1. You will make mistakes.
I put this one first because it just keeps slapping me in the face everywhere I turn, but instead of getting down about my mistakes, I've learned to accept them as part of my growth. Making mistakes is part of being human honestly, but they just seem bigger and more detrimental when you are young. Don't ever let anyone make you feel less than for the mistakes you have made. I have made more mistakes than I can count, some small, some really, really, big, but I'm still here and I'm a much stronger person. Your mistakes do not define you, what defines you is what you do next.
2. Be yourself.
This year I had the realization that I wasn't being myself, but rather I was being the person people expected me to be. I realized how hard I was trying to hide the real me because I didn't think people would like that person. But I like that person, and that's all that matters. Friends, family, and society are all going to try to shape you into the version of you that they want, but at the end of the day you're the one who has to be happy with the person you are and that's all that matters. The more I started being myself the more I started to form more genuine relationships. There is only you and it would be a shame to hide that from the world.
3. Grades do not determine your self worth.
This semester was R O U G H. I'm the type of person that has always been hard on myself when it comes to school, but this year I really learned that just because I got a bad grade doesn't mean I'm a bad person. Some people are bad test takers, some can't write an essay, but it doesn't make you a failure if you do poorly on an assignment or in a class. Our society loves to judge people based on numbers, but honestly who cares? Sure, at the end of the day you need to pass or graduate eventually, but whether you get a 100% or a 0%, you are still you and you are still an amazing person regardless of what the grade says.
4. Hugs can fix most things.
Never underestimate the power of a warm hug. There have been so many times in life where I thought I couldn't make it or that it was the end of the world, and then I received a hug from a loved one and everything felt okay again. I'm not saying all of your problems will be solved, but there's something about the comfort of a hug that can do wonders when you are hurting.
5. Challenge yourself.
Do things outside your comfort zone. Take risks. Do that thing you've always wanted to do but weren't sure if you were good enough or smart enough or talented enough. Read Shakespeare. Take a biology class. Learn a new language. We get so comfortable in our daily routines that we often forget how much we are capable of. I took the step this year to get my 200hr yoga teacher certification and I am so happy I finally challenged myself because it's been incredibly rewarding. Step outside your box and see what's out there.
6. Tell people you love them.
This is SO important. I've never been a fan of expressing emotions, because honestly I am just afraid of being rejected. But by doing that I was only hurting myself and keeping people out of my life who truly care about me. This has taken a lot of work but I've gotten so much better about telling the people in my life that I love them and it's made me (and them) happy. Life is so short and I've seen tragedies happen and so it's become so important to me to tell people how I feel.
7. You can't run away from your problems.
You guys, I really tried, like sprinted, but they ALWAYS caught up with me in the end. No matter where you try to run, you are still the same person, and you will be until you learn to deal with your problems. I'm not a master at dealing with my problems by any means, but I've learned that confronting them is a lot healthier than the alternative. It's not easy, it's a lot of hard and sometimes shitty work, but it's worth it in the end.
8. Spend time outside.
Go outside. Literally right now. It is amazing the wonders fresh air can do. I have been spending so much more time outside over the past few years and I'm a much happier person. I love feeling the warm sun kiss my face, sand squishing between my toes, smelling fresh cut grass, hearing the ocean waves crash. There is so.much.beauty. out there. It's honestly breathtaking. Get outside as much as possible, it's more healing and rejuvenating than anything I know.
9. Do what you love.
Whatever it is, do it. Do all of it. Everything you love. Never stop doing it. I stopped doing what I loved for a little bit and I'm so sorry I did. I'm back into writing, photography, yoga, and many other things now, and my life is so much better. Anything that makes your soul feel alive is where you should invest your time. Stop doing things that don't serve you any good. Spend time doing what you love with people you love, because there's really nothing better. Do what you love because you love yourself.
10. Eliminate toxic people.
Say goodbye to people who hinder your life, they don't belong in it. Anyone that makes you feel poorly does not deserve a place in your life. Toxic people suck the energy out of you and cause so much damage. It's hard, but necessary. I've cut people out of my life because the relationships were harming me more than benefitting me and it was difficult, but I felt so much lighter after. There are so many wonderful human beings out there, don't waste your time on ones who make you feel shitty.
11. You matter.
You literally matter so much. There is only one you, no one can replace you, never forget that. I spent so much time thinking I didn't matter and it was really sad and so far from the truth. All of the little quirks that make us the people we are are so beautiful and unique. There are so many people who care about you, more than you could even know. It's easy to let our perceptions of ourselves get in the way, but when I pushed my negative self thoughts aside and allowed myself to see how much I mattered to people, everything changed. You fucking matter.
12. Spend time alone.
Become your own best friend. Learn to love being alone with yourself. I used to hate being alone, to the point where I would do anything to avoid sitting with my own thoughts, but once I started to deal with the things I needed to deal with I began to really value my alone time. It's okay to say no to plans, it's okay to stay in on a Friday night, it's okay to watch a movie by yourself. It may be uncomfortable at first, but over time it will be so rewarding.
