn't deserve you. Simple as that.
11. Let Karma Do Her Job
I firmly believe that what goes around comes around. Karma is more powerful than any of us, and that is precisely why we cannot and SHOULD NOT try to take it upon ourselves to act out what we believe is "karma's job". By that I mean that if someone treats us poorly, we should not take it upon ourselves to react with an "eye for an eye" mentality. We should not retaliate and seek out revenge. Rather, find it in your heart to move on and keep progressing, and trust that karma will do its work. The energy that you put out into the world comes right back to you, and if you react to negative situations negatively, I strongly believe this will just continue the cycle of negative repercussions. Instead, I have learned that it is endlessly more beneficial to take a negative situation for what it is, acknowledge and accept it, and then move forward with life, finding comfort in knowing that things will work out.
12. If You Think Something's Wrong, You're Probably Right
Go with your gut. More often than not, if you feel like something is... off.... about a certain situation or person, you're probably right. If the vibes you're picking up on are contrary to your own, you might be better off not engaging. You meet a lot of people in life, and this means you will also meet a lot of people who just... aren't your kind of person. And that is perfectly fine. It is so much better to immediately recognize that you don't vibe with someone than to string it along in hopes that it'll even out. If your gut is saying no, it's probably just a no.
Just generally speaking if something feels wrong to you, it is almost always best to go with your gut. You're better off staying in tune with the energy you are picking up on.
13. Real Friends Will Be There
When it comes down to it, the people in your life who are real and who truly, truly care about you, will be there no matter what. you won't have to searching for them in your times of need. They will already be right by your side. These are the people who build you up, who motivate you, and who love you simply for you, and these are the people you should focus your time and energy on. Sometimes it takes terrible things happening to show you who's real and who is not, and at the end of the day, it is always better to have fewer true friends than hundreds of fake ones who couldn't care less. Better yet, hundreds of real friends. It's possible. There really are good people out there regardless of how hard it might be to find them.
14. Don't Go Looking For Something That Isn't There
This is an easy way to drive yourself insane. Specifically in terms of feelings and connections with people, do not, I repeat, do not go looking for something that isn't there. You cannot force a connection into existence if it simply isn't there. Don't convince yourself a connection exists when it doesn't, but more importantly don't blame yourself for another person's feelings.
Sometimes, where there once existed a strong connection, there may no longer be one. That's okay, too. That's part of life, regardless how much it sucks. If this happens, your best option is to power through it and keep moving forward, because eventually you will find that person with whom you're meant to be.
Don't waste your time on connections that aren't there when you could instead focus on the ones to come.
15. Let It Go
When something inconvenient happens, ask yourself this: will it matter in two weeks? Three? Two months? A year? So on and so forth.
Weigh the real gravity of the situation. If you conclude that this is not something that will matter longterm, let it go. Stupid, small, contained inconveniences literally mean nothing and they aren't worth stressing over. Any inconvenience that doesn't matter longterm is something you don't need to stress over, and shouldn't stress over. It isn't worth it, and it's pointless.
It's a pointless way to get yourself worked up and mentally drained. Plain and simple. Just let it go.
16. Not Looking At Your Phone Before Bed Actually Does Help
I'm sure we've all heard that you should put away all of your screens about 30 minutes to an hour before you go to bed, and I'm sure I'm not alone when I say I have always liked to pretend this isn't a fact.
In reality, this truly does make a difference. The amount of time you spend looking at a screen before going to sleep really does affect your sleep quality and duration, and every time I make a conscious effort to put down my phone a reasonable amount of time before bed, I wake up in the morning actually feeling rested.
If you're someone who is glued to a screen right before bed, and you swear you still wake up feeling adequately rested, try this once or twice and see what kind of difference it makes. You might find that your idea of "rested" is not quite what it should be.
17. Panic Attacks Are Way Overlooked
During my 19th year, I experienced my first, real panic attack. And let me tell you.... it was not fun. Nor were the several that followed.
Panic attacks are not as simple as sudden bursts of extreme, crippling anxiety. They are not mere moments of fear and nervousness. They are so much more frightening and exhausting than that.
For me, my heart began to pound so fast that I couldn't think of anything else except how fast my heart was beating. Suddenly, it felt like I couldn't breathe, and I genuinely couldn't. I could not take a deep breath, which only made me panic more, which in turn made my heart start to beat even faster. Then my ears began to ring, and I was trembling, and getting dizzier every second. A panic attack is mental, yes, but it is also physical. During a panic attack, your body draws blood away form your extremities and into your core in anticipation of injury, in order to prevent you from bleeding out should a serious injury be inflicted. During a panic attack, your body and mind go into full fight-or-flight mode and it feels like you are losing control completely. I felt like I was having a heart attack, and it wasn't until several doctors assured me it was a panic attack that I was able to learn how to control the onset of my panic attacks and ultimately make them subside.
Panic attacks are not to be taken lightly.
18. Small Minds Talk About People
I once read something that said that small minds talk about people, and strong minds talk about ideas. To me, this is easily one of the most valuable things to keep in mind, and it is something I think about constantly. I think it is so incredibly important to have valuable and intellectually stimulating discussions, and this doesn't happen by gossiping.
In another sense, too, if you find that people around you seem to have a lot to say when you're not around, you can definitely get a laugh out of the idea that this means they're small-minded.
19. Have Fun While You Can
For anyone reading this who is in my age group: have fun while you can. This is our only time cut out of our lives during which we are meant to be, and expected to be, irresponsible and having the time of our lives. Even more, this is kind of our last chance to be irresponsible before we are thrown out into the real world to figure things out for ourselves.
So, make the most of it. Embrace it. Go out on a Tuesday. Stay up talking with your friends until 5 because you'd rather be awake with them than actually getting some sleep. Make mistakes, pull all-nighters, laugh until you cry, and make memories. This is the time to do it.
Embrace every moment of every day and live in the now. One day we will be missing this.