Learning is a part of life. These people share the biggest lessons they've learned that impacted their lives forever. Content has been edited for clarity purposes.
"I learned this, too late, after my grandma died. I was always working or studying and said, 'Next week, I am going to visit grandma', 'Next week I’ll give her a call', or 'Next week...'.
I saw her at the family gatherings like birthdays and other events if I was able to make them but that's still different than going by her house and spending time together. The moments I did that, it was nice and we laughed so there wasn’t a reason to not visit grandma. She was always sweet and even when I was in my 30s, she always gave me a bag of candy when I left.
One year I was too busy and didn't visit her for months. I wasn’t aware it had been months, that was after I checked how long ago it was. September was the last visit and in December she passed away. I couldn’t make time for three months; not a single day. I couldn't spare a few hours to visit because of my 'career' or 'I’ll go next week' excuses. This was more than 10 years ago and it still hurts me at times.
She was always understanding and said, 'Yeah I know. You, youngsters, are busy and need to work hard. You all don’t have it as easy as we do.' Even though she went through World War two and needed to walk two provinces for food. She considered that they had an easy life.
I always thought I had enough time when I was done with 'insert something here' excuse. But always something else turned up.
'Next week I’ll go' was the worse thing I had told myself and I wished I spent way more time with my grandma. It made me change everything. I now only work three days a week and spend the rest of the time with my family and friends. I make sure to give regular calls and make sure I can be at whatever is needed.
Sure working five days a week and having more money for fun is nice but a bigger car or a bigger house or another vacation does not bring back time. Do I need a Range Rover that costs eight times the price of a Ford Fiesta? No. Do I need a house with eight bedrooms? No. Do I need time? Yes.
Time is all I wanted. Time is what we get in limited quantity. You can try and make changes in spending less or make more money, but you can’t make more time. There are 24 hours in a day, spend them wisely, and don’t think others have the same time left as you. The biggest lie I told myself was that I didn’t have the time. I had the time, I just managed it badly.
My grandma was 89 so she was on 'borrowed time.' You don’t know what it is you have until it’s gone."
"I learned this lesson as a young man. I was a maintenance supervisor at a resort and every week we had to shut down a floor of each building in the wintertime to do repairs and refurbishment on all the condo units. One employee complained that he got stuck with painting all the time so I told him if he was comfortable replacing the hot water heaters that week, he could do that job.
So I was focused on all the logistics and normal operations and let him do his thing. The day before everything was to be inspected and put back into service, I discovered that the employee had four more water heaters to replace and he had not put all the previous unit's cabinetry back together (the heaters were hidden under the countertop in the kitchen). We had to pay thousands of dollars to a plumbing company to come in and finish the job because there was no way to get it all done in time.
My boss in the home office was furious and asked how this happened when we were doing all the other floors on time. I tried to explain that the employee messed up and didn't tell anyone in time. But my boss explained to me that it was my job to make sure they did their job and not make excuses. I was ticked off but after I cooled off, I realized he was right. You can assign tasks and projects to others but ultimately you have to be responsible for the overall outcome."
"When my son was a pre-teen, he developed a rare form of mouth cancer and had part of his tongue and palate removed. The chance of it recurring was unknown. If more of his tongue had to be removed, he wouldn't have been able to talk. So he and I learned some sign language, just in case. This helped us to be able to communicate during long tests, like MRIs (Magnetic resonance imaging).
After a couple of years of follow-up tests that were negative, we were both able to relax a bit.
Then he started showing signs of mental illness. He's already on the Autism Spectrum, so his behavior, combined with his delusions completely changed his personality. It felt like the son I knew had died and been replaced by a stranger (a very unpleasant one).
I learned from him how to love him just the way he was at any given moment. While we dealt with medications, doctors, hospitals, cutting, overdoses, and violence; I just loved him and tough loved him where he was.
Over the past 17 years, he has had to deal with a lot. He has been in as good a place as he could be for several years now. Accepting that this was who he is and loving him here and now has made a huge change in my ability to function. I've learned to make every day a new start. Most days are just fine. If he has a bad day, the next day starts new. I don't let the bad days cause me to be depressed or resent him. Or to make me feel like all days are going to be bad. Because they aren't.
I've also changed my attitude toward other people. I assume they are doing their best with what they have to work with and whatever they might be dealing with. It's easier now to not take negative things personally. And that it's not my job, or even within my ability, to change them.
So changing my attitude made some difficult times easier to bear and I believe it's also prevented some situations from escalating. It's not that everything is all good now, but rather, everything is pretty good and that's all I could ask for."
"I went on vacation to a third-world country and I wanted to have a bunch of sandwiches to take on an excursion. I asked for a dozen and got back, 'You can have four.'
At the time, I was taken aback and kinda grumpy.
I thought, 'How can I not get what I want?'
Then I realized, this food was cheap and really good, but there wasn't much of it. If I bought a huge amount, people who didn't have much money wouldn't be able to afford the more expensive alternatives for a quick lunch. I did.
