25 Hard Lessons the 2010s Taught Me

25 Hard Lessons the 2010s Taught Me

My inner sap just couldn’t let the 2010s end without crafting some kind of sentimental something. In 2010, I was 17 years old—so I learned a few tough lessons over the last 10 years. (One would hope, anyway.) My only resolution for 2020 is to put the following nuggets of wisdom into a bit more practice:

  1. Never say never. At the beginning of the decade I said I’d never get married or like The Jonas Brothers, but their song “Sucker” played at my wedding this year, so anything’s possible.
  2. Your weight is the least-interesting thing about you. No one’s going to write “She was so skinny!” on your tombstone, so stop obsessing over calories and learn something; create something; do something.
  3. Confidence doesn’t just happen overnight. As the wise Mindy Kaling once said, “confidence is like respect; you have to earn it.” By, you know, doing stuff. On your own. Repeatedly, until you do it well.
  4. Love is not a feeling. It’s a choice. It’s a commitment. And it takes a lot more than just being in love with someone to make a relationship work.
  5. There will be people who don’t like you, no matter what you do. And THAT’S OK. You have to live with yourself every second of every day; you know your heart, your intentions. And ask yourself: Do you even like them? No? Problem solved.
  6. Don’t look for someone to “complete” you. You are already a whole person on your own. In fact, don’t look for anyone at all. Enjoy every moment and simply keep an eye out for your equal.
  7. In that same vein, don’t search for “the right person.” BE the right person.
  8. When you don’t know what to do next and you feel your hands start to tremble, reach for a book. Getting lost in another world helps you forget about your own for a little while.
  9. Cook more. Not only will you feel healthier, but you’ll gain confidence with each recipe you master.
  10. Friendships can be work, just like any other relationship, but they are SO WORTH IT. Prioritize your friends. Be there even when it’s not 100% convenient for you.
  11. That being said, adulting is hard, and the older you get the more your friends have their own lives, responsibilities, and priorities. Try not to hold it against the ones who disappear; just take note of the ones who continue to show up and love them extra hard.
  12. Never lower your standards, but adjust your expectations accordingly. Once you accept that you can’t change or control the way other people behave or the way they treat you, you learn to accept people for what they are and what they aren’t. And you learn that it doesn’t change who you are or what you believe.
  13. Conflict is inevitable. And normal. Where there’s no conflict, there’s no trust, and therefore, no real relationship worth fighting for. (It also helps weed out the people who really value you vs. the ones who don’t. 😉)
  14. Ask for what you want and do what it takes to get it. Nothing in life is just handed to you; no one will ever say “She’s doing so great, I’ll just give her more money!” SELF. PROMOTE.
  15. The best cure for unhappiness is giving to others. And petting cats.
  16. Stop taking everything (including yourself) so seriously. Stop reacting to people who just want a reaction from you. Reserve your energy for things that actually matter and practice saying “that’s not my problem.” (And read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. It’s life-changing.)
  17. When life gets harder it means you’ve leveled up. (This one I’ve seen it all over the internet, so I take zero credit.)
  18. Everyone is the protagonist of their own narrative. Sometimes you’re the villain, and sometimes you don’t make it past Chapter 5. It’s their story, and they’re the one writing it; focus on your own.
  19. Don’t bend until you break. Set healthy boundaries. Communicate. Say “no” from time to time.
  20. You’ll stop caring so much about what people think of you when you realize how infrequently they do.
  21. Allow yourself to change. Quit trying so hard to “find” yourself or define your personality. You will change SO MUCH. Every single day. And like I said, never say never; the things you once thought you’d never do might turn out to be the things that make you the happiest. And you’ll never know unless you get over yourself.
  22. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, so live in the moment more. Tell people "I love you" too much. Hug them extra hard. Keep a gratitude log. Take pictures not so you can post them for the world to see, but so you can document the moments and people who bring you joy. Someday they won't be around to remind you.
  23. Accept feedback gracefully, but filter through it. Insecure people seek out the flaws in others, and they will continue to do it instead of looking in a mirror at their own—so don’t change for anyone but yourself. Growth is good, but you have to do it for Y.O.U. and no one else.
  24. Put more stock in what you think than what everyone else thinks.
  25. Never settle. The universe rewards bravery.

What would you tell your 2010-self?

(Featured image via Unsplash)

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