Some of my readers may know that my birthday was on Tuesday, December 16th, and I am no longer a teenager! It still hasn’t really hit me that I made it through my seemingly-endless teenage years and I am now, according to some, turning into “a real adult.” I know that adulthood legally happens when you turn 18 years old, but I certainly still would not call myself an adult. I don’t know what taxes are, I still live with my parents, I am mortified of driving, and I have no plans for the future that are absolutely set in stone. It is so strange to look on Facebook and other social media and see old high school friends and acquaintances getting engaged or married and having children.
My birthday has not seemed like a big deal in quite some time- it’s just another day in which I just happen to turn a year older. Honestly, I feel like my parents should be the ones who are celebrated on December 16th of each year! I know that I still have so many years ahead of me, but I cannot help but to think about all that I have learned in just the past twenty years. Here is a list of the five most important lessons I have learned thus far.
1. You can never say “I love you,” too much. I have found that I have never regretted saying this to people, even if my relationship with them has drastically changed. I’ve said this plenty of times to old friends and people I’ve dated and even though I have not seen most of them in years I do not regret saying it. I’ve always heard from people older and much more wiser than me that you will not regret saying what you genuinely feel. So far, that’s been true for me. I have never regretted telling people how much I appreciate them.
2. If you don’t love doing a thing, stop doing the thing. If you love doing a thing, find away to do the thing. Life is too short to be so wrapped up in doing things you aren’t passionate about. Find what you love to do and then find a way to do it! I recently found that I absolutely love acting. I never thought I could love it as much as I do. Next semester I am taking a stage combat class at LMU so I can still experience theatre without being in an actual production. Even if it is at 8 a.m. and I am not a morning person, I think it will all be worth it.
3. Plan for the future but don’t forget to live in the present. I am ecstatic for what the future holds for me! I want to go to graduate school, receive my PhD in cognitive psychology, and either work in academia or do research at a university. Planning for my future makes me feel like my life has an ultimate purpose, but no matter how much I focus on the future, it is not ever guaranteed. Always focusing on tomorrow or next week or ten years from now will not change the fact that right now is all that we are given. Do now what will allow you to get where you want to be for the future but appreciate who you are and what you have now.
4. Take lots of pictures. Take even more selfies. Documenting even the most mundane things will allow you to look back and see how far you’ve come. My generation has been named “the selfie generation” and I can find some good in that. The selfie generation is redefining what it means to be beautiful and the narrow definition of beauty is being challenged by people of all ages. Why not be a part of that movement? Back in high school, I hated my appearance way too much and continued that negative spiral downward in college. Having a good hair day? Take a selfie. Want to take a stupid picture with your friends? Take a selfie. Having a bad day and feel like you look like Jabba the Hutt? Take a selfie. Even if you don’t like the picture, keep taking them. You’ll look back and appreciate all of those memories all over again.
5. Go hang out with your friends even if you have to be up early the next day. You may only regret doing so for the first few hours after you wake up. I’m not going to lie, I’ve done this quite a few times and I’ve regretted my decision for only a few hours the next day. After I finally catch up on sleep, I have always found that I appreciated hanging out with my awesome friends more than I could ever enjoy another hour or two of sleep.
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