10 Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

“All the things that break you, are all the things that make you strong. You can’t change the past ’cause it’s gone. You just gotta move on because it’s all lessons learned.”

~Carrie Underwood

They say some lessons need to be learned the hard way. That’s so, ridiculously and unbelievably true. Some people (bless their hearts) learn life’s little teachable moments, easily. Others, like myself, have to be hit in the head with a two-by-four in order to actually understand what the hell is freaking happening.

In my soon-to-be 23 years of young life, I’ve experienced and learned things that I never imagined that I would have to. If I knew then, what I know now, I would’ve done my life a whole lot differently. Or, at least tried to make fewer mistakes. But, sadly, there is no rewind button, no do-over option. All we can do is grow, move on, and nurture those mistakes and regrets that wound us.

Here’s the top 10 lessons that I, (unfortunately) learned the hard way:

  1. Life is short, love is sweet, time is precious. Don’t waste a single second of your life holding grudges or being upset, especially at people you love. They won’t be around forever. Choose your words carefully, and wisely, and always remember that actions speak louder than any words ever could.

  2. Always turn to your family. People say that blood is thicker than water, and you know what? They’re right! In the tough times, in your darkest hour, turn to your side and there you will see your family supporting you, lifting you up, and holding your hand. Nothing is more important than those people. Seriously, love the freaking shit out of all of them, before it’s too late.

  3. Choose your friends with caution. Friendship is one of life’s greatest gifts, and it shouldn’t be taken for granted. But, I’ve learned that not everyone you meet throughout the course of your life, will be (or stay) your friend. I’ve learned that sometimes, the people whom you opened your heart and soul to, the ones you trusted not to hurt you, the ones you thought would always care, would always treat you with kindness, will give you some of the biggest heartaches you will ever experience. But, when that happens, you somehow grow stronger.

  4. When people leave, wave goodbye and don’t look back. People blow in and out of our lives as quickly as the wind. When their part in your story is over, let go willingly and gracefully. Don’t spend your time chasing people who were never meant to stay. Be thankful for the memories they gave you, and move on to the next chapter.

  5. Never respond to cruelty, harshness, or ignorance. If someone is treating you like you’re the gum on someone’s shoe, it’s time to walk away and surround yourself with the love and respect YOU deserve. If someone continues to disrespect your sensitivity, your heart, your weaknesses, kiss them goodbye. You don’t need that toxicity in your life. Once you realize that, your life will be so much more freeing. 

  6. Respect is a two-way street. You have to give a little, to get a little. ‘Nuff said.

  7. Don’t show up to every argument that you’re invited to. Sometimes, people will be downright bitchy. And, they’ll feel like picking a fight. They won’t accept your apologies, will bring up past mistakes, and will just be miserable…for no reason (and there will be days when you’re like that too). When that happens, you don’t have to feed into it. Step away.

  8. Oral communication is better than written. This is a lesson I continuously learn over and over again. The written word is so misconstrued. Simply put: it’s bullshit. But, we still do it. Tones are easily misread, fights break out from what started as a meaningless conversation, and I don’t know about you, but I’m really beginning to value face to face time with those I care about, instead of looking at a screen, trying to interpret what they’re saying. Pick up the phone. Talk to people. Visit them. You’ll be glad you did.

  9. Opinions are like a**holes: EVERYBODY has them. No matter what you do, or how hard you try, everyone will always have something to say. There will always be people out there that you seemingly can never please. So, ignore the opinions of others, stop trying to fit into their mold, and just live your life. Do what makes YOU happy, what makes YOU fulfilled. You only get one life, live it the way you want to – with no limitations, and no need for validation or acceptance from anyone.

  10. Fear is stupid. Never let it hold you back from ANYTHING. There are things that we’re all afraid of. Things that make us queasy, anxious, and panic. But, I’ve learned that at some point, you will always have to face your fears – and by doing so, you grow stronger, you overcome what you thought you never could, and you might even gain a little confidence. It’s a very hard thing to do, and takes a lot of practice, but once you put your fears aside and just do it, you’ll be able to live your life to the fullest.

