My dad passed away when I was 25 years old. It took me a year and a half to really cope with not only the loss of my father but the loss of my previous relationships and all the past mistakes I made in my life. These are 25 lessons that I learned from my growth.
1. Unconditional love
Though growing up, love filled my entire house, it wasn’t until my father had passed away that I truly understood the concept of unconditional love. I have been blessed with amazing people in my life that have loved me throughout my darkest times. After my father died, I lost who I was and I was unsure and angry about everything in my life, but they still loved me and were constantly there for me. They reminded me of who I was before my dad died and gave me hope that I will be that person again. This is what unconditional love is — when people love you in spite of your brokenness and accept you for who you are flaws and all.
2. It’s more important to be kind than to be right
We live in an ego-driven world where the need to be right is constantly a battle between two people in conversations. We feel as if we are threatened and need to prove someone wrong by establishing ourselves as right. Whether we intend to or not, when we do this, we have a tendency to be unkind in the process. When we just accept the other person, whether they are right or wrong, we send them conditional love and operate with kindness.
3. Forgive yourself. You are not perfect, nor do you have to be.
Often times we make stupid mistakes and our self-talk becomes self-degrading. This was my case. I blamed myself for my dad’s death. I blamed myself because I was the one who decided to move across the country for 9 years. It took me a year to truly forgive myself for all the missed birthdays and holidays I could have spent with my dad before he passed. Forgive yourself and learn from your mistakes
4. Forgive others.
The famous Mark Twain once said, “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured”. More often than not, someone has hurt us causing excruciating pain. They lied. They cheated. They stole. It hurts. It truly does, but we have to learn to forgive the ones that hurt us even if they never actually say sorry because, in the end, the person holding the anger will hurt even more.
5. Make decisions based out of love, instead of fear.
Our emotions are so powerful that it can truly change our lives. We make one decision out of anger, it can chaos. We cause more drama and stir up more trouble when we make decisions out of anger and hate. But when we learn to make decisions out of love, our life will be filled with more joy, happiness, and love.
6. Never judge someone
We all come from different types of backgrounds. Some of us may have grown up with one parent. Some of us with two — sometimes heterosexual sometimes with both parents being the same gender. All in all, we come from a wide-range of backgrounds and life experiences. When we walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, we truly understand why they have the beliefs that they do and why they do what they do. We cannot judge one another because we walked a different path. Rather let’s support each other because of our differences because that is what truly makes us uniquely beautiful.
7. Memories live forever
No matter what the circumstances are, nothing ever really prepares you for a death of loved one. One minute you were having a casual conversation at the dinner table. The next minute they are gone. One of the hardest parts of grieving a death was letting go and understanding that just because you closed this one chapter in your life, does not mean you can’t go back and re-read the page. But remember, do not stay there. Move forward with your life and create new memories, with them right by your side, just in a different form.
8. Spend more time with family
I missed 9 years of birthdays and holidays. 9 years because I was selfish. Don’t make the same mistake I did and not spend time with family. So often when a holiday comes, we make the excuse, “oh well, I’ll just go next year”. No, don’t wait! So much can happen in a year and you might not get the chance again. Love your family and cherish them. They truly are a gift from God.
9. It’s okay to cry and not be strong.
I was always known as the strong one. And when my father passed, I did not take any time to grieve. Everyone was so surprised that I went back to work, but I just wanted to numb the pain. Most people would tell me that I was so strong and that I would get through this. I didn’t cry for quite some time until I finally broke down after I had not only lost my dad but a good friend in the process. Don’t wait to cry. Don’t bottle your emotions. If you need to cry, it’s okay. Let it. Sometimes, all you need is a good cry.
10. Be grateful for all the small precious moments in life
Too often we are always in a “lack” mindset. Rather than looking at the glass half empty, look at the glass half full. You will be surprised at how many blessings you do have.
11. Sometimes what looks like a disaster could turn into a blessing
How many times has this happened to you? Worrying about what will happen next is not worth it. Sometimes we only see things from a different perspective, without realizing that what had happened may be a blessing. Your girlfriend/boyfriend broke up with you? Well, maybe this is a blessing for you to focus on yourself. Did you lose your job? Maybe, this is a sign to find a new job. You were constantly complaining about that old job, anyways. A loved one passed away? Well, you just gained an angel to watch over you.
