21 Things I’ve learned in 21 Years

After 21 years on this Earth ( wow, it is so weird to say that ) it is safe to say that I’ve learned some things. From laughter and joy, to failures and heartbreaks, everything that I’ve gone through has made me the person that I am today. I wanted to share with you some lessons that have made me wiser, stronger and more mature.

1. IT IS OKAY TO BE UNIQUE

Growing up, I was very quiet and shy. I preferred to be “behind the scenes” rather than being a “star”. So as you can imagine, I’ve had a hard time fitting in. Somehow, that didn’t bother me as much. I loved to hide behind my drawings and cartoons. It was a world where I felt safe, where I had the power to create my own destiny. I was that kid who watched as many cartoons as she could get her hands on and was pretty much obsessed with anime. I kept that part of me hidden though. People already thought I was childish so why would I give them another reason to do so? With time, I realised that it wasn’t a shame to be childish, nor it was a shame to like something different. Why would I want to blend with the others, to change just to be like them instead of fully accepting myself as I am? I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not just so that other people would like me. I don’t have to blend in. I am fine just the way I am, and God I’ve never loved myself more than I do now.

2. IT IS OKAY TO FAIL

For the past two years I’ve had my fair share of failures. If anything, they made me stronger. For the longest time I was trapped in a bubble where everything was rainbows and sunshine. It was like an alternate universe, meant to protect my innocence. I am no longer who I was in high school, nor who I was even 6 months ago. Failure brings pain but also wisdom. Each time you fail, you get up stronger. Don’t resent failure no matter how hard it hits you. Without it, you wouldn’t grow intellectually and as an individual.

3. LISTEN TO YOUR PARENTS

They without a doubt know more than you do. My mom and dad are everything to me. Ever since I was little, they made sure I had everything I needed even when they had little money. They raised me to be humble, to appreciate everything I have and to be kind. They are always there to give me advice, to teach me the differences between right and wrong. Their wisdom, strength, unconditional love and guidance are essential. Without them I would be lost.

4. SOMETIMES YOU’RE GONNA MAKE MISTAKES

Not even your family and friends can help you avoid this one forever. No one has escaped from mistakes. If anything… provided you let them, they can make you a better person. As much as it hurts, it’s important for your self growth. It took me a while to see this, but there’s always light at the end of the tunnel, even when you ceased to hope for it.

5. EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON 

There is no coincidence. Every mistake, every failure, every friendship, every relationship happens for a reason without a doubt. I have learned that everything that I do or choose has a meaning.

6. YOU ARE BLESSED

I am ashamed to say that it took me some time to see this. In fact, it took something for me to not be blinded anymore. My failures in college came with their ups and downs. They’ve changed me in more ways than one. For the first time, I started to fully appreciate how blessed and loved I am. It’s funny how moments like this actually open your eyes to what is right in front of you. Yes, it made me be grateful for everything that I have, yes, I AM BLESSED beyond belief and I was too stupid to see it.

7. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF FOR A CHANGE

I have the tendency to neglect myself. I know it’s not okay but sometimes I cannot help it. I have to remind myself to try and take it slow for once. This is based a lot on self confidence and also on self discovery. Think about it. There must be some moments when you just feel emotionally drained, when you want to scream or never get out of the room. Well that is when your mind tells you to take a deep breath and do something that you love, something that helps you heal and escape from your problems for a bit.

8. PEOPLE CAN GIVE YOU THEIR WORST

No matter what, there are some people you meet who just aren’t going to treat you well. We all have our demons, and sometimes we deal with them by unleashing their force on others. This is not an excuse, I know, but I try to be nice to them anyway. At the end of the day, treating someone as badly as they treat you is nothing more than revenge. It’s neither fulfilling or necessarily.

9. IT IS OKAY TO FEEL LOST

No one really knows what they want right away. If I really think about it, most of my friends don’t have an idea of what they want to be, and that is okay. To tell you the truth, there were moments when I felt so lost (still am some days) because it seemed that I was walking towards an endless unknown path. But then I realised, it is supposed to be that way. Not even my parents or grandparents knew what the hell they were going to do with their lives when they were my age. They figured it out along the way. I guess we all have to do the same.

