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.

A Letter to My Single Self

This letter is for anyone who is struggling through a season of singleness right now. It’s for me, for you, the ones who are sweating the single life right now, so listen up.


Dear Allison,

The other day you were asked a question that made your blood boil and your skin crawl. “Why are you still single?” “Don’t you want to date?” “What’s the deal with that?” You felt obligated to answer. You felt obligated to defend yourself. Yet, you were at a loss for words. You smiled and said that you haven’t found the one yet, but on the inside, all you wanted to say was that it is nobody’s business, and to never ask you that again. 

You dwelled on that question for the remainder of the night and then you began to fall into that dangerous trap of self-loathing. You told yourself that you’re ugly, you’re fat, and you’re not worthy of love. You convinced yourself that nobody can love you, (never mind the fact that you’re only 23 years old.), and you have begun to resolve yourself to the fact that you will be forever alone, living with ten cats. You remind yourself that you’ve never had a real relationship, so surely, it must be too late for you. 

Seriously, what is up with those thoughts girlfriend? They’re unhealthy and they cause you so much misery. I’m here to tell you to take those thoughts of yours and put them in the garbage. For good. You’ve been telling yourself these lies for years now, and you’ve started to believe them. They have become part of your core beliefs now. Those should not be going through your mind. What should be going through your mind is: why am I not being kinder to myself?! I need to give myself a break!

Let me tell you something: you’re 23 years old. Your life has just begun. Why are you letting your relationship status define who you are? So what if you haven’t found your true love yet? Maybe you’re just not ready. Maybe he’s not ready. Maybe God has other plans in store for you before you settle down. Maybe God wants you to develop a loving, and gentle relationship with Him (and yourself!) first. 

You don’t think so, but you are in such a good place in your life. You’re learning to spread your wings and fly on your own. You just graduated from college, you’re in your first “big girl” job, and you’re just starting to settle into adulthood. You’re in that part of your life where you’re finding out who you are, and what you want. 

You have the chance to relish in your freedom, in your space. To answer to no one, but yourself  Why don’t you just simply enjoy the season you’re in right now? 

It’s okay to enjoy your single life, you know. It’s okay to live, laugh, learn, dream, explore, and create…all on your own. It’s okay to be happy on your own. Let yourself be happy.

Let’s pause for a moment: throughout your young life you have had opportunities to change who you are in order to get a guy. You’ve had many chances to compromise yourself and your values to fit in with others, but, you didn’t. And you know something? That is really freakin’ brave! Stop putting yourself down for that, and start patting yourself on the back!

You could have settled for one of those egotistical, machismo, boys in high school. You could’ve thrown yourself at the guys you worked with. But, you didn’t. Why? You had, and still have respect for yourself. You refuse to be anyone’s play toy. You know what you want, you know what you deserve, and you refuse to settle for anyone less. Bravo!

Truth is, you’re a badass. I know you rarely ever feel like one, but you are. You’ve chosen to accept the path that is destined for you, instead of rail against it. That’s something to be proud of. Walk with confidence, walk with your head held high. I know you want to hurry through this season of singleness, but remember, there is a blessing in this. 

Lean on your Faith. Focus on putting your relationship with God first, and yourself second. The rest will fall into place in due time. God wouldn’t have you in this season if there wasn’t something good to come from it. Change your perspective, change your thinking. Instead of focusing on what or who you don’t have, focus on the things and the ones that you DO. 

You’re surrounded by a great group of family and friends. Stop wasting your time looking at your Facebook page to see who else got engaged or started a family, and start being in the present moment, loving those who love you with every ounce of your soul.

Remember, this is a beautiful and messy time in your life, but that is perfectly fine.  You’re an amazing person who will one day find someone to complete you. For now, practice gratitude, practice happiness, practice kindness and compassion. Pour the love you’d be giving to that special someone, into yourself, your family, your friends, and your passions. Have experiences, take chances, GROW, get healthy, trust in yourself, and do not be afraid. 

