18 to 19/end of the year

18 things I learned at 18: I really meant to post this late November when I actually turned 19, but of course my timing is always anything but impeccable and better late than never and this makes a good end of the year post anyway, right? Almost like I planned it… except I didn’t, because I never do.

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1. Run after the Lord Jesus. I promise that you’ll never be happier than when your sights are set right on His perfect love and forgiving grace. I’ve spent my whole life learning that at the end of the day, nothing matters if He’s not 100% in it.

2. Be a nice person. There’s already too much bad in the world to not choose to be good. Radiate sunshine and happiness and light, if you have the chance, because it doesn’t go unnoticed. People will be drawn to you and there’s always the possibility that your random act of kindness will make someone’s day that much brighter.

3. Stop waiting on boys to text you back, and go out and live your life. Your time will come when he’s the one waiting on you. For now, just enjoy being the age that you are and trust that when he’s supposed to be in your life, he will be. Learn to appreciate being single and first and foremost, learn to love yourself as you are. (Also, side note: if he doesn’t have time for you, don’t waste yours waiting on him.)

4. Prioritize. This is one of those life lessons that I don’t know if I’ll ever fully learn. Sometimes that paper is more important than going out with your friends. Other times, it’s not. Remember what’s most important in your life and do that first. You’ll thank yourself for it later.

5. Love more. It took me a long time to fully grasp the importance of this lesson. But once I did, I realized my heart is so much more full when I spend less time being judgmental and more time loving others. I’m a happier person for it too, and loving on people has never been a greater blessing.

6. Treat yourself, once in awhile. On food, on shoes, on clothing, on accessories. Nothing brightens my day like a holiday drink from Starbucks or a new pair of boots. Also, you can never go wrong with a double fudge chocolate chunk cookie. I am serious as pie about this one, and like cookies, pies are serious business. Treat yourself. Reward yourself from time to time because life can be hard and you deserve all the nice things you can get.

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7. Pray, a lot. And then pray some more. There’s a reason why people who have strong prayer lives are happier people. So, trust in that. When you feel like you can do it on your own, remember you can’t. Pray about it and learn to go to Him for all things, big and small. If you are faithful to Him, He will be faithful to you. If you aren’t faithful to Him, He will still continue to be faithful to you–I’m just saying, life is so much better when He’s the center of it.

8. Spend some time reading His word. There’s 66 chapters of real life advice and treasures stored in there. You just have to take the time to go and find it. I’ve also found that most things in my life align perfectly when I invest my time reading the Bible.

9. Try your hardest to not make everything about yourself. You are not the center of the universe. Yes, sometimes you are–like on your birthday, or when you aced a really hard final, or when you pulled off a tough interview. It’s okay to celebrate (see #6), just remember that you’ll be a happier person overall if you realize that not everything is supposed to go your way 100% of the time.

10. Don’t give your heart away to the first person who gives you the time of day. There is someone out there who will be exactly what you never realized you were looking for, or needed. And there is so much of your wonderful life to live before finding them. Please don’t throw away the time you have now in chase of someone who will simply get here when the timing is right.

11. Be with someone who makes you better. Alternatively, this point could be titled, “Be with someone who makes you laugh, and makes you feel like you’re worth it, and wanted, and special.” Because you are all of those things and more. You are made of light and love and good things, I promise you, because you were made in His perfect image. Live in that encouragement and let it define your actions until you are a walking ray of sunshine on this temporary earth.

12. Surround yourself with good people. I cannot stress this enough. The people you spend your time with define so much of who you are, and you want to be with people who not only make you laugh until you can’t breathe but see the worth in you as well. You need people who will remind you that you’re worth the fight when you’re feeling low. You need people to be your support system and cheer you on and not flake on you. Find the people in your life who are constant and hold on to them.

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13. Whatever’s been on your mind, do it now. Whether it’s a phone call you’ve been meaning to make or a text message you’ve been waiting to send: tell people you love them. Buy your mom that gift you’ve been thinking of getting her and tell your dad how thankful you are that he’s worked so hard to put you through school. Tell your siblings you love them, in person, because I’m betting you don’t say it often enough. Time flies by too quickly to let words like that go to waste because you’re too afraid to say them. It might be awkward, and unsolicited, and out of place. But it could also be really beautiful, wonderful, and just what someone needs to hear. Whatever it is, I say go for it.

14. If you like someone, wait. I know this slightly contradicts #13, but this is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the past few months. Emotions are too fickle to be thinking everyone you meet is the one. If he’s right for you, he’ll still be right for you if you wait a little longer. Remember that. Train yourself to be a stronger person because you taught yourself the value in waiting on God’s timing. Let whatever “relationship” you might be in strengthen your faith to the utmost, because at the end of the day your first relationship should always be with Jesus.

15. Have faith. This is such a hard lesson to learn because it is so much easier said than done. But it’s rewarding–probably more so than any other lesson you could learn, because when you are faithful you will see all the more how He is always faithful to you. This point has been so relevant to me as of late and I am thankful to be learning this lesson at this moment in my life.

16. It gets better. Things have a way of looking up right when it seems like they can’t get any worse. Keep going because things always have a way of working themselves out and you will always make it through whatever storm you’re caught in.

17. “And if not, He is still good.” Inevitably, some things won’t work out. There will be times where you struggle with God because what you want is not what He has planned for your life. But what I’ve learned–and come to appreciate and really understand–is that what He has in store for your life is thousands of times better than anything else you could create for yourself. Maybe you’ve been praying about something for a long while and you have faith to the utmost that God can answer with a “yes”. But if not, if He answers your prayers with a firm “no”, He is still good. Learn to live this out in your life and you’ll start to see all the ways He blesses you every single day.

18. Jesus should be the strongest relationship in your life. We started this list with Him and we’re ending it the same way, because we start and end with Jesus. Never forget how He died on the cross for your sins and that He loved you enough then and He loves you enough now. Never forget that.

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So with all that being said: Lord Jesus, teach me even more lessons in this 19th year of being alive. Thank You for shaping me and molding me and making me better each day; for being patient when I am not patient with You and for loving me through all my faults and failures.

If you’re reading this/if you read my blog, thank you for reading and for being on this ride with me, even though it’s not always the smoothest and I ramble 99.99% of the time. I am so thankful to be alive and to be documenting life on here with you!

images/featured image: all tumblr

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