Today, I turned seventeen.

Everyone always says, “I don’t feel any different” or “what’s the difference between a day?”

I feel different, though. Maybe not from yesterday, but from a year ago? I barely know that girl anymore. And that is one of the greatest news you will hear all day.

You see, in just a year, I learned. I experienced new things, new people, new places. I laughed. I smiled. I cried. I lost hope, people, and even myself for a while.

But here I am today, stronger than I’ve ever been in my seventeen-year trip around the sun.

Thinking about it, a trip around the sun was exactly like my last year. I went through times of blinding light, overjoyed with happiness. But the world keeps turning, and I was thrown through the dark side.

I stopped looking for the light to return, and almost believed it never would. But you know what? There was a light at the end of the tunnel. And so, the spinning world brought me back into the radiance of life.

Through this trip, I learned information that everyone needs to keep in their back pocket when they see the dark side of their trip approaching. Listen closely, take notes, I want my seventeen years of adventuring around the sun to actually mean something:


  1. Send more letters.

The world needs more letter-senders. I can assure you, the feeling of receiving a card, note, or letter in the mail is a special one. Mail is one of the easiest ways to communicate that you care, which is something that should be done more often.


2. Don’t skip dessert.

I can tell you from personal experience, that skipping dessert is something you will regret the next morning. Always save room for a little sugar in your life. (No overdoses allowed, though).


3. Make time for what is important.

Work is important. School is important. But you know what is equally as important? Spending time with your dog. Watching the sunrise. Helping your brother with his chores. Are any of these necessary (besides work and school sometimes) to living life? Not exactly.. but the catch is “living life”. If you would rather live a “happy life” rather than just “live”, then make time for the little things.


4. Go to every concert you humanly can.

Concert memories are so unique. No show that a performer puts on is like the other, and you get to experience something that your eyes won’t see ever again, your ears won’t hear. Yes, tickets may be a little pricey, but money spent on adventures is never wasted.


5. Understand that people will surprise you.

This can be both a blessing, and a curse. People will surprise you when you least expect it, this I know. Just prepare yourself, but don’t rely on the actions of others.


6. Turn your damn phone off.

You’d be surprised at how much more you see when you aren’t starring at a screen. Break the habit, before it breaks you.


7. Hug your mom more.

If only you really understood what she has done for you. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Mom’s are the back bone of the world. And a hug from this powerful person can make even the worst day imaginable a little more bearable. Don’t ever underestimate the strength in a hug from mom.


8. Dance often.

Listen, I’m no pro, but I can sure fake like I am. Whether this be at a party, in your car, or in the kitchen with your mom, dance. The music doesn’t even have to be good, you can dance to any beat.


9. If you don’t have God in your life, you have nothing.

The power of prayer is something that we will never be able to comprehend, but at the end of the day, all you need is faith. Trust me, talk to God. He will be the safety net that guides you through the dark.


10. You will break someone’s heart.

You can try to convince yourself all you want that you would never do anything to hurt him/her, and you’re 100% correct in this statement. However, it will happen, but not on purpose. One day you’ll change your mind. Mary Shelley once said in her novel, Frakenstein, “Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”

Whether you are doing the changing, or are the unfortunate one on the other end, do your best to roll with the punches. The change was meant to happen, it’s your fate.


11. Laugh often.

Laughing is honestly the best medicine, and can cure even the nastiest sickness. Surround yourself with people who bring laughter to your soul.


12. Say “yes” more.

You’ll only regret the chances you didn’t take. Learn how to be flexible, if your friend calls at midnight and wants a late night adventure, go out on a limb. You can sleep when you’re dead.


13. Say “no” more.

This being said, sometimes the best answer is no. Our generation needs to accept that this is an answer, and needs no further explaination. No. Means. No.


14. Compliment someone.

A simple “you look nice today”, goes a long way. I still remember compliments from months ago, some that came when I needed it the most. Because the thing is- you never know who needs it.


15. Drive with the windows down.

Even if your hair is nearly blinding, this is something that is necessary for a rejuvenated new you. (I don’t advise this be done on the freeway).


16. SMILE.

Ladies. Enough with the “resting bitch face” or “it’s just my face”. At least try to look like you’re having fun, because you’re here for a reason, even if you don’t know what it is.


And lastly…


17. Put on your big girl shoes, and conquer the world.

The right pair of shoes grants you the ability to do absolutely anything. Be careful with your power, and use it to change lives.

Today, I turned seventeen. And I have officially decided that I am going to make this year freaking awesome. And the next one. And the one after that.

Because life is freaking awesome. Just remember: on your many year-long trips around the sun, you will laugh, you will cry, and you will make memories.

Here’s to the seventeenth year.

As always,

Maddie Rheinheimer



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