In my life so far, I’ve had many ups and downs. I know I’ve had it easier than a lot of people my age, but I still have individual struggles of my own. I’ve had hard times that I responded negatively to, and I’ve had issues that I learned from and became a better person because of. Today I turn 19 and I keep telling myself that since this will be my last year as a “teenager” I have to make it the best 🙂 Because I have been reflecting on my life so far, I thought I would take a moment to compile a few things I’ve learned in this time and hopefully you will learn something too.
I will say what I always do before giving advice: I don’t have my life together. There are many, many things that I don’t know yet and many things I have yet to experience. I am in no way saying that you should take my advice word for word, but it would do me a great honor if you would take the time to give it a read 🙂
Without further ado, 19 lessons I’ve learned in 19 years!
Lesson 1: Don’t hold grudges. It does no one any good and it just makes you bitter and unpleasant to be around. They are a waste of time, and time is precious. Holding a grudge over something that happened in the past is a great way to steal joy from the present and the future. Don’t hold on to something that would be better let go of.
Lesson 2: Don’t seek out justice if someone has wronged you. It isn’t your place to get them back for a perceived wrongdoing on their part, nor is it your duty to ruin their reputation by talking about them behind their back. Justice will find them because no sin goes unpunished. Remember that you don’t have to be there to see it though. Gloating in someone’s misfortune, even if it was deserved, is wrong and not classy.
Lesson 3: Don’t allow what other people think about you to define who you are. You are completely different than they are and their opinion holds no weight in your life. If they’re your elder, listen with an open mind and make your decision based on logic. You owe it to them to listen to what they have to say, but no one is forcing you to take their advice. Don’t let someone’s flawed view of you effect your view of yourself. You don’t need their approval or permission, so don’t let their word be law.
Lesson 4: Be nice to everyone. From the employee at McDonald’s to the teller at the bank and from the cop who pulled you over to the greeter at Walmart, everyone has a life just as individual and complex as your own. So be nice. They have a family too. They have worries about the future just like you do. Just because you feel slighted doesn’t mean you can take it out on other people who have no control of the situation. The universe doesn’t revolve around you, so stop acting like it does. Even if you’re having a bad day, be nice and respect others and you just might make their day.
Lesson 5: Your parents really do know best. As teens and young adults we like to think we know so much and that our parent’s way of doing things is “outdated.” But the truth is, they have lived longer than you, they have more experience than you do, and all they want for you is the best. It’s common to think that they are trying to ruin your life by not letting you do something, when in reality they just don’t want you to have to learn a lesson the hard way like they had to. You can learn so much from your parents and if you could trust them to teach you how to walk and dress yourself, why wouldn’t you trust them to help you choose a college or a partner for life? Don’t get so caught up in what you think you know to ask for your parent’s advice.
Lesson 6: No one hears your voice if you stay silent. You want to make a difference? Then get ready to stand out. You can’t make a change if you aren’t willing to be set apart from the crowd. Set aside your fears and stand for something you believe in. As the saying goes, “If you don’t stand for something, you might fall for anything.” Life isn’t meant to be safe, we’re meant to stand out and life dangerously. If you spend all your time trying to fit in and play it safe, you’re going to end up empty and full of things you wish you would’ve done.
Lesson 7: Change is constant. And that’s okay. We have to keep pressing forward in life, as long as you don’t forget where you used to be and the lessons you learned in that season of life. Embrace the chance to move on and stop looking back and wishing for something you can’t have.
Lesson 8: Take time to just think. Never be too busy to just work through why you think the way you do and what is important to you. Write down the ideas and thoughts you have and share them with others. You never know, it might be just what someone needs to keep up their journey.
Lesson 9: Ask questions. Never pass up the chance to ask questions. It’s a privilege that you have, so use it. Read often and learn from others. Take the time to learn a new skill or perfect what you already know. There’s nothing wrong with being smart.
Lesson 10: Be thankful. Thank people for the smallest things; the things that don’t normally matter. By thanking them, you show them that you care about and appreciate them. A grateful spirit is always satisfied.