13. It's okay to not be okay.
Somehow it's become shameful in our society to be anything other than happy and it's so ridiculous. You are human, and part of being human is knowing it's okay to be sad sometimes, it doesn't make you any less good, just human. No one has it together all the time, and the more we learn to accept that the better we will all feel. I used to be so stubborn and refused to ever admit I wasn't okay because I thought it made me weird, or weak, or a failure, but over time I learned it's the exact opposite. It's normal to not be okay sometimes, and admitting it makes you stronger than keeping it inside. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you need to feel and know that it is 100% valid.
14. Ask questions.
I used to be self conscious about how many questions I ask in school, but overtime I have learned that you can learn something from every single person you meet if you ask the right questions. Be inquisitive, it is a precious quality to have. One of my professors always said "question authority" and it stuck with me. It's easy to accept the things we are told every day, but sometimes we get so comfortable we forget to question the world around us. Ask what's going on in our government, ask about other religions, ask about where something came from. Strike up a conversation with a stranger, make an acquaintance into a friend, ask people their best childhood memory or the first time they experienced heartbreak. Ask people for advice, ask people what they've been through, ask them their likes and dislikes, ask whatever your heart desires. Everyone we meet can teach us something, don't be afraid to ask these teachers questions when the opportunity presents itself. Embrace your inquisitive nature and see where it takes you.
15. Some people won't like you.
This one is hard for people pleasers like me to accept, but it's the harsh truth. I used to try so hard to make people like me because I wanted their approval so badly, but the only one I was hurting was myself. I realized that just like I don't like some people, some people aren't going to like me, and that's okay. It doesn't make you a bad person, it just means that you don't vibe with them, and you should put your energy and time elsewhere. Instead of getting wrapped up in why people don't like you, focus on the ones who do because they are the only ones who matter, and make sure you like yourself.
16. Pain is temporary.
Some hurt lasts longer, but eventually the pain will stop. It's easy to get consumed by pain when you are in the midst of it, but knowing that it's only temporary is so important. Life can really suck sometimes, and it can make you really angry, or sad, or hopeless, but one day you will wake up and it will all hurt a bit less. I look back on times where I thought the pain would never end and realize how far I've come and how temporary it all was. Pain is inevitable, but knowing that it won't last forever is important in order to get through it.
17. Take lots of pictures.
There are so many precious moments in life worth capturing. My whole life I've always been the girl with the camera at parties and I'm so glad because now I have a million pictures to look back on some of my fondest memories. Take pictures of your hometown, your favorite beach, your friends and family, yourself. One of my favorite things to do is look back on the pictures I've taken throughout my life, it's always a glorious combination of smiles, laughter, and tears. Out of our whole lives there are only a handful of moments we will truly remember, but by taking lots of pictures we are able to capture those beautiful fleeting moments so that we can remember them forever.
18. Make new friends.
Even though it can be scary to put yourself out there, meeting new people and making new friends is incredibly rewarding. I've never been shy per say, but I was always nervous to ask people to hangout or strike up a conversation with a stranger because I didn't want them to reject me. But some of the best friendships I have came from stepping outside my comfort zone and taking initiative. Make friends that care about the same stuff that you do, make friends that come from different backgrounds, make friends that are older or younger than you. I feel like as we get older it becomes more awkward to try to make new friends, but I would have missed out on so many amazing friendships if I shied out.
19. Treat yo self.
Get your nails done, buy yourself something nice, put on a face mask. There are so many ways to treat yourself and everyone deserves a treat sometimes. Let yourself indulge once in a while and don't feel guilty about it. There should be no guilt associated with eating what you want. Most days of the week I eat salads and grilled chicken, but sometimes I'll eat a whole bag of party sized Doritos or scarf down four rice crispy treats, and you know what, that's okay! Life's short, eat the damn cake, buy the shoes, take the nap, do whatever you need to do.
20. Hitting rock bottom is a good thing.
To quote Bridesmaids, "I'm telling you, hitting rock bottom is a good thing. Because there's nowhere to go but up." Hitting rock bottom can feel hopeless and overwhelming, but overtime I've come to realize that it can be the perfect opportunity to rebuild your life. Recently I hit rock bottom and I was sad about it for a bit, but it gave me the push I needed to get my life together and to make changes that were long overdue. There's nothing to be ashamed of about feeling like you've hit rock bottom, we've all been there, don't be afraid to ask for help. Chances are someone has been in your shoes and can give you a helping hand. The most important lesson I've learned from hitting rock bottom is not to stay there, but to dust yourself off and put the pieces back together bit by bit.
21. No one has all of the answers.
I could write these posts until the day I die, and I still won't have all the answers. I was always the type of kid that asked "why" to everything, and honestly not much has changed. But I've learned to accept and be comfortable with the fact that I will never know everything and that some questions will be left unanswered. I'm young, I have learned a lot, but I still have so much left to learn, and some things I will never learn, and I'm perfectly okay with that.
Another birthday post in the books! I have no doubt that this next year will be filled with endless lessons and experiences and I am looking forward to it all. What are some of the best lessons you have learned?