12. Stop setting unrealistic expectations for yourself
Growing up in a Catholic family from the countryside, I grew up with the expectations of getting married by 25. When 25 came, I met an amazing guy who had everything I wanted in a husband, but I forced marriage. I thought that marriage would fulfill me and fill the dark hole in my heart after my dad had died, but in reality, it wouldn’t have. If you can’t be happy with who you are and where you are now, nothing will be able to fulfill you. So, be happy with where you are at this current moment, but also strive for something greater. Do I still want to get married? Of course! But I do not have a timeline, nor am I going to force marriage on anyone. Marriage, to me, is a beautiful union, but I also believe that I want someone who challenges me to be a better person. Now, remember that is different from setting expectations for yourself. There are parts of you, that you love. It could be the fact that you love to play the violin or that you love football. Your significant other should not want you to stop these beautiful attributes of yourself, but rather inspire you to grow.
13. Never force something. If it comes let it, if it goes let it.
Everything in life is temporary and nothing belongs to us. We come into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing — except the memories we formed during the journey of life. How many times in our life do we freak out and worry about something that has left our lives? We worry so much about whether a person will text back or whether we will get a job. Worrying is a waste of time. Instead, let go. If it comes, let it — congrats it was meant for you! If it goes, let it — there will always be another opportunity.
14. Pay off your debt
As simple as this is, this is much of a life lesson as any other. Pay off your debt and save your money. I have seen so many people on social media just buy things to make themselves look good for a photo so that they can increase their likes. Then they never wear their outfit ever again. Don’t do this. Save your money. Pay off your debt. Your future will thank you.
15. Pain is part of the process of growth. It too will pass.
After my dad died, It felt like the entire world was on my shoulders because not too long after, I went through a tough break-up and a car had hit me (hit and run). I was devastated. I didn’t understand why all this was happening to me. It took about a year for me to heal. For some people, it may take longer. Sometimes even shorter! Do I regret what happened to me and wished it didn’t happen at all? No. Not at all because sometimes people have to go through things to learn and grow. We can’t grow when everything is happy. Sometimes we need struggles to truly experience life and know who we truly are.
16. Be open to other people’s views even if you disagree with them
Very important. Don’t promote division. We have enough of that. It’s okay to disagree, but understand where they are coming from. They may have a story to tell that will help humble you or even save you.
17. Start working on your dream project now.
For years, I have procrastinated on working on projects. I waited and waited to work on my dream projects. Until I realized that life is long, but it is also short! A lot can happen in a year and your desires aren’t just some random feeling, it may actually be connected to your purpose. If you are passionate about something and have been wanting to work on a side project. The best time to start is NOW. Whether that’s 10 minutes a day, 30 minutes a day or even 5 hours a day, start NOW. Not all dream projects turn into full-time gigs, but that’s okay! Just take the small step to work towards your dreams and you will live a happier your life!
18. Care more about your own humanity than your own popularity
There are enough fake and rude people in this world. Give love to the world, by being kind and loving others. Don’t degrade anyone or anyone’s views just to “gossip”.
19. Don’t wait until it’s gone to notice the blessings of what you have
This happens way too often than not. Be grateful and acknowledge someone or yourself for the blessing you are and the blessings you have!
20. In the midst of darkness, there you will find out who is the light in your life.
I’ve lost lots of people in my life. Not just through death, but through growth. It is really no one’s fault. Most people don’t know what to say because we’ve made it a habit to hide our pain and feelings from our friends that it has become second nature to not embrace the pain that will eventually help our growth. We start to lose friends because they think we are either going “crazy” or we are just “depressed”. For a while, we have to sit with our loneliness, but once we really start to like who we are when we are by ourselves, we are able to find our tribe. I’ve made many friends in my lifetime. Some that I expected to be there for me through it all, but then turned out to not want to call me because I was too “sad” to be around. And you know what? That’s okay because, in the midst of that darkness, I found out who I was and who is really will be there for me.
21. Don’t get addicted to “fun”.
Drinking. Drugs. Partying. These three things are all considered the “fun” norm in a young adult’s life. To be honest, those were fun things to do when I was younger, but at some point in your life, it does get old. Don’t get addicted to it.
22. Know the difference between a need and a want
This life lesson is something that will save your wallet and save yourself. Remember, we already have everything that we need.
23. Your kids aren’t you and you are not your parents
Self-explanatory. Stop setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. Make yourself happy.
24. Things gather dust. Don’t hoard
I used to buy lots and lots of things, random things — from designer bags to a $500 dress that I would only wear once. None of these things matter. The event that I wore it to may matter, but who really cares if you wear a $20 dress versus a $500. No one — other than superficial people, of course. It’s not worth it. Make more memories with people who love you for you and not what you have, because things just gather dust.
25. Change is good
I hated change. Absolutely despised it. But remember, no matter what happens, everything changes. People grow, you move to another city, you get a new job, you meet new friends, life is always changing and change is often how we learn our lessons.