19 things I've learned in 19 years

So it's a new year. I've learned some things, and taken some risks. Here's another one: at risk of sounding completely cliché, here are 19 pieces of wisdom I've gained over 19 years of life.

1. People will question you for pursuing a career path you love. You don't owe them an explanation—you're not doing it for them, anyway.
2. Friends are changeable. You will lose people you thought you'd have forever, and meet people you never imagined being friends with. The people who stay are the ones worth keeping.
3. Be best friends with your mom. She's a pretty cool lady.
4. Change is the only constant. Sometimes this will threaten to overwhelm you, but it's never as bad as you anticipate.
5. Most things that you fear are only scary before you begin. Don't let it stop you from starting.
6. There's a lot to be learned from stories—they teach us how to live. Especially the fables that are dismissed as 'children's stories'—you can learn more about politics from Star Wars than some people learn in the classroom. You can learn more about being a good person from Harry Potter than from any self-help book.
7. Everyone is the protagonist of their own story. In their minds, you are a side character. This isn't a bad thing, but it's important to remember that everyone is looking out for their best interests first and foremost.
8. Life is too short to read books that don't interest you. Unless they're assigned. Do your assigned reading even when it threatens to bore you out of your mind.
9. Music is a lifeline. Turn to it when you feel angry, sad, or just feel nothing in particular. Let the words become your mantra and the rhythm become your heartbeat.
10. When in doubt, write. Channeling your feelings into writing stories is one of the healthiest, most expressive outlets.
11. Be socially aware. Educate yourself on politics, gender and racial equality, and animal rights. It'll get you into arguments, but the kind that are worth having. On that note, it's best to only buy cruelty-free makeup. Your lipstick should not come at the cost of another creature's suffering.
12. Keep your head up. It's better to gaze upon the stars than down at your feet.
13. Find your passion. Pursue it until it sets your heart on fire.
14. When things get difficult, remember why you started. When you're drudging through pages of Plutarch or at your wit's end trying to meet the word count on a paper, sit back and recall why you're doing what you're doing.
15. The universe is sending you messages. It's up to you to recognize them for what they are.
16. You are exactly where you need to be. What's meant to be will be—even though it's hard, you need to trust in the timing of your life.
17. Invest in things that make your heart happy. Books, chai lattes, Star Wars merchandise—if it makes your soul smile, it's not a waste of money.
18. It's okay to be imperfect. It's okay to give yourself a breather and put the homework aside for later when you need a break. It's okay if you don't have a perfect grade. What matters is that you are trying. 
19. You don't need to be pretty or perfect or funny or charming. Just be.


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