Let’s get one thing straight: growing up is hard. As the saying goes, in life you take the test before you learn the lesson. Luckily, parents tend to be pretty great at giving you at least a decent set of life skills before they toss you out into the world. On some occasions, though, life smacks you in the face with no warning or preparation. These are the life lessons my mom never taught me, the ones I had to learn through good old-fashioned experience.
1. Sometimes, taking the high road is the hardest thing you’ll have to do.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m usually pretty good at taking the high road. I’ve never been one to hold a grudge; I’m just not all that confrontational. At times, however, you will find people that will push your giving nature as far as they can. These are the people you have to willingly try to forgive over and over, and even then, they never learn. These people, frankly, are the meanies who won’t make it out in the real world where people have little tolerance for the b.s. they pull now. But until then, you will just have to grin, bear it, and turn tail whenever you see them across the quad.
2. The boys that claim to be gentlemen usually aren’t.
I would like to expand this to any person that describes themselves with a positive trait – chances are, they don’t possess said trait. If you’re naturally a good person, you shouldn’t ever have to actively say you’re a good person. Actions speak louder than words, my friends. Show me that you’re a gentleman, don’t tell me. The first time I heard this was coincidentally from the boyfriend who cheated on me. So anytime someone starts ranting about how fantastic they are in a public setting, a red flag should be quick to rise.
3. “No” should be your favorite word.
FOMO is real. Persistently, aggressively real. So, you say yes to every invitation, join every club, and end up taking on way more responsibility than anyone could reasonably handle. Naturally, you’re going to burn out. That one day you just wanted to spend in bed stretches to weeks on end, and before you know it, you’ve let down every organization you tried to help. It’s okay to not do everything. It’s better to have a few people and things you’re super passionate about. Give fewer things your all, and you’ll find that those will be the places you’ll excel the most. “No” isn’t the enemy.
4. Success isn’t defined by a dollar sign.
Money is important; I’ll be the first to admit it. Unfortunately, money is required to do just about anything nowadays. But money should never be the end-all be-all of anything you decide to do. I used to want to major in business because I thought it would make me more money than if I pursued writing. Well, guess what? I hated business. I would spend hours studying subjects I didn’t care about to make hypothetical money I wasn’t even particularly sure I wanted. A couple years later I decided to put my happiness before my bank account, and I never looked back. Money can come around in a lot of different ways. Don’t put too much emphasis on it.
5. The guy you want isn’t normally the guy you need.
We all go through phases where we’re absurdly attracted to a very specific niche of boys. Mine was always the quiet, creative type. I was convinced I needed to date someone who was super into photography and would whisk me away on romantic trips where I would become his mysterious muse. Then I realized I’m much more of a homebody and my candid photos usually turn out looking more Labrador puppy than Kate Moss. I now know that the type of guy I was chasing for so long comes with a lot of flaws that would make a relationship with me borderline impossible. Go ahead and dream away, but also take a look at who you are before you look for someone else.
6. Second-hand stories aren’t as useful as first-hand mistakes.
As a kid, our parents told us not to touch fire because we’d get burned. So, you did one of two things: you listened to your parents, or you touched the flames and got scorched. I bet you the kids that actually got burned never contemplated touching fire again, while the kids like me who listened would always wonder what exactly fire felt like. The problem with second-hand stories is that you’ll always have that sliver of doubt that things could be different with you. I’m not saying to go make every mistake in the book. There’s definitely a lot that can be learned by talking to those that walked before you. Sometimes, though, the lesson won’t stick until you mess it all up for yourself.
7. Don’t let bad people bring you down.
You are going to meet some people in your life that will drastically change you. They’ll open up your eyes to ideas and feelings you were unaware of until that point. These are the people that will be responsible for some of the best and worst times of your life. Unfortunately, we tend to remember the bad before we remember the good. You get hurt a little too badly just once, and you begin to close your heart off to people. You tell yourself not to let anyone that close again for fear that they’ll hurt you the same way. But, you can’t do that to yourself. Yes, you will get hurt. Probably a lot. But in closing off yourself from people, you only end up hurting yourself. It takes time, but you have to find a way to continue trusting people if you want to keep moving forward.
8. Have no regrets.
Regrets are absolutely and fundamentally useless. At the end of the day, you can contemplate “What if” all you want, but there’s only “What is.” Every decision, good or bad, that you’ve made has turned you into the person you are now. Not everything happens for a reason, but a lot of it does. Regretting does nothing other than eat up the precious little time you’ve got. It’s vital that you learn from your mistakes, but never let them define how you continue to live your life.
9. Do whatever you want as long as you’re not hurting anybody.
I used to spend so much time concerned with what people thought about me. It affected what I wore, what I did, even who I chose to interact with. It got me where I wanted, but it made me miserable. I had spent so much time chasing a prize I ended up hating. In the process, I neglected everything I actually cared about. I finally chose to do what I wanted for myself. I kept up with my “weirder” hobbies, found friends I actually liked, and started pursuing a life that would make me happy. When it’s all said and done, no one has to live with your choices but you. So do what makes you happy, as long as you’re happiness doesn’t involve taking away someone else’s.
10. Sometimes, you just have to have faith in the Universe.
Life gets rough. There will be times when it seems everyone and everything is against you. You will feel alone, uninspired, and downright depressed. You’ll come to question everything you’ve ever done and everything you’re doing. You’ll feel like giving up. These are the moments when you just have to let go of your control issues and let the universe sort itself out. Life has a funny way of bringing everything back to neutral, so if you feel like you’re having the worst time now, it means the best times are right around the corner.
What other life lessons do you have to add to the list? Share in the comments!
Feature image source: playbuzz.com and
Miranda is a student at Chapman University and is a member of CA Omicron chapter of Pi Beta Phi.