Here, in my home country, if I buy the last milk of one kind, there's more in other versions for the same price, and by tomorrow the shelf will be full again. Fast food places don't usually run out of food either. It's not greedy to buy in bulk, everyone has more than enough. And in comparison to what people earn, food is much cheaper here and most other things too.
It took me a while to see that the vendor wasn't a prick for not giving me what I wanted, but I was, for demanding more than a fair share. It was a good thing she stood up to the stupid chick because I learned something: To see and appreciate the abundance I live in. And how abnormal it is."
"My parents and brothers always asked me for help. My brothers asked for help with homework, while my parents asked for help with business stuff, technology, or random errands. I commuted two hours to and from my university every day, and by the time I got home, I'd do whatever I was asked. I thought I was just doing my part. I was being a good kid.
During my third year of college, I moved to a dorm. It was totally refreshing having all that time for myself. I actually studied at night without worrying about anything else. I passed every single course that one year. I came back home the next year and realized that everyone at home depended on me. I said yes to everything. And when I did say no, I felt guilty and still did what I was asked.
It wasn't just at home either. I realized that I did this in school as well. I did whatever I was asked to do on group works even though I had no clue as to what I should be doing.
I learned it's ok to say no or refuse to help. I tend to help out at home but now I ask my brothers for help. I flat out refuse to help with their homework. They can look it up on the internet."
"In 2007, I had a work shift at Taco Bell. It was dead that night, so we were all hanging out outside when a pair of sketchy characters rolled up. They wanted a ride because they 'ran out of gas.' I was about to decline when the General Manager offered me up. Being that he held sway over my entire livelihood, I begrudgingly acquiesced. Long story short, they turned out to be cracked out of their minds and forced me to drive them to a sketchy neighborhood where they robbed me, used the money to buy more illegal substances, then tried to get me jumped. Luckily, they were both out of my car for a second as they were bringing others in so I peeled out of there.
Learned the lesson I will never forget when I went back to work. I expected my General Manager to be aghast at my crazy story, but instead, he was fake surprised. He knew basically what would happen. He intentionally directed me to maybe get murdered and have my body dumped in a gutter somewhere so that he wouldn't have to potentially deal with a pair of unruly 'customers' for a few minutes. And that was the night I learned that some people will happily send you off to die for even the slightest personal gain."
"My dad, my brother, and I were coming back from a hunting trip several years ago and we were helping put the weapons away. My dad was checking them before putting them back in the safe to be cleaned later. While my brother asked a question, my dad picked up one, racked it, and then out popped a fired shell. My brother and I being kids thought it was funny but I still remember my dad's look of wide-eyed horror before he realized it was a fired shell, and how he carefully inspected the chamber and lifter before closing the action. It was only later that it dawned on me that there was almost certainly a time between packing up, moving the duffel bags, and checking the weapon that the barrel was pointed either at one of us or someone else through an object. It could have fired at any point.
About 13 years later, I was out by myself firing my new Henry Golden boy, and started packing up. As I was about to put the Henry away, the look of horror on my dad's face flashed in my mind so I ran the action 'just in case.' A live round plopped out into my case. Lesson learned, retained, and acted upon."
"I used to have this friend with severe emotional issues. She came from a messed-up home, so I felt sorry for her. I wanted to be there for her, butut she was a lot to deal with it. She would be clingy and jealous, lash out at her friends, cut ties without any warning or explanation, and then apologize a month later. I felt like I was at my limit, but I didn't want to abandon her.
I told the situation to another friends' mom and she gave me this advice, 'Do what you can for them, support them, but don't let them drag you down.'
It stuck with me. I soon realized that my friend needed more help than I was qualified to give. We stopped talking a few months later. She had another episode where she got mad at me and blocked me on social media. And when her inevitable apology came, I ended the friendship. I told her that I'd had enough. I told her that I wish her well and I hope she gets help, but that it can't come from me.
I still think about her sometimes and I hope she's doing well. But I also hope I never see her again."
"When I was in my early-to-mid-20s, I had a lot of 'friends' who were falling on hard times or needed various types of help. And I was always happy to help; I had the money, I had the time, I would do anything for them. Not one of them repaid me financially. Instead, I was just taken advantage of, left, and right, and center.
It all ended when I suggested a friend of mine who broke up with their partner and had no place to live to come stay with me. The next thing I knew, they were inviting their friends over all the time, often without my permission. They weren’t contributing a penny to the income of the household. Their new partner soon moved in, and my house basically became a doss house. And they became mean-spirited, emotionally abusive pricks who made my life miserable in my own home.
Now, I offer advice only. If you need financial support, you can go to the council. If you need housing, you can go to the council. If you want me to provide either of those things, you can bugger off."
"When I was about 16 years old, I locked my keys in my car 45 minutes from home and my parents were on vacation. The only other key was at my parent's house. My brother lived about 30 minutes away from there. So, he drove to my parent's, got the key, and brought it to me.
So, my brother has always been my best friend, biggest supporter, and role model. He’s always been a good teacher.
