By the time my 17th birthday rolled around, I was living on my own. At the time, I wasn’t happy about becoming emancipated. I spent a lot of years being angry, bitter and resentful. I stumbled around with the idea that this situation was going to define who I was — I wanted to define myself, and that’s exactly what I’ve done over the past decade.
For anyone that has lived, or is living, a life full of potholes, here’s what I learned from growing up before my time:
- A life full of normalcy leaves no chance for growth. If we were only given children’s books to read our whole lives, we would never know how to read The Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, or Great Expectations. Our level of understanding would never go beyond a 1st grade reading level. If you’re never challenged, you’re never given the opportunity to evolve into something greater and more complex.
- Vulnerable situations create independent people. Those that have never experienced what it feels like to be hungry, often times don’t know how to buy their own spoons. Those that have never experienced heartbreak don’t know what it feels like to patch together their own hearts. Those that have never experienced the loss of a friend don’t know what it feels like to regain their faith from a place so dark that only they can pull themselves out of it.
- We’re only human, and we make mistakes. There’s no such thing as a perfect human being. We all make mistakes. Not one person lives a life full of righteousness all the time. Not one. And not one mistake is bigger than the other; they’re all one thing.
- Forgiveness brings freedom. Just like humans were created to make mistakes, we were also created to forgive and once they do, we’re given freedom. Bitterness and resentment only create black holes in the heart. When you learn to forgive, you’re making the statement that holes aren’t welcome in your heart; there’s only room for love.
- Everything happens for a reason. Not everyone believes this, but I do. I live by it. Everything happens for a reason not because God or the universe or whatever says so, but because I say so. Everything has a reason because I give everything a reason. Every choice, bad or good, was for a reason, even if I didn’t know it at the time. Every situation out of my control is happening for a reason that I’ll learn eventually. When people live by the faith that everything has a reason, then everything becomes part of who you become.
- Loss is not a loss. I have lost a lot of people in my life, and not all to death. I’ve lost relationships with people, intimacy, love, and contact.. I’ve lost people due to death and people do to choice. All loss hurts the same when it’s a person you deeply care about, but I’ve learned to understand that loss is not loss, but an exchange of energy.
- You can’t control everything. Everything that I’ve gone through has mostly been out of my control. Every plan that I had never happened the way I wanted. The people I meet in life, like my fiancé, I never planned on meeting. The college I went to, the town I live in, the job I have — all of the things that has made my life what it is today have been completely out of my control and the most precious things to have happened to me.
- Happiness is a choice. Those that choose to be happy know what it is like to truly be unhappy, and quite frankly, don’t want to feel that anymore. If you believe that everything happens for a reason and everything is just part of what is to become the perfect “you,” then there’s no reason to be unhappy. There will always be a happy ending if you refuse to allow yourself to be unhappy. You may not be in control of what happens to you, but you are absolutely in control of how you react to what happens to you.