02/11/2014 12:21 pm ET Updated Apr 13, 2014

As I Celebrate My 21 Year Journey

In life we face ups and down, challenges and surprises. With every passing year we learn new lessons and as I am getting ready to greet a new year in my life I reflect upon the good and bad: everything that has taught me this year something about life and inspired me to set my goals higher, dream bigger and achieve further - I share with you my most important inspirations and life lessons learned.

In this past year I can say that the most significant thing I came to realize was that life actually is about the journey, not the destination.

And in the honor of my 21st birthday, I decided to write about some of my most significant inspirations that I believe have had significant impact on my personality and life journey:

∞ "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. "

No matter how cliché this may sound, it is probably the undeniable truth. This quote hangs on my wall so that it is the first thing that I see when I wake up every morning. It reminds me what to prioritize in life and to not waste a single second of my day and live each day to the fullest. Because time spent will never come back and as far as I know, we are only here once. We will never be as young as we are now. We have a limited amount of time to do all the things on our bucket list. So, go today and do something that you were always scared to do, see something for the first time, do something that will take you a step closer to your goals or visit someone who you have been wanting to but did not get a chance to see for a long time, before it is too late.

∞ "Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.

I remember reading this a few years ago and not really getting what it actually meant. Looking back on it now, I can say that this quote has proven its validity to me. We all have expectations, plans and countless things that we look forward to in life. But in reality, or most of the time I should say, we end up not doing those things - not because of an obstacle in our way, but because something unexpected, much better happens on the way. So we make our cost-benefit calculations (or sometimes we don't even do that and take uncalculated risks) but end up at a place that we have never imagined before. This is true for falling in love, searching for jobs or in general where you want to be (plan to be) in life. Uncertainty scares many people, but I can say that what makes life worth living is the uncertainty that exists in every second of it.

∞ "It is not about whom you have known the longest, but who has come and never left your side..."

Some people come into your life and you can't help but to wish that you have met them earlier, just to have spent more time with them. However, it is not the amount of time or the number of years we spend together that makes someone special for us, but the quality of those memories we make together. When I moved to the United States, I left so many of my loved ones back home. I always wished I could spend much more time with my family and close friends but I realized that it is as if I'm pausing one life and walking into another pressing the start button. I came to realize after a few years that relationships do not fall prey to physical distance; strong ones remain through distance and through time. When I go back home over the summer, I now know that everything continues from where I left.
It seems to me the same thing goes for falling in love. When you fall in love, someone who you didn't know existed until that day suddenly becomes a huge part of your life. When you didn't know that person yesterday, he or she suddenly becomes the one who you can't live without today. It is crazy, illogical; but at the same time true in the scariest way.

∞" Always have the discipline to tell the truth. "

Even at times when it may seem like it can hurt you, never ever give up on walking on the right path. In the end the truth will protect you form getting hurt in a worse way. This goes for both professional and personal life. No matter how unacceptable it may sound, tell the truth without thinking twice. Even when doing so causes short term uncomfort or pain, honesty always seems to pay of in the long run.

∞ "Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you'll land among the stars..."

Always, but no matter what, always remember to dream big. Because your dreams are the ones that will take you to your goals and the bigger you dream, the higher you will achieve. There are no obstacles, unless you create excuses. If I never dreamed of it, thinking that it is impossible, I would never be at the institution I am today, studying something very special that excites me every other day when I go to class. Always remember that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Never give up on something you really want. In the end, it is more painful to regret than to wait. One can never cross the ocean without the courage to lose the sight of shore. Most of the time it is the biggest risk that brings the highest payoff.

And to follow up on this one, as Winston Churchill has once said:

∞ "Success is the ability to go from one failure to another, with no loss of enthusiasm."

Learn from your failures and past mistakes, because they will lighten up your path when it is time for you to go forward and achieve your goals. Past experiences and mistakes are valuable when reaching success because they teach you what not to do next time. We all learn by making mistakes. As C.S. Lewis has said: "There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind". The future will always be brighter than yesterday.

"When one door closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one, which has opened for us."

It is very important in life to be able to move on after hard times, sadness or mistakes. Worrying will never change the outcome; it will only set you back from achieving your dreams. Just know that if something you really want did not happen, life has something else, much better, already planned for you. So do not waste time looking back at the opportunities you missed, go through the new open doors. Let go of what has already happened and have faith in what will happen next. Remember; "falling down is part of life, getting back up is living."