I’ve only lived 19 short years. I have only had a couple relationships. + I have only experienced a small fraction of all the love, happiness + sorrow I will undoubtedly [++hopefully] endure in the rest of my years. Still, I’d like to think I’ve learned a few things in my short time. I hope to learn even more as my years continue, but these are the core principles I can say I believe in at the moment. Below are the 19 things I realized at 19 — each accompanied by one of my favorite quotes because come-on, what girl doesn’t love quotes ; ) ENJOY.
19 THINGS I REALIZED AT 19
1] I have value. You have value. We all have value. If someone doesn’t realize that, you have to. There is no rule telling us to put up with people who don’t treat us right, yet, from time to time, I find myself doing so. At some point I have to realize it’s up to me to change that.
“SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THE DREAMERS + THE DOERS, THE BELIEVERS + THINKERS, BUT MOST OF ALL, SURROUND YOURSELF IWTH THOSE WHO SEE GREATNESS WITHIN YOU, EVEN WHEN YOU DON’T SEE IT YOURSELF.”
2] People will come + go out of our lives. We have to let them. If someone no longer wants to be part of your life, you have to let them make that choice. It might hurt, but things will get better. It’s hard + uncomfortable to feel the absence of someone who used to be a vital part of your life, but it is eventually manageable.
“THERE ARE FAR, FAR BETTER THINGS AHEAD THAN ANY WE LEAVE BEHIND.” — C.S. LEWIS
3] We should all stress less. One day I was sitting with a friend, complaining about how stressed I was. He looked at me + said, “There’s no reason to be stressed.” As I tried to list the things I was worried about, he interrupted me, saying, “No, you shouldn’t be stressed. People always stress over the things they can’t control –a waste of time because it’s out of their hands. Then people stress over things they can control — another waste because if you can control it, there’s no need to be stressed.”
“WORRY A LITTLE BIT EVERY DAY + IN A LIFETIME YOU WILL LOSE A COUPLE OF YEARS. IF SOMETHING IS WRONG, FIX IT IF YOU CAN. BUT TRAIN YOURSELF NOT TO WORRY: WORRY NEVER FIXES ANYTHING.” — ERNEST HEMINGWAY
4] I am in control of my attitude, not anyone else. I used to hold a lot of weight on how others thought of me. But that never really made me happy. I’m happiest when I’m proud of myself.
“TOO MANY PEOPLE UNDERVALUE WHAT THEY ARE + OVERVALUE WHAT THEY’RE NOT.”
5] Intelligence is attractive. Thought-provoking conversation is stimulating. Opinions are intriguing. Silence is boring.
“EITHER WRITE SOMETHING WORTH READING OR DO SOMETHING WORTH WRITING.”
6] At any point, I can stop + decide things will be better from now on. For no reason should you feel obligated to stay in a position that makes you feel empty. What usually holds people back, I think, is fear — fear in not finding happiness right away. But I think it can happen when we least expect it.
“IT IS ASTONISHING HOW SHORT A TIME IT CAN TAKE FOR VERY WONDERFUL THINGS TO HAPPEN.”
7] I should be able to hold a conversation with anyone about anything at any time. It is truly very impressive to be able to spark conversation with people of all types, but it’s even more challenging to make the conversation more than just small talk. Pride yourself on trying to do so.
“IF YOU ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS, YOU’LL DISCOVER HOW TRULY FASCINATING PEOPLE ARE.”
8] We have nothing if we don’t have honesty. I think it’s near impossible to build any type of relationship with anyone without being honest. We also have to be honest with ourselves — honest enough to know when we’re succeeding or when we need help from others.
“HONEST DISAGREEMENT IS OFTEN A GOOD SIGN OF PROGRESS” — MAHATMA GANDHI
9] Love is scary because it makes us vulnerable. Love is weird. It’s challenging, three-dimensional, + different every time. In the 19 years I’ve been alive, I’ve noticed 2 main types of people — people who love + people who hide. Those who love value their relationships with people more than anything else — more than school, jobs, or success. They let people into their lives, + they treat those people as if they’re irreplaceable. What’s scary is those people don’t always reciprocate.
