Every year on my birthday I normally obsess over taking pictures. To me, photographs are something you should cherish. Each one is a freeze framed moment in time and by looking back at them, it’s like reliving that special moment over and over again. For the longest time I’ve had the notion in my head that by having a photo, it somehow keeps the memory from fading. I’m sentimental alright? But this year, for the first time in a long time, I didn’t take a single picture.
This year was one of my most memorable birthdays for the sheer fact that I turned 18. Yikes. 18 is a milestone birthday and yet instead of trying to inhibit the fun with forced poses in front of a camera, I decided to just enjoy myself and the company of those around me. The memories that fill my mind are far better then the photos ever could’ve been. I’ve been 18 for about a month and even though that isn’t long, I’ve learned a lot from 1998 until now. So here are 18 things I’ve learned at 18.
1. Music can heal every wound.
To this day, there is nothing that I share a more profound connection to then music. Ever since I started talking, I’ve been singing. Music has a way of slotting itself into every aspect of my life and I tend to link specific songs to specific experiences I’ve had; good or bad.
The song “House That Built Me” by Miranda Lambert is a song that I played on repeat when I found out I was moving out of my childhood home in 2011. At the time, the story line of the song was something I identified with on such a deep level, it brought me to tears. Heartache for something you will never get back. Going home but not really being home. Even now, I’m incapable of listening to that song without crying because it brings back that same flood of emotions I felt 5 years ago.
Music is powerful. What’s amazing about it though, is that every song impacts every person who listens to it differently. A few simple notes on a page have the ability to make you feel whole even when you’re broken. No matter what I’m going through, I’ve always turned to music for solace and it isn’t until now that I realized what a huge impact it has on me daily.
2. Moisturize dang it!
This one is pretty simple. Before I go to bed every night, I take off my makeup, wash my face and brush my teeth. As I’m putting everything back into the bathroom cabinets, it would be so easy for me to reach for my moisturizer, slap some on my face and call it a night right? Wrong. I don’t know why, but I always forget to moisturize my skin. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is or if I’m rushed to get ready either. Without fail my skin is always dry and I can only blame myself. Maybe one day it will finally get ingrained into my muscle memory. Moisturize your skin, your face will thank you later!
3. Sometimes friends grow apart-that’s okay.
People come into your life for a reason, but some of them just aren’t meant to stay. People change and that’s something I’ve always known, but I never really accepted it as a fact until some of the most stable people in my life started to leave.
Ending a friendship is something no one wants to go through, but the thing is, not all friendships end in fallout. There aren’t always harsh words spoken or broken hearts to mend. Sometimes friends just fizzle and that’s it.
Specifically in high school, everyone matures at different rates and it’s okay to let someone go when your personalities don’t match anymore. It’s okay to be angry, or sad or even a little frustrated because no matter what, that person you lost impacted you. I am me because of all of the people that have come in and out of my life. Take some time to mend and then make room for new friends and new experiences down the road. Sometimes friends grow apart but finally, I know that that’s okay.
4. On the flip side- good friends are just as important as family.
These people mean more to me then words could ever express. I never thought I could love anyone, unrelated by blood, as deeply as I love each of these individuals. Each one of them adds something different to my life and each one challenges me to be the best I possibly can be. To avoid sounding too cliche, I’ll sum it up like this. Having a support group of people that truly care about you is one of the most powerful lessons life has ever taught me. These are my friends. I think I’ll keep them.
5. You can’t help who you fall in love with.
The first crush I ever had was on a boy named Jaret Burton in the 5th grade. We practically grew up together, but at 11 years old I had no idea what having a crush actually felt like. I just remember getting super flustered whenever I talked to him and teasing him way to much just to get his attention.
The funny thing about liking someone, is that you don’t really get to choose who you fall for- no matter how old you are. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t had my fair share of hardcore crushes since Jaret, but each person I’ve liked, I’ve liked for their own unique qualities. I don’t have a “type”. I’ve liked a hot church boy, a blond haired sweetheart and a bunch in between. It just kind of happens.
Something my mom has always told me is that “boys are idiots.” Not in the sense of intelligence but rather that they’re clueless. With that mindset, I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve and if I like you, chances are you’ll be able to tell.
You should never let anyone make you feel embarrassed about who you like. If you’re attracted to them, then more power to you. It shouldn’t matter if they’re a boy or a girl or if you’re 17 and they’re 15. That doesn’t make your feelings invalid or unjustifiable. Age is just a number and love is love. Don’t try to swallow the swarm of butterflies in your stomach because sometimes it okay to be out of control.
