Now that I can officially say that I’ve been putzing around Earth for a grand total of 20 years, I think it’s time to share a few nuggets of wisdom I’ve been exposed to within my first days of no longer being cursed by teenager-dom.
1. No one else can make you happy.
This is one thing everyone always tells you and that you know you should understand, but never quite believe until it hits you over the head with a baseball bat. Friends, family and significant others are all amazing people to have in your life and while they will probably smile and rub your back while you vent about your problems, no one can completely solve them except you.
2. Material things break.
Obviously. That favorite ceramic mug one of your best friends gave you a couple birthdays ago, the same one you dropped and shattered the other day, won’t be as meaningful in a couple years as the time you spent eating cheese balls with her in your garage. It’s nice to have nice things, but most things will disappear or break. Instead of cherishing materials, try to cherish the moments and the people they represent instead.
3. When it’s your birthday, all sorts of people crawl out from the crevices of your memories to wish you well.
A simple Facebook wall post may seem insincere, but everyone could have easily skirted by your profile without typing a word. These people still took minutes out of their busy days to make sure you know they care. These are the people you should never forget about.
4. The simplest things are what make ordinary days turn into beautiful days.
Whether it be the leaves changing colors for winter, the birds chirping for summer, happy birthday balloons, sticky note messages or little scented bookmarks smiling back at you, these seemingly small things are an essential part of a happy life.
5. Not everyone gets along.
It’s okay to want to yell at your boss who doesn’t appreciate you or your idiotic coworkers who always shirk the responsibility onto your shoulders. It’s okay and you deserve to have those feelings of frustration and angst, just as long as you don’t let them ruin your day.
6. Getting severely angry with others is fruitless.
We’re all just floating around on this place called Earth and from time to time, it’s inevitable that we’ll bump shoulders with those around us. Differences in ideologies, appearances and priorities are nothing to get heated over. Just accept who other people see themselves to be and move along.
7. Birthdays are just days.
If you have a bad day on your birthday, it is by no means an indication on how bad your future weeks, months or years are going to be.
8. Criticism means you’re doing something right.
If people took time out of their day to comment on something you wrote or painted or said, it means that you made an impact on someone. Whether it’s a negative impact or a feeling so profoundly positive, you put something out there that really does mean something.
9. Everyone has something important to share.
If you ignore somebody to watch Ben Stiller deliver another funny line or to read a book or check a text message, you are probably missing out on someone great.
10. Looking at the stars is something we should all be doing.
Everyone has the opportunity to witness phenomenal acts of beauty that have been happening in our universe for indescribable amounts of time. It’s like visiting the Louvre, but so much more beautiful and historic and if we aren’t taking advantage of that as much as possible, we’re stupid.
11. If you’re in college because someone said that you need a degree to live, you shouldn’t be in college.
College is the perfect place to learn about yourself, your passions and the world around you. If you’re just a part that environment because that’s where somebody told you that’s where you should be, you’re wasting everyone’s time and money. There are a million other ways to gain knowledge and wisdom without being in school.
12. Life is too fucking short to settle down at 20.
I have a friend who I’m constantly worried will fall back into the same unhealthy relationship with the same unhealthy guy just so she can raise two or three or four unhealthy kids and live contently for the rest of her life. Life isn’t about being content. Life is about excitement, passion, love and adventures you never thought you’d have.
13. If you’re not in love with your life, then right now is the time to change it.
I know it’s easier said than done, but who knows when you’ll get another chance to live. You better take advantage of it now and love every second you’re given.
14. Everyone wants something to stand for.
It’s important to have beliefs, but it’s also important to have a belief in standing up for yourself. Being a martyr is cool and all, but what happens when you’ve sacrificed every last bit that you can? There is a fine line between believing in something because you truly love the cause and getting sucked in too far, resulting in someone using you like their very own chess pawn. Life is hard enough without you trying to cause yourself more unnecessary pain. Instead, find a way to have beliefs that don’t require you to cash in your body, your thoughts or your soul for someone else.
15. If you need to cry, then cry.
It’s not worth suffocating a piece of your heart so that someone will think better of you for not letting it breathe.
16. Diets are silly.
I get that you’re trying to reverse the common trend of obesity or that you have a serious health concern or that you are at a point in your life where the very sight of your body makes you want to vomit. I get it and I admire your self-control, but I don’t think it’s fair to deny yourself an ice cream cone every once and awhile if all you can think about is the sweet joy of the perfect chocolate flavoring. Moderation is key, but that also relates to you moderately eating the foods you love to eat (as long as you won’t die as a consequence).
17. Knowing someone’s past will always give you a glimpse into who they are today.
Since everyone has drastically different memories, stories and lives, the only person you can compare yourself to is the person you were in the past. Whether you’ve changed a lot or not at all, it says a lot about your character and who you are likely to become in the future.
18. We are all humans and all humans make mistakes.
If you’re a waitress and you took an order wrong, fix it. If you make lattes and steamed 2% instead of non-fat, take an extra minute to correct yourself. If you betrayed someone’s trust by cheating on them, own up to it. If you crashed into and totaled someone’s car, take care of it. Don’t let your mistakes fester and grow into something bigger than they were meant to be.
19. Most people are only in your life for a fixed amount of time.
However long that may be–seconds passing on the street, minutes riding the train or years of friendship, it will all eventually end. The memory of any person you see may come back to you one day. It’s important to recognize this and learn from what that person represents in themselves. It’s even more important to be conscious of what you represent and how people will remember you when they think about the time you spent in their lives five years from now.