Growing up, I’ve realized three important things about myself. One: I overthink everything I do, even the things I don’t do. I just overthink a lot. Two: I panic really easily, usually over the dumbest stuff. Three: I’m a fairly dramatic person. Everything in my head seems so grand, I don’t mean to overstate everything, it’s just how I believe it really is.
These are all traits I’ve picked up on through the last eighteen years of my life. Traits that will probably stick with me until I’m old and gray and can’t remember these three traits anymore. I will keep growing and these traits will always be there.
Time is inevitable. Change is inevitable. Growing is inevitable. That being said…
I’m turning nineteen in a week. Let me rephrase that… I’M TURNING NINETEEN IN A WEEK. That’s a fairly massive thing to do. That’s entering your last year of teenagehood. That’s beginning your first year on your own. That’s half way to thirty-nine and neck pain and three kids running around your backyard.
I’m not ready.
Okay, deep breath. It’s all okay. I’m turning nineteen years old. That may not seem major to the average person, but as you just saw, it means a whole lot to me. I’ve spent a majority of my life waiting to be old, and then also hoping I never have to leave the comfort of my home, and friends, and my non-stressful life that I live. But alas, I am annually given that reminder that I am, in fact, growing up. And that’s scary. And it’s okay that it’s scary.
Nineteen seems daunting. This big number that offers endless possibilities that I can’t even grasp yet. My first year of college. My last year of being a teenager. My first year of being truly myself outside of my small life in my hometown. I am ready for the bigger and the better and nineteen is whispering promises of that in my ear.
As I count down the last eighteen years of my life and advance into my nineteenth, I am reminded of everything I had to cut through to get here. Each year packed life lessons harder and scarier than I imagined while going in. My doe eyed innocence was stripped a little more each year as I peeled back another layer of this world and who I was going to be in it. I made it out with torn clothes and sore muscles, but a stronger mind and a nagging voice telling me to keep going. These years taught me countless learning opportunities, but a clear nineteen lessons stick out vividly in my mind.
Here they are:
- Do everything with confidence. You are smart enough, you are good enough, you can do anything you want to do as long as you have the mindset and the motivation to keep going.
- Practice kindness every day. Being mean is so much harder than being nice, and honestly pointless. It’s a lot more fun to make someone’s day than break it.
- Read everything. Anything you want to get your hands on, read it. Feel your mind expand with every chapter and paragraph. You can find the whole world inside a single book.
- You don’t have to follow your parent’s footsteps. It’s totally fine if you do, but make sure it’s only after you’ve ventured on your own and developed your beliefs from personal findings and discoveries. You are your own person, so you should mold yourself off of that, not what your parents want you to be.
- Find a passion. This can be very hard to find or can constantly be changing. That’s okay. That’s what’s so exciting about life! Try everything. You never know what you will end up loving.
- It’s okay to be confused. Embrace that. You are growing, your ideas are constantly shaped and reformed over and over. Accept that you made some mistakes, accept that you might not know what you are doing, accept that you are growing into a better person every day.
- Healthy relationships are necessary for life. Drama is an unneeded factor that nobody needs. Find that group of friends that will laugh over embarrassing moments, and cry with you when you don’t make the school play, and text you asking if you will read a poem they wrote at 2 am when they were in their element. They are the best out there and you will find them if you seek them.
- Develop your own style. This may take you eighteen years, like me, but it’s so worth it. Experiment with the weirdest of clothes or stick to running shorts and tees. Whatever it is, you will find it because it’s what you feel best in.
- Don’t cut your own bangs. This is self-explanatory. Just don’t do it.
- You do not have to do anything you are not comfortable with. Do not go to the party if you don’t think you will have fun. Do not hook up with the boy or girl if you don’t like them like that. Do not conform to anyone’s expectations. If you don’t feel comfortable, odds are you won’t have a good time doing it.
- Be as unapologetic as you possibly can. This is something I work on every day. Try to be as much like yourself as possible and don’t take any nonsense from anyone about it. You do you, they can do them. It’s that simple.
- Putting yourself outside of your comfort zone is probably the most efficient way to learn and grow as a person. Just constantly do things that scare you and watch yourself bloom more and more.
- Treat mental exhaustion like physical exhaustion. When you don’t feel well mentally, do not push it aside. Take a day. Access yourself. Do whatever you need to do for your own benefit. When you need professional help, please seek it in whatever way you can. There is always someone who can help you.
- Life is not always going to be like this! This can be a good or bad thing, but always an important reminder in life. Live in the present because it’s all that’s guaranteed. Life is going to keep moving and things will change for the better and some will change for the worst. Just remember that there are so many good things to love.
- Hug people often. I just love giving hugs and think that the more hugs you give, the happier you are as a person.
- Happiness should be your overall goal in life. If I’m not happy, I don’t consider anything a success.
- Don’t buy anything unless you can buy it twice. Money is important and knowing when to save it and when to use it is something essential to learn in life. I don’t recommend learning this lesson the hard way.
- Feed your mind good material. That means reading stimulating texts, watching riveting documentaries, and award-winning movies, or whatever your version of learning is, as much as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t sit down and watch Spongebob, but it’s very important to also watch what art that inspires you, makes you more aware, and learn more as a person.
- Everyone grows. It is scary and nerve-wracking, but so exciting and promising. Please accept your growth like a best friend who is going to be tackling every obstacle with you. Grow loudly, grow happy, keep growing on.
Seeing all these lessons written down actually makes me so excited for my nineteenth year. Everything is so new and dramatically special. I’m so happy I get to experience so much life. I’ll hold every “good luck” close to my heart as I embark on new journeys so…
Wish me luck.
© 2017 Reef Magazine