I’ve edited and re-edited this post so many times that I’ve lost count. I’ve decided to just leave it as is (seeing as it’s the last day of the year and I wanted this to be posted before 2016) and accept that I can’t say everything perfectly. Here’s my end-of-the-year wrap-up, I hope you like it.
This year I turned 20. It also just happened to be an incredibly transitional and unexpected year life-wise, and I think I’ve come out of this whole thing a better and hopefully a hell of a lot smarter person. Because I feel like I have a lot to say about all of this, I’m making a list of conclusions I’ve come to in 2015. Like resolutions, but at the end of the year. For me, and for anyone else that will read this “advice” and agree, but then completely ignore it when faced with a similar situation. Hey, we all gotta make our own mistakes.
#1 You’ll miss your family when you leave. You’ll realize that you actually kind of liked hanging out with them all the time. It’s weird. My siblings are turning out to be pretty cool people and it sucks to miss them all the time. There will be times in your life that you’ll wanna push them away, and times when they are the only ones there for you. Maybe it’s not blood, but everyone has family. It can get bigger and smaller, closer and farther, but it’ll always be there in some way.
#2 As much angst as I had towards my hometown, I will admit it was a nice place to grow up. That’s what suburbs are for, right? Raising kids? I don’t want to quote unquote settle down there but it’ll always be my hometown, and it’ll always be a place to go back to.
#3 Quitting is sometimes the right thing to do. Sometimes it’s not. But sometimes it is!! If you have a backup plan or some extra money or have the means to quit something that isn’t making you happy or giving you what you want – do it. Why not? Quit waiting around, quit hoping things will get better, quit whining about stuff, damn it!
#4 Experiences over possessions. Always. Stuff is just stuff and it might make you happy for a moment but when you look back on your week or your year or your life, you’re not gonna remember overpriced clothes or all the cool knick-knacks you kept in your room. You’re gonna remember vacations and nights out and all the places you saw and people you met. Money won’t make you happy. What you do with it will, so spend it on adventures instead of objects. Do you really need half of the stuff you own? Probably not.
#5 Travel often. If you think you don’t have the money or the time to travel, you’re not trying hard enough. You don’t have to spend months across the world in fancy hotels. Travel could mean driving a couple towns over and spending the day wandering through the unfamiliar streets. It could mean exploring parts of the city that you live in that you’ve never been to. You never have to go far to see something new.
#6 Being alone is important. Learn how to be alone. I’ve always been quite good at this but I’m putting it on the list anyway. I’m a big believer in travelling alone and I urge everyone to do it at least once.
#7 As important as it is to be comfortable being alone, you need other people. The founder of To Write Love On Her Arms once said something really insightful and poetic about needing people but if I have to say it in my own words – you’re not meant to be alone. Be there for people and let people be there for you.
#8 Learn how to cook, for goodness sake. After a certain age, it’s just sad if you still eat like you’re 12 years old and just learning how to boil water.
#9 Sometimes, even when everything is going great, you’ll be unhappy. That’s OK. It’s naïve to think that happy is the only emotion you should aspire to feel. It’s nice to feel nice, but there are so many more cool and horrible emotions out there to experience.
#10 Therapy is scary and taboo and might feel awkward at first, but it helps. Emphasis on helps. Don’t expect magic. It’s important to try. Mental health is just as important as physical health and it takes time and effort to keep in top shape – don’t forget that.
#11 Journal. It doesn’t have to always be a catalog of your deepest, darkest secrets. Just writing stuff down gets to get it out of your head, to have it in front of you, that will ease your mind. I started a Word document in January and it’s got over 10000 words in it now, I can literally look back at my year whenever I want. All of the important events and emotions, they’re right there. It’s kind of comforting, honestly.
#12 Someone, somewhere is probably having a better day than you. Don’t worry about it. Be proud of your friends when they do cool things, don’t envy them. Do your own cool things, someone is probably looking at your Instagram wishing they were doing what you’re doing. Similarly, don’t let the fear of missing out dull your experiences. You can’t be everywhere. This has been a hard thing for me to accept even though I know it’s true.
By no means do I live my life every day by these lessons, but I try. And I’m sure that I’ll look back at this when things are different and I’ve gotten older, and think “what a load of garbage,” and that’s totally fine with me. Because I’m only 20 years old and if I’ve already learned everything, the rest of my life is going to be boring as hell.
I started this year in a very weird and negative place but I’m ending it content with what I’ve been able to accomplish from going to therapy, dropping out of college, and moving across the country to trying dried mango for the first time on a boat off the coast of Bermuda. It’s all good.
Happy new year.