January 17, 2013 by Diana M
As I am rapidly reaching my 24th birthday I find myself not feeling as anxious as I did when I turned 22 or 23. In the past two years, whenever my birthday came close, I would panic and feel like my time is running out, as if turning 22 is like turning 82 and I have no more time to live. I was afraid of getting “older”. In comparison to some of my friends who were 20 or 21, and still in college, life hit me big time in the face with the prospect of actually being an adult: graduating, getting a full time job, paying bills, quit being a care-free youngster and all that.
This year though, things seem to be different. My 24th birthday doesn’t make me want to run for the hills anymore and yell for my runaway freedom to come back. Instead it makes me want to contemplate at what I have been going through and what I have been learning all this time.
Here are 24 of the things life has taught me in my (almost) 24 years.
1. Everything happens for a reason
I know that there are people out there who don’t believe this, and that’s fine. I respect that. But what life has taught me is that no matter how sucky some things may be, there is always some silver lining to it. At some point, there is this light bulb turning on in your head, making you realize that if it wasn’t for that sucky thing, you wouldn’t be who you are today.
2. Patience, patience, patience
When I was 13, I used to cry myself to sleep a lot of the times because I thought I will never find love or someone to be with. But boy, was I wrong. Sure, it might have took me 2 more years until I got my first kiss, but now I know that good things will take time to come into your life, you just have to have the patience to wait for them and not obsess over why it hasn’t happened already.
3. Small things matter
Sometimes, it doesn’t have to be about the big things, the big gestures, the big adventures. Sometimes, happiness will come in the form of a small love note in your pocket, a lazy day with a good book and tea by your side, or of a heartfelt “thank you”. Learn to appreciate the small things in life, because they make a difference too.
4. Acknowledge Murphy and let it go
You know those annoying bad days when everything seems to be going wrong, like in Murphy’s Laws? “If anything can go wrong, it will” and all that? You hit your toe in the dresser, you get toothpaste all over you, you drop your toast on the buttery side, you miss your bus by a minute, you accidentally close your word document without saving. We all have those days. But what you have to remember is that’s all they are: just some bad days. It doesn’t translate to the rest of your life, it doesn’t make you less than you ae, and it definitely is not a reason for you to stress out and lash out at people about how unfair your life is. Just take it as it is, and let it go. Acknowledge Murphy in all of his laws’ splendor, and then let it go and move on.
5. Music saves the day
I cannot recall the multitude of times music has managed to save the day for me. When I was feeling down, when I was in a happy, dancing mood, when I needed to think about some stuff in my life, even when I needed to focus on something I was doing.
The effects are beyond surprising sometimes. It calms you down, it brings you up, it makes you cry, it makes you laugh, it makes you dance your heart out. Music has been a big part of my life and I think it’s the same case for many of you out there. Take 30 Seconds to Mars’ video Closer to the Edge: every time I look at the video, it just fills me up with energy and I just can’t seem to stop smiling for some reason (and it’s not because of Jared Leto!).
6. I am my own super-hero
Once you step up and accept the fact that what happens to you is the result of your own choices and actions, things seem to be put in a different light. Life will try and knock you down, but you’re only given as much as you can take. So don’t despair when things get rough, just know that you have, deep down inside, everything you need to save the day. You’ll be amazed and what you can handle when you give yourself a chance to shine.
7. Love will come and love will go
I think many of us are looking for true love and are hoping to find that one special someone to spend the rest of our lives with. You know, like in fairy tales. And movies. And love songs. And some of you lucky people out there might even have found that. But the reality is that you never really know. You can be married for 20 happy years before ending up in a bitter divorce. What life has thought me is that love will come and love will go, and it takes a hell of a lot of work to make love stay. I find this quote to be quite suitable when it comes to this particular subject: “No one falls in love by choice, it is by chance. No one stays in love by chance, it is by work. And no one falls out of love by chance, it is by choice.”
8. High school is a phase
If you’re in high school and you feel like your life sucks, don’t worry. You will grow out of it. For many of us (present company included), high school is a time for social awkwardness, shyness, an urge to prove oneself (and fail) and a constant search for something: meaning, answers, love, independence, a fashion sense etc. When I got to college though I realized how much easier it is for me to make friends that share the same interests ( hit two birds with a stone – goodbye social awkwardness AND shyness), to be heard without being judged, and to just not care so much about what others think about you. So don’t give up when you hit the rough patch in high school, the best is definitely yet to come.
9. Be true to who you are
We’ve all heard it, on numerous occasions, but it’s true. I cannot stress how important it is to just be you quirky, weird ol’ self. Why?
For starters, because there’s no one else like you. You know what the chances are for you to be born to the parents you were born, at the exact time and place you were born, carrying the unique genetic material you have? One in 400 trillion! Yup, you read it right. One in 400 trillion! Makes you pretty damn unique, doesn’t it?
Secondly, because your weirdness will attract people with similar weirdness, and that weirdness will become normal to you, while everything else will become weird. Makes sense?
Thirdly, because acting like someone else is truly tiresome and it does not bring you a lot of happiness; if anything, it makes you frustrated, sad or even depressed. As Judy Garland once said, always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else, and I stand by that.
10. Studying and learning – two different things
Another thing I learned in my 24 years on this earth is that I do not like to study. I may have been a straight-A student growing up, but I never ever liked it. Learning on the other hand, that I love. Learning to discover and experience and try something new, huge fan. Learning interesting facts about something I am genuinely interested in, bring it on. Learning new skills and how to develop abilities, just tell me when to start. Being told to study for a math exam, well, that just might expose some inexistent but totally reasonable flu signs.
