Hey world! It’s my birthday today. And just like that Taylor Swift song you’re most likely familiar with, “I don’t know about you / But I’m turning 22.”
In honor of this momentous occasion, I have gathered 22 things I’ve learned over the years and want to share them with all of you.
1. Crying is good.
Sometimes you don’t have the words to say how you’re feeling, and that’s okay. Crying is a natural emotion and nothing to be ashamed of.
2. Labels are for jars, not people.
Labels can help people to feel more comfortable in some situations. Don’t label someone unkindly, but if claiming a label empowers someone you know, respect that.
Keep reading. And when you think you’ve read all that can be read — read even more. If you don’t like reading, then listen to podcasts, books on tape, etc. Just don’t stop reading.
4. Learning is good, even though it can be scary!
Don’t be afraid to learn scary things because they can help you to appreciate and better understand the things you’re afraid of: racism, war, polygamy, death, childbirth, etc. If you can understand these things, they might not be as scary anymore, and you’ll be better prepared for them.
5. Stepping on a snail does not make you a murderer, contrary to what your entire kindergarten class may think.
Still, be nice to animals whenever you can.
Listening to someone is one of the best ways to show you care. In hard situations, listen first. Don’t speak or act before you understand what was actually said.
7. Leave no trace.
Respect the earth — it’s the only one we have! Whether you use one less plastic bag, bring your reusable bottle instead of buying a new plastic one or walk instead of drive, you can make an impact.
8. Don’t be afraid of getting baptized because you’re afraid of making mistakes.
‘ \That’s what the sacrament and repentance are for (plus, that’s the whole point of earth). It’s okay that you aren’t perfect as long as you’re trying hard to do your best.
9. Spend time with your family and love it.‘
Appreciate your siblings. Someday, you’ll grow up and move away, and they’ll turn into 5-foot tall teenagers, and you won’t know who they are anymore. It’ll make you sad, so appreciate the time you have with them.
10. Turn in every assignment.
Even the little five point ones, because those five points will add up over the semester.
11. Don’t cheat on your fifth grade multiplication tests.
If you don’t learn your times tables when you need to, you aren’t going to learn them. You’ll be a seventh, then an eighth, and eventually a 12th grader who doesn’t know their times tables, and that’s not cool. Also, just don’t cheat in general.
12. The golden rule really is golden.
‘ Be kind to everyone, even if they aren’t kind to you. Every person has a story, and it’s important to remember that before you try to go get revenge.
13. Don’t text during class.
For one thing, it’s really disrespectful to your teachers. It’s also not going to help you learn at all, so just pay attention.
14. Young love hurts, but it’s not the end of the world.
You’re most likely not going to marry your first, or your second, or maybe even your third boyfriend. And that’s good! People grow and change, and it’s not the end of the world to fall out of love as a teenager. Someday, you’ll meet the right person.
15. You can’t always hug a porcupine.
This may seem like a silly phrase, but a counselor taught it to me, and it’s actually helped me out a lot in my relationships. Sometimes, there are people in your life who have their quills up and aren’t ready to be loved or wanted. You can love them from afar, but if you try to force your love on them, their quills will hurt you both. Don’t base your self-worth on your ability to successfully hug the porcupine in your life.
16. Sleep can solve problems — or at least help you realize what is actually a problem and what was just grouchy, tired you.
I’ve been told “don’t go to bed angry” so many times. But guess what — that doesn’t work for me! Sometimes, I have to go take a nap so that my anxious, tired mind can reset and think of the situation as a normal, healthy human would. And most of the time, once I wake up with a clear head, the problem seems a lot less vital to my eternal happiness.
17. It’s okay to say no!
Saying yes to everything will just spread you thin. It’s great to try new things, but don’t do anything you don’t want to do — even at the risk of people making fun of you.
18. Leaving your comfort zone can be good, even if it scares you.
‘ It’s okay to be scared.
19. God loves you, and personal revelation is personal.
‘ Just because God speaks to you one way doesn’t mean He speaks to everyone that way. Even if you interpret God’s message as one thing, that doesn’t always mean that thing is going to happen exactly like you thought. Don’t judge someone’s revelation as wrong just because it’s different than yours.
20. Therapy is amazing and not weird at all.
Everyone should go, if able, to learn more about themselves. I’ve been to a lot of therapy, and I used to be embarrassed about it. Now, I’ve realized that I know myself better, and I’m able to cope with hard things much easier. It’s a great way to learn to be self-aware and a good way to learn to love yourself.
21. Weddings are EXPENSIVE!
Be nice to whoever helps pay for your wedding. Keep their opinions in mind; even though it’s your special day, it’s their special day too. Even if they aren’t helping you pay for it, let your loved ones have a little bit of input. They just want to see you happy.
22. Don’t be afraid to say “I love you.”
Sometimes, love can be a scary thing, but it’s important. Call your parents and tell them you love them. Tell an author or artist you love their work. Thank your friends for loving you. Love makes the world go round, so keep it going.
I’ve been on this earth for 22 years now. It seems like so long, but it is barely any time at all in the grand scheme of things. I’m excited to see what this year brings and what new things I’ll learn and experience. Hopefully, a few of the lessons I’ve learned resonated with you, but if not, maybe I’ll be back next year with 23 things I’ve learned!