Saturday, February 15, 2014

On Being 18

So today I turn 18. According to Disney princess standards I am now ready to meet my Prince Charming. Maybe I met him today!
^^^The three amigos. These cousins are sticking together no matter what. Thanks for hanging out with me today!^^^
^^^My dearest cousin Erin flew in from DC last night as a surprise!^^^

17 was a big year for me. I've had some of my lowest lows and some of my highest highs. It's funny how those things seem to go hand in hand. It was a year of realizing and changing. Sophomore year and junior year were rough for me. Being 15 1/2- 17 1/2 kicked my rear end! I think I cried more those two years than I have cried in all other years of my life combined. I suffered some serious friendship heartbreak and as a result, my confidence and self-esteem were completely shattered. I tried so hard to be someone I wasn't. I ignored that little voice inside of me telling me to do what I loved. After a while the voice just stopped whispering. For a while I didn't even know what I loved anymore. I didn't know who I was, so when I made the decision to be myself, I had to find me first. She wasn't just hiding around the corner. She was buried down deep.

When I made the decision last summer to be myself, I had to do some uncomfortable, unpleasant things. I basically isolated myself from the social scene and accepted and embraced the fact that yes, it is ok to turn down an invitation for a party. Yes, it is ok to hang out with the adults rather than the kids at family get togethers. Yes, it is ok to do things no one else your age does, like dress up and write a blog and tell your mom every little thing. I am not the prettiest, smartest, happiest, nicest, friendliest person out there in the universe, and that's ok! And although I have plenty of goals and aspirations to be better, those goals and aspirations are to be a better me, not a better somebody else.

So without further ado, here are 17 things I've learned while being 17:

1. It is ok to be yourself. In fact, it's a really good idea. You should try it.
2. Forget what other people think. No outside praise will ever feel as good as an inner feeling of pride and accomplishment.
3. Success is from being the best YOU, not the best somebody else.
4. Happiness is a choice you make, not a prize you win from the rest of the world when you match up to their impossible standards. In fact, the harder you try to meet those standards, the more impossible they become.
5. Written words have a very special power to touch people and pierce right to their hearts and souls. Words connect people in a way nothing else can, and the permanence written words have makes them all the more powerful when used wisely.
6. I am so passionate. I used to think passion was a strong love for one thing, but I know now that that is wrong. I love so many things with a passion. I have a deep, burning passion for the beautiful things in life. My beautiful things may not be someone else's beautiful things, but that makes them even more special to me.
7. I never thought I could love my family more, but every once in a while one of them does something that makes my heart just melt into a deep red puddle.
8. It's ok to love school.
9. Don't spend too much time worrying about what you wear. Obviously I want to look good and put together and like I have at least a decent amount of fashion sense, but I don't spend hours analyzing my outfits anymore (i had a problem with that). I've come to the conclusion that if I like an outfit, I'm going to wear it. It's not like the fashion police are going to come take me away. And even if they did, I feel like it would just be like an episode of What Not to Wear and I'd walk away with a new wardrobe. So either way it's a win.
10. National English Honor Society is MY club man. My heart hurts just thinking about it. I love everything- the people, the purpose, the projects. It will forever hold a special piece of my heart and remind me of my first steps to being myself. I will miss it dearly.
11. I will never catch up on sleep, and I'm starting to be ok with that. Actually, that's a lie. I take naps when I should be working and I work when I should be sleeping. I'm on some weird sleep schedule over here, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
12. I am emotional, and that is a good thing. Being emotional doesn't mean I cry all the time (although I do go through phases). It means I feel a lot more and a lot more deeply than others. I'm always feeling something, and everyday is a quest to find the best word or phrase to describe exactly how I feel. I don't feel satisfied or content unless I can explain my emotions in words. It is both a blessing and a curse to feel things as deeply as I do (that's from somewhere on Pinterest). I've decided to stop focusing on the curse part and to embrace the blessing part.
13. I am now fluent in emoji speak. Thank you Megan.
14. I am not always sure about some of the things I want to do with my life, and that's ok! Loose goals are good, and a definite plan is only a suggestion.
15. There are people out there who are passionate about the same things I am. And being their friend makes life ten times more interesting.
16. If you had asked me a year ago if I was ready to move away from Georgia and high school and all the people I knew, I would have said yes in a heartbeat. But now, I know there are going to be so many things and people that I'll miss. Late night Chickfila milkshake runs with Dad, inside jokes with Mom, jam sessions in the car, passing my cousins in the hallway, emoji text conversations with Megan, AP Lit with Mrs. Finco, the list goes on and on.
17. I've learned that there are always going to be people who hate my guts, no matter what I do or who I am. But I am never going to find people who love my guts by pretending to be someone else. Because then they will love someone else's guts, not mine. And I want to know people who completely and wholeheartedly love my guts so I can completely and wholeheartedly love their guts back. And let's face it, everybody wants to feel like their guts are loved.

18 is going to be my year. The first full year in a while where I am completely, utterly, unashamedly myself. I will not wish to be someone else. No more of this jealousy and laziness and idle daydreaming. I will not wish to look like someone else or do the things someone else does. I will not be a passive observer. When my creative juices start flowing, I'm going to do something about it. I am going to act on inspiration. All of the things I have been saying I would do for months and years are going to happen. I'm going to be the type of person I dream of becoming. I'm going to England this summer. I'm going to college this fall. I am going to put my creative soul to use. I have the same number of arms and legs and eyes as any other girl out there. Why should I sit by and say, "one day i'll learn to sew. one day i'll dress like that. one day i'll write like that. one day i'll be that confident." when other girls are out there today doing just the things I say I'll do one day? Gosh darn it Mal the time is now! Yolo and what not. Everything I have ever hoped to do, everything I have ever hoped to be, is going to come true (all outside forces permitting). I will not be afraid or embarrassed or ashamed. I have learned that nothing worthwhile comes from pretending to be someone you're not. True happiness comes from being 100 percent yourself regardless of what other people say. One of my favorite quotes out there is by Dr. Seuss- "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." 18, I am ready and oh so excited for you. Let's do great things together.

Sincerely, mad

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