1. You need human interaction.
The phrase, “you don’t need anyone to be happy” is bullshit. We need to stop telling ourselves that and using it as an excuse to be alone or to justify us being alone. The reason we are alone is because we want to be. We are not putting in enough effort into getting out of our comfort zone and meeting new people. Last fall I met Alyssa— someone who has changed my life dramatically and we go on these Friday night adventures that we call, “collecting creative souls.” I have met so many wonderful people. Some people that I have met just pass through my life teaching me a lesson and others stay. But without those nights, the life I have now would not exist. We all need to teach ourselves that it is okay to care and feel for one another and take the time to get to know each other even if its just for one night of conversation and laughter.
2. Listen. Breath. React— in that order please.
Stop thinking about what you are going to reply. Let the person who is speaking to you, speak. Take a breath, process what they have said and then reply. We often miss valuable lessons or what people have to say because we are stuck in a daze or we are thinking about what we are going to say, before whoever is speaking even finishes.
3. “Love somebody who is worthy of your love.”
Take a chance on love. Learn to love everyone regardless of their flaws. It’s going to suck sometimes— especially when you feel like you are the one doing all the loving. But sometimes thats what someone needs and if you are in the position to love them and provide some form of healing to their life then you should. Love intensely, don’t give pieces of yourself, give your relationships all your love. Don’t think about what is going to happen a couple of days from now or weeks or months, live in that moment and do what you think is best.
4. Universe take the wheel—or Jesus, whichever one is fine by me.
If there is something you are unsure of in your life— whether it’s a relationship or an issue you are having, just let the world handle it. The best we can do sometimes is recognize that we are not in control of situations and once we do that, most things will fall into place. The world will know what to do with what is bothering you. Just voice what you need and the world will give it to you. I know some might think that is untrue, and I used to be that way. I am a go-getter. If there is something that I want, I will work for it and I won’t give up until it is mine. But sometimes when I work so hard for something I realize that in the end it’s not something that I really wanted and find that what I wasn’t looking for is what I actually needed. So I am taking a new approach, I still work as hard but I don’t think about the outcome very much. I enjoy the process of working towards what I want. When I do that, I often get the Oliva Pope response from the world— “it’s handled.”
5. Runner’s high is a real thing.
Running is what keeps me sane. I know everyone thinks we are crazy because we wake up at 5am everyday to run 10k’s but running and watching it go from dark to light gives me so life. Everyone should get to experience that, find something that you love to do and turn into something that adds discipline and structure into your life, something that stays consistent even when you feel like your life is crazy and kind of falling apart like a granola bar.
6. The domino effect— “The experience is carrying you in ways you don’t even know yet.”
Everything that happens in your life has meaning. Your actions affect everyone not just you. It can affect your family or even a stranger. Look at things with meaning and think— try to figure out why God or whatever you believe in would put this in your path. Look at things with perspective and learn from the good and bad that surrounds you.
7. The fisherman story.
I read the NY times religiously (did you know if you’re a student, you can get it for a dollar a month?) and I read this piece on a fisherman who was content with just living on the beach, fishing, and eating the fish with his family. He was very successful, had a nice home and spent a lot of time with his family— he used to just lie around with his children and his wife and nap. The perfect life. One day someone came to where he was living and asked him if he would ever want to do more—catch more fish, start a business, and market the fish. “And then what?” asked the fisherman. And the response he received was this, “you would have made a difference in the world. You would have used your talents, and fed some poor children, instead of just lying around all day.” The question that stems from this parable is this, “Is it more important to you to have little, accomplish little, yet be relaxed and happy and spend time with family? Or is it more important to you to work hard, use your talents, perhaps start a business, maybe even make the world a better place along the way?” For me, it’s the second one, what about you?
8. “Cut your hair!!!!”
