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18th birthday

the end of my teen years are approaching and i feel… excited? anxious? confused? sad? all of the above? the past year truly sped by too quickly and all of a sudden I’M AN ADULT. i’m not much different today than i was yesterday except now i’m an adult. i’m at that horrible age when you’re not old enough to be considered old, but not young enough to be considered young. AND you’re suddenly expected to know/do adult things like paying bills and figuring out taxes. (okay maybe not YET as it’s been less than 24 hours but.. whatever) birthdays always make me a bit sentimental because it’s a reminder of how far you’ve come and how far you have left. it makes me feel the need to stop time and rewind. (i wish i could freeze the time at seventeen..)

now that i can officially consider myself as a grown up™, i thought it’d be wise to share some of the things i’ve learned throughout the years. here are eighteen pieces of advice i would give my former self, learned from eighteen years of mistakes and good ol’ experience.

1. listen to your parents

during my elementary school days, i’d only listen to my parents out of fear for getting in trouble. but somewhere along the way i came to realize and understand my parents’ rules and reasoning. my parents only mean well. whatever it is may feel awful at the moment, but it’ll probably help in the long run. they’ll always support me and have my back (even when it may not feel like it sometimes). they are wise beyond my years, and always will be. listen to all they have to say. people will come and go from your life; your parents are not one of those people.

2. don’t feel guilty for venturing from the status quo

as a child, i always wanted to be that kid who “fit in” with everyone else. (let’s be real, who wasn’t that kid?) but living a life focusing on ballet made that harder because no, i can’t go to your party because i have ballet and no, we can’t study together because i have ballet. eventually, that lead to me transferring to an online school (to spend more time dancing) which also meant i basically disappeared from my old friend groups. i tried keeping touch and continue being “normal” (and was annoyed at myself when i couldn’t), but then i learned i didn’t need to force myself into the mold i created.

3. be passionate about things

i (still) have this horrible habit of doing things halfway (or in dance-vocabulary “marking”) in life. i’ll kiiiiiinda do something and expect fantastic results. obviously, the world doesn’t work like that. once you find something you’re really enthusiastic about, don’t be afraid to go all out. which may mean researching online, staying up at night doing that thing, setting goals, looking for improvement, obsessing obsessing obsessing.

4. following up on the last advice, it’s okay to be passionate about more than one thing

i’ll admit, i still have trouble juggling my multiple interests. i always hear of prima ballerinas who dedicate their entire heart and soul into the art. ballet is their everything and they don’t have other interests. but me? i love ballet AND books AND aesthetics AND photography AND a lot of other things. it took me a while to realize it’s okay (and probably completely normal) to like more than one thing.

5. keep an open mind for new ideas, people, and places

there’s a quote by bill nye that says, “everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” i think this is so relevant and true because there is always more to learn, more to see, more to do.

6. don’t walk on unpaved roads (mud, grass, etc) with open-toed shoes

you may or may not know this story, but i once went to mississippi and got attacked by fire ants which eventually led me to go to the hospital. the reason? (aside from my utter stupidity and bad luck) i stepped on a fire ant hill with my open-toed sandals. now i’m overly sensitive to bug bites (before i was merely sensitive but not i’m overly sensitive) and i often have nightmares that include fire ants. lesson learned.

7. “be yourself” is the most misleading advice you will hear as a teen

this phrase is the absolute worst and it only took me three years to figure out what a scam it is. at twelve years old, how on earth was i supposed to “be myself” when i hardly knew who that was? i think people actually mean “create yourself.” before you can even become yourself, you need to make yourself.

8. being inspired by others doesn’t make you a copy-cat

after i realized i had to create myself, i took to copying some of my role models because i wanted to be just like them. i started to feel guilty because i thought i was no longer alexandra and now role-model-wannabe. BUT that’s not true because there’s NO WAY you can actually ~be~ someone else. by being inspired by other’s ideas, quirks, and personalities, you’re creating your own version of them which ultimately means you’re creating yourself. *gasp*

9. fake it till you become it (aka my life motto)

this rookie article will always be one of my favorites because it speaks to me on such a strong level. it’s basically saying if you fake something hard enough, it will become real. lemme explain: if you pretend to be (for example) confident long enough, the confidence will become second nature and you won’t be faking it anymore. ~MAGIC~

10. look at things from multiple perspectives

i always witness people get into disagreements simply because they didn’t look at it from two sides of the story. let me repeat myself: THERE ARE TWO (or more) SIDES TO A STORY. consider everything before jumping to conclusions or else it will lead to misunderstandings and bad blood.

11. life is hardly ever as simple as black and white; most of it is gray

when you’re a kid, things can be easily labeled into boxes of “good” and “bad.” but with more layers added, i’ve learned that it’s never that simple. following the thought on perspective, the “bad” could be thinking they’re doing good. so who’s right here? it’s safe to assume everyone is gray.

