Today I am 22 years old. There’s something about being 22 that seems significantly more grown up than being 21, no more milestone birthdays or important ages to be celebrated more than the others. I’ve learned a lot over these 22 years. I’ve laughed and I’ve cried, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to be someone I’m not, I’ve made friends and I’ve lost friends, I’ve realized a lot of things and have grown and changed and experienced and lived. And through it all I’ve learned many, many lessons, some hard, some painful, some liberating and exhilarating. Here are 22 of the most important things that I have learned in my 22 years:
- Kindness matters. When I encounter small acts of kindness and when I see how much a simple smile or kind gesture can impact my day and someone else’s, I am reminded why we are here, to love others and to reach out in kindness
- You really need to stop comparing yourself and your journey to others. I have done this for as long as I can remember, and after all of the self-doubt and low confidence, I realized how important it is to stay focused on your own journey, what you’re passionate about and what makes you you. If you are continuously comparing yourself to others, you will never feel good enough. Work on bettering yourself, not becoming better than others.
- Be open to new experiences and new people- don’t limit yourself. There have been several times when I was really hesitant about a new opportunity or about getting to know someone new. But I can tell you that some of life’s greatest experiences and friendships come when you open yourself up and stop letting fear or expectations hold you back.
- Let go of your tight grasp on control and let life unfold. I am one of those people that love to feel in control. I like having things planned out and feeling like I have a grasp on what will happen, but things come up and changes are made and you have to learn to let go and be more flexible. You can’t plan everything.
- When you are focusing on your health, eating right, and exercising, you will notice a significant difference. Every year I get older I become more and more aware of how I am treating my body
- There will be people who will hurt you, and you will hurt other people. Some friendships aren’t meant to last forever, and sometimes you just need to move on.
- Never forget how important family is- Always remember your roots and where you came from. Family and home will always be a part of you.
- Make time for the people you love
- Sometimes getting coffee with your best friend is exactly the kind of therapy you need
- You don’t have to do something big and known to make a difference in peoples’ lives. You impact more people than you think on a daily basis by being kind and sincere, by showing others that you care, by comforting your friend and smiling at that stranger. I’ve learned that impacting people doesn’t always have to be on a large scale
- It’s okay to be different. If I could go back to my childhood and high school self, I would tell myself that it’s okay to be the quiet, introverted soul I have always been and tried so hard not to be. I think a lot of us are taught that being gentle is a weakness. It’s not.
- Sometimes things won’t turn out the way you think they should, and you will learn to be okay. Sometimes you need to shift your direction. Make the most of these learning opportunities.
- Spending time alone is so important and so needed. Make time for yourself.
- Enjoy the simple, small moments. Between life’s biggest moments are the tiny joys of everyday life. These are some of life’s most beautiful gifts.
- It’s okay to ask for help. You can’t always do everything on your own no matter how hard you try to or how much you don’t want to admit it.
- Rest and self-care are non-negotiable and absolutely necessary. Figure out what that looks like for you and find time to do it
- Sometimes you feel lonely and misunderstood, but there will be a few people who will come along who will make you feel understood; who will love you and be there for you through it all. Cherish these people.
- If creativity is important to you, sometimes you have to be intentional about it. Inspiration comes and goes, so it’s important to just keep creating, anything at all
- You can’t please everyone. I’ve always been quite a people pleaser, trying to make everyone around me happy. I came to a point when I realized that there are times when you have to do what is best for you. It’s okay to say no
- Be present. Take it all in. Things change so quickly, and it’s so easy to take things for granted. I have learned to try to embrace the moment while I’m in it, to be intentional about appreciating who I’m with and what I’m doing. Life is short, and I don’t want to let it pass me by
- Spontaneous plans can be the best kind of plans
- Say “Yes!” to more opportunities
I hope to go forward with these things in mind, and to try to say yes to a lot of new things this next year 🙂