22 Lessons from 22 Years

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I turned 22 this month and I wanted to share a few things I've learned over the years. When I first thought of this post, I thought to myself, there is no way I'm going to be able to think of 22 things that I've learned! But then I started writing and they just flowed from my pen. I didn't realize I had so many things to share with other people, with those who are younger and slightly less wise. Some of the things in this list are things that I'm super passionate about sharing, so they are a little longer. However, I think they're all good things to think about. If you're in high school or just starting college, listen up, this one's for you.

1. Spend more time with your family.

If you're a teenager, you're probably thinking, oh blah, I'd rather sit in my room and listen to music. Well, I was the same way when I was your age. I hated spending time with my family most of the time. I'd come home from school, give my grandma a short reply about how my day was, then disappear in my room until supper time. As soon as supper was done, I disappeared again until the next day when I'd do it all again. Now that I'm an adult and living hours away from my family, I wish I had taken more time to talk to them while I was still in the same state and under the same roof.

2. Dating in high school is silly (in most cases).

Yes, there are some cases where high school sweethearts get married and live happily ever after. But most of the time, that doesn't happen. I was told many times in high school that I shouldn't date. The rebel that I was, I did it anyway. The adult I am now, I wish I hadn't. 

If I had spent all of my free time reading books, writing stories, taking photos, and trying new things instead of endless hours of talking to silly boys (none of which became the man I am currently engaged to because I didn't meet him until the end of my second year of college), crying over heartbreak, and wondering why I wasn't pretty enough, I would have been a lot happier and care-free. Plus, I'd probably be a published author by now. Who knows?

3. Every season of life has it's own hardships.

High school is hard. College is hard. Adulthood is hard. It's all hard. But you know what? Each of those seasons has it's own perks, too. Find those perks and treasure those while you're there. That doesn't mean you have to love high school or college or adulthood, but you can still find the good parts and hopefully hate it a little bit less.  

I loathed high school and I don't miss it at all (don't worry, I'm not here to tell you to cherish those days, because I HATED when people told me that in high school), but I do miss all the time I was able to read books. Once you hit college and adulthood, you stop having all that extra time to read books and do other things like that.

And college? Wow, it is really hard. But it is also such an amazing time of learning, growing, and meeting new people. I have met all the best people because of college. 

Adulthood was always the light at the end of the tunnel, the ultimate goal, and the place I wanted to be all through my teenage years. Now that I'm here, it's hard. You wake up early, work all day, and then get home in time to eat dinner and go to bed. It's crazy. But I also get to spend this time being engaged, then married to the love of my life and I am PUMPED. Life is going to be hard but I get to spend it with my favorite person. We have to come up with all this money by ourselves, but it's nice to be free from our parents authority and independent (well, almost). 

4. Take pictures

You won't remember everything, but nothing brings back a memory and a feeling like a photo. Many years down the line, and probably sometimes along the way, you will appreciate having the ability to pull out some photos and reflect on all the memories, both good and bad.

6. Don't be afraid to fail.

It sound so cliche, I know, but it's true. Growing up, I was a "smart kid" and that label made me feel like I wasn't allowed to fail. I spent years with the fear of seeing the big "F" on my tests and papers. When it finally showed up, I realized that it wasn't a big deal. Everyone fails. It's part of being a human.

7. Try new things.

I was always afraid to try new foods or say yes to new experiences. If a food looked weird, I locked my lips and shook my head. If an activity looked like it was out of my comfort zone, I crossed my arms and refused to do it. Now some of my favorite foods are ones that I probably wouldn't have wanted to try before. I've done activities that scared me in the past and they were fun. You'll be surprised how great things are once you step outside of your comfort zone and try them out.

8. Get to know yourself.

You're probably like, what? I know who I am! I'm sure you know a little about yourself, like your favorite food or what size shoes you wear, but do you really know who you are? Have you taken the time to find out what your personality type is or the best way for you to rest? Do you know what makes you happiest? Do you know what your love language is? Take some time to sit down and get to know the important things about you. It's hard for other people to know much about you when you don't even know those things yourself.

9. Take notes.

When you meet with someone, whether it's for school or a job, write down anything that you think is interesting or important. You will never remember everything they said and you might miss out on some great stuff because you forgot.

