All of a sudden I’m feeling very reflective. Sometimes it still stuns me that I’m already 24. I know that’s still quite young, but to me I feel like I’ve lived through so much already. Here’s some things I’ve learned along the way-in no particular order.
1. Friendship is Important
I think for a long time I took friendships for granted. I stayed friends with people who always made me feel worse about myself. But when you find the right people, good people, it changes you for the better. Pick your friendships carefully, and care for them deeply. You don’t need a lot of friends, just a handful of those who will truly stand by you when things get rough.
2. Time with Family is Valuable
As a kid you think that your family will always be there with you. But as you get older, time with your immediate family shrinks a whole lot. It’s important to cherish those times that you do have together. Every good and lasting relationship takes time and effort, even family.
3. It’s OK for your Dreams to Change
Ever since High School I’ve had the same dreams in life. But as I’ve gotten older, life and God have taken me to very different places than what I had once imagined. But I think that’s OK. It can even be better. Just because you dreamed something once, doesn’t mean it is mandatory for life. Who knew that there were bigger and better things out there than what I had first planned?
4. Dreams will Never Come True Without Hard Work
I think it was very naive of me to believe that by a certain age I would’ve achieved everything I had hoped for. What people often do is daydream, but what we forget to do is work hard for those dreams. Anything that is truly great requires dedication, determination and passion. Someone has to make those dreams a reality, and that’s mostly up to the hard work you put into those dreams.
5. Creativity and Originality will get you Very Far in Life
In school, I feel like most students are never rewarded for thinking out of the box. New ideas are often shushed and pushed away. But what I’ve noticed from life so far is that the ones who are able to create something totally original, are the true pioneers of innovation. They become the leaders. More so than following the norm or getting good grades, creativity will get you very very far in life.
6. There was a Reason for all of the Hardship
While going through hardship, it seems universal that people always ask the question why? Why God am I going through this? What is the purpose of this? But in hind sight, it becomes clear that God has a purpose for every single moment and trial. Getting older, you realize that during those times we just have to keep the faith and trust that God will use this for something extraordinary and good.
7. Ignoring Past Pain Won’t Make it Go Away
It’s easy to try and forget about pain. Many times we, or at least I, believe that if you try and forget about it, then I’m healed. But that turned out to be a lie. If you ignore pain, it just sits there. It gets buried deeper and deeper until we see it splattered all over our lives. The choices we make, how we treat others and ourselves is all greatly affected by the pain. In order to truly heal, we have to face it.
8. Healing Begins with Forgiveness
Forgiveness can be an astoundingly beautiful thing. When we choose to let go of that noose of pain and offense, we’re truly free. And forgiveness isn’t for the sake of the one who hurt us, it’s for ourselves. Letting go of bitterness and turning that into pity, maybe even love can make us feel really alive again.
9. God Never Left Us
Even at the times when we ignore God, rebel against God or leave God, it’s easy to believe that He wasn’t there. But God was always there. Suffering with us, hurting with us, rejoicing with us. He’s the God that comes down to our level, and lives with us. It’s beautiful and humbling that our God loves us that much.
10. Confidence Is Not a Bad Thing
There is a difference between arrogance and confidence. Arrogance is when you try to show all of your strengths and parade them in front of everyone with eyes to see. But confidence is a quiet strength. It does not require praise or validation. It is an inner conviction that you do indeed have a gift. And knowing that is not bad, it’s empowering.
11. You have to Learn to Stand on Your Own
As wonderful as it is to have family, friends and a significant other to support you, you have to learn to stand on your own two feet. Don’t ever be wholly dependent on another person to be happy. Don’t ever be so defenseless that without praise or encouragement from others, you don’t know who you are. Be strong, know yourself and know that no matter who is in your life you are always loved by God.
12. You’re Going to Change A LOT in Life
It’s never become so clear that who we are is molded by what we have experienced. It’s only logical that the more we experience, the more we change. When I look back over 5 years, 2 years or just 1 year ago, who I am has changed enormously. It’s terrifying and exciting all at the same time.
13. Differences Between People is Fascinating and Wonderful
I absolutely love getting to know people. Like, how people tick and think and operate in life. How people react differently to the same situations is always so intriguing to me. God made us all so varied. It’s beautiful and should always be embraced.
14. Don’t Ever Let Anyone Make You Feel Less Than
My entire childhood, I was made to feel like my race was sub par. But as I got older and spent more time with people like myself, I fell in love with who I was and where my origin is from. I love taking pride in being a Korean American. I love taking pride that I get to have two places called home. Love what makes you unique and respect others heritage as well.
15. Don’t Judge People Too Quickly
Maybe I am a bit arrogant-even though I wrote in this post that you shouldn’t be arrogant. But sometimes, I think I know people after my first encounter with them. I assume, ok so this is person is this way. But many times, my first impression of someone isn’t always correct. It’s important to give people a chance before crossing them off in your mind. Get to truly know a person before your feelings of them are fully evolved. Even after you know someone, they tend to always surprise you as well.
16. Everyone has a Story
On the outside, someone can look so perfect. Like they have their entire life together. But the older I’ve become the more I’ve realized that everyone has some form of hurt. Some type of scars. Everyone has a story. Once you understand that, it’s important first and foremost to have compassion above all else.
17. Parents are People Too
We can blame our parents for so many things. But parents are just people. They have wounds and scars too. Once we humanize them, it becomes much easier to understand their reasoning behind things. Don’t be so quick to blame, and try to understand them first.
18. Giving Really is Better Than Receiving
I know that’s a cliche, but that’s only because it’s true. Now, I’m the youngest of three. So I looooove it when people look after me and care for me. It makes me really happy. But when we care for others, and it makes them happy, it makes me even more happy! The more we give, the more we receive joy.
19. Money is Important…But Not Really
I’m gonna be honest and say that-yes money is important in life. It’s important that we work hard, make money, and survive with all of the necessities. But beyond that-it really won’t make you as happy as you think it will having loads of money. I’ve seen that money can really leave a person less kind and less generous than when they had none. It’s an ugly truth that we should be vigilant and weary of.
20. Happiness and Joy are Noble Pursuits
After going through depression a few years ago, it really messed with my views of happiness and joy. I thought these were kind of throw away traits that were nice to have, but not really necessary or even foolish to long for. But happiness and joy are universal traits that every single human being searches for and desires. Wanting to be happy in life is noble and valid. I mean, isn’t that one of the things that always keeps us going?
21. Surround Yourself with People You Admire
When you’re around bad people, it fills you with negativity. On the other hand, when you’re around great people it makes you feel amazing. Surround yourself with people who are better than you and give you a new idea of who you’d like to become. When you spend time with people who are wiser, kinder, more hardworking than you are, it really gives you a drive to also emulate those qualities.
22. It’s OK to Make Mistakes
I’ve made a lot of mistakes in life. We all have. It’s silly to think that we won’t. Life is about learning from those mistakes so that you become more mature as the years go by. That way we can pass on our bits of wisdom to the next generation.
23. You Should Always Try to Grow
Growing up is scary. Sometimes terrifying beyond relief. New responsibilities, new jobs, new relationships. But through it all we take on more, learn more and grow more. Don’t be afraid to try things that are new. How else we can push ourselves?
24. Life is Good and God is Great
People will always let you down. Hardships will always arise. There will be times in life when you want to give up on everything. But amazingly, things will always get better. Happiness is achievable again. Love is achievable again. God is worth living for and fighting for until the very end.
I know that was a super long post, but thanks for reading all the way through if you did. Please feel free to leave a comment of any lessons you may have learned in this crazy, weird and awesome journey we call life. Until next time!