My cousin just turned 17. I literally remember the day she was born. I can’t believe how mature and grown-up she is already. Her birthday reminded me of how I was when I was her age. I then got to thinking- what have I learned since then? In the past 9 years there have to be lessons I’ve learned that I can pass down to her. In hopes of infusing some guidance to not only my little cousin but all the other girls and boys who struggle with growing up. I’d like to share some of the life lessons I would tell my 17-year-old self. These lessons don’t just apply to 17-year-olds, I think a lot of adults struggle with various transitional periods in life and hopefully these lessons can serve as reminders for how to live our best lives!
1. Happiness is an inside job.
In order for anyone to be truly happy we MUST first be happy within ourselves. Oftentimes we search for happiness in outside sources. When I was 17, it was boys and clothes. I thought if I had a boyfriend then I would be happy. Or if I had whatever jeans were in style then I’d be happy. But once I got a boyfriend I wasn’t truly happy because I was so concerned with keeping up a facade to make sure he liked me. Which leads me to lesson #2..
2. Always be yourself.
Some people won’t like you. And that’s okay. Always remember that being true to yourself will make you feel good. When you are constantly trying to be perceived a certain way- conforming to whatever standards you feel necessary- people never get to know the real you. And trust me- the real you is beautiful. I must admit, this is something I still find myself struggling with sometimes.
3. Your heart will get broken.
You will get that first real boyfriend. And it will seem like nothing can go wrong. But it will- invariably you two will break up. The beautiful thing is that from this break up you will come out stronger and wiser. I remember my first real serious relationship, it was right after I graduated high school and he was already in college. I thought we would end up together- fast forward 4 months later and we were no longer together. Of course I had a day of sobbing and looking like a homeless person while eating tubs of ice cream. And then the next day, I got dressed and moved on. Now I can see how much that relationship taught me. I learned what I want in a boyfriend and what I don’t. I learned to not change myself for anyone to like me. If they don’t like me for who I am then they don’t deserve to be with me. Plain and simple.
4. Life will beat you down.
But you will come out of the obstacles and struggles stronger and wiser each time. The beauty of life is that it’s a journey. It’s meant to be lived fully. Which means life wants to challenge you so you can be the very best version of yourself. That includes challenging you to push past your comfort zone. it’s terrifying and something I continue to deal with even as an adult. I think this is something everyone continues to deal with. Because if life isn’t challenging us, then we aren’t living. There’s beauty in rising to the occasion and coming out on top. And there’s also beauty in trying and failing and trying again.
5. Relationships will change.
A big lesson I’ve learned is that friendships and relationships with family change over time. There’s a beautiful quote I read one time that went something like “some people come into your life for a long time or a short time, they are there to teach you a lesson”. The people I was friends with at 17 have grown up as well and because of that some of us have drifted apart. At 17 my parents were still married, and now they are separated which has changed my relationship with both of them. I am still close with both my mom and dad, it’s just different than when I was 17. I can talk to my mom about literally anything without judgment. And lately I’ve been finding that I can call my dad too just to vent. And sometimes you’ll have friends in college who just stay college friends or they become your best friends and are your bridesmaids at your wedding. You never know who stays and who goes. But embrace the relationship while its there and always remember to see the lesson in the relationship.
As I look back at my 17-year-old self, I remember how hopeful I was. The biggest thing I want to remind everyone is to not let life beat you up so bad that you lose that hope. Now don’t confuse hope with innocence or naïveté. I simply mean to follow your dreams and release your fears. To conquer your demons and live life to the fullest embracing all the obstacles and challenges that come your way.
I hope this post reminded you of all the life’s lessons in your own life and allowed you to remember yourselves as 17-year-olds. I’d love to hear from you. Did any of these lessons resonate with you? If so, which ones? Are there any lessons you would tell your 17-year-old self? Please share this with anyone who you think may need a reminder to love life! Leave any comments below and please subscribe to this blog if you want to get emails directly to your inbox every week when a new post is up!
Thanks for reading. See you next week!