“THE BEST PEOPLE POSSESS A FEELING FOR BEAUTY, THE COURAGE TO TAKE RISKS, THE DISCIPLINE TO TELL THE TRUTH, THE CAPACITY FOR SACRIFICE. IRONICALLY, THEIR VIRTUES MAKE THEM VULNERABLE; THEY ARE OFTEN WOUNDED, SOMETIMES DESTROYED.” — ERNEST HEMINGWAY
10] People don’t put up walls for no reason. Try to understand their past without judgments. I think we can tell when someone won’t let us in. What we should try to remember is — it might not be that they want to hide from you, but they think it’s necessary. It takes more time for some to feel comfortable around others, especially if they have been hurt before.
“THE WALLS WE BUILD AROUND US TO KEEP SADNESS OUT ALSO KEEP OUT THE JOY.” — JIM ROHN
11] Sometimes we just need to hear “everything will be okay” even if it might not. Bad days happen. Terrible days happen. Some days feel like they’ll never get better. But they will. All it takes is a few words to make someone else feel a world of a difference, + it feels incredible when you know you’ve done that for someone.
“EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY IN THE END. IF IT’S NOT OKAY, IT’S NOT THE END.” — JOHN LENNON
12] Be passionately curious. There is value in curiosity. I’m so interested in learning how things work or why things happen. I love hearing other people’s perspectives because it opens my mind to things I never could have imagined.
“I’M IN LOVE WITH CITIES I’VE NEVER BEEN TO + PEOPLE I’VE NEVER MET.”
13] Always be present. Sometimes I find myself harping on a past incident or hoping for a future event that I miss out on the present. Time literally is everything, + if we don’t spend it intentionally + wisely, we could waste it.
“TO LIVE IS THE RAREST THING IN THE WORLD. MOST PEOPLE EXIST, THAT IS ALL.” — OSCAR WILDE
14] I am not a child anymore. I must be responsible for my actions. There are many things I can do on my own — go to the bank, the grocery store, call a repairman, use public transportation. They sound easy, + for the most part, they are. But the transition from dependency to independent living can be strange. Know everyone else is doing it, too.
“IT MAKES ME HAPPY TO KNOW THAT NONE OF US GET A HOW-TO-GUIDE. WE’RE ALL JUST KING OF WINGING IT.”
15] I have an obligation as a citizen to be informed of recent news. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard snippets of new stories, + I had no idea what was going on. I hate that feeling. I think as a whole we tend to detach ourselves from situations that don’t directly involve or impact ourselves. But we all share this Earth. It is our duty to know what’s happening in it while trying to make it a more sustainable place.
“THINK OF ALL THE BEAUTY STILL AROUND YOU + BE HAPPY.” — ANNE FRANK
16] We should be conscious of our surroundings. Ignorance is bliss — true. But ignorance is indifference. Be aware of your environment — the advantages, circumstances you have available to you. Care enough to be informed of the opportunities you have been given.
“WHENEVER YOU FEEL LIKE CRITICIZING SOMEONE, JUST REMEMBER THAT ALL THE PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD HAVEN’T HAD THE ADVANTAGES THAT YOU’VE HAD.” — F. SCOTT FITZGERALD
17] There is so much to be thankful for. Remember that.
“CULTIVATE THE HABIT OF BEING GRATEFUL.”
18] Good things come to those who wait work. I do not know who originated the quotes about time healing everything + patience leading to happiness, but I have to say I disagree with them. If I sat on my couch patiently waiting for anything — a job, an A on a test, a change in my body — I am pretty certain it would not just happen. Sure, patience is a factor in excelling. But working toward the goal is an even bigger one.
“IT HAD LONG SINCE COME TO MY ATTENTION THAT PEOPLE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT RARELY SAT BACK + LET THINGS HAPPEN TO THEM. THEY WENT OUT + HAPPENED TO THINGS.” — LEONARDO DE VINCI
19] The little things are the big things. Impromptu lunch dates + movie nights, long walks when it’s cold + the town is lit up for the holidays, the leaves changing, remembering birthdays or favorite foods + sleepovers without sleep, long phone calls — these are the things we will miss when we’re adults. Let’s enjoy them while we can, + hopefully we’ll still make time for them when we’re those real people with those real jobs.
“THE ART OF BEING HAPPY LIES IN THE POWER OF EXTRACTING HAPPINESS FROM COMMON THINGS.” — HENRY WARD BEECHER
+Alyssa, Penn State CHAARG Ambassador