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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.

giveaway!!

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.

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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.