12. when in doubt, bring a book

*still has regrets for every appointment/wait/whatever and i forgot my book*

13. know who to dedicate time, love, and effort to

there will be people you meet who (sorry not sorry) are simply not worth your time. this is not to say these are bad people (like i said earlier, most of the time people are gray), but they probably have different priorities and mindsets and you just don’t click. instead, spend more time on people who will recipricate your efforts and appreciate your simple existence.

14. you don’t need fancy things or a lot of friends/followers to be happy

people often think fortune and famous/popularity are the keys to euphoria. but over the years, i’ve come to learn that it’s the small things that hold more meaning. money doesn’t buy you happiness, and neither does a big follower count. although both are nice to have, there are also other things in life that hold value.

15. be nice to your siblings

(and not because my sister is terrifying otherwise.) i used to ALWAYS argue with my sister. when she moved away to college, her missing presence made me realize how grateful i am to have a sister, a person who’s been with you through it all, a person who knows you like no other, a person you can confide in and trust. be nice to them.

16. the progress is just as important as the endgame

when rehearsing for a competition or performance, the purpose is for a stunning show. but what happens when months of hard work fall flat in the two minutes on stage? does it mean it was all for nothing? this awful question helped me come to terms about the true purpose of rehearsals and reaching goals. it’s the progression and improvement that matters more than the ultimate end.

17. be patient

progress is not something that could be easily seen right off the bat. continue doing that thing, be patient, and everything will work out.

18. there are so many things in this world waiting to be discovered, waiting to be pursued

sometimes life feels so small. “i can only be insert-future-profession-here or else i’m NOTHING,” is a thought that circles my mind sometimes but note to self: the future is not set in stone. as cheezy as it sounds, you can be anything and there are SO many possibilites out there.


heartless arc giveaway

because i love gift giving and celebrating (and also because i received an extra copy – thank you, macmillan!!) i’m giving away an ARC of HEARTLESS, by marissa meyer and a tee of your choice from the twirlings! i might add some other goodies/books/whatnots if i feel like it, but those are the ~main~ prizes. *throws confetti* before you get too excited…

here are the terms and conditions:

  • this giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY
  • it will run from june 10, 2016 to june 24, 2016 at 11:59 PST.
  • you must be 18 or older OR have your parent’s consent to release a mailing address.
  • you will be disqualified for picking up entires you didn’t do.
  • you may only use one account to enter.
  • if the winner doesn’t respond in 48 hours, i will choose another winner.
  • i am not responsible for anything lost in the mail.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Alexandra Ling

alexandra is a nineteen-year-old content creator and avid reader. when she's not on the internet or hiding behind pages, you can find her training to be a professional ballet dancer. she finds writing about herself in third-person strange.

  • Kami C.

    I’ve learned so many lessons! Happy Birthday!

  • Prags

    One important thing I’ve learnt in the past few years is to never give into peer pressure. We’re in this stage of life where competition is everything. We have to better than our peers at everything – studies, sports, the debate team, school newspaper – you name it. And then, there’s our friends who’re trying all these new things and it’s not necessary we’re comfortable with all their choices. My best friend may love getting drunk at every opportunity, but I hate alcohol and if I don’t like drinking, it’s important to me that I don’t give into her persuasion of making me drink.
    I have my own life and my own identity and it shouldn’t be overshadowed by what others think I should be doing. And that’s really, really important.

  • Nina Lannister

    Thanks 🙂
    THe lesson I learned last year is that I have to follow what I want to do 🙂 I mean when I choose a job or the things I want to do in life

  • Lessons I learned over the past few years: 1) Wanting to major in a lot of different fields is normal. 2) don’t assume things about everything.


  • Happy birthday, Xan! I turned 17 a few months ago and I can’t believe it’s my last year where I still qualify as a “child”. I can’t believe how time has flown and although I’m terrified of what the future holds, I’m trying to view it as an exciting adventure instead of something that is scary because of the unknown and all the responsibilities that comes with being an adult! >.< I've learned that sometimes friends drift away and it's pointless holding on because people change and you have to accept that their role in your life is mainly over and 2) to take things day by day. I still struggle with this as I worry about a lot of things especially the future and I'm trying to just focus on the now. Thank you for the giveaway! 🙂

  • i’m still young compared to you (only fifteen!) but one of the lessons i’ve learned in life is to never be ashamed to show what you love to do, and those who laugh at you/make jokes about you do not deserve your attention.
    amazing post, xan! and happy birthday!! *throws confetti*

    – Maha @ Younicorn Reads

  • I agree ‘be yourself’ is really hard piece of advice. Really what I think people want to say is “don’t try and be like other people”, but that’s still a part of finding yourself. If you’re inspired by someone you’ll obviously try and take on some of those qualities and ‘create yourself’ is a great piece of stand-in advice. And it’s a piece of advice I would have loved to get when I was 18 (like a million years ago)

    And if it helps you at all, even the people I know in my age range (mid-20s) still don’t consider themselves adults. So there’s no immediate pressure! But congrats on turning 18 🙂

  • Helen

    I learned to never give up on true friends! Happy Birthday!!

