20 Things I've Learned in 20 Years
1. When it comes to friends, quality not quantity.
In high school, it's all about how many friends you have and what social status your friends belong to. When you get to college, no one cares who your friends were or what click you belonged to. Besides, the people you spend the most time building a healthy, growing friendship with are the ones who will stick around through college and will be there for you no matter what.
2. The name on your clothes doesn't define how "cool" or "real" you are.
This one was a tough one to learn. In middle school I begged and begged and begged my parents to buy me the name brand clothing so I could be "cool" and "in." In high school, it wasn't as big of a deal but in order to be "in" you still had to have the latest clothes. Let me tell you a little secret...You are still pretty stinkin' cool if your clothes came from Walmart instead of Nordstrom. You are still pretty legit if your clothes are homemade instead of store bought! (PS: if your clothes are homemade, we need to meet so you can teach me how to make my clothes!)
3. Be yourself. It takes too much time and too much work to pretend to be someone you're not.
Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Take off that mask, girlfriend! The real you is strong, courageous, kind, loving, smart, generous, friendly, and just plain amazing! If I don't know you personally, I hope we meet some day so I can finally meet your amazing self! Plus, I really wish someone had told me the above in middle school and high school so I didn't have to keep trying so hard to be liked by everyone.
4. Your parents really do know what's best for you and really are the smartest people in the entire world.
*GASP* Yes! I said it! My parents are smarter than me! (Here it is in writing, Mom and Dad.) Oh, and guess what? Your parents are smarter than you too. Everything that you have ever gone through, they've been there and done that quite a few times. They also have some pretty useful advice from their experiences. You might want to take some notes.
Seriously. Take notes. I'm not joking.
5. Your family will let you down. You'll let them down.
Remember that time when your parents promised you your favorite ice-cream if you got all A's and when you did, you got a good but far from your favorite ice-cream instead? Wasn't that disappointing?
Or that time when you REALLY wanted that new whatever but you got something useful instead? Bummer. Something I can actually use.
Your family = humans. Humans= NOT perfect. NOT perfect = mistakes, broken promises, hurt feelings, the whole nine yards.
Guess what? You are NOT perfect either. As much as your family may disappoint you, you probably disappoint them just as much, if not more. You are still learning how to do this life thing and adjusting to these new stages in your life.
Before you go and act on your feelings, remember this: Feelings are fickle. They don't last and will soon be replace by another emotion. And think, would I want my future son/daughter do what I'm about to do to my Mom and Dad?
6. Adults that you respect and admire will definitely let you down. It's hard not to be bitter about it but try hard not to. I say try hard because I'm trying hard to not be bitter.
Yeah... I've learned to give all of my feelings of bitterness and anger and resentment to God. I can't control what other people do but I can control what I do. Do I want to be an instrument of Satan or an instrument of the Lord? I can't be an instrument of the Lord if I'm too caught up in being bitter, angry, and just plain old mad about whatever has happened.
Can I get an "Amen!"
7. Your grades don't determine how smart, intelligent, witty, or clever you are.
*GASP* Sorry parents, but it's true. Guys, grades do matter in high school so please work hard. But allow me to explain myself. That number is not as important as everyone says it is. What is important are these four questions:
Did I do my best?
Did I work hard?
Did I learn something?
Did I learn from my mistakes?
If you answered yes to all of the above then you are fine.
I'm the person that absolutely freaks out about a "B". So I constantly have to remind myself that my effort is most important and there are far, far more important things in life than my GPA.
8. Disappointments can set you back. The trick is to not let them set you back permanently. At some point you'll have to move on and you'll be stronger because of it.
I know right now it seems like it is the end of the world but it really isn't. Keep moving on and keep getting stronger. Trust me, sweet, sweet friend, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
9. Relationships are hard. Relationships are give and take. Relationships are also not one-ended.
If you are putting a lot into a relationship (friend, significant other, doesn't matter) and not getting anything out of it, it's time for you to re-evaluate that relationship. Maybe you need to communicate your feelings and work it out. Maybe it's time for you to drop that friend.
