21 was a year of like, realizing things. I think I’ve learned a thing or two over the last few years, but so far, this year has taught me the most about myself and about the most important things in life. Many of these are going to sound super cliche, but they’re things that I maybe knew were supposed to be true, but that I didn’t learn for myself until now. So here we go. Read and learn, people.
1. Things will more likely than not turn out being different than you thought they would be.
I am so so so guilty of creating vivid images in my mind of exactly how I want or think things will go, and I’m almost always wrong. And most of the time, all this does is create disappointment or confusion. I’m learning to just let things happen the way they do, instead of creating elaborate plans in my mind, because let’s face it – life almost never goes according to plan.
2. Some people in your life are meant to be temporary.
Not every single friend you make is meant to be your friend forever. They might just be there to get you through a certain time in your life and to teach you certain lessons. People come and go throughout life and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Be thankful for the ones who go through life with you, but also be thankful for the ones who were there for a short and sweet (or not so sweet) time.
3. It’s okay to have no idea what you want in life when you’re 21.
Or 25, or 30, for that matter. For our whole lives we’re taught to find our purpose, and we’re pressured to have it all figured out by the time we finish high school. But it’s okay to change your mind a million times and to be afraid to commit to something. It’s okay to sometimes feel like there’s nothing you’re made to do or be. It’s okay to not know which one of your several passions to fully go for. While it can be an incredibly uncomfortable feeling, there’s good that comes from these times of uncertainty. There’s more than enough time to figure things out. Relaxxxx.
4. Spending time with your grandparents is so important.
It seems so obvious, because we’re always hearing people say that they wish they would’ve spent more time with theirs after they’re gone. But for some reason, so many of us fail to put genuine time into our relationships with our grandparents if we are still lucky enough to have them around. Over the past year especially, I’ve made a conscious effort to spend more time with mine, and it has made me feel incredibly happy and I have grown to appreciate them even more.
5. It’s so important to take time to get to know yourself on a deeper level.
Over the past four months that I’ve been in Toronto, I’ve had enough quality time with myself to last a lifetime. But I don’t see it as sad or lame – I see it as time that I’ve spent growing and learning about myself, and I feel more sure of who I am than I ever have before. (Refer to post about being your own bff for more on this)
6. Your mom was right about everything.
This is something I’ve slowly been learning over the past few years, but now that I’m far from home, I’ve come to appreciate my family more. I’ve realized that this whole time, she knew what she was saying and she knew what was best for me through every problem or heartbreak I’ve had. I can just imagine now, how frustrating it must have been having to argue with my fifteen-year-old self about how she didn’t understand and that my problems were WAY too complex for her to be able to solve for me. She was right when I didn’t want to admit it, and she was right even when I could’ve sworn she was wrong.
7. Long distance friendships are hard, but they teach you a lot.
I’ve been in a long distance friendship with my best friend for over two years now, and this past fall I had another best friend move away, but it wasn’t until the new year that I got to be on the other end, as the one who moved away. Through this, you learn which friends make an effort to keep in touch like they said they would, and which relationships you want to put the extra effort into. It makes you grateful for the ones who don’t forget about you even if you don’t see or talk to them as often. And it makes you realize that it’s okay if certain friendships change. The ones that are meant to stay the same, will.
8. Social Media is the pitfall of our life-satisfaction.
I realized this through personal experience and actual scientific evidence. This year in my upper year psychology class, I conducted a study looking at social media’s impact on self-esteem and life-satisfaction amongst students and the results were just what you would think. Instagram is a highlight reel of our lives. We show the best parts of our lives with filters on them to make them look even better. And it’s SO easy to get caught in the trap of scrolling through profiles of people who are prettier, thinner, wealthier, more stylish, and more travelled than you. And it doesn’t feel so good on the old self-esteem. But no one’s life is actually like their perfectly crafted Instagram feed. In the words of Kris Jenner, you’re doing amazing sweetie.
DISCLAIMER: On the other hand, social media can be fun when used properly!!
This year I’ve realized that Instagram is super fun and I stopped caring about getting likes on posts, and instead started using it as a creative outlet and it has increased my Instagram experience. Try posting things that YOU like, rather than things that you think others will like.
9. Never resent the place you came from.
Growing up in a small town, I was constantly hearing people talk about how much they hated that town and couldn’t wait to get the hell out of it. So much so, that it might have ended up tainting many of the good memories that they had there. No matter how excited you may be to move on from your beginning, always be grateful for it because like it or not, it got you where you are now and made you who you are. When you find yourself far away, chances are you’ll miss the little things that you used to say you hated.
10. Learning to love yourself is an endless process.
For some it’s easier than for others. Loving yourself includes everything from loving the qualities and values you have, to the way you look, and everything in between. There is no magical way to start loving yourself. It comes from learning about yourself and finding ways to appreciate the things you are. Easier said than done. But the biggest thing I’ve realized is that everybody has something they don’t love about themselves. We’re all trained to be insecure, even when others might see no reason for us to be. When you’re having a tough day in the self-love department, remember that there are so many others feeling the same way as you, and that you’re only feeling that way because you’ve been conditioned to think negatively about yourself, and that’s just plain WRONG.
