20 Jul 2015

I Turned Twenty!: Some Lessons Learned & Advice

I did it! I made it though my teenage years. Barely.

I struggled with the idea of entering my twenties for a while because that little '1' at the beginning of my age had become a part of who I was, and all of a sudden it was stripped from me. I guess I find that scary, watching things that are out of your control change. But, after some reflection (everyones favourite activity, I know), I've now come to peace with it.

I came to the conclusion that there's no real reason that I would want to cling to my teens. I knew from before I turned thirteen that this particular period of my life was going to be hard, and parts of it definitely were. I've dealt with anxiety, depression, bullying, high school, university, my first job, several crushes (failed ones, at that) and a broken heart to boot. But these things were difficult because they mattered. I guess that what my teenage years taught me is that shit happens, and all you can do is learn from it. So here is some of the wisdom that I have gained:

Treat others as you would want to be treated - Seems simple enough, but sometimes it gets away from you. I've had some moments that I am definitely not proud of, but I think that after making those mistakes, I've not repeated them since. Practice being empathetic. Sometimes it doesn't come naturally, but it's rewarding, trying to make the world a somewhat less negative place.

Do (some of) the things that scare you - Being someone with social anxiety disorder, a lot of things scare me. One of the biggest of these fears that I've had to face is starting university. New place, new people, new experiences that I wasn't sure how to approach. It was essentially my absolute nightmare. But within a couple of months of just getting down and dealing with it one step at a time, I really started enjoying it. Now I'm not saying go and try skydiving because you're scared of heights, but taking on the things that scare you feels really good. Always remember to be proud of yourself for even the tiniest steps forward. It'll make it easier to deal with things in the future.

You're not obligated to put up with other people's crap - Throughout high school (and also beforehand) I was the type of person that thought just because I was friends with someone I had to be there for them no matter what. A lot of the time, if your relationship with someone is healthy and they care about you as much as you care about them, it's the right thing to do. But there are some people who will take advantage of you and keep you around until you inconvenience them. It's sad, but it's true. You're not bound by some code or contract. If someone is making you feel bad or isn't treating you with the respect you deserve, you don't have to stick around. There are other things for you to spend your energy on.

It's okay to be a little 'late' - I'm definitely a 'late bloomer', a phrase that I do not agree with for a number of reasons but that I continue to use for convenience's sake. If you're not comfortable, there should be no reason for you to feel like you have to do something because everyone else is, whether that's having your first kiss, having your first drink, being in your first relationship or any of the other 'milestones' that have inexplicably been deemed important for us by some strange adolescent powers that be. You should just chill out and do things when you're ready, and screw anyone that says otherwise. You'll probably end up with less cringe-worthy memories in the end, too.

I guess my final piece of advice would be to not be afraid to make mistakes, but as someone who is definitely afraid to do just that, I don't feel like I can pass that on. You're going to make mistakes whether you're scared to or not - the just happen. But hopefully one day you'll look back, just as I am, and see all the things you learned from them. Mistakes aren't so bad in hindsight. 

For those of you that are still kicking through your teens, good luck to you. I hope you take something from this post. And to those of you that have emerged from those murky waters, I look forward to joining you in trying to figure out what the hell we're doing all over again.

(Pictures above are from birthday found on my Instagram).


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