He came that night, at that point, it was about 11 pm, and gave me the key.
He used his most loving but firm voice and told me, 'Every time I get out of my truck, I jingle my keys in my pocket to make sure I don’t lock them inside. You need to do the same thing EVERY TIME before you lock your doors.'
I haven’t locked my keys in the car since. It might seem trivial, but it just reminds me how much my brother has always been there for me and how much I’ve learned from him."
"I got a dream job offer, but it was in Florida and I currently lived in Ohio. My parents live in Ohio. My wife has family both in Ohio and in Florida where we were moving. The Florida family members offered us their house as a base to move down to so we could focus on moving all our stuff across the country, and then we'd be welcome to stay until we found our own place.
Everybody on my wife's side of the family was extremely supportive. They were sad that we were moving away, but they were going to come to see us for Thanksgiving and we'd go up after Christmas. They were all super proud of me for getting the job offer and they were excited to see us start a life together.
When I told my parents, I immediately received a phone call and was screamed at for an hour to be called a disappointment, told that I was ruining my life and that I would be miserable moving away from family. They acknowledged that I had been offered my dream job, but that I should have been looking harder for jobs around the area instead of in another state. And that if things didn't work out, I couldn't come crying back to them.
My wife's family down in Florida called just after I ended the call with my parents to congratulate me. I broke down crying, and my amazing stepmother-in-law spent two hours calming me down, reassuring me that she would always have my back if my job didn't work out for some reason, and helped me plan my entire move in steps that my ADHD goblin brain could manage.
Those two exchanges cemented my decision to move. I was still kind of in shock from how my parents behaved and extremely upset. I was considering asking the police to take me to get my stuff because I genuinely did not feel safe going there. I would just say, 'Forget it, keep the stuff' but I was not giving them the violin I paid over 2000 bucks for.
My dad is a school psychologist and my mom is a teacher. I'm so amazed that people who dedicate their lives to working with other people's kids could treat their own kids this way."
"When I was in elementary school, in fourth and fifth grade, I was constantly bullied on the bus and at school by this one kid. I tried to stand up to him a couple of times but never got anywhere and always got my butt kicked. Eventually, I started taking my anger out on another kid and bullied him. My bully and I got close and he stopped messing with me.
After a year or so, I realized what I had done and for the rest of my time in school, I tried to make up for what I had done to this other kid. We became decent friends and from that point on, even up to now, I find friendships in everyone around me. If they don't like me, I just move on instead of hating them or hating myself because of their dislike of me.
It was a huge life lesson for me and had really heavily contributed to the person I am today."
"About 15 years ago, I was drinking with a friend of mine called Barnaby. He randomly said, 'Do you want to see my squirrel?'
So I of course demanded to see his squirrel. He led me into his garage where there was an extremely large cage. I scoured it but could not see a squirrel.
He said, 'Oh, it'll be in its bed, the sock.'
The sock was hanging on the side of the cage so I proceeded to go get a teaspoon and poke the said sock. I poked it once, nothing. I poked it again, nothing. I poked it once more and a red squirrel that looked ticked off like the devil incarnated leaped out of the sock, screaming at me trying to attack me.
Never poke a sleeping squirrel in a sock with a spoon. An important life lesson.
Just to add, we both worked in the animal industry so someone offering you to see their squirrel wasn't that odd an occurrence."
"My coworker was obsessed with her job, and pleasing the higher-ups where we worked. She was the mother of three children who were tween/teenagers. She was diagnosed with cancer four years ago. When she was first diagnosed, it was in the very early stages. She put off treatment for five months to complete a project for our place of employment. By the time she started treatment, her cancer had gone from stage one to stage three. She fought that cancer for the next four years, barely taking a day off work, no matter how sick she was. She was dedicated to our employer and being a team player.
It was painful to watch all of her duties gradually removed from her, but she was physically and mentally unable to do things as before. She died on a Thursday in April. On the Monday following her death, we were in a staff meeting discussing new hires to replace her. By May, it was like she had never existed; the offices were reconfigured so her office wasn't even there anymore, and she was never mentioned at all.
What I learned from this was first, take care of your health. If you don't have it, you don't have anything. Secondly, you are replaceable. No matter how much you sacrifice for the sake of your career, they will fill your position without blinking an eye and never think of you again. Lastly, take your time off to enjoy your life and family. Your coworkers will respect you just the same."
"When I was 18 I had dropped out of college and was looking for direction. I worked at a daycare and one of the kid's parents was talking to me about his life. He was an engineer and changed careers to teach music, which was his passion. Within a month, his passion for music turned into a career that came with stress.
He ended the conversation with, 'You may never find the perfect job. I loved music and it immediately became another job for me. So take opportunities, even if they are imperfect because sometimes perfect won't happen.'
A couple of months later, I took a sales job that wasn't perfect. I now make more money than I should with no degree. I love my life and I owe a lot of it to him, encouraging me to take a chance on imperfection. I will never forget that lesson."