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Column: A decade of lessons

Photo by Daustin Perez

Taylor Swift once sang, “It was the end of a decade, but the start of an age,” and as I turn 20 on Feb. 3 (this publication date), I sit back and reflect on my second decade on earth.

I have grown from a young girl to a sophomore in college and it’s freaking me out. It still doesn’t feel real that I am no longer going to be a teenager but a young adult trying to face the world ahead.

On my journey toward turning 20, I have learned so many life lessons and I have decided to share some of them. I struggled with figuring out how many lessons I should share until deciding that I should share 10 of them, or a decade of lessons.

Friends break up

Through the past 10 years of my life, I have lost many friends and friend groups. For some, the cause ended up being those friends talking about me behind my back and saying even more horrible things to my face. But those aren’t the “friends” I want to talk about in this lesson. I want to talk about the friends that had just dissolved into thin air, but it’s no one’s fault. That’s just what happens in some friendships.

You create different interests and make other friends and slowly drift away from the person you once called your best friend. It’s sad when it happens but that doesn’t mean that your memories and time with that person are sad. It just means that they were there to make you happy for a period of time. Make sure you are okay and then go separate ways.

Your hobbies and interests are YOUR hobbies and interests

Growing up I have had people judge the different things that sparked my interest. For example, in eighth grade I got tickets to go see “Hamilton” – shoutout to my dad – and I couldn’t stop talking about it. My friend at the time told me I was being annoying and that it was lame how excited I was. That wasn’t the first time something like that happened. Every time it did, I would get silent and never talked about anything I loved again. But then I realized something.

Your hobbies and interests are something that should spark you joy, so who cares what someone says? If they make you happy then express it. Join whatever sorority you want to, be a part of whatever club you want to be a part of, rewatch the same show and post about it when something big happens. Share your joy with others, don’t hide it.

It is okay to make mistakes

Everybody makes mistakes, I promise. You will make mistakes in life, school, friendships, relationships and everything in between. When that happens, wallow about it for a little bit before accepting that it happens to everyone. Everyone has a moment that they cringe at looking back on because they realize it was wrong. It’s okay to mess up so don’t be afraid to.

Loss is something that you will never get over

I have lost more people than I expected in the last decade. I have lost classmates, distant relatives and recently, my grandmother. Loss is never a good experience, but it does happen. And when it does, it will be a long journey through. You will be grieving for the rest of your life. Every anniversary of a loss will be a battle that you have to fight through, but I promise you will make it through. Celebrate the time that you spent with the person you have lost and find them in the sunsets or sunrises. For me, I find my grandmother in pink magnolia trees.

People’s words do not define who you are

Growing up, people have tried to tear me down through bullying or just plain insults. And while it was hard to overcome and learn the lesson that I am about to share, I promise that it is true. People’s words are simply just words. They hold no power to hurt you, they are just sounds coming out of someone’s mouth. You are your own person. You hold so much strength and joy inside of you and no one can take that away from you.

Reach out first

Reaching out first can sound like a slightly terrifying idea when you sit and think about it, but I swear that reaching out to friends first can lead to some amazing results. During the start of this year, I made a promise to myself to be more outgoing with my friends. I started texting first and reaching out to go get dinner or lunch. And now, I see them almost every day and we hang out every single weekend. Because of this promise, I have made so many memories in just one semester and I can’t wait for the next one.

Take time for yourself

This lesson took me quite a lot of time to master. I was constantly on the go and never relaxed, a feeling that lasted all the way through growing up and in college. It felt like I never had time to just sit, but this year I have learned how to find that time. Even taking only five minutes to sit and listen to your favorite song or check out social media is a good break in a busy day.

Do your best

Growing up, my parents always told me to do my best in anything that I did, including school, taekwondo, theatre and other activities. It’s easy to hold yourself to a high standard and beat yourself up when you don’t reach that expectation. But if you try as hard as you can in anything and strive to do your best, then that is enough. You don’t need to dangle expectations over yourself because all it will do is make you feel worse. The only thing you need to expect from yourself is your personal best, not anyone else’s.

It will take time to figure out who you are

I never really knew who I was in the past ten years. I mean, I came out three times before I realized who I was. Growing up is a journey and even though I am technically an adult, I will still be growing up and figuring out who I am. My best advice with this lesson is to go with the flow. Try new things and don’t hold yourself back. Figuring out who you are as a person is a difficult task, but you have your entire life to find yourself and when you meet them, I’m sure that you will love them.

Embrace life and everything it has to offer

You have one life, live it.

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