Lastly, as an added bonus, I’ve learned that optimism is everything. When you have a positive attitude, you can truly let your light shine. You were created to fulfill a purpose, and to radiate sunshine into the lives of others. It’s an exercise. Every. Single. Damn. Day. And it takes so much determination. But, being positive is worth the effort. Sure, you may fall off the wagon, and that’s okay – you are human after all, but keep working on choosing happy….because….*and get ready for the mic drop* literally everything in this life is a choice, and how you choose to react to your circumstances.


An Open Letter to My Mentor

You know who you are,

There are a lot of things that I wish I had the confidence to tell you in person, but I wouldn’t know where to begin, and knowing me, I’d probably stumble over my words. The only thing I can think of right now is to tell you….thank you.

Thank you, for letting me be brave and allow myself to open up to you. Being open and honest and letting you get a glimpse into my life has been anything but easy. Explaining myself, and who I am has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and sometimes I wonder what would’ve happened if I didn’t do it. You know 99.9% about me, and that’s so unnerving, but thank you for not betraying my trust, and keeping the my failures, my weaknesses, and my mistakes in a safe place.

Thank you, for the times you encouraged me and believed in me. You made me feel special, valued, and important. Your support helped me through a lot of rough days, and you were there whenever I needed a venting buddy. I appreciate that, and I appreciate you for listening to my dramas over & over again. To you, they may have been pointless or silly,  and if you felt that way, you never showed it. Instead you exercised patience with me – which is something I definitely wasn’t used to.

Thank you, for reading the seemingly endless amount of articles that I’ve sent you. Whether they were to help you better understand the feelings I was going through, or whether it was something that I wrote and anxiously awaited feedback. Your editing skills helped me grow as a writer tremendously, and your opinions have allowed me to work harder and dig deeper.

Thank you, for all of your advice and guidance. You are by far the most logical person I’ve ever known and you always help me see things in a more rational and calm manner. I know it hasn’t been easy for you. I know you have had your fair share of annoyances with me, but I’m grateful that you always continued to let me come to you with questions.

Thank you, for the times that you DIDN’T encourage or believe in me & let me work through my anxiety or depression on my own. Because of that, I learned to stand on my own two feet & lift myself up. It still is a daunting task for me at times, but I know now the limitations and boundaries that we have.

Thank you, for being harsh with me, and occasionally hurting my feelings. I know how to be strong and I know how to better manage my sensitivity and emotions because of that. You never tell me what I want to hear, but always what I need to hear, and while I may not always be receptive to it at first, I always reflect on it, and come to the realization that you’re probably right.

Thank you, for allowing me to be negative when I had to be. Because of that, I realized the power of my own thoughts and why positivity is so important. I know we’ve gotten frustrated and annoyed with each other. I know we don’t always understand each other, and I know we are completely different people who see the world (and life) differently. But, despite our disagreements and sparring matches, I still – and will always appreciate each conversation with you, both good and not so good.

Thank you: for not filling up my bucket anymore. At first, I missed it. I missed your encouragement – and sometimes, still do. BUT, you’ve taught me to do the job of filling my own bucket and I couldn’t be more grateful. You forced me to grow, change, and stretch out of my comfort zone. In other words, you forced me to make an effort to improve my life. Who wouldn’t be grateful for that?

Most of all, thank you for being a friend and an extended part of my family. I know I might smother you, and I know you never need my help or my encouragement, but I like to show it to you anyway. It’s just me. It’s who I am. I could change that, but I don’t want to. I like being sensitive, and open, and I like showing people kindness – whether they need it or not.

I don’t know if you will remain in my life down the road. I truly hope you do. But, no matter what, I will always carry the lessons you have taught me. You have a great heart that shines through you, and wonderful values that I will hopefully be able to teach someone someday, and I sincerely thank you for being such an inspiration and a ray of hope for me.

Prayer: God, I know everyone has walked through my life for a reason. And, I know they are always either a blessing or a lesson. But, with this friendship, you gave me both. I feel so lucky to know this wonderful person and I ask that you bless them with your grace, love and peace, all the days of their life. Amen.