"Where’s Waldo?" -- do you remember it? Remember searching through a crowded beach scene for his signature red and white striped shirt?
And remember how once you finally found him, you immediately wondered how the task took you so long. Once you spotted him, it was as if all of those little sunbathers and beach umbrellas never existed — now all you see is Waldo and his stripes.
If you're like me, you found your "Waldo" by dividing your life into chronological chunks. Lesson learned by age 16: Don't drink tequila like it's water unless you want alcohol poisoning.
Lesson learned by age 18: Life is not over because you didn't get accepted into your "dream" college — there is a world that exists outside of high school and eventually, you will lose touch with some friends you thought would last a lifetime.
A few lessons learned by 21:
1. Not every relationship or friendship is meant to be anything other than temporary.
2. You can't expect to always get back what you give. People will disappoint you and often, if you allow them to do so.
3. True friends are extremely difficult to find. Appreciate these people and keep them around. Quality is more important than quantity.
4. Being single is liberating and so underrated. You'll be okay without having someone to constantly text.
5. There are too many options in this world to settle for mediocrity. There are too many places to travel if you hate where you live and too many guys to date if your boyfriend is a dick.
6. Don't cheat on a significant other and never lie to those you love. It's easier to heal from being hurt than to forgive yourself for hurting someone else.
7. Trust is not only difficult to establish, but also impossible to get back once it's lost.
8. There is nothing appealing or interesting about pretending to be perfect. People who do this are boring.
9. Try as you might, but you cannot change someone to fit your expectations or ideals. People are who they are and change will occur on their terms only, if at all.
10. It is possible to love someone completely without being loved in return.
Eventually, when enough time passes and you've learned your lessons, you will get an idea of what (and whom) is important.
All those trials and errors, though painful and confusing, will lead to many moments of clarity. And maybe, if you're like me, you'll look back and feel slightly dumb for not having seen it all along.
It's like looking at every inch of the page and finally resting your tired eyes on Waldo. Maybe it took you thirty seconds or maybe it took you an hour, but you found him.
Top Photo Courtesy: We Heart It