This is kind of an ambitious list. Besides, what could a seventeen-year-old girl know about life? She hasn’t even lived a fifth of it yet; how can she come up with five truths about Life? It’s true- there are still so many things that I don’t know. We’re all constantly learning and changing, so I definitely realize that I’m not yet the wisest person I can be. That said, I would still like to share the little life lessons I’ve learned from my seventeen short years on earth. Maybe you should take it with a grain of salt, but maybe- hopefully- you might actually learn something from an ignorant youth.
5 Things I’ve Learned About Life (So Far)
1. It goes on. Robert Frost was right. This is all we ever know for sure about life. Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times, it’s the only time we’ve got. And it’ll keep rolling on and on no matter what choices you make. Like a train on a busy schedule, it will move on with or without you. It’s up to you whether or not you want to give up or hold on for one more day. So be strong. You can’t repeat the past, but you can look towards the future. There’s a lot of possibilities out there.
2. Be unapologetic. Your parents have spent half your life teaching you to say your “pleases” and “thank yous”, but think- maybe you’re being too polite? How many times do you say “I’m sorry” each day? More than you think. “What kind of music is this?” “Get out of my way.” “I don’t really like this color.” “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” Yes, you should be kind and polite, but don’t trade your confidence and pride for those three words. Be yourself. Unapologetically. Never ever say “I’m sorry” for being you. If they don’t like your music, smile and say “I like it. But that’s just me. Do you want to listen to something else?” If she doesn’t like your hair or he laughs at you for missing a stupid question, sit up straight and answer back with confidence and grace. Don’t hunch over and mumble an apology, wishing you were invisible. Make your presence known- there’s no shame in that.
3. A smile could change a life. Ok, so maybe it won’t. Maybe that man behind the counter won’t remember your face after five minutes, or that lady thinks you’re a creeper for trying to be nice. You take that risk because you know who you are. You are an uplifter. You radiate positive vibes. It doesn’t matter if not everyone needs it, most people will. Everyone is fighting a hard battle whether you know it or not, and everyone needs a smile -maybe even a hug- from time to time. So smile at strangers. Lend a hand. Speak up when you see a person in need of help. Your reward shouldn’t have to be a “thank you”; your reward is the self-satisfaction you receive from doing good. Who knows? Maybe those smiles could change your life.
4. Open your eyes and you open your mind. You should always be seeking out new perspectives, seeing things outside the box. I don’t care what your background, your ethnicity, your past experiences, your religion, your race, or your political affiliations are; the universe is larger than your views of it. There’s always two sides of a story. And ten billion opinions on it. So go ahead. Embrace the counterargument to your beliefs. We can’t be defined by a cult, or an organization , or any piece of this world, because we are global citizens part of a world culture. There are no “other people” who aren’t like us. Everyone out there is human, from the lowliest criminal to the richest man, the misfits, the leaders, the truth-seekers. You can’t go around hating a whole chunk of the global community. We are only a small blue speck in this vast expanse of the universe. Hang on to the only family you have.
5. The little ordinary things turn out to be important after all. We are a combination of small decisions and slight changes that add up to be an avalanche we call life. If you hadn’t met that person, where would you be now? What if you’d never said ‘yes’ to him or ‘no’ to her? What in the universe conspires for us to be at the right place at the right time when there are an infinite number of places you could be at any particular time? And why is it that we can always recall those seemingly insignificant glimpses of our lives that haunt us until we’re lying on our deathbeds? The time he lent you a pencil in third grade. Or that time daddy let you get ice cream from the food truck. Or the compliment she gave you when you were feeling the most insecure. Treasure these moments, because one day, they will be all you have. Treasure the cups of coffee, the giggles, the songs on the radio, and the pennies on the sidewalk. They are invaluable because you can hold them endlessly in your mind- a memento of your life.
Hope you enjoyed this xox