21 Things I’ve Learned In 21 Years

d3a5376fb81beec6def2d7d479e1d63b.jpgAs each year goes by, we can reflect on how much we’ve grown as a person and the lessons we learned. Although the title mentions what I’ve learned in 21 years, I believe that these are aspects that we learn through different stages of our lives, and some may be lessons that we continuously learn from each day. Maturity can’t be defined by an age, but as each passing year goes by, I hope I have become a little wiser and a little kinder than the year before.

1) Surround yourself with good people. At this stage of my life, I no longer waste any time with people that will drain energy or pour negativity into my life. Those were lessons that I learned during my teenage years. Surround yourself with people who are intelligent, kind hearted, hard working and perhaps have a similar humour with you. You bounce off each other’s energy and help each other grow.

2) Life is unpredictable. It’s important to plan ahead and set goals that you’d like to achieve. In terms of decisions in life or situations, sometimes they can change last minute, or sometimes we change over time and no longer feel our heart is in it to do certain things we were once passionate about. It’s okay, because life is unpredictable.We go through those experiences to learn something from them.

3) True beauty comes from your heart.  No matter how much I may love fashion and beauty, beauty that is eternal is the one from your heart. It’s the kind that radiates when you’re 5 years old and 95 years old. It’s that true part of ourselves that is selfless, loving and kind. No one wants to be surrounded by a person with an ugly heart.

4) Don’t judge a book by its cover. It’s easy to skim over a cover of a book and make quick assumptions. However, we do this with people as well. It’s natural to make assumptions about someone from what they wear and how they present themselves. We don’t truly know a person until we spend the time to get to know them, and even then, everyone goes through their own experiences.

5) Listen more than you speak.  This isn’t to say talk less, but a simple reminder to listen more and to listen to different opinions and keep an open mind. It means being able to listen to different views even if you don’t agree with them, and it also means being a listener to someone in a time of need. With all the noise in the world, sometimes we don’t listen as best as we could, but listening may show that we care or we want to understand

6) Do things that make you happy.  It’s funny how much we may stop ourselves from doing things that make us feel happy. It’s easy if you go through a bad period for it to constantly feed off the negative energy, and grow and grow until you feel that you don’t deserve to enjoy life. What’s life without doing things that make us happy?

7) Love yourself before you love others. When you accept who you are as a person, you can be accepting, non-judgmental, loving and be caring towards other people. You have more tolerance and are more grounded in who you are, rather than insecure and judgmental towards others.

8) Grow and learn from mistakes.  Everyone makes mistakes. No matter how bad they may seem at the time, we can choose to grow and learn from those mistakes. They remind us how to face a situation better the next time, or they give us an opportunity to decide what we want to change about ourselves.

9) Noone’s life is perfect.  It doesn’t matter how picture perfect someone’s life may look online or offline, nobody’s life is perfect. Everyone has something that makes them laugh, cry, feel angry, upset and frustrated. We are all meant to live our own life and not the lives of anyone else.

10) You only need a handful of people in your life. Quality of relationships is far more important than a number of people you have in your life. The handful of people in your life are the ones you can trust and know that they will be there for you in a time of need. This also ties into the lesson that it’s important to spend quality time with yourself.

11) Food can affect your mood. Plus, it can affect your health. Eat healthily and drink enough water. When we fuel our body well, we feel ready for the day and we feel far more energy. What you feed into your body affects your mind as well.

12) Take care of your skin. Skincare is so important. Always wear sunscreen everyday, even on cloudy days or during winter time. Use products that are effective and work for you. Your skin is the largest organ of your body.

13) The most important people are your family. Family will always be family. That’s a kind of love that is different to any kind of friendship love. It’s the kind where everyone has seen each other at their highest and lowest. The simple things from what annoy one another to what makes one another smile.

14) We can’t be friends with everyone. It’s important to be kind to people, but we can’t be good friends with everyone. There are certain people we will click and have that connection with over other people, and that’s completely natural. Even though it’s important to be kind, if you feel there are toxic people entering into your life, it’s important to distance yourself.

15) Your values affect your lifestyle. Throughout my teenage years I was always very stubborn in the sense that I refused to conform to what everyone else was doing. My first year of uni at 16, meant that I just didn’t see the point of getting drunk and partying. What you value in life shapes who you are as a person, and then you can attract people with similar values into your life.

16) What you think you become. When you feed thoughts into your mind, there’s a strong feeling towards them. Sometimes they can be full of truth and other times they aren’t true. We can be more harsh and critical towards ourselves than to anyone else. Being kind and having positive self-talk will reflect how you treat others.

17) You’ll never regret being yourself. The wise words once told to me to just be yourself are golden words. Similar to 14) if we be ourselves, then we can attract the right friends into our lives. We can attract the people that appreciate who we are, rather than changing ourselves to fit in.

18) Dont’ be afraid to fail. Success is a result of battling through many failures and staying persistent and consistently learning, growing and improving. If you’re afraid to fail, then you’re afraid to try. Those who have always tried (such as athletes and musician) and don’t give up are the ones who create their own success.

19) Dreams can change. Remember when you were a child, and you were asked: “What do you want to become when you grow up?” I’m sure some of us had a long list of what they wanted to be. Over the years, my dreams have changed quite incredibly, and that’s okay.

20) Never be too hard on yourself. As much as we should strive for self-improvement, don’t be so hard on yourself that you push yourself downwards. If you’re too hard on yourself there won’t be any room to go upwards.

21) A smile comes from the inside. Be genuine with how you feel. I always feel a silent frustration when people pretend to be a certain way with certain people, but then you know that you wouldn’t want to be that way. A smile comes from within.

Art by Yelena Bryksenkova