Tomorrow, I turn 20 years old, and if I'm being honest, I've been celebrating all week. I don't understand why people don't celebrate whenever they get the chance. Life should be one giant celebration!
So as I've been celebrating, I've also been thinking. I tend to do that occasionally. My brain can get a little jumbled. I understand that I have so much more life to live, and I'm not even a quarter of how wise I'll be when I die, but that doesn't mean I haven't learned anything in my 20 years. My lessons may be really silly, or they may actually have some meaning. Does it really matter? Because life is a combination of silly and meaning, right? I couldn't live my life without silly, and I definitely couldn't live without meaning. Otherwise, what's the point? So here we go: what I, Hannah Elizabeth Rials, have learned in my nearly 20 years of life.
1.Friends and Family are key.
I know this kind of seems like a "gimme" kind of lesson, but not everybody seems to learn this, or has the opportunity to. I would actually be nowhere without my family. My parents have provided me with more opportunities than I deserve, and I can never say thank you enough. And my friends...I am who I am because of my friends. I've lost some, and I've gained some. But I've treasured every one of them because they've all taught me something that no one else can.
2. Be who you are.
Again, another "gimme." But hear me out. I remember being an awkward intermediate/middle schooler/early high schooler (a few friends can attest to this) trying to figure myself out. I was a follower in intermediate school. I honestly just wanted friends because I was a dorky, pudgy, overly homeostatic kid. Middle school brought the emotional/dark/rebellious (and by rebellious, I mean back mouthing my parents. That's about as far as it went) side out of me. Then high school hit, along with a bunch of other changes, and I think that's when I found myself. I'm a dorky, quirky, friendly, introverted, nosy, overly caring, Christian, leading, writer. That's my identity, and I'll stick by it. So pick out some adjectives and put them in your list. The list might, and probably will, change. But that's life. Change. And amongst all that change, you have the challenge of finding yourself. Good luck. I believe in you.
3. Find your therapy.
I'm serious. It may be going to a therapist. It may be venting to your friends (but make sure that's not all you do). It may be gardening or cooking. Just find something for those times when life just comes crashing in. Because it will do that. I guarantee it. I have lots of therapy. My dogs. Or just dogs in general. Gardening. Writing. Cooking. Reading. Occasionally yoga, depending on how flexible I'm feeling. There's a therapy out there for everyone. My dogs aren't going to solve all of my problems, though that would be amazing, but that's not really the point. They're just a way to release some of the problems. Like Buddy--he's lying here beside me as I type, dreaming about something exciting. And it's relaxing. That's all you need. So go find your therapy.
4. Being silly matters.
I've always wanted to be the funny one in my group of friends. The funny friend is the one with the addictive personality, the person everyone goes to when they need a pick me up. I'm not funny. I try. I honestly do. The only people who actually laugh at my attempts at humor are my parents...it's okay, I'm not crushed about it. But hey, I don't have to be funny. Because I'm silly. I can crack myself up about absolutely nothing. I LOVE impersonating/quoting movies. The Princess Bride and My Big Fat Greek Wedding are my favorite to quote. I can tie an "invisible string" through my lip and pull it. I snort. I sing during movies, and sometimes I laugh too hard. This may be annoying to some people (especially my dad who always begs me to stop singing and regrets bringing up MBFGW), but it makes the days happier, at least in my mind. And your mind--that's the number one priority.
5. Never Been Kissed.
I've never been kissed. I've never been courted. I might've been flirted with, but I can never really tell unless it's blatantly obvious. And for most of middle school and high school, this was the worst part of my life. It was the end all be all. I liked guys, typically the tall, skinny, artistic and/or brilliant type. Crushing was almost always a thing to me. I even worked up the nerve to tell a couple of my crushes about my feelings only to be turned down. And boy was that crushing. But guess what? I survived! And I'm still friends with them.