10. LOVE YOURSELF

THIS IS A MUST! I cannot tell you how much my life has changed ever since I started to accept myself, to be more confident. Though I am nowhere near achieving my goal completely, I am slowly getting there. I now know how important it is to love yourself. If you don’t, not only it is damaging for your heart and soul, but also for the people around you. If you don’t love yourself, why would you expect others to do so?.

11. NEVER STOP LEARNING

Nope, I am not just talking about academic intelligence. You could be the smartest kid in school but not in life. So when I say never stop learning, I actually mean to take everything that life has to offer and turn it into a lesson. Life knowledge is just as important as academic knowledge.

12. HAVE FAITH

In my darkest of times, when I was in such a low place that I thought I was worthless, that’s when faith saved me. One night, when I was on the verge of having a breakdown, I decided to listen to some music since it always calmed me down. I opened up my Apple music and unknowingly searched for the song that would change everything for me. I somehow got to Rachel Platten’s new album, which I am not kidding, wasn’t even released half an hour earlier when I last checked. I was quite surprised, as you can imagine. As I was scrolling down, my eyes landed on the song GRACE. I don’t know why but I was really drawn to it. I pressed play and I started to be overwhelmed by this incredible sense of understanding. I had goosebumps and I was shaking. Never, in my entire life, has ever been a song to define my whole being like that until that moment. The answer that I’ve been waiting for such a long time finally revealed itself. That song brought me peace and comfort. Because of it, I’ve regained my faith in God, and also, faith in myself.

13. THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE WILL CHANGE YOU

I always trust my gut when it comes to choosing the perfect people for me. Let me tell you, I was never wrong. Every person that I’ve allowed to be in my life has changed me for the better. With their strength, wisdom, kindness and confidence, they’ve all played an important part into my life. They’ve inspired me to be better, to cherish every moment that I’ve been given, to be happy and to believe that I am capable of amazing things. I can never thank them enough for what they did and still do for me.

14. JEALOUSY HAS ITS UPS AND DOWNS

Believe it or not, jealousy can actually be a blessing in disguise. In the past year, I’ve had moments when I hated myself because I was jealous of the success of others. I thought: Why not me? Why am I not doing anything as amazing as that? It consumed me to a point when I started to become someone I couldn’t recognize. It was one of my lowest points. I felt useless, untalented and a failure. I had this mindset until I realised that I can actually use this as a motivation to fulfill my dreams rather than be jealous of something that I don’t wholeheartedly want. This is how this blog revived. This is how I started drawing again. This is how I started to practice my singing again.

15. TREAT PEOPLE HOW YOU WISH TO BE TREATED

I keep this with me everyday, especially now with how dark the world is. I never stopped hoping, believing that WE will be better. I think if I did, I would lose myself completely into this darkness. This is why I set a goal upon myself: to try each day to be kinder and to help people when they need it. I remember one time in my volunteering years when I participated in my all time favourite activity: “free hugs”. I was humbled and extremely touched at how many people were so open to it. Some even said they needed that hug more than ever. People are often evil and selfish, but there is also kindness, happiness and joy within them. I will never cease to stop believing, because there are people out there that are worthy of every drop of kindness you can offer. You never know when you can change someone’s life by just giving a small compliment, or a smile, or a hug.

16. YOU DEFINITELY ARE YOUR HARSHEST CRITIC

Whenever I do something, I want it to be perfect.  When something doesn’t turn out the way I envisioned, I feel incompetent. It doesn’t do wonders to my self esteem either. The main issue here is that I am too hard on myself. I see that fact, but its still difficult for me to not be. I have to get used to the idea that I am and always will be my harshest critic.

17. PEOPLE ARE SELFISH

I would be the first to say that I’ve had moments when I thought of only myself. I don’t have an excuse for this, but I am trying to manage it. I am aware of my flaws, I am not perfect, but every day I try to turn them into little helpers… helpers who make me want to be better. Humanity is selfish, and I am no exception.

18. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE LITTLE THINGS

I’ve found that I am happiest when little things happen. Last summer I posted on twitter a picture with me holding Lily Collins’ book and went to bed. The next morning I woke up with my phone filled with messages. In the back of my mind I kind of knew why but I still thought Nah, there’s no way… I opened up my twitter, and there it was. Lily Collins saw my picture. My heart was full of joy and I felt pure happiness. Having one of my role models respond to my post meant everything to me. It’s not about the grand gestures, but about little things.

