I recently turned 20, and although I’m still technically not even a fully-functioning adult, I feel as though I’ve learned a lot over my years. They say that time is the best teacher, and I agree, in a rather painful, bitter-sweet kind of way. Time teaches only because it is within time that wounds heal, hindsight develops and maturity grows. Nonetheless, I believe that the passing down of truly valuable lessons from person-to-person, generation-to-generation, is an important one.
Just recently I flicked through one of my old diaries – yes, I keep them all – and found some things I wrote, thoughts I had, that no longer seemed to belong to me. In a weird, parallel kind of way, I re-watched myself grow up, and that kind of honest, intrinsic reflection evoked some pretty powerful emotions. Indeed, in two years, let alone 20, I’ve learned a lot, and here are just a few of those lessons:
1. The biggest mistake our world ever made was creating a world wherein pure, whole people are made to question themselves against a set of infallible criteria. The moment we arrive, the moment we breathe, speak, think and love, we are alive. There is nothing more honest or important to who you are, than what you think and feel.
2. They aren’t you – why would you care what they have to say?
3. The only way out is in.
4. Opportunities are monsters in masks. They will pose as perfect, precious bodies of wonder, but will require sacrifice, courage and ambition to reach. Even then, it takes a great amount of courage to embrace these opportunities, and ignore the looming fear of leaving comfort behind. Do it anyway.
5. People show you the parts of themselves they want you to see. It is your job, as someone who cares, to dive into the deep end, and see them for all they are. Only then, when you’ve seen the worst, will you be able to love them the best.
6. You can become homesick for people, too.
7. Appreciate flowers without picking them – admire other people without diminishing yourself.
8. It’s not a matter of the prince saving the princess, or the princess saving herself – it’s everyone saving everyone, and the first step is us.
9. Only when you travel will you begin to see what living is – the good, the bad, the exciting, the challenging, the rewarding – all in one. That is what we seek, that is what we deserve.
10. Have faith in faith.
11. Stop blaming your stress and your failures on other peoples’ expectations of you. None matter other than your own, so strive for success to please only yourself, and yourself will find the way.
12. They only want the best for you, and if they don’t, get rid of them without a backwards glance.
13. Everything is temporary – realizing this reality in it’s purest form will not evoke fear or pessimism, but rather, peace with time, space and people.
14. There is no forgive and forget because forgetting is never the answer. Remember who you were, what you did and what you said. Face it, fear it, embrace it and learn from it. It is the only way.
15. Write more letters, give more compliments, hug more people and decide to be happy. Everything – all the little things – is a decision.
16. Reading is more than a pastime – it is a lesson in every book, an emotional enhancer within yourself and the ability to put yourself in someone else’s’ shoes.
17. You don’t know her; so don’t act like you do.
18. Exercise is important – not for you body or you weight, but for your place in the world and connection within yourself.
19. Right and wrong are both words made and defined by someone who thought they knew best. They didn’t – you do.
20. You deserve better – but you’re going to have to work for it.
Here’s to the next 20!