Okay not literally, you don’t have to cut your hair. But that is something that I told myself before I would do it and it was the best decision I have made. I love my short hair, it makes me happy. I wanted it for so long and I finally did it and I don’t regret it like everyone said I would. That quote is one that I want you to apply to your life. If there is something that you know you should do, that would be good for you, do it. Stop caring about what others think for god sakes. I know we say that we don’t all the time but in reality that’s all we think about, “do others approve?” JUST CUT YOUR HAIR. Do whats best for you.
Being away from my family had made me realize how much they really have taught me. They have taught me all my values and ethics. Every time I make a decision I think about, not only how it will affect me, but also my family. I know everyone says- do things for yourself. But when you come from a hispanic household, you can’t afford to be selfish. What you do is a reflection of who your parents are and how they raised you. Because the actions you are taking today are going to impact you days, months, and even years from now. It’s always important to remember who you are and make decisions that reflect your character, morals, and values. So the lesson I have learned when it comes to family is that you can never be selfish or neglect those who have given so much, for you to be where you are. I am lucky enough to have parents who have sacrificed so much for me and as I grow older, I learn to value those sacrifices. I thank my family because without them I could not be as ambitious. Hell, I wouldn’t even be able to be a dreamer or pursue a career in Journalism and Creative Writing. So thank you mommy + daddy for always allowing me to dream and reminding me that I am an example to many girls not only in my family but in the Latina community, who dream of going to college and making a name for themselves and their families.
10. Play Hard, Work Harder.
There is nothing more gratifying than crossing everything off your to-do list. I believe in hard work. Get your ass up from your bed on Saturday morning- even if you have the worst hangover. Get up! Start you day and give it your all. It’s probably gonna suck and you might have to leave the library a couple of times to puke but in the end you will feel satisfied.
11. Fake it until you make it.
I met Kim Kingsley, the chief operating manager of POLITICO, at a power girl meet up in DC. She talked about always being that person who just goes up to people and just starts talking. You want to be at the front of that concert? She will get you there. Want to know how? Her biggest secret and weapon is to act like you belong. There will be many people in life who tell you, you can’t do something or that you are not good enough or even that you don’t belong. But screw them, what you have to do is present yourself in a way that is unforgettable. Shake that person’s hand firmly. Shoot them your million dollar smile. Wink even if necessary. Act like you belong and people will take you seriously. I know sometimes we are so scared and we are not confident, but when that happens we need to pretend. We need to stand tall and say I belong- because deep down you know you do. You belong in that media room asking the tough questions. You belong in that meeting room pitching your idea. You belong wherever you are— so start acting like it.
12. Talk about your dreams.
IF YOU DON’T SAY WHAT YOU WANT, YOU WILL NEVER GET IT. I can’t stress this point enough, hints that’s why its in CAPS!!!! There are so many good people in the world who can help you, who know friends of friends who are in the field you want to be in. Talk if someone asks you what your dreams are. Say them firmly. You want to be an accountant? Say I am going to be an accountant. Want to be Pitbull’s back up dancer? Say it. We often don’t talk about our dreams because we fear that they will be critiqued and destroyed by the judgements of others and yes there will be those people who are going to do that (basically shit all over your ideas but thats okay!!) but then there will be others who will help you, who will inspire you, and will serve as your guide. Ask for help when talking about your dreams, it humbles you and let others know that you are willing to learn.
13. Look for a mentor.
We need to get out of the mentality that we can do everything alone. We can’t. We need guidance, we need people to help us with our projects and life decisions. Find someone who can help you— people love it when you can go up to them and say you inspire me, let’s have coffee. My whole life, I have always had mentors in my life— like Ms. Hayman back in the 6th grade, my cheerleading coaches- Coach Owen, Coach Jess, and Coach Debbie, and my lacrosse coaches- Mary Bermingham and Zenker. Find people you know, who love you and want to help you in anyway that they can. Fuck it send emails to strangers who you don’t know but work for companies you want to work for, be confident, introduce yourself and tell them what your dreams and ambitions are.
14. Dress nicely.
A lesson I learned but that I am constantly working on. I love wearing nike pro ankle tights but those babies gotta go. We have now reached an age where we need to start thinking a little more about what our style is going to be. Experiment with clothes and find what makes you comfortable and screams boss woman or man.