  • autumn bracey

    Happy birthday!! Hope 18 treats you well!!

  • Kathya Espinosa

    I learned to not let fear overcome my life. Instead of always saying “what if” all the time, I have learned to be brave and stand up for what I believe in and do what I want even if others don’t join me.

  • autumn bracey

    In the past 2 years of high school, I have learned never take anything for granted. We always complain about how much we hate high school, but it will be over in rhe blink of an eye and you’re going to miss those days. Don’t take your friends for granted, let them know how much they mean to you. Tell your family how much you love them, because you nevwr know when someone can be taken away

  • Javeria @ booksblurbsandbeyond

    I love your ‘create yourself’, like you said it’s hard to be yourself when you don’t even know who that is. I love all your points, you’ve definitely grown and it shows. As some on in their twenties I’m still trying to find myself, don’t worry about it too much. You’ll be able to find yourself, just don’t force it. And, happy brithday!!

  • I have learned to appreciate and love my siblings more and to be more positive 🙂 I have also started doing yoga.

  • Bhavya @ Books N’ Calm

    Happy birthday!!! I feel you! I’ve been an adult for 2 years now but I still don’t feel like one. And its kind of still that awkward stage for me on not being a kid and not being an adult.
    I’ve learned that you need to explore things and push your boundaries. At first I wanted to be a doctor but I took chem & phys and was like ‘Nope. Not happening.’ ANd then it was graphic design and now I’ve taken a communications class and I’m like ‘I think this is it. This is what I want to study and somehow relate this with graphic design and books.’ And there’s so much I’ve learned or found out that I enjoyed/like because I’ve been forced to boundaries. For example, I hate heights but I’ve been pushed into a hike a few time but I end up really enjoying the view and spending time with family/friends.

  • Katharina

    Something I have learned recently is to simply stop being afraid! I’m also reaching the age of being legal soon (muffled scream) and if there’s one thing that I have levelled up in over these years of being an angsty teenager it’s definitely that I have stopped worrying so much. It has made me a happier person and definitely helped me to focus on who I am today, instead of who I will be tomorrow!

  • Paulina Pimentel

    I have learned to find happiness in the small things. I have realized how we take the things we have for granted and if you find happiness in the things you have even in the small ones, your life can change.

  • Amber Mayes

    I learned not to take things so seriously and not to steess over the irrelevant stuff

  • Poulami Ghosh

    First of all, a very happy belated happy birthday!

    In the past few years I have learned to face my fears, how difficult the task might be, I shouldn’t give up and give it my best shot! Also I’ve learned to appreciate my parents more because they love me so much and they’re are always there to support me on my every step. Also I’ve been going through some tough stuff lately and I had to take a mighty big decision, if it wasn’t for my mother I would have given up all hope. So I’ve also learned to find happiness in small things and accept that life may throw some tough decisions at you but you have to face it with all your might! That’s all. 🙂

    – Poulami @ Daydreaming Books

  • Beatriz Guerra-Yanez

    I’ve learned that as long as its not life and death its not very serious.

  • Marlo Smith

    Happy birthday! Something I’ve learned is not to knock it before I’ve tried it! That works for new experiences as well as foods since I tend to just stick with what I like and not branch out. I’ve been having so much fun stepping out of my comfort zone!!

  • Ashley

    Happy Birthday! 😀
    Great post!
    A lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t change something that has already happened, so just move on from it and not let it continue to get you down.

  • I’ve learned to always trust my gut/instincts because they’re usually right. (BTW: I followed you on Bloglovin’ but I accidentally listed my user name as Mama Fashionista when it’s actually quinnryansmith ?)

  • Megan S.

    I have learnt so many lessons in the last few years, but the main ones being that my parents are ALWAYS right, that I should go with my gut instincts and that I should not worry 🙂

  • Julianne

    I have learned to not take things for granted and to work hard for what you want

  • Kailee

    I’ve learned that when you’re young you don’t have to know exactly what you want to be or do. Things have a way of falling into place, so just listen to your gut (:

  • Aza

    Happy Birthday! I’ve learnt to not take anything bad someone says to heart. It’s better to just ignore

  • Booknerdchelcie

    I learned that if you want something you have to work hard for it or else you’ll just make excuses.

  • Jill

    I’ve learned that you may think you don’t have a chance at succeeding but not trying means you have no chance at all ❤

  • Kimberly Rodriguez

    I’ve learned to let what other people think about you define who you are

  • I’ve learned that even though sometimes you really need to read a book, grades do come first lol…

  • Elizabeth Kraft

    What have I learned over the last year(s)? That I need to not hate myself so much. That my depression and anxiety doesn’t define me and that I can get through life if I keep on fighting, as Jared Padalecki from Supernatural says. 🙂

  • Haya @ The YA Bookaholic

    Happy Birthday!!!!! I’ve learned to never change yourself for someone else. If they don’t accept the real you, then they don’t deserve you.

