Today is my 18th birthday!
I am so incredibly grateful to have such loving friends and family who have helped me grow into the diligent, selfless woman I am today. It definitely took a village to raise me (and a large one at that), and I’m thankful for every single component of said village.
That being said, here are the top 18 lessons I’ve taken to heart throughout my 18 years of life. I hope this inspires you, the reader, and helps you thrive as much as I have.
- Let go of anyone or anything that no longer makes you happy.
Here’s a general rule-of-thumb to follow: if there was a person, organization, or activity that popped up in your mind when you read the first sentence, let it go.
Whether it’s a bad relationship, a negative friend, or a club/team you don’t like, you have the power to remove it from your life. No matter who you are or where you come from, everybody deserves a happy life free of worries, self-doubt, and negative energy.
- Communication is one of the most important skills you’ll have to learn.
Although it may seem commonsense, communication is one of the most paramount assets of a reliable student, employee, family member, or friend. Telling others in a kind, mature manner whenever you have a concern or issue will lead to a successful, more fulfilling relationship with them and avoid any negative tension between you two. In addition, venting out your problems may be one of the best ways to let go of any grudges or emotions you’ve been clinging on to.
- It’s OK to feel sad.
Your feelings are always valid. Never say you’re sorry for how you feel. Express your emotions unapologetically.
- You’re going to have to make sacrifices for your passions and pursuits, and that is OK.
I’ve given up countless hours of sleep, time for meals, time to socialize with my friends, and other activities just to keep my grades up. It’s perfectly fine to give up many things so you can focus on one.
- The friends you make in middle school will likely not stick with you throughout high school.
It’s normal to drift apart from your close friends in middle school so you can make space for more friends in high school. It may be difficult to let go of the former, but your new friends will be just as – if not, more – genuine companions.
- The heartbreaks you encounter will eventually lead you to the right person.
Breakups are inevitable, especially if it’s your first relationship. Remember that experiencing heartbreak is a normal part of life and you will eventually be with the person you’re meant to be with. It takes patience, time, and a strong sense of independence before you’re ready for a serious relationship.
- Your mental health should be your top priority.
As a busy student, my mental health must be taken care of before I do anything else. Have a healthy mindset before accomplishing anything and you’ll achieve greatness.
- Establish positive connections with your teachers, professors, and any other adults you’d like to network with.
Perhaps you’ll ask them for a letter of recommendation some day! Whatever the reason may be, having a positive relationship with those whom you work with professionally or academically with help you thrive as a future employee and student.
- Use your money wisely.
Only make purchases that will be beneficial to you. If you’re debating on whether or not it will be valuable to you, wait a week or two and ask yourself if you still want said item. If yes, then purchase it. If not, then don’t buy it.
- Always stay loyal. Never cheat on your significant other.
Cheating on your boyfriend or girlfriend is extremely disrespectful and shows that you have zero self-discipline. If your partner is truly important to you, you would never consider cheating on him/her.
- Comparison is the thief of joy.
Comparing yourself to others is a formula for disappointment. There will always be someone smarter, prettier, and funnier than you, so it’s best to accept the person you’ve grown to become.
- If you have a dream, chase it unapologetically.
Having a dream career or pursuit in life will drive you to do your best. Chase your dreams and don’t let anyone or anything stop you from obtaining it.
- Numbers are not equivalent to your self-worth.
Whether you look at your GPA, the number on the scale, your standardized test scores, or any other numbers, they do not reflect who you are as a person and your accomplishments. I have friends in my life who are incredibly influential and did not obtain the highest SAT scores, and that is perfectly OK! Numbers never equate to your value as a human being.
- Be careful with who you surround yourself with.
The people you spend the most time with are direct reflections of you, so choose your best friends wisely. Spend your time with people who share the same values as you (if not, better ones) and keep them in your life.
- The relationship you have with your family will carry you through tough times.
When I got hospitalized at 14 years old, having my family comfort me through my darkest hours got me through the demons within my brain. If you don’t have a great relationship with your family, it’s never too late to mend it.
- Apologies are signs of strength, not weakness.
Like I said earlier, it is never too late to apologize and own up to your wrongdoings. Although many may perceive it differently, apologies indicate that you’re strong and secure within yourself. If you can, say sorry to someone to whom you’ve done wrong. It will lift a heavy burden off your shoulders.
- “Love” is a strong word.
Use it wisely. It takes time for love to develop, so say “I love you” to the right one at the right time, not when you’re two days deep in the relationship.
- Life is supposed to be fun, so enjoy it!
You’ll experience ups and downs and twists and turns throughout your life. Go through it all with poise and maturity, and everything will fall into place in the end.