Up until this year, I thought I was pathetic that I was a lip virgin. (yes, that's my term for it). I'm almost 20 for pete's sake. Now...I'm okay. I'm in a really good place. I'm confident in myself, in the direction that my life is going. I'm not actively searching for a mate, haha. For years, my mom and some of my friends just said, "It'll happen when its supposed to happen." And I finally realize they're right. I may find prince charming tomorrow or in ten years. But I'll find him when I'm meant to, and not a second before. Who knows? Maybe I've already met him. But the point is--Never Been Kissed (like Drew Barrymore)? That's okay, you're going to survive and thrive and move on. Because one day, your prince will come (see, there I go with the movie quotes. 10 points to Hufflepuff if you can name the movie.)
6. Your friends appreciate you.
Friends can be both the best and most frustrating parts of your life. Especially as a girl because girls are confusing and sometimes not straightforward. We're insane, to be honest.
I always struggle thinking that I'm the friend who cares. None of my friends actually care, they're just here because it's convenient and I'm the best they could muster up. Now, I know this isn't true. I promise. But I can't help thinking it sometimes, especially if you're the friend who always makes the plans or the calls or whatever. But guess what. Your friends do appreciate you. They just show you in different ways. You just have to learn to notice it when it happens. Sidenote, I love my friends. They're the best and weirdest and awesomest people. They're all going to go to the moon and beyond in life. Because that's just the type of people they are.
7. Connections are literally everything.
My generation is preached at about connections. We will get no where without connections. I'm here to tell you, it's true. Now, to be fair, most of my connections are from my mother because she's the most connected person I know. My boss and I call her the Mouth of the South for a reason. But I've made a few of my own connections. I wouldn't be getting my book published without connections. I wouldn't have had my internship last semester without connections. I wouldn't have gotten to have breakfast with an amazing author, Kathryn Holmes, without connections. And in order to make connections, you have to get out there and talk to people. Talk to everyone. This might be hypocritical of me because I have to force myself to talk to people. But I'm not here to tell you about what I do. I'm telling you about what I've learned.
Just...smile. As often as possible. You'll make more friends. Your face may get more wrinkles, but at least they'll be good wrinkles. Life is just better with smiling. So just do it. Please.
9. Listen to people.
As a writer, I really like listening to people. They're story ideas just waiting to happen. Listening teaches you about things--about yourself, your friends, the world around you. Pay attention. Because people have important things to say, things you might not have thought about if you'd had your earbuds in. So just, open your ears occasionally. You might just learn something.
10. Find something to believe in.
I don't care what you believe in because that falls into the "nunyabusiness" category of life. But I stand by my idea that everyone should believe in something. If it's not a higher power, it could be love, or family, or friends. But there's something for everyone to believe in. It makes the world a better place.
11. Give up your time.
Today, our world is filled with hundreds of thousands of groups, people, and organizations to donate your time too. Not everyone has thousands of dollars that they can donate on a whim. And that's okay, because these organizations need your time too. There are so many people (and things) that need your help, and I guarantee that there is something out there that you'll care about. Animals, aiding abuse victims, working with the disabled, providing water for countries in need. It doesn't matter because they need your help. And help and time are things that you can give.
Celebrate every chance you get. Your birthday, your friends' birthdays, Valentine's Day (even though maybe its a holiday invented by the greeting card companies). It doesn't matter because celebrating is the best. It gives a purpose to the day. It gives a smile to the day. It gives happiness and laughter and love to the day. And those are all things that you want part of your day, right? So why not celebrate whenever and whatever and whoever you can?
Well, it's 8 minutes until I turn 20, so I guess I'll sign off now. If you made it all the way to this point, 10 more points for Hufflepuff (that's my house if you didn't already guess). I wish you all celebration, donation, faith, open ears, smiles, connections, friendship, love, silliness, therapy, individuality, and family. Carpe Diem, people! As my dear friend told me, after I turn 20, everything will go down hill from here :)
Jusqu'à la prochain fois,