  • Amelie

    Happy birthday! I so agree with the fact that ““be yourself” is the most misleading advice you will hear as a teen”! I went through an identity crisis of some sort during my teeange years and I hated when people told me to just “be myself”. What is that supposed to mean? How am I supposed to know who “myself” is?

    Amelie | http://awanderersadventures.wordpress.com

  • Catarina Silva

    I definitely learned how to love myself. it’s been life changing. it was also hard work but worth every moment because I’m living such a happier life. also, happy birthday!!! 😀 😀 😀

  • I’ve learned to live and love everyday like it was your last. You can’t take material things with you when you go so why not enjoy life to the fullest!!!

  • Rica Cannon

    I’ve learned to love selflessly. That’s what my grandma told me before she died. And to be more patient(because I’ve been waiting for a year now to be with my fiancé). 🙂

  • Aisha

    I have learned to never give up. No matter how hard life might seem at the moment, it’s gonna get better. We should look at the brighter side of things and keep going. And I’ve also learned that sometimes you’ve got to say “No” to people. You can’t let them push you around. You’ve got to stand up for yourself. ?

  • Carol Tea

    Throughout this year I’ve learned and still am trying to come to terms with the fact that I don’t have to be best friends with everyone and I can say no when I want to. I’ve always had this mindset that people need to LIKE me. I’ve believed that maybe I’ll be a better person if more people like me and in a twisted way, that would make me more valued. But I’m still discovering that that’s not entirely the case. If people dislike me, it’s fine. It’s not the end of the world and I can’t please everyone. I need to focus more on the people who want to be with me and who like me for myself and, most especially, I need to focus on myself. That doesn’t give me the right to be impolite or rude but if people dislike the way I act and my morals and mindset, then I have to accept it. I can’t keep changing myself to fit people’s ideals. I can STILL be kind to everyone and give people the right amount of respect they deserve but I’m also allowed to say no and that doesn’t make me a mean person. Sorry this was rather long…?

  • Caitlin

    I’m turning 23 but I’ve been through a couple of different programs that didn’t work for me. I would highly recommend taking the time to know exactly what your passion/goals are for the future, and don’t be afraid to take a year or two off to discover yourself. I know it worked for a few people :).

    I would also strongly recommend taking advantage of any resources that could help in university/college (writing workshops/tutoring). It’s very overwhelming and nothing at all like high school. You’re suddenly expected to be independent and making sure you get all your assignments in. Whatever your high school teachers told you about uni, forget about it, because it’s not true. And always, ALWAYS go to class no matter what, no matter how tempting it is to skip or think, “Oh, I can just read the textbook!” Nope. Just don’t do it.

    I say all this because I’m sure you’re heading to post-secondary now. But you’ll be fine, just wanted to throw that out there ^^”.

  • Soph Reads Books

    One thing I learned is to budget your money and not spend it all on books in one go…haha. And to appreciate your friends and family more.

  • JaNae McKay

    Thankssss so much for hosting this giveaway im dying for a copy of this gorgeous book

  • Cherry

    One lesson I’ve learned is to try new things whenever possible and always explore your options (within reason of course). I used to balk at this advice when I was younger because I enjoyed my safe little comfort zone and rarely ventured outside of it. But this tendency definitely crippled me when it came to figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. I wish I had branched out more and taken all those opportunities available to me. Now I understand why my professor once said, “the magic happens outside this little circle called your comfort zone, and once it gets a little bigger, get out of it again and keep doing it.”

  • Emily Mepham

    something I’ve learned in my 13 years on earth, is that we should always stick by our friends. also, pick good friends. that way, you’ll never get hurt because of each other and you’ll always have someone to talk to 🙂 thanks for the giveaway! I’ve been wanting to buy one of your shirts since I am battement 😉 and the book?

  • Maybeimasquib

    The past two years taught me how strong I really am. I went through a very stressful time and even when things felt so impossibly difficult, I endured. In the end, I learned so much about myself and I was so proud to see how strong I had become.❤

  • Heryani Syafitri

    Happy birthday xan! Lesson I learned is you dont need to be someone else to make everyone happy. You should be yourself to make yourself happy 🙂

  • Emily Dang

    Happy birthday! One thing you should always remember is to always balance your head with your heart, yes it is important to love but its also important to know when to love.

  • olivia

    a lesson i learned in the past few years is that i have my own style and personality, and people who care will love me for who i am. i also learned to take risks and have fun!

  • Missy

    A lesson I’ve learned is that things will always change. Thats the one thing you can’t stop. Change is inevitable, if its good or bad, things will always change. So if things aren’t going well for someone in any aspect of life, don’t sweat it too much. Its just a small moment of your life and things will turn around for the better. And if things are good – they could still change in another unexpected direction. Embrace the change. Its can be scary, but be brave and embrace it! 🙂 (And happy birthday~!!!)