11. Laughing is the cheapest medicine
And the simplest, fastest way to get in a good mood. Read about how it can make your day awesome here.
12. Don’t rush the process (of growing up)
We seem to always be so keen on growing up, and fast. And when we do reach the paying-own-bills age, oh how we wish we could have been kids again: no responsibilities, no jobs, just freedom.
We never really take the time to actually enjoy our present moment, who we are right here, right now. And the saddest part is that we miss out on a lot of good things, and on life in general. So don’t rush the process of growing up, just take it as it is and enjoy every step of the way.
13. This IS the good life
Whether you believe it or not, this is the good life. Why? Because you’re living it. And because you’re reading this right now. Which means you have an internet connection and most probably a computer, which means you can afford the luxury of buying such items and the precious time to read such blogs. This alone sets you apart from more than half of the world’s population. Be grateful for the live you’ve been given to live, because it’s a damn good one.
You want people to respect you? Then respect people. And don’t stop just there. Respect everything around you: the printer who only works when it wants, the neighbor’s annoying dog, the rock you just hit your toe on. Abusing any living or nonliving thing is never really a good idea, because you never know when it’s going to hit back.
15. You never stop learning
From every little thing that you do and every person that you meet you learn something. Who you are is not just a matter of genetics, but also a matter of everything you come in contact with in life. You learn to like Queen because your father used to play you their songs on his old record player, you learn to like to fold paper origami because you saw the beauty in it when someone else showed you how to do it, you learn to cook the perfect quiche because you tasted it at some restaurant once and you thought it was simply delicious. This is one of the most awesome parts of life: you never really stop learning, not even when you’re old and wrinkly and are trying to use a web cam (see Webcam 101 for Seniors)
16. Perspectives matter
What you think in your mind as being right is different than what the person sitting next to you thinks. You need to accept the fact that people will have different perspectives than yours, because they learned different things in life (check previous life lesson). So before you want to start customizing your boyfriend’s behavior to match your idea of the perfect relationship or start arguing with someone because you know you’re right and they’re wrong and they have to be set straight, take a minute to chill out and realize that it’s just a matter of perspectives. Try to put yourself in their shoes and see what they see; and then see how that works for a change.
17. You’re never too old to be a kid
I know, for a fact, that I will still be watching Sailor Moon and read Harry Potter when I’m 30. Why? Because not only do they remind me of fond times while growing up, but also because I feel they transmit some great life lessons that we should constantly be reminded of. The fact of the matter is that you’re never too old to be a kid, to play with toys or watch cartoons. Childhood is a time to be carefree, joyful little rugrats and still manage to get away with it. So what’s stopping us from being carefree, joyful little rugrats now? (Beside the fact that we may not get away with it that easily this time)
18. Mistakes are blessings in disguise
When you’re given the opportunity to do something new that you think you’ll fail, do it anyway. Make mistakes and learn from them. It’s the only way to live your own life. Check this out for a cool quote from Neil Gaiman on making mistakes.
19. You CAN change the world
Mahatma Ghandi once said that you should be the change that you want to see in the world, and I stand by that. Everybody seems to want the world to change in some way or the other, but no one is willing to change. If you’ve seen the movie Pay it Forward, then you know that a simple act of kindness can multiply into something purely amazing.
You stumble upon all sorts of people on the Internet that inspire you and a million others to be better. Nick Vujicic, Lacey and Christian Buchanan, Taylor and Danielle Morris are just a couple of examples of people who went through a lot of hardships but still managed to give a positive example; and their stories touched so many hearts all over the world.
So instead of always complaining about all the bad things going on, why don’t you start changing yourself and your perspective? It doesn’t have to be something big, it can be something as simple as painting a wall or planting a tree.
20. It’s ok to not know
We’re afraid of not knowing what’s going to happen. What if I don’t get through this? What if I won’t make it? What if I fail?
So what if you do fail? You will fall and hit the ground, yes, but the beauty lies in getting back up on your feet. You just have to find the strength inside to start looking up instead of down at that seemingly bottomless pit. And you know what? Not knowing is ok, as long as you know that no matter what happens, you will be ok.
21. Passion will keep you alive
One of the most important things in life is passion. When someone is passionate about something, you can tell by the look in their eyes, their huge smile on their faces when they talk about it, the amount of energy and drive they transmit. Find your passions, give yourselves to them and let them fill you with more life than you could imagine.
22. Obstacles are there to be overcome
I truly believe that the obstacles you face in life are given to you because you CAN overcome them. The limits and barriers that we put on ourselves are there to be pushed and broken so that we can develop and grow. Take for example the people I mentioned earlier, and how they dealt with their hardships, and where they stand now. They have such an appreciation for life and the time they get to spend with their loved ones, they are so much more grateful and happy and they set an excellent example of how, by overcoming their own obstacles, you can become a better human being.
23. Love your fears
There is this quote (no 13. from here) that talks about loving your fears, and finding the drive to do more in life by being fueled by those fears. I think that quote is quite self-explanatory actually.
24. Don’t give up, the best is yet to come
No matter how hard it gets, don’t give up. This is one of the most important lessons I have learned in 24 years. I must admit that there were some times when I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore, like it was really hard, and I wanted to quit, but in the end, I am so happy that I didn’t. I grew so much just by facing whatever it was that was I was scared of, and by sticking it out to the end.
You shouldn’t quit either. The minute you think about giving up, start thinking of all the reasons that made you hang on for so long. And remember: the best is yet to come.