Let’s face it, there have been way too many moments in your life where you’ve had to learn something the hard way. And if you’re anything like me, those lessons or mistakes could have easily been avoided if you learned from the screw ups of others or, as we all fail to do, just listened to mom. At 19 years old, I have reached the conclusion that in order to truly grow, you should be willing to figure some things out the hard way.
1. When to walk away from a friendship.
I have had relationships where I stuck around simply because I didn’t feel as secure enough to stand on my own. This overwhelming wave of anxiety would crash over me and led me to believe that if I separated myself from the pack my life would become the scene in Mean Girls. You know, the one where Cady eats lunch by herself in the bathroom, it’s a terrifying thought. But all those times I allowed others to treat me like shit prepared me for the moment I put my foot down and stood my ground when I felt I was being treated unfairly in a friendship.
2. What kind of traits you’re looking for in a boyfriend or girlfriend.
I am not being dramatic when I say I have always been the single friend in the group. In high school, I didn’t have enough time to wash my hair let alone start a relationship with somebody. I’ve talked to guys and considered the idea of taking it to that next level, but I never let myself fully commit. Lol, plot twist! But from the few guys I have talked to for awhile or gone out on dates with, I have observed the type of qualities I want in a serious boyfriend, as well as the traits I pray to God my little brother never acquires. I say that this is something you must learn through personal experience because you have to figure out what you actually like, not just what sounds ideal. Date the super-douche, talk to the lead singer in an acapella group. Let yourself experience different personalities before you start creating your perfect partner.
3. How you cope with different situations.
When it comes to handling things as insignificant as a failed test or as life-altering as a death in the family, everyone is going to react differently. What some people do may not work for you, and that is 110% okay. For example, my best friend and I both experienced a disappointment around the same time: one of us turned to food, and the other turned to fitness. It’s all about feeling better in that moment; and in order to figure out where that source of pleasure comes from, you have to be willing to search for what is right for you. Eat the entire tub of ice cream, run until you physically cannot feel your legs. Do what your mind and body need to heal.
4. When to forgive.
The harsh reality is that sometimes people really suck; and often times, it’s people we never expected to be the ones who wronged us. Most of us have been on both sides of that equation and know how painful both positions equally are. When deciding on how to handle a situation as the one who has been hurt, my advice is remember that everyone, even the most incredible, inspirational person in your life, is human. Humans make mistakes and need to be forgiven. Holding a grudge will do nothing but make you bitter and unhappy.
5. How you want your life to turn out.
This universe is constantly testing us. Some days it will align perfectly and other days will feel as if the world is against you. The point is is that no one, unfortunately, has the ability to predict what is to come. So if that internship falls through or the school you dreamt about going to for years falls second to a different school, just go with it. Always have a goal in mind, but never be afraid to take steps that may offer you new opportunities. Just because it’s not the door you planned to knock on, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t walk in and see what’s in store.
Simply put, the lessons learnt the hard way are often of the highest value to our life. Embrace the mistake, accept the temporary pain, and apply what you’ve learned through this situation to the rest of your life.