17 Things I Learned at 17
Updated: Apr 2
- image by Kaley Rae Photography -
This year has brought a lot of change, anticipation, stress, and excitement. I'm getting ready for my future, preparing for my awaited path, and handling whatever is thrown my way. While I obviously still have so much to learn - more than I can even imagine - I have gathered a lot of knowledge in my 17 years of life. I wanted to share what has really been prevalent to me lately and how I've grown because of these experiences. I thought it would also be fun to reflect on this post in the future and see what has changed and think about all of the new things I've gone through and discovered. In a way, this post is for those approaching 17 or who are 17 and looking for some inspiration and guidance. However this post may concern you, I hope you can take something from it.
Get started on scholarships and college stuff as early as possible. Write down everything you have done and all of the awards and recognition you have received. It will be much easier to write essays and fill out applications if you have this previously prepared. Procrastinating will not help you at all.
Don't allow people to dictate your worth and happiness. You know your worth. You know what you deserve. Never, EVER let people tell you who you can and cannot be. This was hard to learn, because many people don't like when you don't accept their opinions of you. You have to stand your ground and be true to who you are.
You can always change your mind. Planning life's journey results in many ups and downs and unexpected turns. Even when you think you finally have it all figured out, something is thrown your way that you never thought was possible. If you decide to change your mind, that's okay. Told everyone you were going to one college but then decide to go to another? That's okay. Decide to take a whole different career path just a few months before your previously planned one? That's okay. Don't allow yourself to feel tied down. Life isn't permanent - you always have the option to change your mind and do what makes you happy.
Some of the hardest times come when you least expect it. This summer was one of the best of my life. I was happier than I had ever been. Unexpectedly, tragedy hit. I wanted to hide from the world. All of the happiness I had been feeling faded so quickly. But then I realized that nothing’s going to change the fact of what happened - I have to just keep living. I have to make the most of my life. This occurrence was just a bump along the long journey I have ahead. As hard as times may get, I can reflect on this time in my life and remind myself that I can get through anything if I remain positive and kind to not only others, but myself.
Some of the best times come when you least expect it. Soon after the worst thing that has ever happened in my life, I let myself live every day like it was my last. I dictated my own happiness, I didn’t let anyone try to bring me down. I went to amazing concerts, spent time with my closest friends and family, and took time for myself. You have to allow yourself to heal and find joy in new ways.
Use all of your time wisely. This also correlates with what I first said in point 1. Don’t let time go to waste. Get stuff done, don’t procrastinate, and work hard. Always remember to take time to relax and recharge, but hustle, hustle, hustle. This year can determine so much in so many unexpected ways. You won't want to get lazy.
Challenge yourself - don't let yourself get bored. I made this mistake my first semester of senior year. I had super easy classes, study halls, and too much time to do absolutely nothing. Sure, extracurricular activities kept me busy during after school hours, but those seven hours during the morning and afternoon were so. boring. I didn't know what to do with myself. I wasn't challenging myself in any way, I wasn't learning anything completely new. I wasn't working my brain whatsoever and it was not fun for me. Sure, it may sound like a dream come true - no homework? Barely any tests to take? Sign me up! Yeah... no. Learning is such an incredible, valuable thing that so many of us take for granted. Appreciate it and work hard!
Wearing what you love is worth putting in a little extra effort in the morning. I find that when I'm wearing an outfit I really love, I have so much more confidence throughout the day and I just feel like myself. Even though it might take some extra time in the morning or preparing for the outfit the night before, I think it's so worth it! Nothing feels better than a good outfit and some confidence.
Move on from what's bringing you down. As Taylor Swift said, "Step into the daylight and let it go." Sometimes the best thing to do in a situation is to just move on. As hard as it may be, as much as you don't want to, it will allow you to finally feel free from what's holding you back. You get to control your life. You have the ability to make the right decisions for yourself. Choose wisely.
Allow yourself to branch out. Fear often holds me back from doing new, exciting things. This summer, during my trip to Costa Rica, I learned to let go of some of these fears and truly live. When I allowed myself to do this, I did things I never thought I would do before. I've become more adventurous, more outspoken, and more ME. Allowing yourself to branch out opens so many doors you never knew were waiting to be opened.
Everyone is scared. You just gotta get through it. We all have our own fears and worries and differences. We're all just trying to get through this crazy journey and find our way.
Senioritis is very real. Don't let it fog your view. I was ready to leave high school the moment I stepped foot in it my freshman year. Not because I was having a bad high school experience, but I was so ready to start my life AFTER high school. The truth is, high school really does fly by so quickly and there are so many incredible memories that come from it, so don't be focused on leaving. Be in the moment.
Take time to do things that make you truly happy. It's easy to get in a routine of school, rehearsal, work, homework, repeat. You're just going though the motions, not actually taking time to live. Setting up time to do your favorite hobby or take a night off for self-care is so important to staying happy and sane.
Let go of what people may think about you. I used to be so worried about what people thought of me when I first started high school. Do they think I'm cool? Am I pretty enough? Are my outfits interesting? Did I say the right things? Now, I could care less about what people thought of me. I know myself, and others' false assumptions are just that - false. If I can stay true to myself, I don't have to be worried about a thing.
Take care of your health and well-being. Like I said in #13, taking time for yourself is so important. Getting up early to go to the gym, packing yourself a nutritious lunch, or taking a break from technology to read or write are just a few examples of ways to take care of yourself. There are so many different things you can do to improve your health and well-being. Do some research on what you think would best suit you!
Detoxing from the online world is refreshing. Do it more. During my trip to Costa Rica, I didn't have my phone with me. I had purchased a so called "burner phone" to be able to contact my parents and keep them updated, but that's all I could do on it. I didn't have social media for nine days and it was the best nine days of my life. Allowing yourself to turn off your phone and take a break from whatever may be going on online is so important to do every so often. My saying throughout this whole blog post seems to be "letting yourself truly live," but I do believe that it's so beneficial!
You're still so young, soak up every moment you have. Many of us are so eager to grow up. Truth is, growing up isn't as exciting as we always imagined it to be. Soaking up each moment of your childhood, your awkward middle school years, and your teen years will lead to feeling so fulfilled once you enter adulthood. I wish I would've listened to those who told me this all these years. I'm now realizing that I've been taking precious time for granted, but I've been getting better at living in the moment and being grateful for every experience.
Those are the best words of wisdom this seventeen year old can give at this moment in my life. Hopefully, you were able to take something positive away from it.