23 Lessons I Learned Too Late

There are so many things I didn’t understand before it was too late. Inspired by both Devyn and Lauren along with all those who got me here:

One: I used to live by the saying “it’s better to be overdressed than under-dressed.” I have since found that it is ALWAYS better to be comfortable. Unless it’s important. Then find a way to be pretty AND comfortable.

Two: Learn to laugh. Especially learn to laugh at yourself because, if you don’t laugh, you might never really enjoy the moment, and if you can’t laugh at yourself, you might never have the chance to.

Three: Understand the difference between a good friend and a good person. Trust me. There is a difference.

Four: Figure out how to be friends with the good people. It took me a while to truly understand what makes a good person. I’m happy to say I’ve found them; I only wish I would have sooner.

Five: Treat your best friend how she should be treated. Or he. Sometimes you might let yourself become too distanced. Don’t ever let the best friends in this world forget just how important they are.

Six: Let yourself love. But don’t use the word carelessly. Make “I love you” mean something.

Seven: Let yourself be loved. Stop thinking that you aren’t worth someone’s undying love. You are. (This includes loving yourself.)

Eight: Fall in love. There’s a difference between “I love you” and “I’m in love with you.” You’ll know it when it happens, but if it doesn’t, you have time, it will come.

Nine: Bad, terrible, horrible, no-good days happen. A lot. Sometimes life sucks. But remember that, in all of its ugliness, life is beautiful. I don’t know if that makes sense or not.

Ten: Find a way to be happy. ‘Nuff said.

Eleven: Be yourself. By doing so, you will make ten that much easier.

Twelve: Everything is going to be okay in the end.

Thirteen: If it is not okay, it is not the end.

Fourteen: Sing. It sounds stupid, but really. Sing when you’re happy. Sing when you’re sad. Belt out the words to your favorite song and to the song that is really catchy and to the song that everybody hates. Sing in the car. Sing in the shower. Sing while you work. Singing cleanses the soul — even if you’re no good at it.

Fifteen: Appreciate your teachers. One day, it will be the last day of high school, or you will be walking the stage, and you will realize that they have helped you grow into the person you are today. By that time, you won’t have enough time to show them how much you appreciate them.

Sixteen: Don’t forget where you stand. You aren’t always going to be the smartest or prettiest or coolest (whatever “cool” is) or whatever. Understand that, but don’t try to be anything other than yourself. You are perfect in your own glorious ways.

Seventeen: Seriously. You are perfect just the way you are.

Eighteen: Even so, always aim to be the best version of yourself.

Nineteen: A majority of people in this world are good people. A majority of people in this world are not out to get you.

Twenty: That being said, be careful who you trust.

Twenty-one: Sometimes things don’t work out the way that you planned. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

Twenty-two: Sneak out. Or don’t. Drink. Or don’t. Smoke. Or don’t. Nobody really cares that much about what you do in your spare time, but if you are going to do something, be prepared for the consequences.

Twenty-three: Thank Jess for the daily hugs; she doesn’t know that they helped you to get through your worst of days. Tell Austin how much you appreciate his laughing at your stupid jokes, he doesn’t know that his laugh made your day countless times. Make sure Bailey knows how she has changed your life for the better even though you will never truly have the words to express this to her. Tell Morgan how much you appreciate her never leaving your side, even though it seemed that you left hers for a while. Hold onto the friendship that you and Tyler have, it took it a while to get to this point, but he is one of your best friends. Let Devyn and Philana know just how their quirks make them that much more amazing, they are two of the most amazing people out there. And Lauren, too; she is one of the greatest human beings you could ever have the chance to stumble across, and she will change the world someday. Let Anna know that it is not the end of the world, sometimes she needs to hear that, but her antics just make life so interesting. Make sure Aleida knows how beautiful she is, inside and out; sometimes she forgets. And remind those who got left behind on your way to where you are now just how important they still are to you. And show Rachel just how proud you are of her in every possible way. She deserves it. And tell Greg that junior girls do not do it better tho’. Tell Paula she’s gorgeous, she doesn’t hear it as often as she should. To everyone else, let them know how happy they have made you. Let them know that they are the reason you are still here today. Let them know that you wouldn’t trade a single second with them. Let them know how proud you are to have been able to grow up with them. And, finally, to Jesse: thank him for showing you what it meant to be in love; he has shown you something more beautiful than you could have ever imagined.

I love you.

H.Z.

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