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By Sam Maracic

Looking back on life, it’s easy to think about the mistakes we’ve made, the blunders we could have avoided or the people we may have hurt. But with those experiences, the ones that define our past history for both the good and bad, we’ve also gained perspective. We’ve digested some of the lessons and hopefully, learned to be better versions of ourselves along the way.

As human beings this is how we’re designed, to shift and grow over and over again. We are built for transformation.

From fifteen or sixteen, my once outlook on life seems entirely foreign to where it exists today. And though I am grateful to each episode I have experienced for having brought me to this point, I do wonder where I would be had I known then, the things I believe to know now.

Likely this inquest will remain as I continue to grow, expand and evolve. However, here they are anyway (at least for today).

1. Not having all of the answers is simply part of the process. It is your right as a kid – and a human – not to know. Revel in where you are now, and look toward the future knowing that the universe has a far greater plan for you than you can ever create for yourself.

2. You are meant to make mistakes, but you are also meant to learn from them.

3. Trusting your instincts is necessary, so feel good about having the strength to say “yes” or “no.”

4. Accepting that you will not always fit in is the most liberating and telling reality, one that will better prepare you to understand the importance of true belonging.

5. No book, relationship, achievement or outfit will teach you who you are, but there is something to be gained from every aspect of life you explore.

6. Education (whether it be through conventional means or otherwise) does matter, and in the real world people will care about what you add to a conversation. So embrace every opportunity you have to learn.

7. Sometimes showing vulnerability is the bravest thing you can do.

8. The walls you create will protect, but they will also fortify. Letting others in is a frightening thing. It will lead to moments of heartache and periods of disappointment; do it anyway. The human experience is meant to be shared.

9. Be good to people, even when you feel you have no reason to be. (Hint: There is always a reason to be.)

10. Boys will come and go. You’ll be okay.

11. There is no clear destination. As humans we are constantly evolving, and to pigeonhole yourself to the person you are now is only to inhibit progress necessary for growth. Accept that who you are today is not who you will be tomorrow.

12. Have the compassion to do the same for others.

13. Even on the darkest of days, good does exist. It is your job to look beyond the fog in search of it.

14. “Mean girls” (and boys, for that matter) exist beyond middle school, and unfortunately, that may never change. Send them as much love as you can. They are usually the ones who need it most.

15. Often times, the pain caused by a first love, loss or traumatic life event is out of your control. Allowing your pain to dictate the way you see others and the way you see the world is not. As hard as it may seem, do not let those negative experiences determine your perspective.

16. Live for yourself. Explore the things that make you happy, even if they are not considered cool or significant by someone else’s standards.

17. Try at everything, even if you’re terrible. In the end you’ll either be proud of yourself for not giving up or less terrible than when you began. Effort is and will always be attractive.

18. Much of what you will take from life depends simply on your choice to show up. Being present and in the moment may be one of the greatest challenges, but it  also promises the most honest rewards.

19. To appreciate the beauty of others, you must first be willing to do the same with yourself.

20. Strangely enough, the adults are right, stop rushing to grow up. Enjoy your youth. Have fun being a kid, and hang on to that irreplaceable innocence until you are truly ready to let it go.

21. The people you love won’t be around forever. Be grateful for every family event you’ve had the opportunity to attend.

22. Comparing yourself to others will get you nowhere.

23. Even when you feel like the world is against you, it’s not.

24. Say thank you to your parents, they’re doing the best they know how to.

25. Everything comes full circle eventually. It is your job to simply be the best human you can be.

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