For as long as I can remember I've felt a lot older than my official, passport printed age. My mom claims I started to speak at barely 1 years old and acted like a calm 30 year old during dinners at Jean Georges when I was 3. In a lot of ways, the past 4 years have been incredibly difficult. I have felt more lost, confused and helpless than I ever deemed possible. I had my heart broken more times than I care to recall, attended 4 different schools, went through countless family hardships, never ending insomnia, changed career paths, moved 3 times and lost more close friends than I thought I could ever recover from.

But, I survived. Even through my tears and disillusionment I learned that the beauty in life is just that. The ups and downs and the inability to exact control over any given area in life. I've learned to come to terms with loving without expecting anything in return and that this world we live in is absolutely wonderful. If you're anything like me and you sometimes feel like there's no light at the end of all this madness I hope these 10 things encourage you to carry on.

1. Everything good and worth having takes time.
So you're not exactly where you want to be in life at this very moment. Chances are, you never will be. Life never gives us exactly what we want, when and how we want it (to be honest that would be pretty awesome though). I've never been good at being patient, so this is something I really need to work on. I always tell my friends, have a positive attitude and set your mind to be open to liking this new experience and it will work out in the end. I'm really trying to take my own advice more often in terms of life in general. I'll let you know how I get on.

2. But, life is short, so eat the damn cupcake.
Seriously though. I mean, if you feel like you really need a cupcake, chances are, you actually do. Be kind to yourself and cut yourself some slack. If you feel like you need to cry, cry in public, we've all been there. There isn't enough time in life to get hung up on the petty little things. Eating that one cupcake will not make you gain 5 kilos, everything in moderation. The same thing goes for toxic friendships and relationships. Life is far too short to constantly run after people that don't have your back. Looking back over the past few years I know I've lost more friends than I intended to, but at the end of the day they weren't worth having around.

3. Remember to always be kind above all else.
Be kind to everyone around you, including yourself. Your kindness will impact those around you and encourage them to be kind in return. Always aim to treat people in the best possible way and don't expect anything in return. Learning to be loving towards others without expectation is ridiculously painful, but it's also beyond rewarding.

4. Your family always comes first.
Never push away the people that have always been there for you unconditionally. Also, never take them for granted and all the things they do for you.

5. Find your passion.
Not everyone can afford to make their passion their job. But, if you are fortunate enough to do it, you absolutely must make it your living. If not, make sure that you always set aside time to pursue your passions and the things that make you happiest.

6. Explore.
And don't forget to stop along the way to take pictures. I love the way that photography has changed my life over the past year and how much I enjoy the little things in life and admire my surroundings. If there's one thing I know I don't want to regret later in life is not taking advantage of this world I live in and exploring every single corner of it.

7. Be Grateful.
Being appreciative of everything around you eventually allows you to feel more content. Always remember that some people would be happy to have your bad days. Photography has definitely taught me to appreciate the little moments and beauties.

8. Be confident in your insecurities.
As much as some people love to pretend that they own the world with confidence, everyone is insecure about one thing or another. It's the way you choose to deal with your insecurities that matters. Never allow your felt shortcomings to get you down, but let them make you stronger in the long run.

9. Share in abundance.
Nothing impacts me more than a generous soul. We can all learn so much from the people around us and we should never stop sharing our time, experiences and our love with others. It really is true that the more you share the richer you feel in return.

10. Be positive about the future and what it holds.
And by that I mean be a positive person rather than a cynical one. It's so easy to get caught up in a vicious cycle of depression and despair simply because we allow ourselves to believe that we deserve the things that come our way. Life is far too unpredictable to let you blame yourself for anything that happens in your life. Live. Live a full life. And wear a smile while doing it.

Is there anything you guys have learned in life over the years?