Life is a journey. On all adventures, there are lessons we learn. Here are 21 things I’ve learned in my 21 years of life:

1Despite all the things people see wrong with themselves, remembering how unique and special you are is important for everyone to know. Loving and accepting who I am impacts how I live my life. It’s impossible for me to fully care about something or someone without being happy with myself first. I’ve learned to be my own best friend and to always have my own back.

2Nobody has a clue what they’re doing. Taking advantage of the fact that everyone makes mistakes really takes the wight of the world on my shoulders. When I’m having what seems to be the worst day ever, I try to remember how I’m most definitely not alone in that. Things can be worse, try hard not to let insignificant things ruin good days.

3So I had this revelation that my parents are real people with real feelings, real weaknesses, and real sacrifices. I’ve always treated them with utmost respect, but I also always expect them to be my backbone. I forget that they need someone to lean on too.

4There’s always that one person that argues, “How is life too short if it’s the longest thing we have?” I always look at that person funny. Nobody’s promised tomorrow and I believe that everything you do should be something you genuinely enjoy. Life is for living, learning, and experiencing all it has to offer. So cliche, but here I go: NO REGRETS!

5I have so many irrelevant fears and spend so much time worrying and thinking too much. Whenever given the chance, I try to over come little things that I think hold me back.

6I get joy feeling like I’ve made someone’s day better, even just for a moment. I always go out of my way to crack a smile at the grumpy looking stranger, hold the door open for the stressed out mom, and throw some change in the homeless man’s little paper cup. Doing good for the world doesn’t have to mean discovering world peace. The little things go a long way.

7I lived in my comfort zone for a long time, and while I felt safe, I started to feel a little bored and left out. I’ve transferred colleges, changed majors, chopped my hair off, dyed it too many times, got a tattoo, and so many other little things that got me to who I am right now. Not every change is voluntary either. I’ve also had to move homes, let people go, and learn to trust. Everything happens for a reason.

8I don’t think one should set standards unrealistically high so that nothing is good enough, but it is necessary to have standards and to stand by them. There’s a difference between being happy and being comfortable. I don’t like feeling like I deserve better, so I don’t rest until I get it.

9It makes me smarter, stronger, and it sets me free. I’ve never found sense in holding grudges and being bitter. I’ve seen the quote hundreds of times and I’ll always stand by it: “Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.”

10I’ve always had a job since I was sixteen years old. Five years later and I don’t have much to show for the money I’ve made. Yes, I have a shopping problem. As I’m getting older, I’m realizing that it’s smarter to save and not splurge on meaningless and trivial things. I want to spend money on vacations, fun family days, and little adventures.

11You are who you surround yourself with. Energies are contagious, so I try my best to surround myself with people who reflect how I want to feel. A life necessity is a friend who is happy for you when you’re happy.

12Life can get overwhelming. When I’m feeling anxious, worn down, or a need to escape, I remind myself to breathe. It sounds crazy that I have to remind myself to do the most involuntary thing in the world, but it works. I’ve discovered that humans aren’t cool enough to have a reset button, but a good inhale and exhale is just as useful.

13So, I’ve been practicing yoga and it’s not as boring and old farty as I once thought. It’s actually become a part of my daily routines and helped me a lot so far. Aside from the flexibility and strength it’s giving my body, it’s really expanding my mind. I mean, I’m not Buddha or anything, but I really feel like I’m becoming one with myself and getting to know Ashley in a new way.

14I’ve never not had a journal. I found one a few weeks ago from when I was eight years old and it’s the funniest thing in the world. Having these accounts of my life is a precious treasure. As my schedule got busier and more routine through the years, I felt like I was running out of things to write about. That’s when I discovered my imagination is way bigger than I ever thought and started writing short stories and poetry. Writing takes me away from reality, relieves stress, and makes me who I am.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-2-56-53-pmI owe a portion of my creativity and inventiveness to reading. I always read as a child and still read book after book as an adult. Like writing, it helps me escape reality to a different world. Along with expanding my imagination, reading has improved my vocabulary, writing skills, and ability to attain information just by seeing it. I think everyone should read, doesn’t matter what or how often. There’s just nothing bad that could ever come out of it.

16What’s the cheapest therapy session ever? A long walk in the woods. There’s nothing that puts me in my place better than nature does. When I need humbling, the ocean reminds me of how small I am. When I need hope, the stars remind me there’s light in all darkness. When I need a little inspiration, the sun paints the sky beautiful colors to start my day. When I get lost in nature, I find myself.

17Being older doesn’t make us wiser. There’s something amazing about the minds of little kids. I always wish I could remember what my thought process was like as a child. A person untouched by responsibilities, duties, and stress has so much more room for the good stuff. They’re so full of joy, curiosity, and trust. The person whose opinion I trust most in this world is in the second grade and I have no shame in saying that.

18I do this thing every year when I forget the fourth Thursday in November isn’t the only day I have stuff to be grateful for. There are so many everyday things we take for granted that people pray for: family, food, clothes, shelter, health. I like to make little lists sometimes just to remind myself that in the hustle and bustle of life, there are so many things to appreciate.

19I recently got jealous of my mom’s old shoebox of polaroids and made the decision to start printing my pictures so I don’t have to show my children all the memories I stored in iCloud. It’s like comparing a paper book to an ebook. I tend to feel that technology takes away the sentimental value of things. I find it so much better to hold a picture in my hand, it really takes me back to the moment.

20No act of love is ever wasted and to love someone is so fulfilling. It’s an amazing feeling to have home not be a place, but a person. I’ve never listened to anyone who said I was too young to be in love. Today’s society makes it sound like you’ll miss out on the good life if you’re in a relationship and I totally disagree with that. Love who you want, when you want, for whatever reasons, and love them with all your heart.

21Being human is being able to feel. There are good emotions, bad emotions, and really confusing ones at times. I like that I’m an emotional person. I don’t see anything wrong with feeling deeply about things, happy or sad. Emotions set you free and are the tools to express yourself, never be ashamed of them.


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