  • Vivien

    Absolutely patience. It has come easier with age.

  • Ashley Winters

    I’ve learned out to interact better with others! I’m so uncomfortable talking to people I’m not close to, but over the past year or so, talking to others has become easier. It’s still nerve-wracking, but I can do it.

    I’ve also learned how to procrastinate less, which is a wonder all in itself hahaha

    Also, thank you for the giveaway! <3

  • This is such an inspiring post! I’ve yet to actually learn something really big in my life that’ll give me a huge life lesson, since I’m still having a hard time coping with all my mistakes and things I’m uncapable of. However, I’ve always been making myself believe that my hardships will eventually be over soon. I’ve learned to be patient and just keep moving forward ’till my hardships eventually come to and end. Though I know a new problem will always replace the last, I know I’ll keep on overcoming them again and again. 🙂

    Lovely post, Alexandra! I loved reading your life lessons ♥

    P.S.: I know I’ve already greeted you on Twitter but I just wanted to say again – HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! I hope you’ll have a great 18th. c:

  • Alexandra M.

    #12 is sooo true; every time I would leave my book at home, I’d go to school and hate myself for all the times throughout the day I could’ve been reading.

  • Anna Spahiu

    Your advices are everything! I’ve learned that family should always come first, no matter what. Happy birthday dear! ?

  • wohooo! happy 18th birthday! i’ve heard a lot about #9, and it’s hard at the beginning, but after awhile i guess it gets easier to practice it 😀 and yes to #18. there are so many things and opportunities to try, we just have to willing to take the first step to venture outside our comfort zone 😀

  • Gabriella Konyak

    I have learned the value of time. By the way “Happy Birthday” to you pretty one. You are so inspiring…and love all your post. Thank you for the give away. God bless you!

  • Ayustika Basak

    First of all..a very very very happy birthday to you!! i turned 18 a few months back and i can relate to this post so much! i am going to echo what you have already written — i have learned that i need to be patient with life.. your blogs are amazing and again — happy birthday!! 😀

  • Erika

    Happy birthday Alexandra! One lesson I learned this year is that you can be happy without your false friends (Yes, I had them for three years) and the things you don’t want to. I learned also that you have to fight to be happy.

    Also, thank yoi for the giveaway!

  • Diana Giote

    Your gut is always right.

    Thank you for the chance!!!!
    Raffle name: Artemis Giote

  • Mariska Bester

    One thing I’ve learnt is to just enjoy the moment. It’s so cheesy but it’s honestly something I regret not doing in so many situations and I wish I could go back and just ~enjoy~ it, rather than obsess about a good picture coming out of it. and thank you for the giveaway, so excited! ?

  • Shereen Gh

    I’ve learned to focus more on what I expect out of myself rather than what is expected from me by others. It’s more important to meet my standards. Also to have fun first, and care about what people think later.

  • Margaret Cook

    What a lovely post! It reminded me that we can learn from anyone any time. People who you might consider too different – too young or too old or from a different background – still have something to teach you if you give them a chance and keep an open mind.

  • Jasmine Sanchez

    Completely agree with all of these!

  • Jo Elliott

    I’ve learned that it’s more important to live up to the standards you set yourself rather than the standards set by other people.

  • Maddy Sharples

    I’ve learnt that if you are happy, proud and confident about yourself then that is all the love you need. You don’t need someone else’s approval to be complete, once youve accepted yourself fully, it won’t matter how other people view you. (I hope that makes sense :P)

  • Be nice to your siblings is so true! My brothers and I used to fight a lot, but we’ve all grown up and are really close now. It’s like we’re a team against our parents when they do something annoying and we can just complain to each other haha!

  • Happy birthday, Xan! A lesson I’ve learned in the last few years is that life may not go according to plan, but sometimes it all goes wrong for the right reasons (which incidentally is also a song haha). I love the wisdom you shared here too, and I hope your eighteenth year would be a wonderful one!

  • Stephanie Moore

    That life is short and each day is truly a blessing <3

  • Rochika Shrestha

    In twenty years of my life, so far, I have learnt that we do not get everything in a life. Some things are never meant to be.

  • Becca Stevenson

    2. YOUR ADVICE MAKES MY HEART. SING. I feel like we don’t get enough of what you’re preaching on the Internet. I mean, there sure is a lot of angst when it comes to parents, and I completely understand that there are sucky parents out there, but there are so many also really great ones who probably know more than you do, so you just need to trust and listen to them. And be yourself has always confused me…because I’m really not perfect. I can be bratty and selfish and judgemental and I’m not proud of that….so why are people telling me to be myself when I’m trying to be so much better than that??? I get that the advice has good intentions, but to me, it’s soooo not helpful. Fake it till you become it? NOW THAT IS PERFECT! Because I want to become a more confident person and I want to become a kinder person and for now, I’ll just fake it and hope that one day I’ll become just that.
    Basically, I didn’t think I could ever admire you more BUT I DO EVERY SINGLE DAY.

