As of today, I've lived two whole decades of life on this earth. The longer I'm here, the more I realize that pain is real, but God is good.
The past year has been one of immense growth - like, the crazy hard stuff you hope you never have to go through - but it's also been a year full of celebration and boldness and joy. Through the very high-highs and the very low-lows, God never left my side.
In my 19th year, God was so generous as to provide me with people to speak truth over me, places that settle my soul, and experiences I'll hold in my heart for eternity. He showed up right before I lost all hope, and He taught me a lot about grace and comparison and peace and patience. I saw the Lord restore a lot of very broken situations in my life, and I watched in awe as He strengthened me in my most vulnerable spots.
As a 19 year old, I experienced my fair share of spontaneous dance parties, I learned just how much I love good picnic and I laughed till my stomach hurt. I ran a lot of miles, I cried a lot of tears, I woke up early for a lot of sunrises. I felt lost and found all at once.
This year, I witnessed some wild prayers get answered, but there are still some things I'm waiting for. I experienced deep, tragic loss, but I saw the Lord show up in it. I battled some of the fiercest emotions I've felt to date, I asked a lot of hard questions, and I had to humble myself like never before.
At 19, I explored and dreamed and savored and helped and lived a very full 365 days. I found my favorite coffee shop, read some life changing books, and hugged my people tight. There were a lot of nights I went to bed thinking, "wow, how could life possibly be this sweet?"
This year I simply had to abandon my need to look like I have everything under control. I said yes too often, I said no too often, and God taught me a lot about balance. I created and cried and tried to hide from my problems and sang and stressed and exercised and adventured and celebrated and started this blog and somehow it added up to an entire year.
I learned a lot as a 19 year old, and so I decided to compile a list of 19 of my takeaways for you here. I hope you find something that encourages and inspires you to live your best life, today.
1. Positive thinking makes all the difference in the world. Your mind seriously controls your life.
2. Extroverts and introverts are both valuable in their own sense! Know them both well, love them both well.
3. The best friendships are founded on vulnerability. If you ever want to feel truly known, you have to open up.
4. STOP TAKING YOURSELF SO SERIOUSLY! Life is 1000x more fun when you choose to laughter instead of self criticism.
5. You have to admit your weaknesses in order to improve upon them.
6. It's okay to ask for help. Like seriously.
7. Things will not always be how they are right now. Hold on to the good while you have it, and if you're in a difficult season, it's almost over. Just be in the moment.
8. Be where your feet are! It's not worth stressing over what's going on outside of where you are right here, right now. God has literally ordained your every moment, so get the most you possibly can out of where He has you now.
9. How the HECK did I go 19 years without an appreciation for Podcasts and the Enneagram? There is so much wisdom to be found on our phones, we just have to know where to look.
10. Organizing and decorating your space in a way that encourages you and makes your life easier is CRUCIAL. You are worthy of an environment you love.
11. You are capable of a lot more than you give yourself credit for. Just try going that extra mile and see what happens.
12. There's no shame in having limitations - it's part of being a human. Take the time to learn how much you can realistically accomplish in a day and how much energy that takes out of you - then protect those boundaries.
13. Sometimes the most productive choice you can make is to put away the homework and the phone and get some sleep. You can try again tomorrow.
14. Your emotions shouldn't be controlled entirely by the people around you. There's a difference between empathy and taking on burdens that aren't yours to carry. You are not responsible for the world's happiness.
15. If you set expectations for your situations, you will most always be disappointed. However, if you open up your hands and only expect that God's will is going to be done - your expectations will always be met, if not exceeded.
16. The ONLY thing you should attach your identity to is your position as a uniquely made child of GOD!
17. When you're upset, run to God first. He knows your heart better than anyone else and He provides a way out of your mess. After that, most things can be fixed by a trip to Trader Joe's, a call home, or a run, in my opinion.
18. In the same second, you can be both brave and scared. Let bravery win.
19. There is so much more joy in giving and serving than there is in receiving. We were CREATED to spread God's love to ALL people, no matter what they look like, think like, or act like.
Well, friends, thanks for sticking with me - that's all I have for now. In no way do I have these 19 things mastered, but I'm making progress and I'm excited for 365 more days of practice.
Here's to another year of growth.