Writing this, it’s a little over an hour until I turn 21 years old. Over two decades on earth, living these years. This is my beautiful, messy, amazing life. I’ve met so many beautiful people, heard unbelievable stories, witnessed the innumerable ways God works daily, taken breathtaking adventures, learned new (and sometimes hard) lessons, and put in my best efforts one day at a time.
Here’s 21 things I’ve learned in 21 years:
1. God loves you. Yes. Our Savior made you and knows you. He loves you more than you know. Jesus is the greatest love story.
2. Community is everything. Thinking about all the people who have cared deeply for me, made me laugh, and pointed me to Jesus is extraordinary. The feeling of receiving this love and joy from others is indescribable. To everyone, thank you.
3. Make it happen. Make a to do list. Color a habit tracker in your journal. Dream. Plan your big goal and do your best taking small daily steps to achieve them. Getting to work and seeing how it paid off will make your perseverance worth it.
4. It’s okay to ask for help. Seriously. This applies to mental illness, small tasks, and the nerve-wracking feeling of an unknown response. You’ll be relieved you did.
5. Exercise, eat, and work in moderation. Enjoy the rest day and dessert. You can’t be 100% all the time. We need to remember the importance of rest and enjoying the moment.
6. Do not be afraid. God is bigger than all of it.
7. Music speaks to the soul. It can make you want to get up and dance or sit with open hands in tears. Depending on the playlist, you need a little bit of both.
8. Don’t compare, let them inspire you. Everybody’s different, so sizing ourselves up to everyone in every part of our lives is both exhausting and disappointing. I believe there is a point that you have to work on yourself, but if you have a goal and know someone who has achieved it, let them encourage you to keep going.
9. God’s timing is perfect. Looking back, you’ll see exactly where God was orchestrating what you needed when it was necessary. I’ve seen it in becoming a Young Life leader and in the ways God has placed loving individuals in my path.
10. Learn to destress. Life is crazy. Do your best to finish your to do list, but make sure you’re productive in a healthy way. Figure out what calms you down and do it often.
11. Keep your phone in your pocket. Time has been wasted. Feelings have been hurt. Life has been missed when our eyes are stuck on the screen. Look up. Life is happening now and it moves faster than you think.
12. Sit with Jesus. Let Him fill you up. Talk to Him. Write to Him. Pray on your knees, in the minutes before you fall asleep, throughout the day, or in Adoration. He cares and He is always listening. He wants a relationship with us, so that means we need to spend time with Him.
13. The path will be made clear. God is slowly revealing a plan for your life, even when it doesn’t seem like it. Be patient. He’s working for your good.
14. Find friends you can really talk to. Talk to someone who is trustworthy, will challenge you in the best ways, and show you loyalty.
15. Don’t be glued to your desk. Sometimes distractions are necessary. There’s always something that needs to get done. Don’t let it overwhelm you. Take a break and reconnect with others. (Bonus: Taking time with others includes taking time to listen. Listen to your parents and grandparents’ stories. Learning about another’s life is one of the greatest experiences.)
16. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You are doing your best and that’s all that matters. You are enough.
17. Vulnerability is key. Sometimes we don’t get to hear it often, but when we do hear someone open up, it puts things into perspective. You never know what someone is going though. Love others well.
18. Text that person. Text that person when you think of them. The one who you know needs extra love or encouragement. It makes a difference.
19. Believe in your abilities. Trust yourself. You are intelligent. You are strong. You can do it.
20. Go on an adventure. I’ve had 21 years of adventures big and small – from working at camp and backpacking to having intentional conversations and spending time with those I love. Be courageous and enjoy it.
21. Giving is sometimes even better than receiving. After experiencing so many people’s love as they care for me, Jesus calls us to do the same (even loving those who do not show it to us) and give love to everyone.