Love,

You.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you ” Jeremiah 29: 11-12

 

Stop Chasing Happiness

If you ask me what is missing most in my life, often times I will respond “happiness.” When I’m asked what I want most out of life, the typical response to that is “to be happy.”

Happiness. It’s such an attainable goal; one that we have the power to reach every day. But, we’re often so focused on capturing it, chasing it, and keeping it, that we often forget that the simple concept of happiness only leaves us, if we allow it.

That is what my life has been like lately. A quest to find “happy.” A long, seemingly endless search to find contentment again. So, I began to chase the concept of happiness, mistakenly thinking that it would actually work. Forgetting that happiness can’t be pursued.

My thinking started going in all sorts of directions. “If I buy this book on how to be happy, maybe I’ll be happy.” “If I take a vacation to Disney World, maybe then I’ll find my happy place.” “If I land my dream job, then I know I’ll be happy. If I write this widely successful article, then I’ll be happy.”

Looking around, it appeared as though everyone had some form of happiness in their lives, and that was great, but what about me? Was I doing something wrong? Did life forget to tell me something? Nope.

Along this emotional journey toward happiness, I learned tons of lessons. First, happiness is a choice. It’s a state of mind. Every day we are given the opportunity to radiate positivity and happiness. It’s all in what we choose.

Secondly, and most importantly, I learned that happiness comes when you stop trying to chase it. Ultimately, happiness comes to you when you stop looking, stop thinking about it, and stop complicating it.  Happiness can also be found in the most unexpected places, with the most unexpected people.


I went for a nice 2 mile walk with my mom today. It was so refreshing, so relaxing. The sun beating on our backs, the wind blowing through our hair, the birds singing, the smell of freshly cut grass along the way. Everything was perfect.

While we were walking, laughing, talking, and simply enjoying nature, I felt an overwhelming sense of happiness.  In all of my crazy pursuit to “find” happiness, I realized that happiness never left me like I thought. It’s been within me all along.

Happiness is in the times when I hug someone I love.

It’s when the sun shines its glorious rays of warmth on my face.

It’s when I’m gazing at the stars after a night ride of just singing and venting with my mom.

It’s when I’m having a heart to heart with my dad.

Or when my dog is simply laying on my chest.

It’s the energy from a concert that I attended.

It’s the inspiration from my favorite book.

It’s the unforgettable times shared with my grandparents.

It’s late night writing, even when I have to be up in two hours.

It’s coloring with my seven-year old cousin, and soon to be five-year old godson.

It’s seeing (or chatting with) people who I care about; especially when I haven’t seen them in a while.

It’s those times when I sit in silence and feel the love of God all around me. Or when I laugh so hard my stomach hurts. It’s when my heart is so filled with love that I think it’s going to burst. It’s realizing that there’s always, always someone out there who loves me as I am.  

It’s recognizing all of the beauty around me. The sight of a rainbow after a storm.  The shadings of orange, red, and yellow leaves in autumn. The magic of the fresh fallen snow on Christmas morning. Or sharing inside jokes with my co-workers. And SO much more. And it took a simple walk to shed light on that fact. 

Because the truth is: happiness cannot be bought, worn, traveled to, or chased. Happiness is not one gigantic thing, it’s a million little things. A million moments that we gather up from every day and collect in our hearts, souls, and memories. A million smiles.

Sure, happiness is different for everyone. But, this is what it means to me. So, by being still and quiet, (and filled with an enormous amount of gratitude!) I’ve stopped chasing happiness and instead, let it land upon my shoulder like a butterfly. And, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.


 Prayer: God, I know that I may lose sight of happiness every once in a while. I know I may get caught up in the every day stresses and anxieties of life. When I feel those weak moments coming on, help me to fight them and remember the blessings that you have so generously bestowed on me. Help me to realize that the life You have given me is beautiful, and forgive me for the times I don’t love it enough.