This post is 20 different lessons that I’ve learned over my 20 years of life, hence the title of this post. A majority of these lessons were brought to my attention through hard situations. It was a rough road to lead up to these lessons, but now that I know them, I plan to share them with all that I can. Maybe by age 30, I’ll have learned 10 more to share with you all. I want to apologize for missing my preferred deadline for this post, I’ve received a lot more homework within these past few weeks than what had been normal and of course, homework comes before this blog.
Disclaimer for my friends who are atheist or agnostic: this post speaks a lot about the Bible and Christianity. Nothing downgrading in my post though, it’s all uplifting. Whether you believe in God or not, there are still good lessons to be learned so do not let that deter you from the lessons and advice.
1) Friends come and go
I’ve made many friends throughout my life, but I’ve also lost touch with most of them. Some of my strongest friendships are the ones where we are away from each other for long periods of time and when we do get the opportunities to get back in touch with each other, we still have a lot in common and a lot to talk about. Find the qualities in people that you, yourself would like to have and aim to befriend them. The common saying about how “you are who you surround yourself with” is true
There is a quote by Steve Maraboli that says, “If you surround yourself with clowns, don’t be surprised when your life resembles a circus.” Why is that? Because they have hobbies and activities that they enjoy doing (not always safe / appropriate activities) and they will obviously try to get their friends to join along because no one likes being alone. Say no though, and if you feel safe enough to do so, call them out on their bad behavior! Suggest safer and appropriate activities to do
Accept that sometimes, you just need to leave unhealthy friendships. It’s sad to lose friends, but there are over 7 billion people on this earth, you can make new friends.
2) It's okay to take a step back
Life can get pretty hectic at times. It’s okay to step back from your computer / phone screen and take a break. It’s okay to take a break from going out and socializing. It’s in the bible that you should have a day every week of just rest. In Exodus 20:8-10 it says, “remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.”
Now of course this isn’t just something that is in the bible, but it’s also a simple fact of life that occasionally, you just need to take a mental health day and relax. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health because your mental health can affect your physical health. It’s okay to step back and take a break from life’s craziness. Take care of yourself and do what makes you happy, take a day to just do the things that you love
3) Go after what you love
I’m not talking about relationships here, I’m talking about hobbies, careers, and activities that make you happy. I know there’s a big thing about how important it is to have a job that pays well, but having a job that you’re also happy in is equally important. Think about it this way: If you do well in work, there’s a higher chance for a promotion which comes with a higher salary. If you hate your job, you’re likely to do the tasks you are given with poor enthusiasm, which can mean: less effort, less energy and no promotion
Now, I’m not saying that this works everytime or that people who put in little effort don’t get promotions, there’s always a few exceptions to an idea. However, it can greatly help your physical and mental health as well as your chances of getting a promotion if you’re happy with what you’re doing, because you will do it well and try your best at it
If you aren’t finding fulfillment of happiness in your job and you’re unable to find a new job that makes you happy, make sure to go after what you love in your free time. Find a hobby that interests and excites you, find an activity that you can share with your friends and family and realize that as years pass, the things that you love to do can change. Remember that and be willing to change with them.
4) Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is happy.
Warning, this one is a long one, I had a lot to say about this topic. The age where kids start dating is getting younger and younger. What does that mean? Kids think they are falling in love quicker and sooner, but what really is love? Well, according to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 it says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” While that’s a lovely passage and it’s something to strive towards, most people get discouraged that it is an impossible standard. Is it really though, an impossible standard to find in love? (Hint: It’s not!
Let’s dive more into it, “love is patient, love is kind.” Is that too much to ask for? If you’re having a bad day, patience and kindness is incredibly important. Even if it’s just a regular day, isn’t patience and kindness and important part of being a decent human being? Next part, “It does not envy,” If you are with the right person, why would you be jealous over someone else’s relationship? You shouldn’t. You should find the person who makes you happy and does not make you jealous over other couple’s relationships. Next part of that sentence is that “it does not boast, it is not proud.” It’s of course okay to be appreciative of your partner and it’s okay to share your happiness, but have you ever been the third wheel to a relationship? It’s not fun, is it? You should enjoy the time you are spending with your partner, but also enjoy the time you are spending with your friend! Do not shove it in their faces that you are in a relationship and they are not, or that you are spending time with your partner when they are not. It’s rude!
I have three more sentences of this passages to go, the next one is, “It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” In other words, respect others, don’t be selfish, slow to anger and quick to forgive. The next sentence is, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” Don’t lie! People find out the truth more times than not and it’s not worth it. Be honest. The last sentence in the passage is, “it always protects, always trusts, always perseveres.” A relationship protects one another, and trusts one another. It should be easy to trust if you follow the previous sentence: don’t lie, be honest. Finally, you should persevere. Even when one of these tasks are hard or you mess up, keep trying
See, once you break it down into each section, it’s really easy to see and grasp that all relationships should strive towards the different qualities listed in this verse. That’s right, all relationships, not just with your partner. Am I saying that I am perfect at all of these? No, but I do work hard to try to be. Relationships take effort, you can not just sit around and expect that these qualities will come to you, you have to work for it and remember: it’s a two way road, not a one way street.