19. NO REGRETS

Your life is how it’s supposed to be. Even with it’s ups and downs, I’ve learned to never take it for granted and certainly not regret anything that I’ve gone through. And you shouldn’t either. Love your life because it’s priceless and irreplaceable.

20. STOP TRYING TO BE PERFECT

The truth is, I am not perfect. No one is. I have to stop trying to be flawless. I would be inhuman if I didn’t have my fair share of flaws. Instead of resenting them, I am trying (as I already mentioned) to analyse them and to learn from them in order to become the best version I can possibly be. We all have the potential to be great, but never to be perfect.

21. NOTHING COMES EASY

Oh boy, where do I even start. I mentioned already that I am childish. Well, this doesn’t come with disadvantages. When I had secured myself with a place in college, I felt free and capable of doing anything. I was so naive to think that from then on everything that I ever desired to have will fall down from the skies. Now I know that it’s actually the opposite. No one became successful without working hard.

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A different kind of December 1st

The beginning of December usually means two things: Christmas is coming and, also, my country’s national day. It is a day of joy when people gather around in our city center to see the fireworks with their family and friends. Now, throughout the years have I never really went out on this particular day mainly because my introverted side was giving me reasons not to. Last year was actually the first time that I’ve managed to convince myself to give it a go and since I really enjoyed it I decided to go this year as well.

The night started off normally as I met up with some of my friends in our central park. We decided to first check out the Christmas market since the fireworks weren’t going to be until 8 PM. Honestly I don’t know if this was a mistake or not because even though we literally got squished in that crowd, we ironically ended up laughing so hard as we tried to find our way out from it. Amazingly enough though, most of the people had our flag in their hands while smiling and cheering. For me, that was a confirmation that there is unity, that there is love for this country. Words cannot describe what I felt especially during fireworks. It was a magical moment filled with beautiful music that made you feel like you were actually in one of the Harry Potter movies. Seeing everyone smile and be in awe of how beautiful the sky looked because of them warmed my heart. I guess it is true what they say: Beauty comes from little things. I felt truly blessed that I was able to be alongside people who were feeling the same emotions as I did.

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Before each of us went home, we stopped at a little restaurant since we were all freezing and starving. Truth be told, it is a horrible idea to search for a place where you can warm up and eat on that day. We could barely find a restaurant that had a table available. I think we knew better than to continue searching but we really wanted to spend more time together. Perseverance can be quite rewarding because after almost an hour of searching, just moments before giving up, we found that small restaurant. At that point, I didn’t even want to order anything since even the waiter said it would take a while for the food to come.

After the others ordered, one of my friends asked us if we wanted to play a game. Immediately I was intrigued by her idea. She suggested that we each answer honestly to some questions. I remember the way we looked at each other, unsure, maybe a bit scared, but also excited and ready for what was about to come. To say that we shared one of the most intimate moments in a restaurant is an understatement. The whole world shut down as five people were about to pour their hearts out and didn’t even know it. The first question:“Why would you want to fall in love and why would you not want to?” had pretty similar answers. We all believe that falling in love with someone can be the greatest thing but also the most challenging and there is always that risk that you will get hurt. We each took our turn and listened while the other person was giving their most sincere answer. The second question was: “What would you want to feel when you are in love?” Now this question got us to really think about what we actually wanted. My mind without even having time to process it all, immediately took me to a quote I once heard from The Vampire Diaries: “You want a love that consumes you. You want passion, adventure, and even a bit of danger”. As I said those words out loud, I could feel the others staring at me.  The attention they were giving me was like a door towards intimacy. It is a terrifying yet fulfilling emotion because you get to open up and be vulnerable. Each of us managed to express some things we didn’t know we wanted until they came through our mouths. I will never forget when one of my friends simply said: “I want love, yes, but I have to fix myself first, and I am not there yet”. When you think about it, how can you expect to be treated like the most special human being out there when you don’t do the same towards others.