Lesson 11: You are priceless. There is only one you in the world and you are worth so much more than you think you are. Don’t settle for second best and don’t allow anyone to disrespect you. Likewise, don’t disrespect yourself. If you say you aren’t good enough, you give others the permission to say the same. Treat others like they are priceless too. Because they are. No two people are the same and everyone deserves to be honored and loved.
Lesson 12: Don’t be too caught up in your own problems to notice that someone is struggling too. We’re all in this race of life together and it’s hard. It’s also not a competition so don’t feel like you fall behind everyone else because you help people. Don’t ever let someone face a challenge alone. You may not be able to fix what’s wrong, but you can make them feel worth something and often that’s half the battle.
Lesson 13: Stop blindly following others. Take the time to form your own opinions and beliefs and never be afraid to back them up. Just because something is accepted by a lot of people, doesn’t make it right. You have a brain and logical thinking for a reason. Use them.
Lesson 14: Technology shouldn’t replace personal relationships. Write letters, call, go to the coffee shop together, whatever is necessary. Let them know that they mean more to you than a text message. Though texting is handy and nice, if you have the opportunity to, opt for a communication method that’s more personal.
Lesson 15: Create something. Every person has a desire to be a creator in their own way because we were all made by a Creator. So paint, write, make something beautiful, sing, dance, do something to reflect the One who created you. As Tolkien said, “By becoming sub-creators we can better understand the heart of our Creator.”
Lesson 16: Life doesn’t get easier so don’t wait around for it to. If you spend your whole life waiting to do something fun until life gets easy or slows down, you’re going to be waiting for eternity. Take each day captive and use it to do something great. Learn how to live the life you always wanted, even when it’s busy.
Lesson 17: You are a lot better off than other people. The problems that seem world-altering to you are nothing in comparison to the struggles of others. Stop complaining about how you have it so bad or about how your life is so unfair and change something. Don’t just sit by and watch your life like a movie. It’s happening to you right now and you need to be brave enough to step in and change something you don’t like, instead of just complaining about it.
Lesson 18: If you’re the best in the room, you’re in the wrong room. There will always be someone better than you, and that’s okay. If you were the best already, there would be nothing to work for. Don’t strive for perfection; strive to get better than you were yesterday. Don’t get jealous of someone’s success. They worked hard for it.
Lesson 19: Always look for the best. In the world we live in now, it’s so easy to get discouraged by all the bad that happens. But in every situation you have a choice. You can chose to act, or you can choose to react. You can choose to be angry, or you can choose to learn. You can choose to be discouraged and give up, or you can choose to take heart and press forward. Giving up is easy, finishing is hard. Don’t run at the first sign of hardship. You will only know how strong you are when you’re tested.
Don’t hold grudges: it’s a waste of time
Don’t seek out justice for yourself: that’s not your job.
Don’t let other people define who you are: they don’t know you.
Be kind to everyone: they deserve it.
Your parents are a wellspring of knowledge: use it.
Speak up: the world needs people who stand for something.
Change is certain: don’t be afraid of it.
Use your brain: you have it for a reason.
Ask questions: it’s the only way you learn.
Be thankful: you will always be satisfied.
You are Priceless: treat others the same.
Don’t focus on yourself: others may need your help too.
Form your own opinions: just because everyone thinks it, doesn’t make it right.
Get off your phone: seek out personal relationships.
Be creative: it’s what you were made to do.
Don’t take your days for granted: You don’t know how many you really have.
Don’t focus on your own problems: others have it worse.
You’re not perfect: don’t let that be your goal.
You have a choice: don’t give up and take the easy road.
It hasn’t been an easy year for me, but I can honestly say that even through all the hardships and pain, my 18th year has been one of the best. My good times have outnumbered my bad times by a thousand. And I am so excited to see what the next season of my life has in store, because I know that no matter what’s going on right now His plan is always the best 🙂
I would love for you to comment below with a lesson you’ve learned in your life so far. I would very much enjoy hearing from you 🙂