Twenty Lessons

This post marks the day I leave my teen years behind. Not like I feel any differently, but it’s remarkable to realize how far I’ve come in such a short number of years.

To commemorate my departure from adolescence, I wanted to take a little time to reflect and look forward to what is to come. Perhaps the best way I can do so is by listing some things I’ve learned along the way, far too many to count, but let’s stick to twenty.

1.Asking for help doesn’t make you incapable or weak. It takes courage.

I know I spent far too much time in silence simply because vulnerability freaked me out. The last thing I ever wanted to do was open myself up to anybody, let alone a stranger. I was scared of the repercussions. In reality, those repercussions were necessary. I had both bottled up my problems, pushing them further and further away, and refused to acknowledge them until I was a shell of a person. Asking for help, using your resources to take care of yourself, is the strongest choice you can make. Sure doesn’t make it easier. The benefits are definitely not immediate, but it is worth it.

2.You can’t force someone to like you, and that doesn’t make you any less worthy of love and acceptance.

All you really need in life is a core group of people who support you and love you for who you are. What other people think doesn’t really matter. You don’t need to sell yourself to others fully well knowing that you just don’t click. It’s normal. Just live your life to please yourself, and everything else will fall into place.

3.If you’re hungry, eat.

Eating an extra snack or going in for a little extra at a meal will not somehow ruin your life. Depriving yourself will only backfire in the long run. Comparing your meals and eating habits to others won’t do you any good, nor assuming that everybody is critiquing your own bodily necessities. And sometimes you have to eat when you aren’t hungry, too, for the times when your body is out of whack. Ultimately, food is not the enemy, so don’t treat food like anything other than what it is: food.

4.You’ll have plenty of days where your biggest accomplishment will be getting out of bed. Celebrate those little victories.

Life is just hard sometimes. Each day is not like the next. Some days will  be about accomplishing big tasks and spending time with others. Some days are about just doing basic hygiene and letting yourself rest. Both are inevitable, and again, comparison is the thief of joy. Or, in this case, celebration. Just because days look different doesn’t mean that they are not each a gift. The most important accomplishment you’ll achieve is simply living.

5.You make a greater impact on others than you might realize.

When you over-analyze every situation, you don’t really think that your existence is anything impressionable upon others. Talking to a blank wall, a walking mass of cells, just here. It might not be loud or dramatic, but people remember you. They recognize what you do. If you work hard, someone will appreciate it. If you need help, sometimes the person you’d least expect will reach out. And nothing of that nature ceases to blow you away every time.

6.It’s okay to not have it all figured out.

Plans change. You aren’t in complete control, and you’ll run in circles trying to do so. I don’t care if you’ve spent years envisioning your future in a certain way, allow room for life’s twists and turns. Heck, you’re still young. If you don’t have any life plan figured out right now, you will soon. (cough, grad school).

7.You are only a victim if you choose to be.

We all go through our fair share of challenges, but they only define you if you let them. Your perceptions are your reality. If you see your struggles as opportunities for growth, you become less of a victim and more of a warrior.

8.Time and a change of scenery can heal many wounds.

It takes a little time to get used to a change like college or living on your own, but man, is it great. Having a space and outlet to really be with yourself can help you appreciate the others in your life and figure out the person you truly want to be. Change is uncomfortable, but it leads to wonderful things.

9.Your health and well-being should always be your top priorities.

Wellness is the foundation for everything you do. You cannot successfully juggle school, work, relationships, or anything else if your mind and body aren’t functioning properly. If you can’t walk up a flight of stairs without your heart pounding or can’t focus on anything because you’re too anxious, take a step back and do what is best for you. The assignment you’re trying to complete a month in advance can wait.

10.Swallowing pills, phone calls, and other adult-ish things aren’t so bad.

The pills you take everyday are really small, and making and going to your own appointments still isn’t fun, but they aren’t as daunting as you make them out to be. It’s a part of life. Just get it out of the way.

