And so begins chapter 17


A picture of me on my birthday, the same day as black friday, the day our school went to state championships.

A couple of days ago, I turned 17, and although it’s never really been a special number, I knew that my birthday would feel a little different this year. Whenever I think of birthdays, I don’t think about them as a “day,” per se, but rather a holiday: a celebration of the day you entered this beautiful planet.

They say that the odds of you being born is one in 10—followed by 2,685,000 zeros. Crazy to think about, right? So, to say that I am grateful to be here right now is an understatement, because to me, birthdays don’t mean celebrating the special day that I was born; they resemble a milestone. A day marking another year of memories being made and accomplishments being celebrated. 

You are only in the teen stages of your life for so long. And, although it makes me chuckle at the fact that it took me four years to realize that numbers 13-19 ended in the word “teen,” I’m glad that I realized it before it was too late. 

Although it makes me chuckle at the fact that it took me four years to realize that numbers 13 – 19 ended in the word “teen,” I’m glad that I realized it before it was too late. ”

The day I turned seventeen marks that I have two more years until I am no longer a teenager, and surprisingly, it doesn’t sadden me. No, two years isn’t a lot of time, but instead of thinking about it in years, I think about it in days, which in this case is 730 days. 

So, in honor of my turning seventeen, here are some of the most influential lessons that I have learned throughout the course of my life that I am now passing on to my fellow readers. 

1. Adopt the personalities of the people you surround yourself with.

I used to be someone who would be an observer looking in; I’d listen to people, but I’d never add my personal input, simply because it was easier for me to be a listener than the one talking. But, the more I started running around the school gathering quotes from a variety of students, it almost felt like I was holding a microphone to their faces and asking them, “What are your thoughts on this?” People want to hear you talk, because, in the end, that is truly what makes conversations memorable: being able to create banter over something so trivial. 

2. Don’t make time, create time for the aspects of your life that are intrinsic to you. 

I still write things down, even though everything we do is mostly online nowadays. However, when the time came around to remember to make things, such as to-do lists, it was very difficult to do. So, lately what I’ve been doing is spending around 10 minutes of my morning creating a list of all the things I want to accomplish and penciling in time to spend with my friends every time my phone releases a ping.

3. Laugh through the hard moments. 

When I’m around my friends, I feel a different type of happiness, which more often than not results in me laughing through the hour with them. Regardless of how I spend my time, if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that when life gets tough, I just close my eyes and think about all the funny experiences that I’ve already experienced and go to my “happy place:” the place that reminds me to keep going, because I will find more of those happy moments again. 

Despite the fact that these are the most prominent lessons that I have learned throughout my life, specifically my teenage years, I am still learning, and I can’t wait for what this next year has in store for me.