13 lessons I learned in 2013

13. Count to 10 and take a deep breath.

My mom has always told me that patience is a virtue.  Unfortunately, I lack it. But what I have learned in 2013, is that sometimes you have no other choice than to be patient.  Whether its dealing with people who infuriate you, to worrying about things you can’t control, being patient, while it is very unbearable (patience means, “to suffer,” after all) it is better than doing and saying things you regret.  Being patient and enduring the pain in the short term can save a lot of heartache in the long run.

12. Say “yes” 90% of the time and “no” 10% of the time.

My 90/10 rule, goes for saying yes to people, experiences and opportunities a vast majority of the time, while only saying no once in a blue moon.  I wholeheartedly believe that saying yes, whether it be to going out with friends, being given a new responsibility, or the chance to do something different, can lead you to experiences that will turn into lifelong memories.  But saying yes over and over can lead people to take advantage of you.  So choose your opportunities wisely.  Say yes to anything that will lead you to grow as a person, and no to anything that can detract from that. If you ever feel like your indecisive to a fault, rule of the side of yes.

11. Enjoy the time you have for yourself.

I’ve had my fair share of busy days, weeks, months and semesters.  I hate using the word “busy” because for me it seems to be used as an excuse.  But, it is quite easy to get overwhelmed with what happens day in and day out.  I have had the pleasure of doing the Spiritual Exercises, a daily prayer and reflection that a person goes through for eight months.  I’m halfway through the journey and I can say it is the highlight of my day.  I get to sit for an hour and just take time for myself. That and reading a good book and binge watching episodes of “How I Met Your Mother” have been great ways to just relax and take time for me and put the busy stuff to the side.

10.  Enjoy the time you get with others.

While it is absolutely necessary to take time for yourself, I do believe appreciating the time you get with friends is so absolutely important. Whether its grabbing coffee and chit-chatting, or planning a night out on the town, whenever you are with your friends, you know you are going to have a good time.  I know for me the best times with my friends have come from simple nights of driving around, or watching TV while lounging on the couch.  Good times don’t need to be grand adventures (although I encourage adventures) all you need is good company and the rest falls into place.

9. Buffalo is one of the best cities to live in.

Buffalo encompasses everything about the place I want to spend my life in.  It’s not too big, and not too small. It gives you the feel of a city, without feeling claustrophobic. Not to mention it has a little bit of everything.  There’s amazing places to eat, great bars, great museums and art galleries. The architecture that makes up the city is so beautiful and versatile and is located right on the waterfront which is a sight in itself. Plus having four seasons means that Buffalo never gets boring!  But my favorite part about Buffalo is that it gives you the chance to do something different. After all, I did run a 5k in the freezing and snowy Cobblestone District!

8. Metabolism will fade.

This has been a very practical yet tough lesson to learn.  I was always had metabolism as fast as the speed of light and because of that could eat anything in sight.  Now, after bouncing back from a college lifestyle of eating on the go and alcohol way too often in the diet, I have noticed that my metabolism has hit the floor.  For me, I now have a new appreciation for living a healthy lifestyle.  After all, being healthy just increases your odds for a long, happy life.  Being appreciative of being healthy doesn’t make it easy.  In fact, trying to live a healthier lifestyle is one of the hardest things to do.  So take all the necessary baby steps you can to make sure you can make all the necessary improvements possible.

7. Getting out of your comfort zone is when you really learn who you are.

2014 will be starting out with a service trip to New Orleans working with the Saint Bernard Project.  While I haven’t experienced the trip yet, I have been able to push myself out of my comfort zone one step at a time.  There is something so scary about being vulnerable and allowing others to see your weaknesses, however, I find it invigorating.  Through many experiences when I have gone out of my comfort zone, I have seen how I have been impacted on such a deep level, where I can grow in an honest, humble and exciting way.  So push yourself out of your comfort zone, you may discover a whole new side of yourself.

6. Money should not be a top priority.

A huge lesson for me this year has been that money should never be a top priority.  I have done so many back and forths with sacrificing opportunities because it will take away from money that I need to pay bills, or put in my bank account.  My mentality has been that I need to save money for opportunities later, but if I keep putting off opportunities to save money, I have to ask myself when will I ever be able to enjoy those opportunities.  Living while your young and having no regrets later about taking the time you have to live life to the fullest should be a bigger priority that a paycheck.

