Advice from 2021

Navigating your way through the teenage years always has its ups and downs. However, the highs and lows of growing up have been amplified during 2021. Over the past couple of years, the whole world has been faced with the challenges of a pandemic and civil unrest, and 2021 was no exception. However, between all of the moments, whether they be good or bad, you can always learn something and grow from it, which is something I have tried to focus on during 2021. As the year wraps up, I have realized three key things I live by that I wish to share as advice for others to learn from.

Prioritize your closest connections: those who you are closest with and those who you cherish the most will be the most important people in your life, so you should spend as much time with them making the best memories.

This year, I am a senior in high school, which means that everyone has their own vision and goals for their future. Not one pathway is the same, and I have learned to embrace the differences and change that is to come. This does, however, mean that there is a large possibility that you and your best friends will be separating at the end of this year.

Despite not wanting to think of that daunting thought, I have turned my viewpoint around to focus more on the moment, with the people I love the most. I have learned to focus the majority of my attention on the people who I care most about, and the ones I see myself spending time with after high school. Some people in your life may come and go, however, there will always be a small number of people who are part of your life forever, so I have chosen to find those people during 2021 and make sure my connections with them are as strong and loving as possible.

No matter how hard your days are, or how much you are struggling, at the end of the night try to reflect on the good parts of your life.

2021 has been a hard year for most, and not a day has gone by where I didn’t feel like I wasn’t struggling. This year has tested people to the point where they are overworked and exhausted. By the end of most days, that is how I feel. Fortunately, even through the tiredness and desire to make life easier, I have made sure to find a small amount of time in my day to dedicate to myself and myself only.

The time I take for myself is typically at night, while I begin to wind down. During those few minutes, I like to reflect on my day and find moments where I can be grateful for what I have. Practicing gratitude and taking moments for yourself is a healthy form of self-care that can change one’s entire day, and improve mental health. 2021 has been a great year to focus on mental health as feeling anxious and down has been a common feeling through this year. I find that after I reflect on my day and practice self-care, I feel calmer, I sleep better, and I have a more positive outlook on life.

Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Making mistakes and facing failure is bound to happen during one’s lifetime, and I have struggled to realize that failure is okay. In the past after a mistake, I tended to beat myself up, blame myself for everything, and hesitate to try again out of fear of failing again. However, during my senior year, I have tried to focus on learning from mistakes and learning how to try again, rather than beating myself up for the smallest things. The world is a large place with billions of people, so one mistake that you make will not be the end of the world.

I have a mantra that I say to myself when I am overwhelmed. It goes, “the sun will rise and we will try again.” This idea has taught me that new days are coming with brand new opportunities, so it is not worth dwelling on the past failures I have had. Changing and learning to not be so hard on yourself is a process that will not happen overnight, so my suggestion is to keep an open mind so that when you do mess up, you feel hopeful and encouraged to pick yourself back up.

2021 has taught me so many things, and more importantly, I have learned more about myself than any other previous year. Through the change 2020 and 2021 have brought us as a whole community, I have realized to cherish those I love the most, practice self-care, and be optimistic about making mistakes so that I do not beat myself up for them. I will take these lessons into my coming years, where I will continue to learn more about other people, myself, and life.