  • It’s crazy hold old everyone is getting, and that I’ll probably (if I can get my blogging together) be writing a post about how crazy it is to be 18 in a few months. One lesson I’ve learned is that experiences are better than things. It’s cool to own stuff, but I like to own only useful stuff (clothes, a computer, cameras, ~books~, water bottles, etc) cause I feel that I’d rather have tons of cool experiences travelling and things than own a bunch of stuff.

  • A little late, but better late than never: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    I agree with a lot of the points you make in this post! I only recently realised that I don’t need a lot of things to be happy, which led to me getting rid of about 50% of my belongings. I guess I’m a hoarder sometimes. Like I keep empty boxes for no good reason at all… who does that?! Listening to your parents is also a good one!

  • priih

    “fake it till you become it” i must confess it’s the first time i read this and i loved?! I’m definetly going to use this one from now on.
    Your blog and instagram (and of course, yourself) are such an inspiration to me, and I guess you already know that, since that blog post i wrote.
    Thanks for hosting this amazing giveaway, and also: happy belated birthday! <3


  • sophia life

    i don’t need the arc but another twirlings shirt? yes please *heart eyes*
    a lesson i’ve learned in my 16 years of life is DEFINITELY listen to your parents. another lesson, and my life motto, is work smarter, not harder! 🙂

  • Sinceyouvebeenbooks

    In the past year or so, I’ve learned that It’s okay to fail.
    In school (especially PE) I wouldn’t give my all, because what if I’d do something wrong? I was afraid so afraid of failing that I didn’t even try. This whole thing made my grades a bit worse too in some subjects.
    Last year that really changed though! I don’t really know why, but I realized that it’s okay to fail sometimes and that I can’t be perfect. So what if I say the wrong answer to a question in class? And is it really that bad to miss the ball completely when you try to pass it to someone? It may be embarrassing right at that moment but, believe it or not ladies and gentlemen, it’s not the end of the world. *gasp* Just laugh it off, no one will remember it later anyways!
    That’s something I wish I had always known!
    And I’m sorry if my English isn’t the best, it’s not my first language

  • Vicky ϟ

    I would literally cry SO MUCH if I won this. I literally want this ARC SOOO, SO bad! I love Marissa Meyer! I’ve learned a lot of things in the past year/years. I’m 20, so only two years older, but one of the things I’ve learned is most things don’t go to plan. I’m not really religious but I once heard a saying that God laughs t your plans, and religious or not, this is so true! Another thing is, don’t take any messing from anybody. You deserve the best for yourself. Also fake it till you make it is one of my favourite sayings!

    I hope you had a lovely birthday, and happy 18th! 🙂

  • samtasia

    I adored this post! Thank you for sharing what you’ve learned over the years. The article you mentioned was very interesting, I really liked the ideas it mentioned. P.S., I am IN LOVE with that song now. *starts obsessivley listening*

  • TaraM

    I enjoyed this post so much. Thanks so much for sharing this advice it’s really helpful and inspiring i definitely need to work on doing a full job on something to get results.

  • Stephanie W.

    In the last few years I learned a lot of lessons but most importantly that things tend to have a way to work out. Instead of getting really frustrated after writing thousands of applications, I also now know that even if it takes a few months it all worked out and I love my life and job. It only requires some patience.

  • Ellie Pelto

    I have learned in the last few years that life is too short to finish a book I don’t like. 🙂

  • Keanna Lewis

    Yes, bringing a book everywhere is always helpful and such a distraction. As I grew up, I learned that my parents only want the best even if I don’t see how or why. I loved this post and wished I had this a few years back. 🙂

  • Lorraine Duran

    I’ve learned it doesn’t matter what people think about what your reading if you enjoy it why be ashamed of reading it? Read whatever you want to read bu6 don’t shove it down someone else’s throat. What is right for you might not be right for someone else. An always bring a book doesn’t matter where you are going.

  • These are all amazing–I can’t even pick a favorite, although I’m especially torn between creating yourself and bringing a book everywhere, because I think those were two things I especially needed to learn. I also had to come to terms with my psychological landscape, instead of just letting my father dictate what was supposedly going on in my head. It took longer to feel free to stand up about that, but I wish I had let myself feel free to sooner.

    Thank you for sharing! And thank you for the giveaway! Happy Birthday!

  • #12 is my life…i literally ALWAYS forget to bring a book to places i’ll be at for long, but i’ll remember when i’m going some place i don’t have time to read xD also: that shirt is absolutely adorable!!

  • JM Cabral

    I’ve learned that in the end, you’re solely responsible for what you make or do in life. You can’t point your fingers to anyone, because it is YOUR life. You make your own choices, and it is up to us to make it with pride and no regrets. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post, Alexandra, and thank you for the chance to win Heartless! 😀

  • Biblio Athena

    That I don’t need the rest of the world to make me happy. I’m capable enough to do it myself ?