6. No matter what, there will always be someone with a different opinion then you.
There’s this word my sister explained to me a long time ago called “sonder”. Sonder basically means that when you encounter a random passerby on the street, you recognize that they’re living a life just as complex and vivid as your own.
Every person comes from their own walk of life and no one experiences the same trials and tribulations. Naturally, this leads everyone to form their own opinions based on what their life has taught them. Not everyone sees eye to eye and not everyone shares the same point of view. That’s something I learned the hard way this year.
On the morning of November 9th 2016, 16 days before my birthday, the President Elect was announced and the decision shook the entire energy of my school. Everything felt so tense and the amount of petty arguments I encountered couldn’t even be counted on 2 hands. Everyone is entitled to have their own opinion but the way that you share that opinion is something that’s far more important then what you’re trying to express.
7. Everything happens for a reason.
Nothing happens by sheer coincidence. The way I see it, my life is like a row of tumbling dominoes. A sort of chain reaction of events that have lead up to now. If one thing had or hadn’t happened, I would be a slightly different person because of it. Every person I’ve ever encountered, regardless of how long they were a part of my life, has taught me something and changed the outcome of my personality. Maybe I’m just a hopeless optimist. Or maybe I’m a bit insane, but regardless, I don’t believe in random occurrences. I hold out hope that there is a plan set specifically for me and I’m just along for the ride.
8. Swearing isn’t always bad. Sometimes it’s purposeful.
Up until the 6th grade I had never even heard a swear word, let alone said one myself! I was a super sheltered kid growing up and went to a private Catholic school until the end of my elementary years. “Bad words” in my house consisted of saying things like “stupid” or “sucks” so I had no idea words like f*** even existed.
If you would have swore in front of me a few years ago, I would have smacked you and told you off for it because I had convinced myself so thoroughly that curse words should never be said. Ever. I kept this “goody two-shoes” mindset about swearing for most of my life. That is, up until a few months ago.
Something I’ve figured out about myself is that the swear words themselves aren’t what bother me. It’s when people choose to use them. If you’re swearing just for the sake of swearing, then I’ll get annoyed. But if you’re speaking passionately about something, or ranting and need to get a point across then it’s okay. It’s purposeful. I still don’t swear that often. I’ve never said the f-bomb. I’m still that goody two-shoes Catholic girl I was before, I’ve just added some more colorful words into my vernacular.
9. Follow your passions and everything else will fall into place.
5 months ago I had a mental breakdown about my future beyond high school. I had absolutely no clue where I wanted to apply to college or what I wanted to major in. I was panicked. I never thought that I could do what I loved as a viable career option… and then I started this blog. English is my favorite subject and writing is therapeutic for me. Once I decided to make writing a priority I haven’t felt panicked about what’s coming next. Sure I still don’t know what profession I’ll end up with, but regardless I’m going to do what I love and be stress free because of it!
10. Be there for others, but also let people be there for you.
I have a tendency to be so focused on my friend’s well being that I forget about my own. I always want my friends to know that they can confide in me and tell me anything. I want them to feel safe knowing that I will always be there for them no matter what. I’m overly cautious whenever someone I care about is going through something tough because I never want to be unaware of what’s effecting them.
A long time ago, one of my best friends was in a lot of pain and in a very dark place in her life and I had no idea. I was blissfully unaware to the fact that she was dealing with so much. This is a story I’m definitely not ready to share yet, but ever since then, I’ve hard wired myself to make sure I put the people I love first.
I’ve been reminded this year that it’s okay to put myself first sometimes. I’m allowed to release my control and have someone worry about me instead of it always being the other way around. It is never selfish to take care of yourself. If you’re compassionate to the people you surround yourself with, they will give that love right back to you. Let them.
11. You’re stronger then you think.
Going along with the last one, strength in the face of horrible circumstances is something very hard to muster. But it’s there. No matter what you’re going through, you are so much stronger then you think. I’m strong because of the people in my life and for the people in my life. Here are a few important people that I want to remind of this.
Kaylyn- you are one of the most genuine, caring people I have ever met and one of my best friends. You are so strong and no matter what, you can overcome the circumstances life has thrown at you.
Cooper- you WILL be get through this. You WILL be happy again. You WILL be stronger because of this. Never forget that.
Annie- you are not your disease. You are such a beautiful, wonderful, recovering, talented person who deserves the world. Keep fighting because you have the strength within you.
