Today is my 21st birthday. Eeeee! Birthdays are fun. They always prompt a sentimental flashback to my previous year. 20 was a really crazy year, full of ups and down and all sorts of life lessons. I wanted to compile a list of the things I’ve learned over time and some words of advice for anyone out there reading. I’m not standing on a soapbox, I just want to share my heart with you all!
In the past 21 years (or more importantly, in the last year), I’ve learned…
- To really love. Love deep, love hard- just love. We need each other and we need each other to love selflessly and without abandon.
- To step away from my phone/device/Pinterest. It is incredibly important to get to know the people right in front of me because it is a more worthy and satisfying relationship.
- To spend more time and money on experiences, rather than materialistic things. This is hard (really, really hard) because I love shopping but holy moly, those new pair of jeans will never compare to moments spent with people I love. Experiences bring more richness to my life more than a full closet ever will. One day, I will want more than a full closet or a fancy car to show for myself and I am glad that I will have experiences and adventures that will shape who I am.
- That Mom knows best. Actually, parents know best. They are human, but they are also superheroes- just as I believed when I was six. I don’t know how they do it all, but they do and I feel more loved and encouraged day after day.
- To not let fear run my life. Due to my more introverted nature, sometimes I get shy and quiet. Which leads to me letting the larger personalities own their spots in the limelight, while I stay to the back. However, I am capable, I am enough, and I need to constantly remember this. Life is not easy, but living in fear holds me back from experiencing way too many things.
- That failure is not defeat.Last October, I decided (rather abruptly) to change my degree emphasis, which meant changing the whole career path I had designed for myself. I felt that God was truly calling me to step outside of that more narrow path, and into his perfect, good, and infinitely more capable and transforming hands. Signing those papers to switch my emphasis and into a life of unknown (career wise) felt more like a failure at the time. It felt like a defeat- I couldn’t handle the pressures of the classes I would have to take and the career itself felt more life-draining than life-giving so I gave up. I felt like God had more in store for my life, and I decided to rest in that truth. Now 9 months later, I know his goodness and faithfulness better than before. I finished that next semester with the best grades I’ve gotten since high school and landed an internship with an amazing non-profit. This is not to boast, but to simply that GOD’S GOT YOU. I felt broken down, weak, and like a complete failure. I watched Him flip those negative feelings right side up, thus molding me into a more trusting and God-fearing daughter of Christ. I failed, but I didn’t stop trying. More importantly, God provided.
- That sometimes, staying in your pajamas all day watching Netflix and baking treats is completely necessary. The sooner you accept that, the happier you will be- I promise.
- To always be a kid at heart. As I’ve written in previous posts, the joy I feel after working with children is second to none. January was a tough month for me but once I started working in the church nursery, the childlike joy was exuberant and irresistible. It doesn’t take much to know that kind of joy again. Jump in puddles, get excited over ice cream, dance in the rain, sing in the car, and talk about your day with the biggest smile on your face.
- To avoid driving at all costs (just kidding, kind of). Parking permits/tickets, expensive gas prices, car problems….I hate them all and I wish I could just ride around LA on a bike because of them. However, LA is not built for that. While I do appreciate my car (thanks Dad!!), I’ve realized most of the”adult” life lessons I’v learned revolve around my car. My patience is tested and my wallet is open more often than not. Pay your parking bills on time, get your tires rotated, and call your parents.
- That my comfort zone is great and all…but sometimes it’s important to live on the edge. Take risks, don’t be afraid, push yourself to new bounds. In summary, get out of your introvert self and live fully. The dreams I have should not simply stay on my Pinterest boards and Tumblr pages. They need to be lived because life is just too short.
- To be genuine. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”~ Maya Angelou.
- That life is not a race. The college years often feel like this. Who will get the best grades? Who will graduate on time? Who is in a relationship? When will they get married? Your journey is yours and yours only. Don’t compare your timeline to anyone else’s. Your achievements are incredible, valuable, and important.
- To rest in the moments that feel perfect. When the sun slowly rises and you are sitting on your patio with a cup of coffee with a good book, when a baby falls asleep on your lap, or when you painted your nails without one smudge. Take pictures if necessary, but maybe not every time. Recognizing these little moments over time has created a deeper sense of contentment in my heart and I have noticed this is one of the ways God likes to speak to me. Or, these are the moments that I feel closer to Him because of his creation. Hold on to these moments and take any measure to not forgot them.
- To develop hobbies and stay engaged with them. For me, this looks like writing on this blog, reading, shopping (well, fashion), working with kids, and adventuring. Even in the rigorous world of academia, “me” time is vital. In high school, I found myself bored way too often and I knew this needed to change once I got to college. This has been a work in progress over the last couple years (is Netflix watching a hobby…?), but now that I’m living on my own for the summer I have been able to devote my free time to my hobbies and it is so life-giving. It also makes me ridiculously excited to graduate and start adult life so homework won’t get me down!
- To not ever, ever settle. For bad coffee, or for friendships that aren’t healthy anymore. Seasons change, people change, and life moves on.
- To not settle for anything less than God’s best because of my fear of not being worthy. This goes back to #5. I am capable of achieving great things, and I am thankful for the relationships around me that remind me of this daily.
- To spend as much time with my family as possible. Family is forever and ever. They are my world and my foundation. It would be impossible for me to find a better family if I tried. Good thing I don’t have to! They have my whole heart. They are home.
- That I’ve been blessed with far more than I deserve, which is the greatest gift in the world. Take the time to count your blessings and realize how privileged you are. (Instagram will become far less important at this point, fair warning). Stay humble, it will get you farther than you’ve ever dreamed. We’ve all been so blessed with much more than we deserve and God’s love and grace is abundant.
- To be nice to everyone, at all times. Live with an open mind. People are unique and on a completely different journey than myself. Each and every person is created in the image of God, and they deserve at least a simple smile. Kindness goes a long way.
- To always be myself. Unapologetically. Part of this is my straight-foward personality but I truly believe that I should not have to apologize for being whole-heartedly myself. I have told multiple people that year 20 of my life has come with the most grueling life lessons to learn but they have, without a doubt, taught me to better understand who I am and that I should always be myself no matter what.
- That not everything is worth getting upset over. Having a clear mind and a level conscious will get you far. Life is insanely unpredictable and unfortunate events are unavoidable, but don’t be set back by heartbreak, disappointment, or rejection for long. God is in control and he has your best interests at heart. Rest in His promises. Even though after every high, comes a low- God is still there. He sees you, he knows you, and can comfort you better than anything on Earth.
I cannot wait to see what year 21 has to offer. God has blessed me with such a wonderful life and purpose on this earth. My family & friends are beyond amazing and I’m so grateful for them and who they are in my life. Cheers to another year!