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  • Su Shen Ooi

17 Things I Learned in My 17 Years of Life

For this blog post, I was originally going to write about a very controversial scandal that has overtaken the news in Asia, but I decided I wanted to put more time and effort into covering such a serious topic. Therefore, instead, as I turned seventeen recently on April 12, I decided to do a more light-hearted and positive post about the 17 things I’ve learned in the 17 years I’ve been alive.

I know that I’m still extremely young at seventeen and have many more things to learn, but I wanted to record the lessons I’ve learned so far that I wish to keep in mind in order to further grow as a person.

As many of my peers know, sophomore year was extremely hard for me. In that year, I went through much emotional hardship, which eventually shaped me into the person I am today. Many of the life lessons I’ve learned and use today are from that life-changing year.

Sorry for the long intro! Here are 17 Things I’ve learned in 17 Years:

1. Be kind to everyone because you never know what someone is going through.

This is one of my biggest life mottos because when I was at the worst points in life, my friends often didn’t know. Because of those experiences, I’ve learned that I never really know what is going on in other people’s lives and therefore I should treat everyone with kindness and respect.

2. Forgive, but don’t forget.

Don’t hold grudges as they hold you back in life, but don’t let people who have hurt you have the chance to hurt you again.

3. Do activities for the sake of passion and betterment, not for your resume.

As high schoolers, we’re often encouraged to do tons of extracurriculars or sign up for as many leadership positions as we can in order to boost our resumes. I’ve learnt to only participate in activities I genuinely care about and focus all of my energy into those activities. People succeed more when they feel passion about what they do.

4. You don’t have to be in a leadership position to be a leader.

Even if you don’t hold an official leadership position, you can still make change in your community. There is no limit on the number of leaders. Everyone can be a leader in her own way.

5. More people care about you than you think.

Trust me. They do.


This is something I’m continuing to work on to improve myself and my happiness. I’ve learnt to stop sharing grades and to try and stop being tempted to ask other people for their grades. There have been many occasions where I felt super proud of myself, but then I would see someone else with a better grade and feel completely sad and disappointed. COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF HAPPINESS. FOCUS ON YOUR OWN GROWTH INSTEAD OF OTHERS’, AND YOU’LL SUCCEED MORE (this is me shouting at myself).

7. School does not represent your true value.

Grades don’t accurately represent one’s intellect or value. You can be the most amazing person in the world with average or below-average grades. Don’t let numbers bring you down.

8. There are always ways to better and improve yourself.

You can always learn from your past mistakes. Don’t let your past define you. Use your mistakes to better and improve yourself. There are always chances to become a better person

9. Care for yourself as much as you care for others.

Don’t say things to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a friend. Love yourself as much as you love others, and your life will become so much more happier.

10. Open your mind up to other opinions.

Respect others’ opinions while still upholding your own. Progress only happens when unity and respect occur. Respectfully talk about different opinions in order to open up discussions for change. We can’t keep attacking each other and expect good to come out of it.

11. Care for others, but put your own well being first.

Your happiness should be your priority.

12. Don’t put too much value or thought into social media.

The number of followers doesn’t define who you are as a person. Someone with fewers followers isn’t inferior to someone with more followers. People only show what they want others to see on social media. No one’s life is as perfect as it may seem online.

13. Everyone has her own version of success, and all versions deserve praise.

Whether your own version of success is finishing your homework, getting an A in English, getting a B in Math, winning a leadership position, being able to go to school, finishing a workout or going through a whole day without feeling sad, all of those successes deserve appreciation.

14. If your mum thinks you have a bad friend, you have a bad friend.

Not much else to say.

15. Don’t let people dictate your worth.

Listen to your own instincts and values, and grow how you want to.

16. Support friends when they succeed. Don’t become jealous.


17. Everyone is worthy of love, happiness and her own version of success.

Especially the person reading this article :)

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