Running through sprinklers. Field days. Hannah Montana. My childhood was truly a time to be alive. That free-spiritedness and carefreeness didn’t exactly carry over into my adolescence. Thrusted into new environments all at once, I had no idea what I would eventually get myself into. To this day, I still don’t know why certain things happened. But if there’s anything useful I can get out of them are lessons that I can use in the future. Here are ten gems I’m fortunate to have learned throughout these past ten years.
1. Don’t Give Attention to Things That are Beneath You
In a world mixed with trolls and hurt people looking to hurt other people, receiving nasty comments or actions is inevitable. Such people’s actions are not our problem nor are they something that we should internalize. Leave them in their misery and keep it moving.
2. Fool Me Once, Shame on You. Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me.
This famous quote is something that I often remember, but somewhat modify. People can change. People are allowed to change. Who am I to keep judgement against them? At the same, I’m allowed to determine if I want them back in my life and how close they can get in order to protect myself. Accountability is important, and it’s proactive to assess the severity of a past situation to conclude if you should give them your attention or not.
3. Your Fear of Looking Stupid Will Hold You Back
There’s nothing like being in your comfort zone. It’s safe, comforting, and will welcome you back each time. But some of your best breakthroughs in life come when you step outside of your comfort zone.
4. If You Stand for Nothing, You’ll Fall for Anything
One of the greatest gifts we have is our mind. There lies our ability to think for ourselves. Sure, this applies to when we make our everyday decisions or when we create and daydream new ideas. But I mean really thinking for ourselves. Going against the grain, having an unpopular opinion that’s so rightfully yours, and being rooted in your beliefs.
There’s going to be people in life who will try to sway you on a topic, somebody else or even try to make you believe something false in yourself. Are you going to change for them, or are you going to stand by what you know is right and true?
5. Not Everything Needs a Reaction
Among the 7 billion people who exist on this planet are countless ones who find a genuine pleasure in getting a reaction out of people. Their actions range from small, passive-aggressive incidents to loud, obnoxious efforts, all in the intentions to make you feel uncomfortable. It’s natural to want to stand up for yourself or what you believe in. But this will never matter for the people that I just described. Some are committed to misunderstanding you, while others truly find their life’s purpose. It’s up to you to use your judgement and intuition and decide if this is something to use your energy on.
6. Stop Saying Sorry All the Time
Would you believe me if I say I used to apologize if somebody bumped into me? I know. I don’t know why I did that either. For me and many other people around the world, it’s like an unexplainable habit that we do unintentionally. Some say one over-apologizes because they feel like a burden, while others say it’s a sign of perfectionism. Whatever the science behind it may be, it finally clicked with me one day that I don’t have to apologize for things that aren’t that serious or weren’t even my fault.
7. “If a million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.” – Anatole France
There’s strength in numbers. But if those numbers are spewing nothing but foolishness, do not give them heed. Large groups or gatherings of like-minded people have a certain power and influence that may draw you in to listen to at first. However, it’s not conducive for you to continue listening if that group is preaching that what’s right is wrong and what’s wrong is right.
8. Just Ask
For our peers, professors, employers, etc. our questions we have for them are valid and can be so small and harmless. Yet, a running theme among many people concerning this problem is fear. Fear of embarrassment, fear of ‘asking a dumb question,’ or even fear of being shamed by the person.
I’ve found that I do myself more harm by staying quiet and trying to avoid these outcomes than actually asking what’s on my mind. I give my power over to something that hasn’t happened and may not even happen. If they answer no, that doesn’t mean it’s the end all be all. And if they oddly respond in a rude manner, just remember that’s on them, not you.
9. Don’t Make Yourself Uncomfortable Just So Other People Can be Comfortable
Just as there are rules within a school or laws within a state, so are the boundaries that you create with your life. Your boundaries deserve to be heard and respected and should never be compromised for anybody, especially if they wouldn’t do much for you. It’s so easy for us as humans to want to keep the peace all the time. But think about it: what good is it if somebody has peace while they’re disrupting yours?
10. Go Where You Are Celebrated, Not Tolerated
Sis. You were fearfully and wonderfully made, born into love and given all sorts of talents and unique attributes. And you’re telling me you’re concerned over somebody who can’t even appreciate that? Whew, that was me for a period of time, but I’m back now!
It can be a little hurtful when somebody randomly shows you disdain or when the respect just isn’t there within a setting. Yet, you should always choose an environment that is uplifting and respectful. Even if that means you have to be by yourself, it’s better to be alone than to remain in a space where the treatment is subpar.
Life is full of learning experiences. While some are rather unpleasant, it’s important to give yourself grace for what you didn’t know at the time and use what you now know in future circumstances.