Strength is hard to find when you are going through crap but never doubt that you have it. I have found some hidden in myself and now I want to share it with others. The world would be a much different place if you were gone.
12. You will always have faith to fall back on.
A big part of who I am is based in my faith. The funny thing about that though, is that, up until about 2014 I could barely even call myself a Christian. I was raised Catholic Christian and went to a private Catholic school until I was about 10 years old, but my faith was purely routine. Go to school and receive my daily religious education. Go to mass on Sunday like everyone else and BAM I’m going to heaven. That’s not exactly how it works though.
I’ve learned that faith is something you have to find on your own. My faith in God was restored when I was in a very dark place in my life and it was eye opening. I felt alone and God filled the spaces where I was lacking. With Him, I never feel lonely. I turn to Him and confide in Him and somehow I know everything will be okay. You have to experience faith personally. No one can force you to believe in something you aren’t ready to accept. It doesn’t matter if you start a relationship with Jesus at age 2, 16 or 75. There is no age limit on finding your faith. My journey has been anything but easy, but now I stand by the notion that God is good all the time and all the time God is good!
13. Don’t take the little things for granted.
Over the summer, I left my phone at home for a week while I was on vacation. While unplugged, I realized how much of the world I don’t see because of the fact that I’m constantly looking down. There are so many little things that I experience everyday that I take for granted. Laughing. A warm breeze. Sleeping in and feeling all warm and snugly in bed. I love these things and have only recently started to appreciate them. At my birthday party this year, I looked around at all of my friends and realized that life is passing me by at a furious rate. I don’t want to fly through the rest of high school. I want to soak in everyday and appreciate even the simplest things.
14. NEVER take a nap over 30 minutes!
The art of the power nap is something I have perfected over the past 4 years of high school. Sleep deprivation is a good motivator to nod off whenever I get the chance, but, in order to get the best burst of energy, the nap needs to be perfectly timed. The trick is to only nap for about 10-20 minutes. NEVER over a half an hour! If you sleep for over 30 minutes you. are. screwed. You will wake up feeling more tired and lethargic then before and your eyelids will feel as heavy as bricks. I’ve learned that if you’re an insanely busy person (like me), a power nap quickly becomes your best friend. Just remember to set an alarm…
15. Warm baths are therapeutic.
Never underestimate the healing powers of a warm bath. Sure I’m 5’10” and barely fit in my bathtub but when I’m stressed out there is nothing better then lying in a piping hot bubble bath with the lights dimmed and soft music soothing me out of my stressful state. Candles and your favorite hot drink are highly recommended and make sure you will be totally undisturbed for a good half hour. Treat your self! It’s worth it!
16. Bottling up your emotions only makes you feel worse.
I am an extreme extrovert and have always been a pretty open person. I tell my mom and sister everything (mostly because I can’t stop myself from talking) but in the 6th grade I closed myself off from them. In the 6th grade I was the victim of bullying. Because of this, I decided to bottle up my emotions and not tell anyone about it because the person who was bullying me had, up until that point, been my best friend.
I didn’t know how to explain what I was feeling so I kept it inside. I concealed it. These feelings ate away at me until finally everything exploded out of me one night in a tear filled confession to my mom. Letting pent up emotions stew as opposed to dealing with them head on only causes you more pain. I’ve learned to wear my heart on my sleeve since then and have never felt the burden of hidden emotion since.
17. Allow yourself to feel every emotion fully.
Everyone has their own unique spectrum of emotions. Some of us feel things more deeply then others or to the less extreme. What annoys me the most is when someone tells me how to feel. Incorrect. No one can tell you how to feel because they aren’t you. Every emotion you feel is valid and you don’t need to hide it or suppress it because of someone else’s opinion. Allow yourself to be happy or sad or mad. You could never know the heights of happiness if you never experienced the valleys of sadness and that’s okay. Being emotional isn’t a bad thing.
18. Don’t try to grow up too fast.
I’m 18 years old now. Legally, I’m an adult. I’m about to be thrown into the real world and yet I still feel like an 8th grader. I’ve always been quirky and never really acted my age but if there’s one life lesson that I cherish most of all, it’s to never try to grow up too fast. Enjoy being the age you are and live for the now. You have so much time to be an adult further down the road, be a kid while you can and make memories that you will look back on fondly.
If you read this entire post, I’m proud of you! Even if you only read the list of 18 things! Goodnight friends!