5) Walk away from peer pressure.
Peer pressure is an age old issue and it can be really tough. I would be lying if I said that I’ve never gave into peer pressure, but guess what. You can walk away from a bad situation even if you’ve already made the mistake. It’s never too late to walk away from a bad situation, you can always choose the path to better yourself. The sooner you choose to choose the good paths in life, the better! “You don’t understand, they’ll physically or mentally torture me if I don’t give in.” For that, make sure to get out of that situation as safely as you can. Tell an adult. Get help from others, you definitely can not handle that alone. I’ve tried to handle those situations alone. It did not work. I only ended up in worse situations. Get help. “But Ashley you don’t understand, they’re my friends! I don’t want to lose all my friends and have them all hate me!” For that my answer is to read the next lesson I’ve learned in my life.
6) Ignore the hate.
Somewhere, someone is going to hate you. Ignore them. Be who you want to be without fear. Does that mean to do anything you want and ignore your parents? No. What I mean by that is to strive to be a good person. Be the best version of yourself that you can be. What are the qualities that you like in other people? Love, joyfulness, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, are those qualities that you would like to strive for? Do those sound familiar? If you ever went to church as a child, it should; it’s the fruits of the spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things.” It is a fact of life that there will always be one person who hates you no matter who you are or what you do. If people are going to hate you no matter who you are or what you do, why not do the things that make you happy?
7) God's love is strong.
God loves me, God loves you, and God even loves the people who hurt you. That’s a pretty powerful statement, a very hard statement to even accept. In John 3:16, it says, “for God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” If you don’t believe in God, I understand. I struggled for years before believing that God existed. I’ve gone to church my entire life, but it never really hit me until I hit an extremely low point in my life. After hitting the low point in my life, I took a complete 180 degree turn and began doing confirmation classes within my church. I’m still working on myself and being open about my faith, but it has come a long way since I was lost. God’s love is so strong though and he’s rooting for you to have a happy life. He wants you to have the best and having in your heart helps you get a happy life.
8) Spread kindness to everyone.
Spread kindness, even when it’s hard to. The people in your life who hurt you the most, are the people in your life who need the most kindness. Maybe they’ve never received kindness from anyone else, maybe they’re going through an extremely rough point in their life, and maybe they just enjoy being mean. Everyone needs kindness in their life because if they don’t have kindness, they will never know what kindness really is and the kindness that you show them could make their day. Have you ever heard of the butterfly effect? Wikipedia states that, “The butterfly effect is a concept that states that ‘small causes can have larger effects.’” The kindness that you show people will eventually show up in them too and they will spread the kindness like a wildfire.
9) Sincerely apologize and forgive.
For this lesson, I first ask you to watch this Buzzfeed video below about Eva Mozes Kor, a holocaust survivor who forgave Nazis. Eva had a very powerful story about forgiveness. It wasn’t until I was able to listen to her speak in person one year during high school at a Ball State University event, that I began to understand the concept of forgiveness being healing for yourself. She said in a book she wrote called Surviving the Angel of Death: The True Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitzthat, “forgiveness is not so much for the perpetrator, but for the victim” and “getting even has never healed a single person.” Even after hearing Eva speak in person, it still took me years before I was able to forgive the people who had wronged me, but once I had, it was very relieving once the weight was off my shoulders.
It is important to sincerely apologize. It is important to admit to yourself and others that was you did was wrong. It is equally important to sincerely forgive because it can be very mentally and physically draining. The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of forgive is to “stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offence, flaw, or mistake.” Forgiveness to me is best said in a poem that I recently wrote (and will share with you all in 2 weeks) saying that forgiveness is “understanding that people will have days of deep anger and depression and recognizing that they are not the only one. Forgiveness is saying that what you did was not okay, but I’ve made mistakes too and I want to work it out with you.”
10) Understand: enough is enough.
You have to understand that when someone says that they’ve had enough, they’ve had enough. You also need to know your own boundaries to know what your “enough” is. When someone says no, they mean NO. When someone says stop, they mean STOP. When someone says leave me alone, leave them alone. Set boundaries for yourself and for others, make it clear and known that you will not tolerate anything less. Be respectful of other’s decisions and know that enough is enough.
11) You can manage your stress.
All stress can be managed no matter what it is. You just have to find a healthy way that works for you that will help with your stress. There are multiple ways to deal with stress. Some of the ways are taking deep breaths and slowly exhaling, meditating, drawing, reading, and many other ways. Stress management is not a one-size-fits-all, it’s important to try several different methods and find which method works best for you. First, you should identify what is stressing you out, then take actions to solve it. Express your feelings instead of bottling it all up inside. Avoid people who stress you out. Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Look for the upside. Put some music on and just dance. Curl up with a good book. Find a fun place to hang out and schedule into your week to go there on a regular basis. Go to the movies. Simply, take a walk. Find what relaxes you and make sure to regularly keep it in your schedule to lower the amount of stress in your life.
12) You are wonderful!
