16 things learned in 16 years

So I turned 17 the other day. November 20th to be exact. It’s been a ride, let me tell you, and I think I’ve done quite a bit of growing. Over these 16 years, I’ve learned a little bit and every year I add something new to a mental list of things to always keep in mind. I thought I would share this list with you.

Yes, this type of post is overdone and somewhat contrived. Yes, this list might not mean anything to anyone else but me. But I’m writing it anyway, because maybe I can lend even the smallest piece of advice to someone. Let’s begin.

1. It doesn’t even matter.

I think one of the most pivotal moments of my 16 years is when I came to the realization that, in the grand scheme of things, nothing matters. It might sound nihilistic or depressing, but truly, it’s very freeing to just remind yourself before doing something risky or nerve wracking that “it doesn’t even matter”. And then you do it.

2. “It’s complicated” is not an answer to everything.

I find myself always reaching for this excuse when someone asks me if I’m okay, what’s wrong, or any other question I’d rather not spend time on. But sometimes, especially if it’s someone close to me, it’s better to just tell them. Yes, it’s complicated, but it’s bothering you and talking about it will rid you of some of the stress.

3. Get outside.

It’s not necessarily for everyone and it’s definitely cliche, but getting outside, breathing in fresh air, going for a walk, whatever – all makes me feel much more calm and helps clear my mind.

4. There’ll be bad face days, but it doesn’t mean you’re ugly.

Bad face days happen. When you look in the mirror and don’t even see one thing you like. Even the things you normally love about yourself are ugly to you. Those days suck. But it doesn’t mean you always look like that, it doesn’t mean you’re ugly. Just avoid the mirror that day, and come back when you feel bomb.

5. You can only control yourself.

This isn’t my own lesson, sure (check out The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin). But it’s one that when I read it, it changed me. I’d spent so much time focusing on how I could say just the right thing and make a person change their ways. Truly, you can only focus on how you can change yourself. Don’t worry about changing others, work on yourself and they’ll hopefully change accordingly.

6. There’s people you’ll never get over, but don’t allow them to consume you.

I had to come to terms with the idea that there will be people, friends you left behind or crushes you were rejected by, that you never quite get over. They always hold a place in your heart and when you see them, there’s a shift in the room. This isn’t wrong, but it shouldn’t mean you continue to chase these people and only focus on them. They aren’t a part of your life anymore, and it hurts, but it’s okay. Prioritize the people who are still with you.

7. Do makeup detoxes.

Sometimes taking a day, a week, whatever, to just not wear makeup is all you need. All you need to appreciate your natural beauty more, to feel more free, to save yourself some time in the morning even. It’s surprising how great you’ll feel by the end of it. Sure, the beginning is difficult. It feels like everyone is looking at you and scrutinizing your every flaw. But they’re not. They’re really not. So take a day.

8. Keep creating. In any way you can.

I like to write, I like to draw, I like to paint, I like to doodle, I like to make playlists, I like to make crafts. I like to create. It’s that simple. It brings me joy and a sense of calm to just sit down and make something, no matter how small.

9. Just fucking say it.

If you still have to think about it, then it’s obviously something you need to say.

10. Nobody has the magic spell you’re looking for.

You can share as much with another person as you want. You can tell them all your problems and issues. This is not bad. This is healthy. But no matter what you say, they can only offer comfort, not a solution to everything. It’s taken me a long time to accept this piece of advice.

11. If you are nothing more than what they say you are, then you are nothing.

12. You don’t need to stay somewhere that you are not welcome, appreciated, or comfortable.

This means family, friends, acquaintances, strangers, situations, physical places, anything. If you are uncomfortable, there is no shame in leaving, disassociating yourself with that thing, or just staying quiet.

13. See the release in the rejection.

Rejection is crushing. It can feel like you’re being burned to the ground or like you’re melting into a puddle. However you feel rejection, it isn’t necessarily all bad. It feels like the worst thing, but try and find the release in it. The last time I experienced rejection, I had this strange urge to smile. Even though I was in tears on my bedroom floor, a smile kept creeping back onto my face and I felt a wonderful lightness.

14. “Don’t settle for less than you deserve.” – Bethany Stewart

15. “Stop worrying about what people think.” – Laura Porto

16. Do better.

In any and every way possible.

I inserted two quotes from two girls at my school because I was at a loss for the last two. So thank you Bethany and Laura.

And here we are. 16 lessons later, and I hope you’ve been inspired. 16 years has been a journey, and so was writing this post.

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