The truth is, we all need to acknowledge that we are not perfect, that we are flawed  and we make mistakes. It is natural to want love, to want affection and safety but it is also important to work on yourself, to realise that yes, you are going to make mistakes, but as long as you want to fix yourself, everything is going to turn out just as it is supposed to be. We often tend to forget that we are enough on our own, that self love needs to come from within. And with this I want to say that yes, I want to love and be loved in return but at the same time I know I need to be a better person before actually having that chance. Love can be a subject some people would want to avoid talking about, which is precisely why I think we ended up discussing it. Not everyone can allow themselves to be vulnerable around others but they know, all of us know that love is the greatest thing we do.

 

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“The quirky things that make you different are what make you beautiful”

When I was little, I used to think that celebrities were the embodiment of perfection. Every time I would see them on TV or read about them I would express in my mind my desire to be just like them.

As I got older, I started to see the bubble that was shielding them from reality.  What we sometimes don’t realise is that we are all human. We all make mistakes, we struggle, some more than others. I wish that I knew this back when I was 16. I was so insecure and shy. I lacked self confidence to the point where I would think that I was worthless. In short, I wasn’t capable of loving myself. I used to envy everyone around me and saw beauty in each human whom I’ve crossed paths with but myself ( still do sometimes ).  I would look at different celebrities and think Oh, I wish I was just like her/him, they’ve got it all figured out. If only I knew then how wrong I was. By the time I graduated I thought that I knew who I was, that I was ready for the real world. But let me tell you something that I would have liked to know back then, you’re never ready. I was just a 19 year old who was stepping into the real world and didn’t fully grasp the full meaning of that aspect. College life proved to be a difficult yet exciting change and for the past year I’ve grown so much as a young woman. I guess it’s true what they say that everything happens for a reason. The experiences that I’ve gone through so far have shaped my mind and soul so much that I no longer saw celebrities as inhuman. Of course they had fame and money but that didn’t mean that they were by any means happier than us. The more my blindness started to vanish the more I saw how vulnerable they truly are.


I’ve been a huge fan of Lily Collins ever since I saw Mortal Instruments: City of Bones in 2013. Once I heard that she was writing a book, more specifically a memoir, something told me that I had to have it.  I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get it when it was released as I am living in Romania, so I had to wait a little for Unfiltered to be released here as well. My life got so busy due to my exams that didn’t have the time to even think about buying the book. As fate would have it, I would get my hands on it when I needed the most. Two weeks ago my instincts told me that I shouldn’t delay it any longer and sure enough, three days later I had Unfiltered in my possession. Even though I was really excited I can honestly say that I didn’t know what to expect. Was it going to help me? Was it going to empower me? I will never forget the moment I turned my first page and read The quirky things that make you different are what make you beautiful. 

From that moment I was hooked. For the first time we were given the opportunity to see that a celebrity is nowhere near perfect but that imperfection holds an unimaginable beauty. Reading about how Lily struggled with anorexia as a teenager made me understand those who suffer from this more. I was almost in tears when she explained her fear of never being able to have children, a fear that I also have because of my small ovarian cysts. I have come to admire her more ( if that was even possible ) for her courage to share her life without any filters. Through her words, she encouraged me to love myself even if it will be hard at times, that I am enough on my own  and I don’t need anyone to complete me, that I can be silly because that’s our best part. I found myself relating to her more than I could have ever imagined.


As I mentioned before, I’ve had a hard time loving and accepting myself. I never saw myself as beautiful until I was 18 and still then it was just a small progress towards confidence. Yet everyday I tried to look at myself in the mirror and repeat that I am beautiful over and over again. I knew I had a long way to go but I kept trying not for anyone but myself. I had to understand that not everyone is going to like me, so I needed to accept myself as I am because there is only one of me. When I read her first chapter about her insecurities due to her eyebrows and that she learned to love what makes her unique thanks to her mother’s advice, something in me changed. It’s only been a week and a half since I read it but I can honestly say that I’ve never loved myself more. Of course my confidence still needs some work but I realised that if I don’t love myself then why expect others to. I also felt self conscious about my hair when I was younger. It used to be very bushy, and because of that I referred to it as “Hermione style”. I hated the fact that it looked so burned and I preferred it to be flat rather than full of volume. With time though I started to take care of it better and today I adore my hair, it’s become one of my best features and I always get compliments on it.