No matter what happens, you are one of a kind and no one or nothing can replace you. You are perfect just the way you are, don’t let anybody tell you differently or let them change you. God made you the way you are for a reason, you may not know what that reason is yet, but whatever that reason is, it is very important. You have the power to be whatever you want to be, make sure you choose qualities that make you the best you that you can be. You are a work of marvelous creation. You are more than you believe you are, make sure to surround yourself with positivity and get rid of the negative influences of your life.
13) Learn to put your phone away.
Social media is great, it’s wonderful, it can help a lot of things, but learn when to set it down. If you work in media or marketing, take advantage of scheduling posts. Setting a schedule for your posts is a very helpful thing when it comes to trying to put your phone down because you are able to set something to post in a day or whenever you want it to post. Making scheduled posts also helps relieve some stress because you don’t have to worry about making a post for a few days, weeks, or however long you decide to do. Looking at the lives of people you know through social media can be nice, but when you’re with other people you’re ignoring them and not making the most of your time spent together. You don’t want to regret when you’re older that you actually lived more instead of just played around on your phone, computer, or game station all day. Make the most of every day
14) You are not always right.
Listen to others even when they sound ridiculous. Even though someone may sound ridiculous they may know what they are talking about, you just have to be patient with them and listen to what they have to say. Sometimes people have trouble conveying what they are trying to say to others. There is a quote by Ken Wilson that says, “But sometimes the quest for the right answer keeps us from testing a variety of good ones. In search of the right answer, we assume every answer other than the one we’ve settled on must be wrong. Forgetting that some things have more than one good answer.” Sometimes there is more than one correct answer and sometimes there is only one correct answer, but other’s thoughts can give you a new perspective on the topic.
15) Breath first, then comfort.
Take a step back, breathe, and collect all of your thoughts before coming back to a stressful situation to confront it, but make sure you do come back and confront it. It is important because if you don’t follow this advice you could make the situation a whole lot worse than what it was before. It really is true that you can be blinded by anger. By coming back to the situation after you breathe and collect your thoughts you are able to confront the issue and confront the issue with a steady mind. That way, what you are trying to convey is logical instead of illogical and irrational from anger.
16) You are not alone.
There will of course never be someone who’s been through the very exact same situations as you have. That’s a weird way to start this out right? You are not alone, but there is no one who’s been through the same situations as you. It’s true, I’m not going to lie to you about that, but there is always someone who is willing to listen to your story and help you in any way they can. Reach out to your family and friends, even friends who you have not talked to for many years can be helpful to talk to and work things out with
If you are ever in any type of crisis, text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the USA, anytime. This is an amazing hotline that is wonderful for individuals who feel uncomfortable calling or are unable to call because of other circumstances.
17) Learn from your mistakes.
Learning from your mistakes is important because you learn to not make the same mistake and you are able to use that information to help others and help them not to make the same mistakes as you did. By helping someone and telling them your mistakes before they have a chance to make them, they will greatly benefit from them because they know what you did and know not to do the same thing. Not only that, but it’s important to learn from your mistakes so that you don’t fall down a path of self destruction. Reach out to others to help you learn from your mistakes, you can’t always do it by yourself.
Family doesn't have to be blood-related.
I have a really strong family connection in my life, I have lunch with my mother’s side of the family: my grandma, aunt, uncle, parents, and cousins every Sunday. I don’t get to visit my father’s side of the family as often, but I know they’re always there for me. That isn’t the only family that I have though… The homeschool community of friends that I grew up with is my family. The Wolfe’s who homeschooled with me and go to church, and hang out with for fun events, and was there for my mom and I during some really big events in our life, they are my family
The ASAP Program at Ivy Tech which has about 19 students and 1 coordinator, they are my family. The friends in my life who have been there for me through so many big, life-changing events, they are my family. The group of people who came to support me for my graduation, they are my family. The wonderful man who I’ve been dating for almost 2 years and his family, they are my family. The people who attend my church, they are my family. The robotics team that I am involved in, they are my family
Now that I’ve told you just a small portion of who I call my family, let me tell you why I consider them as such even though the large majority of that list is not blood related to me. They support, care for, love, appreciate, help, inspire, and motivate me. They make sure that I’m going on the right path and if I’m making dumb decisions, they point it out to me. They shower me with love and motivate me to do my best and to go after what I love.
19) Ask people for help.
Don’t be afraid to ask other people for help. Odds are the person or people you ask will gladly help you. Not everyone in the world is out to get you, there are people in the world that will gladly help you, you just have to ask them. The people you ask may even help you out with other things that you haven’t even asked them about. God acts in different ways, you may ask someone for help on one thing and then it leads into a completely different topic that you didn’t even know you had trouble with
20) There is still a lot to learn.
It’s taken me 20 long years to learn and accept these lessons. Not because they were not told to me (they were), but because for years, I did not want to listen. There are still a lot of lessons to learn and every person you come in contact with is going to have a different set of lessons that they learned and a different perspective on what the lesson actually is. There still is, and always will be a lot to learn. You will never know all of the knowledge of the world, but it’s important to push yourself to keep learning.
Hey there, my name is Ashley Martin! From several different class projects, this website has turned into a wonderful e-portfolio for myself and also a way to express my opinions on different topics, so check it all out and leave some comments!