Looking back on the past year, it’s amazing how much I’ve changed. Since last year at this time, I have experienced my fair share of failures and triumphs. A lot of times I wish that I could go back and talk to Macy In the Past and give her a little bit of advice (such as “No Macy, don’t talk to that boy,” or “Hey Macy, maybe instead of binge watching Dance Moms you should buckle down and study some Organic Chemistry,” or “Put down the cookie. Here’s an avocado,”).
There’s other things that I would like to say, too–more serious things like “Call Mom. She needs to hear your voice,” or “Take some time off from work so you don’t burn out,” or “Enjoy this day playing raquetball with your best friend–it’s going to be the last time.”
If I could go back and give Macy One Year Ago some points of wisdom (or “life hacks for happiness”), here’s what they would be:
- Worry less about school. School is important, yes, and you still want to work hard and try to get the best grades possible. But don’t obsess over it–I would highly recommend forgoing those all-nighters in favor of a good night’s rest. When it’s time to study, study hard. Don’t procrastinate. Put your phone away and make sure you have a healthy snack and a full bottle of water to keep you going. But when it’s time to relax, sleep, go to the gym or do the dishes, be fully present–don’t be thinking about the exam tomorrow or stressing about those immunology pathways that you need to know. There’s a time for everything–just learn to manage yours to the best of your ability.
- Worry less in general. Worrying isn’t going to get you anything except for zits and a couple extra pounds from all the stress eating you’ve been doing. Chill.
- Be organized. Being organized leads to less stress in general. Set out your clothes, pack your backpack, make your lunch and pack your gym bag the night before school to avoid scrambling in the morning and forgetting something. Do laundry once a week so it doesn’t pile up, be aware of upcoming exams and deadlines, and don’t let the dishes stack up.
- Use your voice. If someone close to you is treating you poorly, speak up. There is a way to confront someone gracefully and without conflict. The worst thing you can do for yourself is internalize something and let it turn into even more anger–it’s best to gently speak up right away when it happens. Also, if someone does something to hurt you and then asks if you’re okay, don’t lie. Be honest about how you feel.
- Know that people change. You are a completely different person today than you were one year ago–in a good way. You are growing up, becoming more mature in your decisions, and realizing what really matters in life. Just be prepared to grow apart from the people you used to be closest to–sometimes the people who used to be your closest friends don’t mature with you, and that’s okay. It’s part of life, and you’re learning to live it.
- There will always be haters. When you are doing big things, chasing your dreams and using your voice, there will always be people who will try to discourage you from achieving your goals or discourage you from speaking out. Please ignore them–they don’t mean anything, and listening to them will just rob you of your happiness.
- Love your body. Make time to go to the gym, and enjoy your time there. Make a bomb playlist that you’re excited about listening to every day. Don’t worry about sweating your makeup off–if anything, use it as a gauge to see how hard you worked that day. Wear clothes that make you feel good. Get plenty of sleep. Eat food that is good for your body. Love your curves, and don’t obsess over your weight. Eat right and work out to feel good–not to match a number on a scale.
- Keep an open mind. This goes for everything–career opportunities, friends and relationships. Wake up every morning thinking “I don’t know what’s going to happen today, and I’m excited for it.” Harsh expectations can crush dreams and close doors–be ready for anything, and don’t write off anything or anyone too quickly.
- Be creative. Read lots of books, visit lots of art galleries and write lots of music. Just because you’re at an engineering school doesn’t mean you have to let your creative side shrivel up and die. Flex those right-brain muscles, girl.
- Find beauty in everything. Spend time outside. Take time to notice the little things. Go on walks. Look up every once in a while.
- Be bold. Be bold with your style, be bold with your creativity, be bold with relationships, and be bold with your goals. Nothing is set in stone, so you might as well live all-out. Don’t apologize for stepping out and going against the norm.
- Be kind. This is so, so important. Go out of your way to make someone feel special. When you’re having a bad day, do something nice for someone else. Make eye contact and smile. Say hello. Lend an ear. Take genuine interest in how someone’s day is going. You never know who’s day you might make.
- Pray more. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Jesus is right next to you, laughing at that dumb joke you just made, or listening to you as you rant about your bad test grade. This goes with #2–give all your anxieties, joys and sorrows to God. He’s got you. Also–make time to read your Bible. There’s a whole lot of comfort and lessons to be learned in there.
- Value your family. Spend more time with them and call home more. They love you. You love them, so let them know. Enough said.
- Invest in friendships. One of the perks of being a single twenty-something is being able to invest in your friendships. Have a lot of laughs and a lot of good times.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Some people may have a lot more than you do, but they aren’t happier than you are.
- Leave room for growth. Don’t constantly be trying to “better” yourself–it only leads to negativity and frustration. Be kind, work hard, and trust God. When you’re trusting God in everything you do, growth happens naturally.
- Let life happen. Life happens when you stop trying to control everything. It’s a whirlwind of highs and lows, happiness and sadness, and joy and sorrow, but it’s all part of who you are today. Be present in each moment as it happens, and don’t spend time wishing you were somewhere else. Choose joy each day.