5. Dream big, or don’t even bother dreaming at all.

This year has been the defining year in figuring out what I want my future to be. Whether its establishing my own empowerment nonprofit, or getting a potential screenplay turned into a pilot for a network show, I have big dreams.  To me, there is no point in underestimating yourself, because if we love what we do, and find our purpose in it, there is no reason why we can’t accomplish whatever we put our heart mind and soul to.  Wherever my schooling takes me in the next two to five years, I know I will be growing in figuring out who I want to be and what I want to be doing.  For now, I’m setting the bar high, because I know I can reach it.  Not to mention, what good is life if the challenges are a simple Level 1.  I’m not only reaching for the highest level, I want to break the high score.

4. God doesn’t take a vacation.

Every year has its ups and downs.  For me 2013 had its highest highs and its lowest lows. But one thing that I really understood and found comfort in was that God never rests.  He doesn’t take a vacation.  He is always there for us for every loss, every heartache, every blessing, every mistake, every achievement, every embarrassment, every opportunity.  God is there.  For me, having a strong faith has been the reason behind many of my successes and the salvation for many of my downfalls. I truly believe that if you can build in a little more prayer and reflection into your day, you really start to see what God has given you and that no matter what, the questions that we always find ourselves asking, He will be the one to help us find the answers.

3. Single like a pringle and ready to mingle.

I’m single. I love it. I hate it. Seeing so many of my friends getting (dare I say it) engaged has been something that really makes me ask myself of where I want to be in five, ten, twenty years.  While I’d love to have a wife and kids someday, I have to stop and tell myself that I’m only 22 and this is the time where I get to be single, live my own life, create my own identity and simple just experience the world for me.  This lesson has been big for me because its been one of those things that bounces around my head like a ping-pong ball.  One minute I’m ecstatic being single just doing my own thing, the next I’m miserable that I’m the single one.  But right now, I’m supposed to be a pringle–living life for me.  I need this time to myself so it’ll help me grow to be the best for some lucky lady out there one day. (But ladies feel free to use this lesson as a way to know you’re interested.  I don’t mind at all.)

2. Change is good and it is necessary.

2013 had huge changes for my life.  Falling in love with Canisius College and my many friends pushed me to graduate school there, but with a new chapter comes many people starting their own new ones as well.  So many of my friends are now scattered all around the country and it is so hard to not be able to walk down the street to a friend’s apartment for a party, or a get together, or even a study session in the library.  College was by far the best four years of my life.  I wouldn’t change a minute of it! But would I live it forever? While I would love to say, yes, I know in my heart that I wouldn’t want to.  That’s because when things stay the same for too long it gets boring and trust me I wouldn’t want my friendships and experiences I had in college to be boring.  So I’m happy for the time I had but I am even more excited about what awaits me! Hell, my dreams are enormous and I’m ready to do what it takes to make them a reality. The best part is while the direction of my life is changing, I have so many wonderful friends that are coming along for the ride, no matter how near or far they are.

1. Everything happens for a reason.

Call it silver linings, or finding the message in the mess.  For me, it’s that simple saying that everything happens for a reason.  I have hinted at this throughout a lot of the lessons above, but really and truly nothing bad happens without bringing some type of good along with it.  For me, losing my grandpa was the most difficult part of this year.  But in that difficult time, I felt my family get closer, I found myself more in tune with my faith and trying to live my life like my grandpa lived his.  Simply put, his death made me really look at life.  Sometimes that’s the only way to really look at life–when yours is sent into a tailspin.  But if we are strong enough to just find the good, grasp it and hold onto it with everything we have, that tailspin may be what we needed to put our life on and even better road.  I began doing the Spiritual Exercises and really felt a connection with my grandpa through it.  I keep his memory alive, but also find that I, as my own individual person, am beginning to truly know, create and love myself.  I have never been more happier with where my life is.  So while it took a devastation to make that happen, I have been able to find the reason for really jump starting my life.  If it didn’t happen this way, I’d probably still be the person who was simply going through the motions, not rocking the boat.  Now, I am so ready to live life, and that is the greatest gift of 2013.

What’s been your most important lessons of 2013?

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