16 Things You Learn The Hard Way On The Road To Growing Up

Tomorrow I am 22. Today I look back on the long road that’s lead me here. It doesn’t involve Taylor Swift, the mourning of carefree days or the hardships of being a twenty-something, for somewhere along the way I fell into a few dark holes that gave me perspectives and experiences I never thought I’d need to learn for myself. Here’s what a redemptive departure from self-destruction has taught me over the years.

1. Alcohol will not disinfect your internal wounds, no matter how much it stings on the way down.

2. You cannot save someone who is lost in themselves, no matter how hard you try. Likewise, you are the only one who can save yourself.

3. Some people believe in a God, or many Gods, and some do not. This has no effect whatsoever on how good of a person they are, on if their marriage will work, or on how they may try to right any wrongs they have committed. Get to know people for who they are, not what they believe.Driving 120 kilometers an hour down a rural highway with Johnny Cash riding shotgun will not make things better but it will ease the pain more than another day spent alone in the dark.

4. Don’t cut into your arms thinking you will sow pure relief after planting the blade. Relief may come, yes, but it will be poisoned with the pollen of everything you were trying to drown out, causing your pain to grow fresh once again.

5. Do not keep reading articles on why you MUST travel RIGHT NOW or you’re MISSING OUT FOREVER if you are currently unable to or are not interested. You know why you are not traveling now; you know the circumstances that are disallowing you to to take to the wind like the sparrow you watch out your front window every day. Your reality is different than theirs no matter how many times they write that there is no excuse for you not to be in India right now.

6. Always keep extra granola bars in your backpack for when you go into the city. You may not have the money or desire to give to everyone you see, but the man with the sign around his neck telling you he’s hungry needs that $.25 bar much more than you do.

7. Sometimes you mother will cry and you will need to hold her as she has held you so many times. Rock her gently and rub her back as she did to you; repeat the same little rhymes she told you when you’re little world felt like it was falling apart. remember that even super glue gives way sometimes and that it needs a bit of warmth and time to hold everything together again.

8. A horse will never judge you for anchoring yourself to her when you feel life is about to wash you away. Throw your arms around her neck and know that if you cry she will only pull you in closer to her with her soft, strong head.

9. People will say more with their eyes than with their words. Some of the strongest pain I’ve seen was accompanied by “I’m fine”’s, despite scarred eyes whispering that they no longer have desire to go on. Some of the most meaningful “I love you’s” have come from silent mouths despite eyes that scream it loud and clear through the storm. Some of the sweetest words come from wide grins whose message is made obsolete by cold eyes. Don’t believe someone if their eyes don’t match what they’re saying.

10. Everyone has problems and struggles and there is no scale of less or greater than when it comes to life experiences. Do not scoff at people who have problems that seem simple to you; do not tell others that you wish you had their problems instead of your own. You condescension will do nothing to ease their pain but it will make you seem like a pretentious asshole.

11. Stillness, like silence, is as necessary as business, but it is often abandoned and replaced with devices. Spend a day on an old, secluded trail with a bagged lunch and a notebook and notice how sometimes the sound of your own breathing and the scatter of leaves is the only soundtrack you need.

12. You do not need to love or be with someone simply because they love you. Sometimes love is not enough, no matter how much of a good person they are. Kiss their forehead one last time and walk away before you find yourself too attached to let go.

13. You are not a static character in a pre-determined setting. It is okay to go from being a leather jacket clad teenager finding solace in the streets of the city to a young woman with mud on her boots who is most at home tending to horses in a rural province 5,000 kilometers from home. Neither identity cancels out the other – change does not mean that the previous season was a false identity.

14. Your sisters are the only ones who will understand what it was like to grow up on unstable ground where earthquakes happened constantly without warning. Hold them close, physically when they are near and in spirit when they are far. When the earthquakes give way to a permanent chasm, they will be the only ones to ensure you’re don’t fall through the cracks as you aim to stand with a foot on each side.

15. You are made of stardust – do not let anyone extinguish your light.

16. You will make it. There may be nights where you cry yourself to sleep and where things don’t seem better in the morning and there may be weeks where you just don’t feel like staying around any longer. But you can, and will, make it. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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