11. Starting somewhere is better than not starting.
This is something I’m still learning. But just because you might not be able to see the end product, or have no idea where taking a step will end up leading you, there’s one definite, proven way to make sure you never do know where it’ll take you. By not taking a step. Whether this is taking a step toward making a big change in your life, starting a career, or just writing something for your blog. Even if you have no idea what you want to write about, write SOMETHING. If you stare at a blank document forever, you’ll never get to read the final thing.
12. Sometimes it feels good to bathe in nostalgia.
Listen to a song that makes you feel a certain way, walk somewhere that brings back old memories, look through photos that make you miss those days so much it hurts. Even if it makes you sad or emotional, it feels good on the soul.
13. But not everything has to be nostalgic or sentimental.
There’s a good chance that I’m the most sentimental person you know, whether or not you know it. I make everything into a big deal and want it to be perfect so that I create the best memories and have the most meaningful experiences possible. I started to notice this after I decided I was going to move to Toronto, and I only had a few months left at home. Every little thing I did, whether alone or with family and friends, suddenly seemed so different. Like everything had to be perfect because I only had so many more times to go to my Auntie’s for dinner and movies, or make dinner for my sister, or go for drinks with my friends, or go to my hometown to visit my parents for the weekend. All of a sudden I found myself putting pressure on things to be perfect and meaningful, and it wasn’t until my sister pointed it out to me that I realized I needed to chill. I’m learning to accept the fact that there’s a first for everything, and theres also often a last. And that’s okay. Make room for new experiences.
14. The unfamiliar is only unfamiliar for a day.
Strangers are only strangers for a day. Any new situation you put yourself in is only uncomfortable for a little while. Moving to a brand new city, I felt so nervous because I was moving away from home where I knew my favourite places (and how to get to them), and where I was surrounded by people I knew. But it didn’t take long to feel those things here as well. New things only stay scary until you just do them.
15. Give more credit to your dad.
When we’re growing up, we always say we want our mom when we’re sad. We always idolize our mothers for making us who we are and for everything she does for us. But speaking personally, I would be nowhere without my dad. He has done so much for my sisters and I because he knows we need him. It wasn’t until I was a little older that I truly learned to appreciate the little things he does out of love and because he loves taking care of his girls. More times than not these things would go unnoticed, but he did them anyway.
16. Most of the memories you will end up holding dearest to your heart are the ones that you never would have thought would have any significance to you while they were happening.
They’re the ones that happened when you weren’t trying to make amazing memories. They’re the simple ones, where you felt things naturally and in the moment.
17. It’s okay to change your mind about what you want.
You’re allowed to change. Even if you were so sure of things at one point, there is no shame in realizing that you don’t want something anymore. The beautiful thing is that you’re allowed to try as many things as you desire, and you get to choose what you want to do, be, or have. Take this in whatever context you like, whether it’s where you want to live, what you want to go to school for, or what flavour of gelato you want after taste-testing as many as possible. Just because you went into the shop thinking tiramisu, doesn’t mean you can’t decide you want Dulce de Leche even more.
18. Going to the movies by yourself is the greatest thing ever.
It’s become my favourite thing to do on a night off or when I feel like I just want a little escape. When you go by yourself you don’t have to share your popcorn, and you get to choose whatever movie you want to see. And you can go to The Greatest Showman seven times if you want to. (Which you should, since I also realized that it’s the best movie in the history of movies).
19. Cappuccinos are better than lattes.
Lattes suck in my opinion, unless you like milk with a hint of espresso. This may seem like an insignificant realization, but to me it was monumental and I’ll forever think of 21 as the year of the cappuccino.
20. Stop buying/keeping clothes that will “fit perfectly once you lose a few pounds” and thinking you’ll use them as motivation.
All they end up doing is make you feel worse about yourself and being a waste of money. You’ll feel WAY more confident if you just buy what fits you right now. Try to ignore the size on the tag and choose which fit you like best, not which number you want to be.
21. You’ll only feel true happiness when you learn to be grateful for where you are now.
We spend so much time thinking about where we want to be in life and how things will be so much better if we were there. Whether it’s where you live, what your body looks like, or where you’re at in your career, it’s so easy to feel negatively about where you’re currently at if we’re always longing for something “better”. But the thing is, even if we do get to where we want to be, chances are we’ll then want even more still. Getting in the mindset that you are where you are for a reason is so helpful to your happiness.
22. Moving to a city across the country where you know nobody is a weird but amazing experience.
And I recommend it to anyone who thinks they’re the kind of person who could handle such a thing. Walking away from a city full of friends and family that have your entire heart, into the complete unknown, seems like a dumb idea. But turns out it’s not. It’s a really good one.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my personal tidbits of wisdom. While I know I still have a lot to learn, I’m going into 22 feeling really good about where I’m and and where I’m going. I might not know where exactly that is, but I know that things will happen the way they’re supposed to. For now, I’m just enjoying the ride. 🙂