11.Striving for perfection leads to failure.

Cliche as it sounds, nobody is perfect. “Perfect” doesn’t exist. One idea of perfect will just continue morphing into new ones until you completely lose yourself in the process. You may not be perfect, but you’re fine just the way you are. You are doing the best you can, and that is enough.

12.Labels don’t automatically solve problems.

Admittedly, it’s nice to have some sort of name or diagnosis to feel valid, like you aren’t just talking gibberish, that it isn’t just all in your head. But if the label addresses a problem, a label is only the beginning. It takes a lot of work, trial and error, before a label is accurately treated. Don’t discount labels, but don’t solely rely on them.

13.Never go a day without coffee.

When you have an addictive personality, starting a habit like coffee means you’re in for the long haul. Luckily it tastes good.

14.You don’t have to be the best at something to enjoy it.

As a lifelong perfectionist, I struggled a lot, especially in high school, due to its competitive nature. Everybody is joining as many activities as possible, trying to earn a leadership position to stick a line their resume and win some scholarship money. Except I’ve always been more of “third place” person. Never ending up first, but still doing pretty well. Which was not good enough for me. As that environment has shifted toward more individuality and less clawing your way to the top, I’ve come to appreciate just enjoying things that are fun and not forcing myself to do things that I don’t have to do just for the sake of a title.

15.Don’t make assumptions, especially about people.

As I myself have opened up more about my struggles, people who I never would have interacted with otherwise have come to me with similar backstories. People I assumed had everything put together and weren’t relatable. Boy, I was wrong, and that has opened my eyes to how despite considering yourself open-minded, you cannot make assumptions about the struggles we each face. Let your open mind become an open heart, too.

16.There is something good in every day.

I cannot expect every day to be good. Yes, my mindset can play a big role in what I perceive as good and bad, but it’s unrealistic to somehow turn every situation into a positive one. Sometimes it just sucks. But that doesn’t mean that every day is a gift, there is a purpose in living it, and whether it be a just a moment or its entirety, take the time to reflect on it and appreciate it.

17.Take off your mask.

In a similar frame of mind as the previous lesson, there are certain times when yes, you need to put on a brave face and bear the burden. You smile with others to celebrate their happiness, even if that means putting your emotions on the back burner. Heck, I’ve become great at it. But that also leads me to bottle up everything, to pretend it isn’t there until I cannot take it anymore. It’s much more important to be honest with yourself and others, admit when you aren’t okay, and be open with it.

18.Silence isn’t always a bad thing.

The dreaded “awkward silence.” I am a PRO at that. Stop seeing silence as something scary and dreadful and instead just natural. We become so overstimulated and used to some sort of background noise or screen in our faces to fill the void, but that simply increases our fear toward silence. Silence can speak so much louder than noise ever can. It can bring peace and comfort words cannot describe. So if you’re like me and are okay with that silent break in conversation, embrace it unapologetically.

19.Overthinking creates more problems than life ever will.

There is a big difference from being cautious and smart, to going over the line, blowing things up into extreme proportions to the point that what was simple turns into menacing. Thanks, anxiety. But what we think, we attract in our lives. What we think becomes our perception of reality. Learn to stop yourself in those times of uncertainty, dwelling on measly decisions because of possible repercussions. Listen to your gut before your mind takes completely over. Life is as complicated as we make it out to be.

20.The best is yet to come. Always.

The past is behind you and will never define you. You have the power to recreate yourself in every breath that passes through your lungs. The past will never return, and each time you glance over your shoulder, you hold yourself back. You reread the same old chapter on an endless loop. But the present moment has the potential for even better. The future holds possibility and opportunity we cannot ourselves predict. It’s time to flip the page. Move forward with the passing of time because fighting against nature only limits our time to gaze at the beauty surrounding us before it passes by. No matter your age, background, or situation, the present moment is a gift, and it’s never too late to start making the most of every second.

Have a wonderful day everyone. And with each day, make the most of it. Cherish it.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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