2016 Life Lessons

20 Things I Learned in 2016, in Honor of the Year I Turned 20

  1. Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out exactly what makes you happy, especially when you’ve hit a bit of “blah” spot. When you are sure what makes you happy and fulfilled, do it as much you can for as long as it continues to enrich your life. That feeling is unbelievably valuable.

  2. You always have to do the work. Success is often a consequence of luck and coincidence, but that luck won’t ever come if you haven’t done the work first.

  3. It’s okay to not be okay with yourself. The self-love movement is powerful and important, but it can have the unintended effect of making people feel bad about themselves… because they feel bad about themselves. I promise you that if you feel uncomfortable in your own skin, you’re not the only one. There’s nothing wrong with you. Everyone learns to love themselves at their own pace, and your journey is valid even if it takes longer than the person next to you.

  4. Being queer is really fun. I haven’t been quite able to find the words to describe this feeling yet, but the combination of discovering and/or accepting a part of yourself and joining a community at the same time brings a new kind of joy and love. Plus, there is an incredible amount of hilarious queer humor out there.

  5. Don’t keep people in your life who can’t keep up with you. At this point I am mostly uninterested in having people tell me that they can’t believe how much work I do, or how passionate I am about what I’m doing. I want to know what you’re working on and see how excited you are about it too.

  6. I’d learned to accept my body before, but now I am reaching to truly understand that it doesn’t need to be any slimmer, fitter, or smaller than it already is. My body is beautiful and deserves to be decorated and adored no matter what it looks like.

  7. When people are scared of failing, you can tell them “you won’t fail” but you should consider saying “it’s okay if you fail” instead. Most of the time, that’s what I’d prefer to hear--I don’t know if I’m going to fail or not, but I want assurance that the world will go on even if (or inevitably, when) I fail.

  8. Alcohol is tricky. It can genuinely be really fun and enhance your party experience, but it can’t be used as a crutch--it’ll amplify whatever you’re feeling, so if you’re sad you’ll just be really sad. Figure out how to balance it, and you’ll be golden. Also, enjoy it while you’re in college and you don’t have to pay for it.

  9. The best nights can be the ones that you spend with new friends who you’re suddenly spending a lot of time with, When you play “Never Have I Ever” with these people, everyone gets very personal very quickly. It’s the best way to get to know someone in a particular kind of way.

  10. When you’re recording podcasts long distance, your microphone will pick up sound from the headphones and it’s really annoying. No one told me this. You need to use more sound-secure headphones.

  11. People who get mad at you for getting mad at them when they screw up are not good people. You’re allowed to be upset when someone wrongs you.

  12. Quit things more often. You’re not proving anything by sticking out something that’s not worth the time and pain you’re pouring into it.

  13. Instead, double down on what you are truly committed to. Focus and devote yourself entirely to whatever you find.

  14. Sometimes it takes you almost 20 years to put together that IHOP stands for International House of Pancakes, because there weren’t any near you growing up, and your brain just don’t question things like restaurant names, and then you wonder how that happened and feel dumb about it for awhile. Remember that next time someone around you says something really silly.

  15. Maintaining good health is hard, even for someone who is extremely lucky and healthy in most ways. You can’t ever know someone else’s health or grasp how difficult it for someone living with illness or chronic pain, so don’t make assumptions about them.

  16. You’re a crier. You cry kind of all the time. It’s just your physiological response to strong emotions, it doesn’t mean you can’t be smart and capable and reasonable, and it’s certainly not a bad thing. Don’t spend time with people who make you feel like it is.

  17. Representation and role models are more important than you ever realized before you started getting them in places you didn’t anticipate. Seek them out and be one for others.

  18. A lot of the time when someone criticizes you, if you respond with kindness and openness, they’re nice about it and you learn something.

  19. Grab opportunities with everything you have--you never know when you’ll get one again.

  20. The good guys don’t always win. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be one anyway.