I was on the train, trying to get away from the city life when I reached a chapter where she talked about how she looked too young for her age. Believe it or not, looking younger than you are can be both a blessing and a curse. Everyone around me told me that I should appreciate it and believe me, I do, but sometimes it can be a bit annoying because people tend to treat you like a child. Reading about how Lily struggled during her auditions because she looked too young made me feel so relieved that someone finally understood.


 Also, like Lily, I like to surprise people too. I love the look on their faces when they find out that I’m 20 instead of 15-16 and that my personality is way different than what they’ve had in mind at first glance. I am also not a fan of drinking to have fun and sometimes I am too compassionate. I loved how she talked about tattoos, how a story could be told just by a simple tattoo. What impressed me the most though was the story of her abusive relationship. When you’re in that kind of situation, it’s hard to leave that person because you love them and in your mind you feel like you have a responsibility to help them. It must have taken a lot to speak up and accept that you deserve better. When someone shows you who they truly are, believe them. I will never forget this.

I urge everyone to get Unfiltered not only because you’re a fan of Lily Collins but also because there’s not a person in this world who cannot relate to her book. It has now become one of my favourite books that I will most likely re-read when I am feeling down about myself. The truth is, we are constantly evolving. No one has life figured out yet and even though sometimes things might be hard remember that things are going to get better and you are strong enough. We need to accept the things that make us unique! 


            Love Always and Forever”

                                               -Lily Collins


Escape

Everyone needs an escape once in a while. This world is so imperfect sometimes that we have to find a way to recharge our batteries. Most of us want a quiet place, where your thoughts stop flowing like crazy maniacs and try to mess with you. It is a shelter of warmth and security, a mini “paradise” which allows you to escape reality or disappointment. And believe me, I’ve had my fair share of disappointments from people who I barely knew and people who were closest to me. There is nothing we can do about it other than trying to accept things as they are and be prepared for what’s to come. In other words, an escape place is essential to our mind. Some people search for it for years and others don’t realise that it’s just sitting there, right under their nose.

Ever since I was little I was drawn to the artistic side of life. I hated the logical point of view. I wanted to explore, to imagine, to comment and go beyond rational meaning. I was also drawn to drawing. I found this unexplainable joy whenever I would touch a pencil. If only did i know at that time just how much I would need drawing. As I grew up, I began to rely more and more on it. I was a bit of a loner back then, I didn’t mind it at first but at around 13 years old I began to worry about myself because every summer from 6th grade until the 8th grade I would be alone and drawing was the only thing that brought me happiness. I made comics of the person that I wanted to be, this powerful, confident, intelligent girl that could do anything she wanted without caring what others thought. Instead of thinking how lonely I was, I would just draw. My mind would stop shouting negativity as I was holding my pencil.

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After I entered high school for some reason I stopped drawing. I was no longer the lonely girl and I started to change, to shape into a better and more confident person. And so, I almost gave up drawing because I didn’t feel like I needed it anymore. How wrong was I… My senior year was probably the hardest year I’ve ever had to face. On one hand I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my life and I was also going through some personal stuff too. One day though, everything changed. Somehow my passion for drawing came back and I was really nervous at first to pick up a pencil again, but I knew I had to do it. I questioned my ability to draw, of course, since it’s been a couple of years since I last made a proper sketch. I was scared that maybe I’ve lost it and I disappointment was written all over my faced as I realised how I’ve neglected a gift, a talent that got me through so many things. At that moment all I could think was “Okay, if I really lost my ability to draw I will do everything in my power to get it back.”

The thing is, when you love something that much you just can’t even process the possibility of it fading away from your grasp. I made my first few lines and from there, my mind stopped worrying. “I forgot how much I loved this” I thought. And from then on I couldn’t stop. Believe it or not, even with those years when I didn’t really practice my drawing, my skills were now better than ever. From then on, a new world was born, a world that will never disappear, a world which will never let me stop drawing ever again because if I really were to completely stop, it would be like losing the ability to breathe. Some people try their hardest to find their escape, and mine has been there all along but I was oblivious of its existence. “This is my escape” I whispered…

 

 

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PS: I have an Instagram dedicated to my drawings if you want to check it out @acourtofartanddreams