This past April, I turned 19. Almost two decades worth of time have been given to me and I wanted to take a little time to reflect on five core things I’ve learned these past 228 months. I write this for my siblings; that they can use it as a roadmap around the pits I fell in.
One: Don’t be cool — I’ve spent so much of my life trying to be cool. Unfortunately, it is such an ambiguous term and dictated by people who are just as lost as you feel. Cool should be a term you use everyday. It’s cool you like your hobbies. It’s cool you feel comfortable in any brand. It’s cool you love God. Cool should be a way of life.
Two: Forgive — Always forgive. Always. There is no reason to hang on to any shred of anger, resentment, or sadness. Forgive yourself. We only have a limited amount of time to live and I regret all the time I spent locking emotions inside and not forgiving those who had hurt me. The second you forgive, and I mean truly forgive, is the moment you will be set free.
Three: Less — Own less. Buy less. Give away more. It’s hard in a materialistic world and society to not want. But these things really create a hidden burden on you. The number of times I’ve gone through my clothes and half of them are things I haven’t worn in years are too many to count. Give things away. Don’t hoard meaningless items. You will be surprised by just how little you can live on and still be happy.
Four: Own your education — Education is an opportunity, not a right. I’ve never been overseas, but by nature of growing up and going to college I know how valuable education is and how desperately people in other countries wish they had it. Mom and Dad can push you all they want, but at the end of the day it will be just you and your flashcards studying for that Friday test. Even though we all don’t learn the same, there’s no reason we shouldn’t all be putting in the same amount of effort. Give everything you have to your schoolwork. Dedicate yourself to studying before you go to bed. When you do things like this, you are setting yourself up to accomplish whatever God has planned for you.
Five: Get up — You’re going to fall. You’re going to fail. You’re going to be at rock bottom. And you’re going to be okay. Falling sucks. You let people down and you let yourself down. But never let your current situation define you. You may have fallen, but true character is shown in the way you get back up. Learn from failures, and learn that failures are really opportunities to become a better individual. Some of the biggest falls in my life have turned around to be the moments where I truly defined my character and who I want to be. This takes time and you will feel terrible, but falling is our chance to prove we can rise again.
There are many other things I’ve learned, but those are the big ones. Life has so much to teach you, but you need to keep your eyes open in order to see the moments to take advantage of them. Remember to have fun and keep God at the center of your focus and life. Live, laugh and always love.
—Wednesday, 4 May 2011