Life Lessons From a Seventeen Year Old

Photo: Anastasia Rystova (@nastyanastya)
Seventeen. The year one turns seventeen is often romanticized as one of the best years to be alive. Countless songs (The Edge of Seventeen and Dancing Queen to be precise for all the Stevie Nicks and ABBA fans out there), movies, and books are based on the pivotal moment of being seventeen. However, as I surpass the midway point of being seventeen, I have begun to question whether pop culture is mistaken in its idealization of being seventeen.

Now, I can agree that being seventeen is a pivotal moment. This current school year has put me through hell and back. As a seventeen-year-old high school senior, I am approaching the most transformative phase of my life yet. I have the privilege of experiencing my transformation as a teenager to an adult (in the eyes of the law) while simultaneously entering the uncertain world of college. Nevertheless, I believe seventeen should be hailed as an iconic age, not because of the thrills often attributed to being seventeen, but by the lesson one learns throughout being seventeen.

Being seventeen has been an age of realization for me, specifically self-realization. I have realized my worth, my beauty, and my abilities. I know many of you must be skeptical, after all, what would a seventeen-year-old know? However, the lessons and realizations I have learned and made are applicable at any age.

Realize Your Self Worth
Photo: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley photographed by Emma Summerton for The Violet Files
 The most critical lesson we must learn is realizing our self-worth. This is crucial, as our perception of ourselves largely determines our outlook on life, who we choose to surround ourselves with, and how we choose to spend our time. If we fail to realize our self-worth and instead foster an environment of self-hatred within ourselves, it will only translate into other aspects of our lives and cause us to surround ourselves in constant negativity through toxic relationships and mindsets.

 Once we realize that we are beautiful and capable individuals who should rely on our own opinions of ourselves rather than the opinions of others, then our lives begin to truly blossom. We begin to foster an environment of growth, in which we weed out the negative mindsets and toxic relationships. We begin to feel more confident in ourselves and find we are more energetic throughout our day. We begin to look forward to our life. One's worth to others will never be as important as one's worth to themselves.

Realize Your Capabilities
Photo: Tumblr
Realizing our capabilities is part of realizing our self-worth. Realizing our capabilities allows us to actualize the best versions of ourselves through changing the aspects of our life that need improvement. For some, this translates to going to the gym and eating healthier if you feel that you want to change your body. For others, this translates to taking harder classes or leaving our intellectual comfort zone if you want to make the most of your education or become a more educated individual. The bottom line is, YOU have the capability to change your life. YOU are the only person holding yourself back.

Romanticize Your Life
Photo: Ida Sjunnesson (@idasjunnesson)
Fall in love with the mundane aspects of your life such as your morning commute or the various errands you run in a day. Fall in love with yourself and the relationships you have. While daydreaming about your ideal life is a form of escapism that everyone does, appreciating your present life will lead to a more fulfilling life.

Without Failure, There Is No Growth

Photo: Elsa Hosk (@hoskelsa)
When we fail at something, we tend to react in a completely negative way and shut down. Instead, when we fail at something, we should look at it as an opportunity for growth. Ask yourself "what can I do to better the outcome next time?" Sometimes failure can also act as a wake-up call. It can be a reminder that you cannot remain complacent with yourself, and that you should see each day as an opportunity to improve as a person.