18 Things I've Learned Before Turning 18

For the past few months, I have been keeping a list of important things I have learned in my life, and have been adding to it as more and more mistakes are made and lessons are learned. So, as my 18th birthday is quickly approaching, I have compiled a list of, what I consider to be, pretty valuable lessons. Here are 18 things I have figured out before I reach this milestone that is important to every teenager:

1. There will be people who won't want to hear what you have to say because you're "just a kid." Make them listen. Speak loudly and speak confidently. If you believe in your voice, it WILL be heard.

2. Don't be afraid to be alone. Take yourself out to see a movie. Spend a night in re-reading your favorite book. Go for a walk by yourself. Be alone, and be okay with it.

3. You are the music you listen to. If you're wondering why you've been so down lately, maybe it's because you've had your "Sad Songs for a Sad Day" playlist on repeat. Turn on "You Make My Dreams" by Hall and Oates and go dance around your room. You'll feel better, I promise.

4. If you learn to like black coffee, your life will be a whole lot easier.

5. Don't be the person always looking for an argument. Save expressing your religious or political views in conversation when you're around people that have similar opinions.

6. You have to accept yourself for who you are, flaws and all, before you can have a perfect love story with a fairytale ending. Find happiness in your own individuality before you search for it in another person.

7. Don't watch the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show if it's just going to make you feel ashamed and insecure.

8. YOU decide what you do with your body. That is YOUR choice and no one else's. Speak up if someone pushes your boundaries too far or makes you feel uncomfortable.

9. Know what sexual objectification is and how to spot it in the media. Don't buy into it.

10. Calling someone or something "retarded" is NEVER okay. There is NEVER a situation where it is appropriate. If it's a regularly used word in your vocabulary, work on replacing it with something less offensive.

11. Accept that you will sometimes be wrong. Don't be too proud to admit when you are.

12. Never miss an opportunity to tell someone that you appreciate them. Whether it's an "I love you" or just a simple "thanks for being my friend," don't pass up a silence in need of it. It's a terrible feeling to lose someone important to you and not remember the last time you told them how much you cared.

13. Change isn't easy. It's a challenging road full of self-doubt and temptations and regret. But if changing an aspect of the way you've been living your life is something you truly want to do for yourself, don't give up on it, no matter how hard it gets.

14. If you have a dream, go after it, even if people don't understand it. Leave behind all the ones who called you crazy and all the ones who said you couldn't do it and
Prove. Them. Wrong.

15. Forgive yourself.

16. You can't win the war if your mind is always starting the fight. You've got to learn to love yourself, kid. You've got to see that you're worth so much more than all those dark thoughts consuming your mind. You're going to get through this, but only if you change the way you perceive yourself. You're pretty freakin' awesome, and it's time you start believing it.

17. There are people in your life who care, and there are people in your life who will listen. Don't be afraid to open up and ask for help if you're struggling and need some guidance. You don't always have to be your own hero.

18. Live a life without limits.