15. LANGUAGE. THE WAY YOU TALK TO YOUR BODY AND SELF IS SO IMPORTANT SELF-DOUBT STANDS IN THE WAY OF SO MANY DREAMS.
I often find myself making remarks like “ugh i hate myself” or “ughhhhhhhhhhh so annoying why am I doing this??” or even “ugh fucking killlllllllll me” and I don’t want to die. But its like exaggerating when things go wrong like you say these things to yourself without realizing the effect they are having. At the girl power meet up I went to in DC, a girl brought up an experiment that was done with two cups of water. In one cup they had people speak beautiful, nice things into it. And the other cup of water was spoke down to, it was insulted, it was said unhealthy, mean things. At the end of the experiment they tested the water. The water cup that was insulted was contaminated, the water was not drinkable. Now apply this to you. Your body is made up of almost entirely water, so watch what you say to it.
16. Promote your friends!
I often get asked, “oh do you know how to do this?” My response is always, “no but so and so can do that, I can give you there number if you’d like.” Opportunities often present themselves and if its not the job for us we should always try to get our friends who can do the job the gig! Back up especially girlfriends—girls are not meant to be in competition, the only reason we are is because of men/guys, so that needs to stop. Stop shitting (sorry for the lack of better term) on the girls and focus on yourself, what is meant for you is yours and no one can take that away from you. So refer your friends, don’t be afraid to say no I can’t do that but I have an awesome friend who can.
17. Envision your dreams.
I keep a vision board near my desk, it helps me remember of everything I want to accomplish in this time period of my life. It serves as a guide, reminding me that each day is a new day to work towards your goals and dreams. We should always fall asleep having voiced to the world something that we want. We should write down good things that happened that are leading you closer to a dream or goal. And even write down the set backs, the moments where you almost gave up but kept going. Envisioning your dreams has proven to make them come true. You can make a vision board out of anything— newspapers, magazines, quotes, pictures or since we are all millennial in this modern day we can even make one on Pinterest. Dreams are so important to me because they are something that you are constantly striving for. I am a dreamer, I want so many things from life and this year I have really taken the time to think about my dreams and envision where I see my place in this world and society and I have felt a difference and I have received so much light and guidance towards many of my dreams.
18. Feel all of your emotions.
I once had someone told me that it is selfish to feel sad. That sadness is not a feeling we feel, that it is more of an emotion we create. He said I don’t understand people who feel sad like why do you feel sadness you have the power to be happy so be happy. Well that’s easier said than done. I believe that we should feel all of our emotions. That we should honor all the emotions we feel. If you feel sadness embrace it, good stems out of the darkest places. Something will grow from the sadness you are feeling because how can one truly know what happiness is or what it feels like, if we don’t feel sadness first? You need to feel that sad feeling, feel the pain when bad things happen to you, feel that energy and recognize what you need to do to feel better. Feel it but deal with it in the right ways—scream, go out running, write about it, release it in a healthy way. I’ve written some of my best work when I feel sad. Sadness is not an emotion that should be neglected it should be recognized and dealt with.
19. Develop your craft.
Take your time to learn what you love. Read about work that has been done in the field that you are studying or are interested in. Take the time to learn from others and listen to what others have to say. If you love writing, you should be striving to write something everyday. If you love to sing, sing everyday. If you are passionate about engineering or accounting, take the time to practice and watch videos online and keep learning. We are never to old to learn from others. With that being said, take what you are learning and apply it to your craft. Care for your craft, water your craft, love your craft and good will come out of it.
The lessons I have learned this year would not have been possible with out the people I met this year. Wonderful humans who have stayed with me and I am honored to call my parents, siblings, bestfriends, friends, mentors, and coaches. I am thankful for you and I can only hope that you are with me for many years to come and that you help me welcome 19 into my life— because this is year for growth, self-development and improvement, as well as healthy relationships and long lasting friendships not just for myself but for you too.