10. Send follow-up emails.

If you have a job interview or just a great meeting with someone, shoot them a quick email afterwards to thank them for their time. This will make them feel appreciated and it will make you more memorable.

11. Compliment people.

You don't have to go around telling everyone they're beautiful (in fact, that might make you seem less sincere), but if you notice something about someone that you like or admire, tell them. It makes them feel good, boosts their confidence, and encourages you to think positively about other people more.

12. Wear what makes you feel good, not what you think other people want you to wear.

I can't tell you how many times I have changed my outfit because I was afraid of what people would think. It could be an outfit I love, but for whatever reason, I thought people would judge me for it. Stop caring, wear what makes you feel good, and walk out that door with confidence.

13. Make your email something simple and not weird.

I regret making one of my first emails 'chocolatefreak133' and you will too. But you won't be able to escape it because it's attached to too many accounts.

14. Take some time to declutter every year. 

Things really start to add up and before you know it, you have boxes and boxes of stuff that you don't care about anymore. My aunt had a garage sale a few weeks ago and I spent hours organizing all of my old boxes. I ended up giving away or throwing away like a dozen different boxes of things. From now on, I'm going to try getting rid of things that I don't need or use every year. I guess that's where the term 'Spring cleaning' comes in. 

15. People leave and that's okay.

Not everyone who comes into your life is meant to stay in your life. This includes both significant others and friends. There will be people who you thought were in it for the long haul who just pick up and leave. It may be hard to lose them or difficult to find new friends, but it'll get easier and there will be new people who come into your life. You're constantly growing and that means that you'll grow out of some people. This will most likely happen in each new season of your life. Your middle school friends will change in high school, your high school friends will go to different colleges, and your college friends will move to different states. It's the cycle of life.

16. If you don't want to go out, then don't go out.

If you're an extrovert, then this may not apply to you as much as it does the introverts, but you might still relate sometimes. 

Just because your friends are constantly posting on their Snapchat story about all the things they are doing, doesn't mean that you need to be doing those things too. If you'd rather stay home and read a book or watch a movie with your cat, then do it! It's totally acceptable to enjoy staying home. I hate parties and most social events. They stress me out and I usually end up wishing I was at home watching Netflix the entire time. So why do I go? Because I feel like I need to be a social human being. But the thing is, I can be a social being and also spend more time at home where I enjoy myself a lot more. I shouldn't feel like I need to force myself to go to social events when I don't even like it. If you like staying home on Friday nights, then stay home on Friday nights. It's your life, you should do what you enjoy.

17. Eighteen doesn't make you an adult.

I know, you're convinced you're going to be instantly independent when you turn 18. I'm sorry I have to tell you this, but that's not true. When I was 18, I thought I could start making my own rules and doing whatever I want. Nope. I was still in high school, still dependent on my grandparents, and still in need of guidance. 

18. You don't have to live in shame.

For the longest time, I was ashamed of things that I have done in the past. But I've realized that I don't need to live with that shame because I am forgiven and God has covered my sins.

19. Rest is good.

I have learned that I do not need to be 100% all the time. It's okay to take a step back and rest. In fact, it's a good thing. Without rest, we can never be our best.

20. Comparison is useless and depressing.

There is literally no need to compare yourself to those around you. You're you, they're them, and that's how it's going to stay. When you compare yourself to them, it just hurts you and accomplishes nothing. Instead, work on bettering yourself and you'll start to like you more anyway. 

21. You don't have to be sad to create.

Creative people so often see that artists use their sadness or anger to create amazing things. This is true, our emotions can bring beautiful things out of us. However, you can also use the good emotions, like joy, excitement, and love, to create things. 

22. Jesus is the ultimate source of healing and joy.

All 22 years of my life, I have found myself constantly searching for joy. Every time, I find that the answer is in Jesus. The same goes for healing. I have been through many heartbreaks, separations, seasons of sadness, etc. and in the end, it was always Jesus who brought me out of those times and into His arms. The only place to find that thing you've been looking for, the hand to pull you out and the joy to fill your soul, is Jesus. You've been looking in all the wrong places, and friend, I hope you will start looking to Jesus.

 

Are any of these things that you have learned over the years? Were any of them new to you? Did any of them speak to you? You can always send me an email or comment below to chat some more about these things. I'd love to talk to you! 

 

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