Mind you, I’m halfway through my 24th year on this earth, so it had been almost a cool 5.5 years since I turned 18. But also mind you that in these past 5 years I have gone through some of my darkest times, had some serious personal growth, and have made some seriously awesome (and some not so seriously awesome) memories. In fact, 5 years ago today I was starting the second semester of my freshman year at the university of Mary Washington, which happens to be a year of my most painful memories. With that being said, I have a lot of free time here in Mysore which leads to a lot of time to reflect. I have jotted down 18 conclusions I have come to since I have turned 18. I understand that I’m still young and that these may change as I get older but here is what I got, and I think it’s pretty good:
1. More than likely, things won’t work out as planned.
I honestly hate the word plan because it just has never been useful in my experience. You can research, plan, and put together the most beautiful plan that has ever been put together but it will still probably not go the way you want. Life happens. Plain and simple. It’s our reaction that really matters. I’ve learned that once you can “go with the flow”, plans have a way of always falling into place. Perspective and attitude are everything.
2. Never try to be someone else for someone else.
Please NEVER do this because it just never ends well. Like ever. I have wasted so much damn time obsessing over how people see me, trying to be friends with certain people, and trying to be someone that I thought they would like better. In reality, you become so exhausted from resisting the urge to be your true self that you’ll inevitably explode, make a total ass out of yourself, and lose these so called friends you worked so desperately hard to make. Don’t waste your time and save yourself from the self-hate, be you always. You’ll attract people who love this you, and those are the people you want in your life. You are awesome and don’t forget it.
3. Lying NEVER EVER EVER ENDS WELL. EVER.
This is a tough one for me as I went through a phase of essentially being a pathological liar. I didn’t like who I was so I wanted to create a new persona. I lied so much I wouldn’t even realize that I was doing it and I dug myself into a massive hole, crater, whatever it was it was huge. I got caught and there really isn’t anything more embarrassing, in my experience. But it happened and it took years to forgive myself and move on. I have learned through gaining my self-confidence over the past couple years that my truth is pretty awesome and that’s all that I should and will speak.
4. Alcohol doesn’t make your issues disappear, but a little red wine with your girlfriends certainly helps.
Mom and dad you may not want to read this but it’s important that I mention it. Alcohol doesn’t fix anything. It doesn’t erase things that have happened and it certainly won’t magically get rid of your issues. I started to drink at the way too young age of 16 and wasn’t able to responsibly drink, ironically, until I turned 21. In high school it was fun because of the thrill but when I sunk into my deep depression my first few years of college, I drank to numb the pain, I drank to feel good, and I drank to forget. I was reckless. I have learned that alcohol doesn’t suppress your emotions but rather all your issues will come out in black-out drunken rages and you will absolutely make a total ass of yourself. Again I speak from way too much experience. I have learned that excessive alcohol does not serve me in the slightest. Don’t get me wrong, I am human and a freshly graduated college student and have certainly overdone it a few times in the past couple years, but it was never the intention, which is much different than intending to overdo it every time. But I have also learned that a glass of good red wine with my best friends is so good for my soul, even therapeutic. I have learned moderation and that the best memories can be made over a glass of J. Lohr cab sav. (Kinsey)
5. Take care of your body.
This has been a tough one for me as well. But I have learned again to honor and love my body through my yoga practice after years of a self-destructing eating disorder. Our culture is so disconnected from our bodies and I think we forget this is the only vessel we are given. I have seen so many people my age and that are older than me who are in terrible health because they never learned how to take care of their bodies. I know yoga isn’t the only way to do so, but it has helped me stay fit and continue to heal. I think it is so important to learn early to eat right, move your body daily, and do things that make you happy. And everything in moderation because what’s life without some dessert honestly?
6. Friends that stick by you during your darkest times…you better keep them around.
I have been so blessed to have the best friends in the world. Yes I’m biased but honestly they are the most incredible people I know. They have dealt with my crazy “plans”, my lies, my depression, really me at my worst and they still love me. They never blinked an eye. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to tell them in words what their unconditional love and support means to me. They know who they are, and please know how much I love you. Keep friends who have been there for you, like mine, close and never out of reach. These kinds of people make life so sweet and worthwhile.
7. Family really is everything.
This can also be under #6 too, as friends are the family that we pick and not everyone has blood family they can depend on. I am so lucky to have both. As I have gotten older I have learned that family time isn’t forever, and now these times and memories are so sweet and precious. Cherish your family, whether related or not, because when everything falls apart these are the people who help put you back together. Again, I’ll never have the words to express how much I love mine and how thankful and grateful I am for their love and support. And remember to be family to those who need you the most right now. What comes around most certainly goes around.
8. Not everyone will agree or understand your goals and dreams, and that’s OK.
This one is still hard for me. I want everyone to be on board with my “plans” and I want everyone to understand my intentions, but this just will never be the case. I wanted my parents to be jumping for joy the first time I was headed to India to study at KPJAYI, but they didn’t and it was so hard. I obviously went anyway and they came around as I am here again on my second trip 🙂 My point is that I’ve learned that not everyone has to get it, as long as what your are doing best serves you and your purpose that’s all that matters. Because I’ve also learned that the ones that matter will love and support you regardless if they agree or understand. I have to constantly remind myself of this. We know ourselves best, so trust your gut and do YOU.
