17 Lessons I've Learned At Age 17

Just go for it. The worst that happens is someone says “no,” and then you’re in the exact same place you started in.

Over the past year, I’ve learned so much about life and about myself. Seventeen has been one of the best years of my life. With high school graduation nearing and a new chapter about to unfold, I can’t help but think about the past year and how much has changed. So, here are some of the things I’ve learned.

1. Just go for it. The worst that happens is someone says “no,” and then you’re in the exact same place you started in. Know that it’s better to try something and fail than to live the rest of your life wondering “What if?” Just jump and have faith in yourself.

2. Stop. Look. Go. As a child, my parents always told me to “Stop, look, and go” before crossing the street, but it’s applicable to life. It’s easy to get caught up in the madness, but it’s important to take a step back and look around every now and then. As Ferris Bueller says, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”

3. "No" is a complete sentence and does not require any justification or explanation. A lot of us do things to make the people around us happy, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s important to do the things that make you happy.

4. Understand that not everyone is going to like you -- and accept it. There will be people who find your enthusiasm and happiness annoying. Just as you don’t like everyone you meet, not everyone will like you. Get over it.

5. Trust your gut. If you don’t want to do something, don’t do it. Nothing good will come out of doing something you don’t want to do. If something feels wrong, it probably is.

6. Nothing lasts forever, good or bad. It’s like how the tide goes in and out. Understanding that a low is followed by a high (and vice versa) can save you from a lot of angst.

7. Finding yourself is a lifelong process. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, life has a way of throwing a curveball and sending you right back into confusion.

8. Talk to people. Everyone has a story and something to say. You’ll not only learn a lot about life, but also about yourself.

9. Laugh, especially at yourself. We have a tendency to overthink things and stress about everything, but why? Being able to laugh at yourself is freeing. In the words of Amy Poehler, “There’s power in looking silly and not caring that you do.”

10. Do the things that scare you to death. Something great usually comes out of it. Be brave, be confident, and trust yourself.

11. There’s only so much you can control. We spend so much of our lives stressed out about things that are completely out of our hands. But thinking and worrying about how to change situations that can’t be changed is a waste of time.

12. Look up from your phone. Yes, the world is at your fingertips, but don’t forget to look up every once in awhile to see the world that’s happening around you.

13. It really is the little things. It's the sun setting, the crashing of the waves, the smile on your friends' faces, and the trees in the wind. The most amazing thing is to look around and soak it all in.

14. Don’t compare yourself to others. That student who gets better grades than you. How you don’t look like that girl in the magazine. Accept it. Learn to love yourself instead of wishing you were someone else. It’s freeing.

15. Be yourself, as clichéd as it is. The friendships you’ll make as a result will be real and lasting because the people around you will love you for you. It’s way easier to be yourself than to try to be someone else.

16. Vulnerability is not weakness. It's a strength. Let your walls down. It makes living wholeheartedly a lot easier. Plus, it’s actually kind of fun.

17. Life doesn’t wait. For anyone. We only have so long, so act now. If you aren’t happy with what you’re doing, change it. If you’re constantly thinking about the future or the past, you’re missing out.

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