Lessons I've Learned This Summer

The past four months of my life have equally been the hardest and the most eye-opening in my 19 years of existence. I have battled with a lot recently and it has truly helped me grow as an individual in many aspects of my life: loving my family, my friends, myself, and this world we live in. Here are the six lessons I've taken to heart.

1. Take Care of Yourself First

You are the most important person in your life. This isn't selfish. Without you, there would be no one to experience your incredible life. Knowing this, it's important you take care of yourself. This means physically and emotionally. Take the time out of your day to do things just for you. In recent months, I've begun to meditate, and I can't even begin to describe how amazing it feels to have that 30 minutes every day where I don't need to be anywhere or anyone. It takes a lot of practice, but once you've got the hang of it, meditating really does wonders for clearing your headspace. I also find it very beneficial to incorporate exercise into most of my days. Whether you see a drastic improvement in your body or not, completing the same task every day like going for a run or hitting the gym can give you the sense of accomplishment you need to keep moving.

Along with adding things to yourself for the better, never be afraid to cut things out. If there is something (or someone) in your life which you don't believe to be there for the right reasons, it needs to go. Holding onto toxic energy is like choosing to eat the rotten fruit over the ripe fruit. You don't need to continue a relationship with a negative person. You don't need to drink 8 beers every time you go out. You don't need to eat that rotten fruit. Make the better decision for yourself, you'll thank you later.

2. Don't Be Afraid to Throw Yourself into Something

Us humans tend to fall into routines very easily. We wake up, we attend class or work, we come home, we finish our chores/homework, and we go to bed. This repetitive process can numb our brains and make us feel like we aren't really making a difference in the world. If you feel as though you haven't moved anywhere in your life recently, it may be time to do something new.

Believe me, I know trying things can be scary. You don't want to be vulnerable, you don't want to expose yourself to any more danger than you have to. The saying bigger the risk, bigger the reward stands true with life experiences. If you have been waiting for a sign from the universe to take that class you think would really interest you, or to finally make a move on the person you've liked for ages, or to just run away this weekend and go bungee jumping... here is your sign. Take risks every now and then - this gives you that sense of control over your life you may have been looking for.

3. Family is the most important thing

Family. Is. The. Most. Important. Thing. I will never be able to say this enough. Your family, whether that's your mother or father, your two cousins, or your grandmother, four nieces, or best friend, is important. Your family is whoever you choose to surround yourself with the most, and they have the highest impact on your life, as you do their's. Don't take this for granted. Make your impact on their lives as positive as you can. You will never regret spending too much time with your loved ones, but you will regret spending too little.

4. Those who truly care will be there for you when you need them

I can't count how many people in my life have needed to hear this message once or twice, including myself. If you notice a pattern within a relationship you have of inconsistency or lack of effort, it's time to make a change. It's always the smarter decision to first approach the person, ask them if there's anything going on, and let them know how you feel. After this, if you genuinely think they just don't have your best interest in mind, they don't deserve to watch you grow into your magnificent self. There will always be more friends to make, more partners to meet, more opportunities to take! Never let someone who doesn't want to grow to get the best of you.

5. Time fixes everything

I can honestly say that approximately 98/100 problems I face can always be solved with time. Recently, I've been learning patience, with myself and with others. It's always our over-active brains that tell us "things will never get better" or "I'll be stuck dealing with this forever." This is never the case! Whatever problems you may be facing, just think to yourself, is this something that will still be affecting me in 6 months? What about a year? Five years? Eventually, you will have your reasonable timeline for the issue and begin to work towards solving it. It's so unhealthy to dwell on things that will soon resolve. Learn to let go, and let time heal what wounds you bear.

6. All that really matters is the now

The biggest lesson I've learned this summer is to focus on the now. A therapist I had second semester of my freshman year told me something that has really stuck with me and I've love to share it now. He said, "When we focus too much on the past, we fall into a depressive state. When we focus too much on the future, we fall into an anxious state. It's only when we focus on the present that we can be fully aware and calm." I repeat this quote to myself every day as a reminder to take my life one moment at a time. Too easily we become wrapped up in what could've been or what could be, when all that ever really matters is what is. Whenever you're feeling anxious or depressed or overwhelmed, take a step back into reality and remind yourself, "I am here. Here is now. There is no danger right now. All that matters is where I am. I am nowhere else but here. Now." Reminding yourself over and over of the safety and realness of the now is what will ground you. This is what will keep you moving at the steady pace of living when you feel like falling behind or rushing ahead. Let yourself just exist in the now, and cherish the moment you have.