I lost my dad right before my 16th birthday. Until that point I thought fighting with a friend, getting a bad grade or getting dumped was the end of the world. Experiencing the loss of someone who couldn’t be replaced taught me more about life and relationships than anything else ever could:
Everything is temporary.
Jobs, pain, relationships and people are all temporary. Someone may come into your life for only a short period of time before they’re gone forever. If you’re feeling pain, it will pass. This taught me to take advantage of every moment you have with someone. The good times won’t last forever, so make sure you enjoy them while you have the chance.
Change is inevitable.
Not everyone marries their high school sweetheart or stays together with their child’s father. You might grow apart from your S.O. and seek different futures. Life is unexpected and change will happen even if you try to prevent it. I watched my mother pick herself up after my father passed away. She is strong and happy again, running her own business and seeing a really great guy. Life happens. It is best to just embrace and accept it rather than always trying to control everything.
You should always say how you feel.
If someone hurts your feelings, let them know. If you care about someone, let them know. Communication is key to any good relationship — platonic or romantic — and holding your feelings inside will only ever cause problems. There are so many things I wish I could say to my dad now that it’s too late. Now, I wear my heart on my sleeve. Open up, be vulnerable, and always speak your mind or you might regret it later.
You’re in charge of your own happiness.
While being in a relationship is fun and exciting, you should never rely on someone else to make you happy. In fact, being happy with who you are first will make all of your relationships better. Even if things in your life seem crappy, it’s up to you and only you to choose how you’ll let it affect how you see the world around you.
Face time is important.
I mean real face to face interaction, not staring at each other through a screen. Making time for someone is the ultimate way to show you care about them. One thing we have in this life is time, whether we think it’s not enough or too much, and giving your time to someone you love is important. In my current relationship, we work so much that sometimes we only see each other at night before bed. We have to make plans to go on dates, hikes, or even just play a board game together.
Appreciate the one you’re with.
Things can change in an instant. You have to be present in your relationship. If you’re busy looking at other people’s relationships, you’ll miss out on the magic of your own. It’s the little moments that make it all worth it, and if you miss out on something, there’s no getting it back. The grass isn’t greener on the other side — it’s greener where you water it.
Love is a commitment.
What happens after the butterflies go away and you stop feeling giddy? Loving someone isn’t just a feeling — it’s a promise to stick together even when things suck. You can’t just bail and move on when things don’t go according to plan. My mom showed me what true love was when she supported me through my dad’s loss even when she was struggling herself.
Actions speak louder than anything else.
Something I remember about my dad is that he always showed up. He came to every single soccer game, every school event. He was always there, and that’s how he loved me. Not everyone is good with words, and not everyone means what they say. I’ve learned that love and appreciation is best shown through actions. That means showing up and following through on your word. You can’t just say you love someone, you have too show it, too.
Learn to forgive.
Forgiveness is hard. Even if you can’t accept someone back into your life, you should always forgive for your own sake. Holding on to a grudge and keeping negativity towards someone will bring down your own happiness. Not everyone is meant to be in your life forever, but if you truly love someone, do your best to pardon them for the times they’ve hurt you… even if they can’t be in your life anymore.
Life is short.
Cliché, but it’s true. If you think about all the time you’ve spent wasting your breath on someone who isn’t worth it or putting effort into someone who doesn’t put in an effort back, it’s sad. We have this one shot to live an amazing, crazy, and passionate life. Those of us lucky enough to find love should cherish it — you never know when it’ll be gone.
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