“Lessons Learned.” A guest lesson by Ryan Thomas Boals.

Some people come into our lives as blessings; others come as lessons.

No, this isn’t some profound notion I’ve thought up. In fact, these wise words stem from a Mother Theresa quotation—and I don’t imagine this is a foreign concept for most.

There’s a beautiful lyric in the song “For Good” from Wicked that says, “People come into our lives for a reason/bringing something we must learn/And we are led to those who help us most to grow if we let them/and help them in return.” This never fails to leave me in awe; it elucidates the fact that we can even learn lessons from our blessings. Our blessings—be it parents who love and support us unconditionally, friends who are incessantly loyal, or any of achievements—all of these have lessons that accompany them.

So why am I here? What lessons have I learned?

Well, there are three kinds of people in this world:

  1. People who enter our lives as blessings. They leave a handprint on our hearts and teach us lessons—sometimes unintentionally—and aid us in our growth and maturation. They provoke us to examine ourselves, we learn from their actions and mistakes in addition to our own, and they influence us to change—hopefully, for the better. Time eventually wins and you grow apart. These are the people you once called best friends, old flames, perhaps teachers and former mentors. They’re the ones you frequently check up on when you’re making your social media rounds, just to see how they’re doing—and usually they’re slaying, as you’d expect. You find joy in knowing that someone who once meant so much to you can be just fine without you. With these people, you feel no sadness, no malice—just nostalgia maybe. There are no hard feelings between you two; there’s only love from afar. These are the people who remind us that growth and change are both normal and inevitable.
  2. Then there are the people who enter our lives as blessings in disguise. They appear to exist solely as a lesson. These people exude toxicity; they take more than they give, they place the blame on you and fail to acknowledge their own faults, they hurt, they cheat, they lie, and they make no apologies along the way. Do not run from these people when they enter your life—it’s a cop out. Be wise and cautious, but allow them to change you for the better. Their toxicity should force you to examine your own inner heart of darkness and come to terms with the darkest parts of yourself. Let them bring out the worst ‘you,’ so that you can determine exactly who you don’t want to be. Only then will you be able to determine who you want to become. Once they’ve taught you that lesson—personally, the most important lesson I’ve learned to date—leave them behind. Be influenced. Be changed. Grow. And move forward. Do we see a pattern here?
  3. And finally, a shout out to the real MVPs—the people who are blessings, but are meant to teach us lessons for the rest of our lives. These are our parents, best friends, siblings, or lovers, whoever you deem your person—the one you run to when skies turn grey. Find these people—the ones you want to hold on to forever—once you’ve determined who you want to be in this with for the long haul, let them know, and never let them go. Things are a hell of a lot easier with someone by your side—trust me.

Both our blessings and our lessons strengthen us. Lessons are blessings and blessings are lessons. Every person you encounter comes into your life for a reason. No one is allowed to make you feel guilty or inadequate simply because you’ve learned that it’s time for you to move forward. Never let someone hinder your growth once you’ve acquired the maturity and adult understanding of how to let go without regret. Growing up and moving forward does not make you selfish and it does not diminish the love or care you have for people. Cherish the lessons you’ve learned.

I’ll leave you with a song that you should give a listen when you’ve got a chance. “Lessons Learned” by Carrie Underwood.

“Some pages turned,
some bridges burned,
but there were lessons learned.”

Go out into the world with an open mind and heart. Forge new relationships and cultivate them. Determine if a person is a blessing, a lesson, a blessing in disguise, or all three. Allow people to influence your growth and change you for the better. Learn your lessons, y’all. Few things will fulfill you in this life as much as progress.​

-Lesson by Ryan Thomas Boals-

ryan boalsRyan Thomas Boals is a sophomore Media Arts and Design major at James Madison University. Once voted ‘Most likely to Brighten Anyone’s Day,’ his hobbies include stalking celebrities online, laughing at his own jokes, living vicariously through his talented friends, crying over fictional characters, and taking on too many responsibilities at one time. He hopes to one day have a pup and a vineyard of his own.

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