Documenting the life and times of a dreamer on her gap year. 

19 Things I Learned At 19

19 Things I Learned At 19

Last week, I turned 19 years old! Even though I don't feel too much different than I did at 18 yet, I wanted to share a collection of lessons I've learned over these last 19 years. 

19. Don't compare yourself to others. If you aren't too busy checking if the grass on the other side of the fence is greener, you have more time for watering your own plants! (Does that make sense? I'm not sure.)

18. Cherish the little things. Now that I've graduated from high school, I find myself longing for those tiny moments in the mornings, walking into the hall and going to my first class, or meeting up with my friends for lunch. Whether it's a great midmorning snack, the sunshine in your car, or the smell of an old book, take the time to truly enjoy the little things in life! 

17. Always bring snacks.  I pestered my family into bringing some PB&J fixings with us during a Spring Break trip to the Grand Canyon years ago, and we got hit by a freak snowstorm for the next several days. Always. Bring. Snacks. 

16. Learn to be alone. It definitely sounds overdramatic, but one of the most difficult things to do in high school is eat lunch by yourself in the cafeteria! In fact, eating lunch alone isn't all that bad. If you're in possession of some headphones, you can catch up on some Netflix, or read a book à la Rory Gilmore at Chilton (my school was basically Chilton so...I feel ya, Rory). Even if you just sit and watch the world go by, there's nothing wrong with enjoying some alone time. 

15. Follow your passion, but remember that it's okay if you don't quite know what it is. For years, I thought I knew what I wanted to do and be, but within the past few years, I've realized I want to do something else, instead. Regardless of what you want to do with your life, regardless of if it's a high-power career or just a passion project, know that it's valid and that you can do it. On the other hand, if you have no idea what you want to do, take a deep breath and just keep those eyes open!

14. Treasure your health. The past few years have been rocky for me in that area, so this has been super important. Even in the moments when you feel most down, take stock of what feels GOOD about being you and value that. 

13. READ. A LOT. I'm convinced that most people are only as "smart" as they are because they read, read, read. If you're not one for actually reading, try Audible! I listen to Game of Thrones on there because slogging through such a long book might deter me from finishing it. 

12. Talk to your loved ones every day. Technology and social media has made this super easy, even when your friends and family are far away, but when you're busy with your own life, communication can sometimes fall by the wayside. Whether you need to schedule in time every week for a phone call home or you're reminded to send a text whenever you see something that reminds you of a loved one, keeping strong relationships is key. 

11. On that note, reach out to new friends like you did in kindergarten. I think there's some kind of weird stigma around making new friends -- it can sometimes be awkward and weird. If you lean into it, though, it's definitely worth it. Especially in experiences where you bond with the people around you quickly, you really have no choice but to make that leap into friendship, and some of your best friends can come from those situations. 

10. Spend time with animals. I know some people might be joking when they say animals are better than humans, but I am SO NOT. My pets have always seemed to know when I was sad, and whether they were comforting (my dog) or gave me a "get over it" look (my cat), there's something about being around a furry friend that always helped me. If your preference veers more toward a pet snake or a gerbil (preferably not both in the same household, because, yikes), more power to you! 

9. Get involved with a charity, or charities, you truly love. In the past, I've worked with Airborne Angel Cadets of Texas, an organization that sends care packages to soldiers overseas, and I've recently become involved with Spreading the Warmth, which knits scarves and gives them to those in need. There's nothing that's better for the soul than helping others, and if you can find causes that you really love that combines an activity you love -- maybe that's teaching to increase literacy, or walking dogs to help out at an animal shelter -- it's seriously, seriously worthwhile. 

8. Every so often, let yourself sleep in and be lazy without feeling guilty about it. Mental health days, or physical health days, if necessary, are crucial. Our society is a huge proponent of being productive, and I usually think that's a good thing, but if worrying about your to-do list keeps you from relaxing when you really need the rest, that can really hurt your health. Allowing yourself some time to just breathe is so important. 

7. Keep a written journal. It can be as intricate as a scrapbook-esque work of art complete with photos, receipts, and ticket stubs from your day-to-day life, or you could just keep your old planners. I loooove organization, so the latter is my favorite -- looking back through old planners and seeing what my priorities were at different times is so fun and really takes me back to the moment. 

6. Drink 8 glasses of water a day. There's been so many articles about why this is so important, so I'm just going to say, JUST DO IT. 

5. Get rid of things that don't bring you joy. I'm in the process of doing this now with my clothes, and it's definitely a PROCESS, but decluttering your physical space will help you declutter your mind. Not only that, but you can sometimes make some money off getting rid of old things -- try Poshmark for clothes and accessories (use my code MKATS19 to get a $5 credit!!) -- and replace them with things that truly make you happy. 

4. Get lost in the moment. Pick your poison -- whether it's a sports game, listening to a great song, watching a new movie, or reading an old favorite book, truly let yourself get absorbed in something. I hate the idea that being really, fully invested in something isn't cool. It's the coolest thing out there! 

3. Stay active as much as you can. Some people might be competitive athletes, and if that works for them, that's great!! As for me, I've recently been more into trying to get my 10,000 steps in by walking around the neighborhood or, when the weather's not great, the mall. It's what my body can handle right now, and it's something that gets me moving, which is the goal! 

2. Make your bed. There's an entire famous speech on this, and my simple take is that it makes you feel like you've gotten something done. Plus, you're less tempted to get back into bed, and unless you're working on tip #8, that's a plus in my book!  

1. Love yourself. No matter where you are in that journey, make it a focus every day. Tell yourself great things about yourself in the mirror (sounds cheesy, but works!). Take an extra moment to appreciate things you accomplish every day, whether it's, Good job running three miles! or, Good job washing your hair! or anything in between. And if you're having a down day, fake it 'til you make it -- just keep on smiling until you don't even realize you're doing it anymore! 

Until next time ~

XOXO, Maria


Disclaimer: Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product through that link, I can earn money. I only recommend products that I really love, and if y'all decide to purchase them, I hope you love them too! :) 

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