• Emily Bennett


"There are often great lessons to be learned at the roots of stress, drama, and heartache. Don't let the magnitude of the circumstance blind you to the value of the lesson." -Dr. Steve Maraboli

It's been a while since I last posted a blog because I've been busy with classes and traveling, however, within the chaos, I have officially reached my twenties! I am overwhelmed with excitement to finally begin the stage of my life where I believe all the "good parts" happen (graduation, moving away, getting a job, buying a car/house, getting married, starting a family, etc.). However that being said, I want to dedicate this blog to nineteen lessons I learned this past year, as it was the most impactful, influential, and empowering year thus far... they are as follows:

1) The people you begin life with will not always be the ones you finish life with and that’s okay- “send them love and light every time you think of them and then drop it.”

2) There will always be a time in a girl’s life where she must decide between herself and a boy (spoiler: she’ll choose herself and get a haircut).

3) There are more important things to be in life than to be right. Be kind, be thoughtful and be generous.

4) Forgiveness is a gift to yourself, not the other person. So, forgive often, not only to make the other person feel better, but to heal you.

5) Don’t sweat the small stuff. A stain is just a stain.

6) People are going to let you down, even the ones closest to you. Always give them the benefit of the doubt.

7) Learn how to be by yourself and to be comfortable with it. You are independent and confident and can change the world with a relationship status of "self."

8) Unless you're prepared to sprint for fifteen minutes straight... leave plenty of time to get back to the ferry.

9) God is everywhere, take the time to notice.

10) Smile at strangers and give compliments to everyone, especially kids.

11) Help. Wherever you are and with whatever you can. Volunteer, give care packages to the homeless, pray for a stranger, love a friend, pick up a sign that's fallen on the ground, give toilet paper to the girl in the stall next to you, buy someone flowers...You may not be able to change the whole world, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

12) Go to bed early and wake up earlier.

13) Change begins with one decision put into motion- the hardest part is actually doing it.

14) Nutella will make you gain weight.

15) Jesus jams sound good anywhere, but especially at 15,000 feet in the air.

16) It takes so much courage to go up to a stranger who you find incredibly attractive and intimidating and start a conversation... do it anyway.

17) It’s okay to be the mom of the group. And actually, you should be proud of it.

18) Your happiness is your own responsibility.

19) Traveling is the ultimate form of self-discovery.

If you look up the word "lesson" on Google dictionary, one of the definitions given states that a lesson is "an experience, example, or observation that imparts new knowledge or understanding." You've probably heard it said before that you have to learn things the hard way, that the road to growth is never straight... and its true. If lessons were easy, we'd all be masters of life. It would come and go with fewer errors, less temptation, maybe no heartbreaks, and a lot less pain. But, as challenging and soul aching as learning a lesson can be, you will always be better off for it. That level of understanding and appreciation for the life you have lived would not be the same without it.

Truthfully, lessons (especially in the moment) can feel a lot like ruin. But ruin is a gift. The experiences you participate in and the lessons you uncover from them are your road map to a better life. When you learn a lesson, you move forward. They are the blueprints for building a better you and they should be cherished.

As I live out this next stage of my life, I know that I have an obligation to myself to continuously learn from the mistakes I and others make. I have an obligation to myself to learn, to grow, and to do better. I have to make a conscious effort to pursue the good, to take responsibility for my actions, and to find my own way out of whatever negativity holds me back. I have the obligation to myself to relentlessly engage in all aspects of my life and a duty to make my life as beautiful as possible.

I started year nineteen off in a place that was less than satisfying, where most of the lessons learned above came after many sleepless nights, dozens of tears, and a broken heart... some of the hardest lessons I have ever had to learn, but also the most important. Lessons that may have taken hours to learn or in other cases months. Stories where something either horribly awful, or beautifully wonderful, became an equally valuable lesson for me in the last year. Regardless of the backstory, I am beyond grateful for each one of them. That's the thing about living life with the mindset that each person and place you encounter is a teacher- you can't not learn something from it. Even the bad stuff. No matter what the story is, good or bad, I thank God for all of them. I thank God because I grew.

I have ended year nineteen feeling the most joy I have ever felt because I am the most comfortable and confident in myself than I have ever been before. I have a better understanding of who I am and who I want to be because of lessons that have shown me who or what I don't want to be. And sometimes knowing who you don't want to be is just as valuable as knowing who you do want to be. I can appreciate the hard times and celebrate the good ones, knowing they are both necessary and ultimately contributing to who I am as a person. Nineteen was a big year for soul searching and self discovery- learning how to live a balanced life. How to take the good with the bad and, most importantly, how to grow from it. Thank you, nineteen. <3

Cheers to twenty years and a million reasons to be grateful.

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