9. It’s really good to learn to say no sooner rather than later.
Again, I have learned this by experience. I have overcommitted myself too many times and it just leads to letting yourself and others down, which leads to self-hate. My best friend/teacher Marcia can attest to this 🙂 Thanks for still loving me and giving me a third second chance! When you overcommit you exhaust yourself, you take less care of yourself, and you just feel like shit. It’s not worth it so say NO. It can be done nicely! As Ron Swanson said: “It’s better to whole ass one thing than half ass two things.” Be your best, one thing at a time.
10. Comparing yourself to others is the biggest disservice you can do to yourself.
Again, something else I am constantly working on. I find myself comparing myself to EVERYONE. Especially when it comes to physical appearance which is rooted in my lifelong struggle with body image. Thankfully my yoga practice is a daily reminder that I am perfect the way I am in this moment. That I am exactly where I should be. And that I have control over my life. When we compare ourselves to other it completely invalidates our self-worth. We have the power to change anything we want, but let the intention of that change be to transform yourself into the best possible version of YOU.
11. Awareness is not only important, but necessary.
I am just about convinced that my healing has a lot to do with my increasing self-awareness over the last two years. I owe this to my yoga practice as well. Getting on the mat every morning allows me to check in with myself and ask questions like: how do I feel? How are my relationships? How am I reacting to situations? What needs work today? This increased self-awareness has also triggered a yearning to be more aware of the world and what is happening. Take time everyday to check in whether it be yoga, on a walk or run, or even driving home from work. Also, read the news, stay informed with what’s going on around you because it really does effect all of us.
I could not be a bigger advocate for travel. Domestic or international, just go. My times abroad and away from home where some of the most transformative times of my life. This is where we can learn the most about ourselves, when we are vulnerable and uncomfortable. I’m also convinced when you see how huge the world is you realize how small you are which is a good check to the ego. So just go. GO. When I asked Kino MacGregor about my hesitation about going to Mysore for the first time she said: “You have the pull to go for a reason. Trust it. Buy the ticket now, think about it later.”
13. Being selfish is important.
Let me explain. This kind of goes with giving yourself time to gain some self-awareness and take care of your body. When I say selfish I mean to make sure you make yourself a priority. Do things that make you happy and serve your purpose. I have learned that when you do these “selfish” things, you are a better person to the world around you. When you take time for yourself, you have more energy to give back to others and the community. So is it really selfish?
14. But like I said, giving back is important too.
Like taking time for yourself, take time to give back. Keep the balance. It’s basically an equal exchange to the universe. I have learned that sometimes giving back is actually taking time for yourself. You are allowing yourself to gain awareness and making room for personal growth. So volunteer, help a friend to move, spend time with grandma, whatever it may be, give some love back!
15. Saying you’re sorry too much is invalidating.
Some say it’s “I love you” but I think “I’m sorry” is the most over used phrase/word at this time. It is loosing it’s meaning and frankly I think it weakens our demeanor the more loosely and casually we use it. This is actually one of my resolutions, not to say sorry all the time. I mean I would say it if I messed up an order at a new job or even if someone ran into ME. I was new to the job so I obviously didn’t know better and I certainly didn’t do it on purpose, so why am I sorry? She ran into me, shouldn’t she say something? I put myself into a position where I had to really apologize to friend for really hurting her feelings last Christmas and it was SO hard. This made me realize that saying you’re sorry when it’s not needed invalidates it’s true purpose and meaning. I want to resolve to being known for taking responsibilities for my mistakes, not saying I’m sorry. I want to resolve to being aware and strong enough to say I’m sorry when a true apology is needed.
16. Be aware of privilege.
My education at App State opened my eyes to many things, but the most important being my privilege. Growing up in a predominately white area, coming from a middle class white family, and being a middle class white female myself, I was not aware that most things worked in my favor. Whether or not you want to believe white privilege exists, which it does, I have learned that this may never change but it is so important that people are aware of it. We should know that others have it a lot worse than us and that maybe our privilege can be used for something useful. Not a sermon, just a thought.
17. Don’t settle.
Know your self-worth. Don’t let fear anchor you down. I have learned that in many ways society tells us the “best” way to live and the “best” things to peruse, and what our self-worth and purpose is. Only you know what’s best for you. Only you know your purpose and self-worth. Don’t settle for the status quo if it does not serve you. Settle on your own terms, no one else’s. This is one of the most valuable conclusions I have come to.
18. Have faith in timing.
I never understood why things happened the way they did and when they did. But I now have learned that I will never know and don’t need to know. All I know is that everything has happened at its most perfect time. This is of course in hindsight but with this new perspective, I have faith in the timings of all things that have and will happen to me. We may not know why something is happening or not, but with time we will. But also don’t wait to make the first move. Be proactive but be flexible.
So there you have it, my comprehensive list of my 18 conclusions I have come to since I turned 18. If you found it useful, I am so glad and if not, thanks for reading anyway. I hope you all can take some time to reflect on what life have taught you since you turned 18, it may surprise you! Miss and love you all!