A little over a week ago, I, Absolutely Olivia, left the not-so-humble age of 15 in the dust. 15 held all the usual highs and lows that people go on about…I can legally drive on my own, went to my first music festival, hit a few road bumps in October, got my first two bylines in a REAL PRINT magazine, co-founded Faces of Feminism with Callan, hit a few more road bumps mid-March, and got to foster and grow relationships with my creativity, friends, and you, my beloved reader.
Although my first week as a 16 year-old hasn’t been a noticeable change from my days as a 15 year-old, I’ve found myself more grateful for what the past year has taught me. Today, in a bid to help you all learn things I had to get my stubborn head to understand the hard way, I’m sharing 15 things I learned while 15 (yes, yes, I’m going a basic route today, but I love these blog posts so here we are). Without further ado, here are 15 sentimental, occasionally contradictory lessons from my 15th year of life.
DON’T DISMISS OTHERS
Although I could give out the title of “Most Valuable Lesson” multiple times over, the lesson of dismissal continuously comes back around to take the crown. It is constantly something we are all learning and relearning each day. In the words of an Instagram quote: “If someone tells you you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t and vice versa.” If someone comes to you with their pain or struggles, whether they’re caused by you or not, do not dismiss their feelings. Listen and take time to correct or console. And always be sure to find people who will do the same for you.
SLEEP, BUT DON’T WASTE YOUR LIFE DOING SO
I’ve slowly discovered the importance of having a healthy relationship with sleep after an unfortunate bout of having little to no sleep that included getting only 16 hours in seven days… eek! Sometimes I still struggle to get more than 6 hours, but doctors aren’t wrong when they say 9 hours of sleep can do wonders! On the flip side of this, don’t forget to take a night or two every once in awhile to stay up, live life, or get productive. Life isn’t meant to be slept away.
LEARN TO READ YOURSELF
Knowing your personal tells, triggers, red flags, etc. is essential as you get older. This is a skill that comes with time, but learning to read yourself can be an active, conscious, and introspective daily venture. What makes you anxious? Why are you timid or stressed? Does this feel like another time in your life? How can you stop this negative situation before it starts? How did you stop the negative situation before? Gathering knowledge like this from past experiences can help to prevent present situations.
Be open-minded. Be willing to see arguments from all sides, never get all your information from one source, especially when it comes to current events. Form a well-rounded opinion from both research and personal values and never be afraid to change your beliefs/stance on an issue.
YOU!! CHANGE!! (AND SO DO OTHERS)
Growth is constant, continuous, but never linear. Growth constitutes change, so by my previous definition, you are always changing. The hardest part about changing is letting yourself do so. Although change might mean growing apart and away from people and things you used to love, doesn’t mean change is an absolute negative. Growing pains are a part of life, let yourself experience them.
Suppressing excitement from fear of looking “uncool” or “dumb” is where a lot of people, especially teens, go wrong. I’m super guilty of hiding my true excitement about an event, subject, person, etc. in order to not seem ditzy, weird, or uncool. It can take a lot to release a fear, but feeling pure excitement over the little things is worth it, so don’t let other people make you feel like you can’t!
ADJUST TO WHO YOU’RE AROUND
Different people interact and react to certain things differently. Actions, phrases, expressions, and jokes can be interpreted uniquely for each person. Don’t censor yourself or walk on thin ice around certain people, but be mindful of how you act and speak. Like any good writer should, be aware of your audience! (This is the biggest one I need to work on)
LIFE ISN’T A MOVIE??
The possibilities of life are endless, and way less straightforward than those in a movie with plot twists daily. Wanting the scenes of life to fall into perfect alignment with no (unplanned) deviation from our end goals is an easy trap to stumble into. Secret is, that’s not how life works. It is a crazy, messy, fulfilling, maddening, and fantastic journey where each challenge is only presenting us with a way to learn, grow, and change from what it will bring upon us.
A PLAYLIST FOR EVERY MOOD IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA
This is the first year that I truly discovered music?? exists?? Crazy, I know, but previously my playlists were all Lorde, Lana del Ray, and Billie Eilish. As I expanded my music taste, I realized music is absolutely beautiful with its ability to make you laugh, cry, hurt, and smile. I can now confidently recommend having a playlist for all your moods for when you need a positive release.
GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!
If you haven’t had a break in awhile… you deserve it. If you’re anything like me, productivity is your #1 focus and doing nothing is stressful and makes you feel guilty. Take a break anyway. Being busy and on the move all the time may sound ideal, but taking a day, weekend, or even week to rest your body and mind is vital. This doesn’t mean do nothing, it just means do more of what makes you happy and allow yourself to take a break from all the to-dos.
SPEAK YOUR TRUTH, GET SPUNKY ON’EM
Sounds cliche, but life is too short not to live it the way you would like. I’ve learned to speak my truth and not hold back my humor, flaws, quirks, and desires in order to live my entire truth. Live outside of the box others put you in.
APPRECIATE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF ALL SIZES
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the momentum of life and forget to take a step back and relish your victories, no matter how big or little they are. A few weeks ago, I was looking at my Instagram bio and saw the words “co-founder” and “writer.” These are two words I thought wouldn’t apply to me until later in life, but it took me until then to consciously smile at the thought of them. I realized that I was proud, a feeling I hadn’t let myself feel before. Don’t get too caught up in what you haven’t accomplished and take time each day to focus on what you HAVE accomplished. BE PROUD!
DON’T WAIT FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO DO IT
Have a fantastic idea that you want to make a reality? Do it. Don’t wait for someone else to because for all you know someone else never will. You’ll never know what could’ve happened if you didn’t try in the first place, so get out there and create, build, do what you want to do. And if you’re waiting for a sign? This is your sign.
DON’T TAKE UP SPACE YOU AREN’T SUPPOSED TO OCCUPY
An important life skill is knowing when to step back and let others speak. Be able to sympathize and empathize with others, but don’t always relate the conversation or issue back to yourself. Realize when a conversation needs to be all about the other person aka when they need your undivided attention over something that is negatively or positively effecting them in a strong way. As the main characters in our own lives, it is easy to make it all about ourselves, whether this is done consciously or subconsciously. Make an active effort to center others when they need to be.
LIFE ISN’T THAT DEEP
Although this point may contradict my entire post in one swoop, don’t read too deeply into life. At the end of the day, life is life and it ebbs and flows with each day. Don’t overthink and take everything too seriously, let go and have fun, but know when to get serious. You got this, we got this!