I'm all about learning, but it's only worthwhile if you remember what you learned.
So here's what I learned this summer.
1. How to open a bottle of wine. Self-explanatory life skill.
2. How to fold a napkin in a interesting way. Ditto.
3. How to make a Greek salad, identify several kinds of fish, and properly eat mussels. (I promise this won't all be things I learned waitressing)
4. There's no reason to wait to be who you want to be. I think I'm waiting to become an adult, but I've realized that there's really not a moment when you become something else. I just need to focus on being myself the whole time - whether I feel like an adult or not.
5. Learn what you want to learn now.You never know how much life you have left and you don't really have any good excuses. Photography fell into this category for me and now it is my new adventure.
6. I'm lucky to be in love enough to have long distance make me miserable. This is what I tell myself to survive, and it's working out okay. Long distance dating was bad, but long distance engagement? Even more bad.
See the rest of the list after the jump!
7. Other people value you (and your time) as much as you value yourself. You (meaning me) have a right to stand up for yourself and if you do, they'll respect you more, not like you less (like I sometimes worry they will). This is a big one for me. There were times this summer that I had to stick to my guns even when it was intimidating to do so, but I did it. And most of all, I'm glad that I did.
8. At the end of the day, you want to go to sleep knowing you did something you loved. Whether it's writing one poem, teaching my brother to swim, having a good talk with my fiance, or just watching a favorite episode of 30 Rock, I fall asleep so much more peacefully if I know that I squeezed some of the joy of life that day. It's never a waste that way.
9. Every day is worth remembering, and if it's not, you should make it so. I'm trying to focus less on the end result of things, and more on the process of getting there. Each day is different than the others, but what's going to set it apart in the long calender of your life? That's for you to figure out.
10. You don't need a reason to pull out your camera. This is an extension of the last one. Pictures do not need to be reserved for birthdays and Christmas. Our photographs help tell the story of our lives, and it's too bad when we don't think they're worth chronicling.
11. All time passes. Whether fast or slow, it does pass. This has been my college summer anthem. Whether it's been because I have less than loved my job, or because I've been missing my boyfriend, it has always helped me to remember that this too shall end. And, on the other side, when I was laying over the edge of a cliff in Ireland or escorting Sonia Sotomayor to the Senator's office in Washington, it helped me remember that the fleetingness of every moment makes them that much more precious.
It was a great summer, and I know it's going to be a great year. Here we go.