Nineteen things I’ve learned before I turned nineteen.
1. Always carry $5 and a lighter with you (even if you don’t smoke).
2. Ask every person you meet how their day is going. Genuinely ask with the sole intention of learning how their day is. Ask the coffee shop employee. Ask the person next to you in line at Walmart. Ask your distant friend. Ask everyone.
3. Take many photos of yourself. Take photos of yourself when you’re happy. Take photos of yourself when you’re sad. Take photos of yourself because there are millions of trees in the world, and we all look at the same sky, but there is only one of you.
4. Stay in contact with your parents. Try not to hate them. They are the reason you have the ability to feel anything at all. Try not to hate your parents.
5. Opening your skin will not set your demons free. Open your heart. Open your mind. Open your hands.
6. Nobody knows anybody completely. That’s okay.
7. Be gentle, but be aggressive. Take a stand. Nobody hears your voice if you stay silent.
8. Respect everybody. We are all humans trying to survive. We all deserve respect.
9. Wearing black will ALWAYS make you feel better about yourself.
10. Always give tips, whether it be a couple extra dollars or a piece of mind. You never know how much you could be helping someone.
11. Change is the only thing consistent in life. Do not allow that bother you. Embrace chance and move with life, whichever direction it chooses to take you.
12. Smile often. Smile at strangers. Smile at your friends. Smile when nobody is looking and you’re alone in your bedroom. Smile when somebody is rambling to you.
13. Body image means nothing. Your body is merely just a seatbelt in the car. Your body is here to protect you. You choose the direction you go, and your body will not hold you back. Only you can hold yourself back.
14. Don’t hold grudges. Don’t allow yourself to hate anybody. Forgive them. Learn to love them for the person you never got to see them to be. Believe that a beautiful human exists in that person. Wish them well.
15. Drink orange juice. Lot’s of it.
16. Don’t allow the opinions of others to choose your destiny. We are all simply trying to live our own life.
17. Sing all the time. Sing off key. Sing in a silly voice. Sing like you’re on stage. Sing no matter who is around. Singing is breathing for the soul. Sing.
18. Take time to think. Write your feelings down. Write letters to the people you love. Texting is overrated and not as heartfelt as a nice handwritten letter.
19. Live for yourself. Breathe for yourself. Do everything in your life for nobody but you. This is your life. This is it.
Observation makes you aware of life. So much of the time, we let the moments pass by without really seeing them, appreciate them. We get so caught up in where we’re going that we don’t see where we are. We have to think about the future but live in the moment, see the moment. Otherwise the world will just pass you by.
When you quit doing the wrong things, you make more room for the things that make you happy. So starting today… 1. Quit procrastinating on your goals. Some people dream of success while others wake up and work hard at it. Action and change are often…
Did you know, you can quit your job, you can leave university? You aren’t legally required to have a degree, it’s a social pressure and expectation, not the law, and no one is holding a gun to your head. You can sell your house, you can give up your apartment, you can even sell your vehicle, and your things that are mostly unnecessary. You can see the world on a minimum wage salary, despite the persisting myth, you do not need a high paying job. You can leave your friends (if they’re true friends they’ll forgive you, and you’ll still be friends) and make new ones on the road. You can leave your family. You can depart from your hometown, your country, your culture, and everything you know. You can sacrifice. You can give up your $5.00 a cup morning coffee, you can give up air conditioning, frequent consumption of new products. You can give up eating out at restaurants and prepare affordable meals at home, and eat the leftovers too, instead of throwing them away. You can give up cable TV, Internet even. This list is endless. You can sacrifice climbing up in the hierarchy of careers. You can buck tradition and others’ expectations of you. You can triumph over your fears, by conquering your mind. You can take risks. And most of all, you can travel. You just don’t want it enough. You want a degree or a well-paying job or to stay in your comfort zone more. This is fine, if it’s what your heart desires most, but please don’t envy me and tell me you can’t travel. You’re not in a famine, in a desert, in a third world country, with five malnourished children to feed. You probably live in a first world country. You have a roof over your head, and food on your plate. You probably own luxuries like a cellphone and a computer. You can afford the $3.00 a night guest houses of India, the $0.10 fresh baked breakfasts of Morocco, because if you can afford to live in a first world country, you can certainly afford to travel in third world countries, you can probably even afford to travel in a first world country. So please say to me, “I want to travel, but other things are more important to me and I’m putting them first”, not, “I’m dying to travel, but I can’t”, because I have yet to have someone say they can’t, who truly can’t. You can, however, only live once, and for me, the enrichment of the soul that comes from seeing the world is worth more than a degree that could bring me in a bigger paycheck, or material wealth, or pleasing society. Of course, you must choose for yourself, follow your heart’s truest desires, but know that you can travel, you’re only making excuses for why you can’t. And if it makes any difference, I have never met anyone who has quit their job, left school, given up their life at home, to see the world, and regretted it. None. Only people who have grown old and regretted never traveling, who have regretted focusing too much on money and superficial success, who have realized too late that there is so much more to living than this.