If I were a betting woman, I would bet that every single person reading this has someone in mind. Am I right? Let's do some soul-searching on this one together.
10. That drama that seemed like such a big deal last week, you won't even remember it in a couple of years.
Seriously. It seems earth shattering now but wait six months or a year. It won't be a big deal AT ALL.
Don't believe me? Write it down somewhere you'll remember and revisit it again in six months. If it is still earth shattering, let me know so I can revise my statement.
11. People come and go. God stays. Not only does He stay but He remains the same and His love lasts forever.
Girlfriend, a relationship with a boy pales in comparison to the love and fulfillment you will find in Jesus. Trust me on this one.
12. You WILL get mad at God.
It will happen eventually. Despite what all the "holier than thou" people will tell you, it is OK to be mad at God and ask why. Read Psalms. There are sooooo many Psalms where was not too happy and was asking God why. Let me say it again: It is OK to be mad at God.
Just don't stay mad forever. Work it out with Him. He wants to hear your hurts, concerns, and every emotion in universe. He's a good listener, too.
13. At church, sing your heart out, lift up your hands, and give your all in worship. It's really not that embarrassing and your peers really don't care.
In my early high school days, I didn't really worship like I desired to because I was too afraid of what everyone in my youth group would say about me and if I would still be accepted. Once I finally decided I didn't care what they thought and started to worship, I realized that they really didn't care what I did because they were too wrapped up in their own mess. So if you want to lift those hands, go for it, girl! It's just you and God and He is the one you really want to please.
14. Getting wrapped up in romantic relationships in middle school and high school is not the best idea.
I will say that it's okay if you did/are dating in high school. I will also say that those years are the best time to really dive head first into your relationship in Christ and when you go to college, you are solid in your relationship with Christ and "ring by spring" won't be as big a deal.
15. If you live your life sold out for Jesus then people will notice. And a lot of times that attention will not necessarily be good or positive.
This one is a tough one. It's not fun being different from everyone else and being made fun of generally comes with the territory. I was teased and all that. I wish I could tell you it stops but it really doesn't. My personal convictions still alienate me from my friends because I stick to them because I believe it is what God requires of me, personally.
The Bible says that when we suffer because of Jesus, we bring glory to His name.
So bring it on, people! By trying to destroy us, you are just bringing more and more glory to Him.
16. It is okay to be different. Embrace your inner nerd, artist, musician, or whatever it is that makes you happy.
Don't try and be whoever your peers expect you to be. That's not you. God made us all different on purpose. You may think you're weird but, friend, you are the coolest thing since sliced bread! You are all that and a bag of chips because you are who God made you to be and God doesn't make mistakes.
17. Always, always, always remember that your family loves you and your God loves you more than you will ever know.
When you feel like you are all alone and you have absolutely no one...You aren't alone. You have God (who is always with you) and your family (who will always love you). You can make it through, girlfriend. Just keep looking up.
18. Popcorn and M&M's can cure almost anything.
If you've never tried these two wonderful items together...Do it NOW! You won't regret it. I promise.
19. Singing to the top of your lungs is the best medicine.
The best thing about having a license and a car is that you go all these places by yourself. Which means no one else can hear you and you are totally alone with God. Sometimes I'm praying in my car, other times I threatening to hurt the car in front of me (just keepin' it real, y'all). Most times I have my praise and worship on and I am singing it as loud as I can. When I'm not in the best mood or my feelings are hurt, singing to the top of my lungs about God's love and faithfulness is all I need to turn my foul mood and hurting heart to a better frame of mind.
20. Jesus is enough.
There is nothing in this world that could satisfy me and nothing that could make me feel more complete and whole. Friend, there is nothing in this world that could satisfy you more than Jesus. There is nothing that could make you feel more complete and whole than Jesus. You're just gonna have to trust Him completely and find out how absolutely breath-taking and marvelous He is.
These 20 years have been on big roller coaster and I am so glad that it's not over yet.
Here's to the next two decades.
I am currently a teacher and life-long student of Scripture learning more about life and Jesus's marvelous love and boundless grace.