Often, you don't acknowledge how quickly you are growing up until you stop, pause, look back, and reflect on how far you've come. Life progresses so quickly that it’s often difficult to do so, hence why a good number of us don’t.
I certainly didn't realize how quickly time had passed until I walked over to my family photo stand a few weeks ago and picked up a picture of four-year-old me with three missing front teeth. At that moment, I truly longed for such simple times, where people’s perceptions of you didn’t matter, where you wore whatever you wanted to, ate whatever you wanted to, played however you wanted to, and didn’t feel judged for it.
Fast-forward 13 years, and in all honesty, at age 17, I am still a child. I am still learning the ways of life and making mistakes. But all these years have undoubtedly taught me many things, some of which I would now like to share with you, my dear readers.
Some Important Lessons
1. Learn from your past.
It will allow you to be present and guide you towards a brighter future.
A sense of identity is so fulfilling. For the longest time, I didn’t know who I was and used up so much effort trying to be someone I wasn’t, associating myself with those who just weren't "my people". In the long term, not knowing who you are is dangerous. You may just end up losing your true self in the process. But, with the help of my mother, I found my identity within my culture. It was through learning the beauty of my home language and traditions that I figured out and loved who I was.
2. Love all, trust few, and do wrong to none.
It will help us be the most exceptional versions of ourselves.
Love All: I know from experience that holding on to grudges damages you in the long term, as while you indulge in hatred and contempt, they will continue to live their best life. Trying to understand one another is what truly pays off in the long run.
Trust Few: The less people know of you, the better. Let them assume. Let them perceive you as mysterious, secretive, closed off. Talking about your plans more often than not brings about negative energy and hatred. Make moves in silence, and let your success speak volumes.
Do Wrong to None: The reality is that we will inevitably make mistakes and hurt each other. But the important thing is to relentlessly strive towards a kinder future– one wherein we acknowledge our wrongdoings and pursue a better life.
"We should really love each other in peace and harmony."-Bob Marley
3. Find your purpose.
It provides inner peace, satisfaction, and a sense of direction.
In all honesty, for the longest time, I had no idea who and what I wanted to be, and even up until now, I still don't necessarily have it all figured out. But that's okay. Finding your "why" is what will help you finally realize the "thing" that drives you to be a better human. Time and age will grant you the ability to this "thing," along with many others. The future, whilst unknown and rather daunting, is such an exciting concept.
Why, exactly, do we struggle so much with the idea of growing up?
That which lies ahead is vastly different for us all— reading this is an audience of current or future architects, vets, lawyers, athletes, astronauts, artists, writers and politicians. And that is truly exciting, knowing our generation will be the one to challenge the norms established for us, to correct the mistakes of those currently in positions of power, to object to the social strata. And all this, realistically, is not only exciting but also beneficial. One day, stating that "We live in a just and peaceful world" may just ring true.
But I know that, especially when it comes to the future, I often hesitate. What if I'm not making the right decisions? What if I'm not destined for this? What if I make a mistake and disappoint everyone around me? What if I—
Yes, there is risk involved in growing up, and naturally, mistakes will be made. Things will go wrong. But the biggest mistake of all would be not to try.
"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." - Soren Kierkegaard
Know within yourself that everything happens for a reason, and find peace remembering that, someday, all will be okay.
We know this, but are often still skeptical. And that's because we all have yet to find our own "why".
Nos raisons d'être. The purpose designated for each of us the moment we graced the earth, but also the motive that constantly drives us to keep pushing, regardless of circumstance. And that is a big task for anyone to seek out— there’s a lot to choose from. Many pathways to pursue. All sorts of things could go wrong. But life is full of risks to be taken— rather the future "You" smiles and is proud of all the times you tried than sit and wonder what could have been.
While there is still a lot I've got to make sense of, one thing I do know is that finding your "why" will bring with it an overwhelming sense of peace, self-awareness, and control. I don't know where tomorrow is taking me, but the beauty of life is that I have time to figure it all out.
Finding Your "Why"
1. Think of the thing that makes you smile.
This is something if, given the chance, you would do happily for the rest of your days. The thing you love wholeheartedly.
2. Try new things out.
Whether it be reading, writing, playing a sport, cooking, dancing, or singing, try whatever it is you believe would help you grow, challenge yourself, and step outside your comfort zone.
3. Know that your "why" may not always be an activity.
This could be an emotional stimulus that provides you with immense passion. Whatever it is, harness it. Make it a strength and let the universe guide you.
Remember, finding your "why" is also a mental battle. You need to make peace with yourself, with all the mistakes you've made, with all the experiences you've been through. Heal for you. And start afresh. Work towards a bright future. And once you make it, tell your story. Much power lies in a story.