My twentieth birthday is next Saturday, and I wanted to share some lessons I have learned throughout my life. I think it’s a good idea to sometimes take a pause in life and see where you’ve been, where you are, and where you want to be. I figured a great time to do this would be before turning twenty. Here are twenty lessons I have learned in twenty years.
- Someone in the world cares about you:
I have been in so many situations where I have been considered the inferior person. I remember in sixth grade, my best friend decided that she ranked someone else above me out of the blue. Losing a friend hurt, and I didn’t think anyone would ever want to be my friend, but flash forward a few years, and I have amazing and loyal friends. As I am currently going through a break up of sorts, I feel like I lost ‘the one’ but I know that isn’t true. One day I am going to find somebody that will love me for who I am, and not feel the need for anyone else’s attention. I promise, there are good people out there.
2. Sometimes you are forced to face reality before anyone should have to:
I have written about this before, but my grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when I was a young child. He didn’t remember who I was by the time I was eleven years old. Nobody should have to face the reality of harshly losing a loved one at such a young age. It was unfair that I had to go through that, but it did make me stronger as a person. I was forced to grow up a little faster than others, but it taught me to appreciate my loved ones at a young age.
3. It’s okay to cut toxicity out of your life:
There are certain people or situations that will completely drain you. It’s okay to cut that out of your life. You don’t have to be rude, but you are allowed to put your mental health first.
4. You’re not weak for asking for help:
I went such a long time knowing I had issues associated with depression, but I was scared to ask for help because I thought people would think I was weak. I was so completely wrong. There is nothing braver than admitting you are not a superhuman, and you need some assistance with getting better. There’s no shame in the game.
5. Your past does not dictate your future:
I am a human being, and I have made mistakes in the past. The only way this would be a huge problem is if I didn’t learn from them. My past is where I have been, but I have no intentions of living there.
6. It’s okay to question aspects of your life:
There is absolutely nothing wrong with questioning what you believe or what you have been taught. You are a person that is constantly growing, and it is so important that you don’t go through life blindly.
7. It’s okay to be different:
I used to be so self conscious about things that make me different. When I was in school, all I wanted was to fit in. Now, I am so happy that I have unique qualities. Everything that makes me different is directing me to where I want to be in life. I love what makes me different.
8. Appearance is not as important as personality:
Yes, appearance in a hygienic sense is important, but personality is what really seals the deal. I personally think that if someone has an amazing personality, they are more attractive. People that are worth your time won’t care about your appearance when they can become familiar with your soul.
9. Respect goes a long way:
I, like everyone else, have had to deal with people that I don’t agree with or even particularly like. Even though I’m not fond of someone, I always give them respect. In my experience, if you show someone respect, they will return the favor. Respect can be the difference between hell and being treated like a human being.
10. Dreaming doesn’t get you very far in life, but hard work does.
I think dreaming is essential for a happy life, but it won’t get you anywhere if you don’t pair it with hard work. Personally, I have always loved writing, but I wasn’t getting anywhere by just dreaming about it. I pushed myself, and I have won a poetry contest, and I am now working on a book. Whether or not this dream takes me anywhere, I won’t have to look back and wonder what would have happened if I had just tried harder.
11. Fake it until you make it:
I’m a young woman that does not know what the hell she is doing, but that’s not going to stop me from trying. When I’m at work, I have no idea what I’m doing, but my boss has complimented my work, so I guess I’m doing something right.
12. It’s okay to take a time out:
Life is absolutely crazy and overwhelming, of course you need to take a breather every now and then. Nobody would expect you to stay on the go for days on end without taking a break. When becoming too overwhelmed, it’s really in your best interest to take a break, and come back when you’re feeling refreshed.
13. Just because people are supposed to love you doesn’t mean they will:
There are people in this world that only care about themselves, and if you don’t cause them any personal gain, they won’t be interested. Some people in this world look at love like it is nothing but a business deal, that’s their problem, not yours. Unfortunately, these people are sometimes those who are supposed to love us unconditionally.
14. Education is so important:
I wish I could go back and tell my fifteen year old self that studying for my chemistry test was more important than trying to make everybody like me. I also wish I could tell myself that it’s okay to ask for extra help rather than getting too overwhelmed.
15. Experiences are more rewarding than tangible objects:
I cherish my memories far more than tangible items that I don’t even actually need. I would rather spend my money on creating memories with important people in my life than on something that I’ll just end up losing in a couple weeks.
16. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else:
Success is not something that can be easily measured. Sometimes, simply existing is the most complex thing a person can do. Without knowing a person’s history, you have no idea how hard they are fighting to be exactly where they are in the present moment.
17. Beating around the bush is a waste of time:
Being honest and straight forward is the quickest way to solve any conflict. It is crucial to let people know where you stand and let whatever happens just happen.
18. It’s okay to be a child at heart:
It’s important to be responsible, hardworking, and driven. It’s also important to enjoy life and find joy in simplicity. One day, I bought a dollar toy dinosaur after work, and I don’t regret it at all. I worked hard, and I earned the right to be silly and have a good time.
19. You have a right to feel emotions:
I have been told in my life that I shouldn’t feel what I feel, but I can’t just turn that off. Believe me, I try to not feel emotions or pretend I don’t care, but I know that is extremely unhealthy. Our emotions make us who we are, and that is nothing to be ashamed of. If something makes you happy, let it. If you think something is hilarious, laugh. Don’t ever let someone who hurt you tell you that you’re being unreasonable. You have every right to feel whatever damn emotion you naturally feel.
20. It’s okay to be a work in progress:
This is probably the most important lesson I have learned so far in my life. I had this picture of where I wanted to be in life at this moment, and I’m nowhere near there. I let the idea of this picturesque life completely destroy me. I thought that I would know what I want to do with my life at almost twenty and I would be working towards that by now. I thought I would have a clear picture of my future, but I don’t. I now know that’s okay. I am young, and I have so many failures and successful endeavors ahead of me. I’m still figuring out who I am and what impression I want to leave. There is so much pressure to have yourself together by the time you’re twenty, but that’s not necessary yet. There is so much people my age have yet to experience, how can we know exactly what we want? I am at the glorious age where I get to try so much and figure out what feels right for me. I’m not ashamed of not knowing what I want yet.
There you go, those are twenty lessons I have learned in (almost) twenty years. I look forward to learning more lessons in the years to come.