Tomorrow I turn 22. In preparation for that, I reflect and share with you 22 lessons I’ve learned from (just about) 22 years of life:
1. The importance of a smile. For both you and the people around you, smiling can make all the difference in the world.
2. Go outside more. Breathe in the fresh air around you, feel the sun on your skin, sweat in the summer and shiver in the winter. Noticing these reactions to nature show you just how alive you really are. Being a part of the beauty around you is one of the most amazing things you can experience.
3. Put away the electronics. Since I was little I have had love affairs with many all-absorbing devices: the original Walkman, my first computer, iPods, laptops, smart phones. They are great, to a point, but don’t forget what it’s like without them. Don’t forget to plug out sometimes so you can tune in to the rest of life.
4. Slow down. Really, though. SLOW. DOWN. Haven’t you noticed how fast 22 years has flown by?!
5. It’s about quality, not quantity. In all aspects of life. Food, friends, relationships; everything.
6. Home is a feeling. Not a place.
7. Be aware of your surroundings. Notice what’s taking place around you, but also notice your impact on your environment. Be conscious of what you do and how that affects everything and everyone else in the external.
8. Real friends are the ones you can sit and do nothing with. It’s okay to just chill on the couch and watch Netflix, or be bummed out at the same time and mope about things together. They’re the people who will be there when you really need them.
9. “Bored” is something that you are NEVER allowed to feel. There’s just not enough time for that.
10. Being alone isn’t as scary as you think. I used to be scared of going upstairs by myself. I used to be scared of being in the dark by myself. I used to (and still, to a point, am) scared of being on my own in daily life, without someone to rely on. But being alone, I am coming to understand, can be one of the most blissful and simple joys in life. Embrace it.
11. Do less. Don’t stress so much. Stop trying to impress everybody else. Wear sweatpants to the store if you feel like it. It’s okay. (Really.)
12. When in doubt, drink more coffee. Or eat more ice cream. Either will really do, actually.
13. Trust the good in people. When you give someone your trust to do good things, they usually will. I believe that we do have an inherent goodness, and sometimes we just need an opportunity to show it.
14. Be kind. Even if you don’t want to. Even if it’s super hard. The Golden Rule may just be the truest truth that ever existed.
15. Have an open-mind. This, alone, can change everything. Be open to possibilities. Be open to people. Limit your first impressions and judgments until you have a fair basis to evaluate someone or something. But at the same time…
16. Listen to your instincts. If something seems wrong, it probably is. I’ve learned to acknowledge the voice inside me that always seems to know what’s up, and that’s made all the difference (for the most part).
17. A good book can save you. In those times when the real world is too much, you can lose yourself in an even realer world of a story. A good book can change your perspective, give you advice, hold your hand, heal your wounds.
18. Your family is yours. Those people are your people, their problems are your problems; learn to love it.
19. If you can’t change it, deal with it. It doesn’t make sense to make a seemingly negative experience even more negative by complaining about it. Why not turn it into something amazing? As Mr. Marley so wisely said, “Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.”
20. Take care of your body. Drink more water. I know you know to drink 8 glasses a day – but have you actually ever done that? Alcohol does not count as a glass. Get enough sleep. TAKE MORE NAPS! They are one of the best things in life. Ever.
21. Ask ‘Why?’. It’s not always worth it. It’s not always as it appears to be.
22. Ask ‘Why not?’. It could be so much more.