  • Bashayer A

    You have the right to do anything makes you feel happy, trust your guts. ‘Be yourself and let others be different’ – I like this quote from Vadim Zeland

  • MsRCreation

    I have learned to take one thing at a time. I’m still figuring it out but I over think and over stress everything so just remembering to breathe and take a step at a time has helped a lot.

  • Komal Jain

    That i need to start writing !

  • payton

    I learned that everything happens for a reason. I always get either super mad when something doesn’t go my way or super hurt if someone leaves my life but it’s just to make room for something or someone better and greater to enter your life.

  • Brianna

    This is such a great idea (and giveaway) I love how you came up with advice. And I’m at that age were I’m between being an adult and a teen xD

  • Candace and Kattie

    I have learned to try and stay calm about things and not to freak out. There is a lot in life as an adult that you have no idea that can happen, so it is best to just take moment by moment.

  • Novelgossip

    I’m quite a bit older than you ?and the advice is right on! Awesome giveaway as well. ?

  • Alisha Tarran

    I learned to keep a level head, and to stop reacting instinctively to things. Also to be honest as much as possible!

  • Elke

    I learned “when in doubt, bring a book” the hard way aswel 🙂 And I learned that perfection does not exist, and it’s all about the process. Also, always be a little kinder than you have to, everyone you meet is fighting their own battles

  • Fiza Halliwell

    I learned to be more social in real life :3

  • Chelsea B.

    No one’s opinion of yourself matters half as much as your own.

  • Isabella

    Happy birthday! I’ve learned many, but one is that in life, but especially in auditions, even if you can’t do something well, just say you can do it! You can always try to learn the skill later on.

  • Nina vd Voort

    Very happy birthday! And I think the lesson I will always value most is one I learned very recently, which is never stop believing in yourself even though everything seems to go wrong because in the end it will turn out all right, and I think it’s one of the most important ones ever 🙂

  • Isabela Avila

    I’ve learned quite a few, but one that has stuck with me is being nice to your siblings.

  • Seren Cho

    I learned that you have to go after what you want and never hold back. I’ve learned that giving up on your dreams takes away your happiness and self love.

  • Alyssa Carvajal

    During my third year of university, I hit a really hard and stressful time. I think it was very important to slow down and remember that school and all these future plans shouldn’t lead your life, of course it’s all important. But I realized I was missing out on a lot. Just slowing down and really enjoying the present I think is so important and it took a really stressful life situation for me to learn that aha!

  • Lauren

    I learned that that if you want to achieve something you need to try and try until you reach your goal. Giving up isn’t an option.
    Learned this throughout Uni!

  • I learned recently that sometimes, holding on will hurt you more than letting go (it’s about my work, not love). Because in my previous job (left recently), I felt suffocated and I’m not really happy of what I’m doing but I endured it because 1. I don’t want to disappoint my parents and 2. I’m afraid to be jobless. But after talking reasons to myself, I decided that it’s time for me to let go and so I quit my job last May and I may be jobless right now but I feel happier than before. 🙂

  • janeli

    When you said that you constantly think that if you don’t achieve the profession you want you’re nothing. That’s always in my mind. Everything I do in school, I do to help me achieve my dream job. But when things don’t go my way I stress out and constantly tell myself that “this is it, this is what’s going to screw my dream”. And you’re right the future isn’t set in stone and I’ve learned that it’s not the end of the world when the going gets tough

  • Nicole Solero

    One thing I’ve learned these past few years is dealing with my depression & anxiety. I was officially diagnosed in 8th grade but started the symptoms as a child. I have 3 immediate family member that deal with schizo affective disorder, manic depressive disorder & GAD. Every waking moment was a loss of breath & tough. But I’ve learned to push through. I’ve learned to cope, and to remember that it’s NOT the end of the world! I’ve learned to breathe, to get up of my bed instead of lying there till 3pm. I’ve learned that the day is worth it & so I CAN take that shower. I’ve learned to celebrate every little success, because no one is going to do it for you. To embrace life for ALL its parts. Even the stone cold depression that hits me on a day to day basis. I’ve learned this all. And books have helped. To escape moments from my mind to someone else’s. To be reminded that NO ONE is perfect & that we all face our demons. To enter lands where the impossible is possible! Thank you books! And thank you to you! You’re account/blog/Bookstagram has brought so much light to me!! Like I feel inspired everyday to create! And reading your reviews & advice & tips seriously is sooo exciting! So thank you.

  • Morelia Garcia

    One of the things that I have learned is to open up and allow people to help. Whether that is emotionally or physically. I’ve learned not to be afraid to ask for help. If I ever find myself struggling, I remind myself that it is okay to allow someone to help me, that it is okay to ask someone for assistance. We can’t always do everything by ourselves. This helped me deal with some of the struggles I was having within myself. I told myself that I didn’t have to go through this alone, that it wouldn’t hurt to open up to someone and it really did help knowing I wasn’t alone.

  • Maja D Jørgensen

    Things I’ve learned? That 400+ books aren’t cheap. Honestly, my life has been on a standstill and I’ve mostly just been buying books.

    But if we’re going to be more serious. Then I’ve learned that even after 5 years of darkness, it can get better if you allow yourself to reach out to someone. My mental health has been far from… well… healthy… but I somehow managed to quit smoking, overcome the worst of my social anxiety, and generally feel better after I decides to ask for help.

  • Raneem Khankan

    I learned that book friends are some of the best and the book community is amazing

  • One of many things I learnt is to always have patience, and to not stress myself when things get crazy. Especially during university. Thank-you so much for this giveaway. <3

  • micheline

    I learned that “dont worry ’till you have to” is something really useful 🙂

  • Chloé L

    I learned that even if i love my books so much i have to out in the real wolrld, now i need to actually do it !! 😉

  • sadie

    I’ve learned that no matter how hard you try, you can’t bring back the past, and sometimes it’s for the best!

  • Random Person #47

    I learned books don’t make you a weaker person, they make you stronger. I used to think sports were the only thing to make guys strong.

  • Happy Belated Birthday! I learned that no matter what people expect of you, you must always follow your heart & trust your instinct.

  • Nikki Orbon

    Hi 🙂 new to the blog here! An important thing I’ve learned, after years of being too shy, was to say no. People always said I was kind and I am proud of that, however sometimes they took advantage of that. I always spread myself too thin until I was exhausted doing a billion different thing for a billion different people. I had to take a step back, reevaluate myself and learn that sometimes I come first, and that’s perfectly okay.

  • I’ve learned that putting myself out there in regards to social media and other outlets can give me more opportunities!!

  • 100% agree with that book one. every time i waited at my doctor’s patient room thiny, where they just had toys for kids, i’d have nothing to do. also, omg!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

  • Ele

    I’ve learned that it’s perfectly okay to be a weird and diverse person that likes many different things;) ~Happy (late) Birthday! I really love your blog + bookstagram~

  • happy late birthday, almost birthday twin. I hope it was as amazing as you. <3
    my lesson is to always remember the people have stayed by you.

  • Jewel

    Never expect. Be patient. Don’t rush. There’s always a time for everything. 🙂

  • shelovestoread

    People always leave you can’t do anything about it.

  • Melanie

    The best lesson I’ve ever been taught -> You are beautiful. Don’t let anyone tell you differently, not even yourself.”

  • Sandra Mendes

    Excellent giveaway! It’s my first time here, but I’ve followed you for a while on Instagram. I love your pics!

  • Olivia Ho

    I’ve learned that even though things may not seem like the best at the moment, there is always a brighter side to everything. I remind myself of the people in my life who make me happy and know that things really are good if these people are in my life. 🙂

  • Anastasia N.

    An important lesson I learned is that I should try to become more confident and figure out more about myself and not to try to conform into others expectations

  • Claire

    I learned that things will unroll over time. You can’t expect everything you want to happen or come to you the moment you want it. If you are patient, then you will get it. Because of this, I’m a very “go with the flow” kind of person- and everyone lets me know?

  • Carol W.

    I am beautiful just as I am, I am enough & it IS more than okay to be exactly who I am in that moment. As I grew old, those three are the best lessons or aha moments in my life! xoxo Carol W.

  • ecstaticbeauty

    Live in the moment. Always give people your full attention and let them know how much they mean to you.

  • Beatrice

    A lesson I’ve learned is that not everything you do always has to be perfect. It’s okay to relax and give yourself space to be imperfect 🙂

  • Jennie Cresswell

    be comfortable in your own skin! you have to be otherwise how can other people be?

  • Angel

    I’ve learned that writing everyday is easier than allowing creative thoughts to disappear. even if out of context it doesn’t seem meaningful, it’s always fun to come back to and decide how to expand on it.

  • Caterina Smirky

    Accept and love yourself with your flaws, before you can feel true sentiments for anyone else!

  • lily

    I’ve learned that you can’t let the world change how you see yourself and hide who you truly are. Be yourself, you are loved!

  • one *very* valuable lesson i’ve learned is to never let your ambition cloud your judgement. don’t get into a bad or unhealthy situation just because it’ll advance your position. don’t let the light of the stars blind you to the danger in front of you.

  • Rachel

    I’ve learned to embrace who you are. Others may stand in the way of what your goals are in life, but learning to trust yourself is the best thing you can do.

  • I learned not to be so hard on myself and to not procrastinate! Happy Birthday! 17 was as great year for me too, but 20 was even better! Adulting, though frustrating sometimes, is worth it <3

    P.S. I followed you on Twitter under @IndiaHillWrites, but I think I typed in @BooksandBigHair for that. Whoops!