Today is my best friend’s birthday (not my BEEF, Emily). I met one of the best people last year in a pretty peculiar way, but I’m incredibly happy that I did, and I’m extremely happy that I get to call him my boyfriend.

I’ve learned a lot about him and a lot from him in the last year.

Before I sound too cheesy and lovey, I’ll get right to the things I’ve learned from him.

1. Be nice. Sometimes people will be impolite. Sometimes they’ll be downright mean. They’ll be cruel and unfair, but that’s not a reflection of you, at all. Be the bigger person. Be the better person. Forgive and forget. At the end of the day, you don’t want to regret something you said or did. If you get down to the level of a twelve year old, do you really feel that great about yourself an hour later? A moment of smugness for putting someone in their place doesn’t solve anything. People won’t change because of you. They’re more likely to see reason through kindness. If they don’t, it was never your problem/battle to begin with. No matter what happens in your day, you should be nice. There’s never a reason to be anything but.

2. Try to see the good in people. Not everyone is terrible, and sometimes, people can really surprise you. Sometimes you can get so wrapped up in an idea of someone that you fail to see what’s actually there. Try to give people the benefit of the doubt. Not everyone is cut out to be your best friend, and that’s okay. You’re allowed to have some friends who don’t know every detail of your life. You’re allowed to talk about shallow things.

3. Say hello. There are billions of people in the world. You’re bound to meet some duds, but there are also some decent people in the world pool (see what I did there). People are noticeably happier when you smile and say something. If you can brighten just one person’s day, why wouldn’t you? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always do this, but it’s something I’m working on.

4. Try new things. I don’t like to admit this, but most of the time I don’t like to go out and hang with people I don’t know. I always worry that we’ll have nothing to talk about. As an introvert, I value meaningful conversations. I don’t like sports talk. I don’t like weather talk. I don’t like news talk. Without fail, every time we end up somewhere, I hit it off with people, and Kevin is the one asking to leave (granted its 1am and time for bed). There are the occasional times when I do want to go home, but the track record of times I’m having a good time far surpasses the others.

This extends beyond social gatherings, too. I did my first 5k last year with Kevin. We trained together, but we slacked towards the end. When we did the race, Kevin didn’t let me stop. No matter how slow our pace got, we weren’t allowed to walk.

I notice this trend throughout our relationship. We try something we’re comfortable with, and then we push beyond what we think our limitations are. You’re a lot better than you think you are.

5. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Yes, it’s all small stuff. Traffic. Workouts and arguments. Messy hair. Sand in your shorts. Life is too short to get upset about things. (I say this, but it’s certainly something I have to remind myself of on the reg.)

6. Be patient. Wait. Obviously with the little things. Kevin never gets angry in traffic, where I lose my mind if someone doesn’t use a signal. Beyond even the small stuff, wait. Try to wait.

Your job will get better or you’ll find another one. Complain when warranted, but trust that it’ll get better.

Kevin took me ice skating for the first time in New York City, and it started to snow; it was perfect. I have a list of firsts that I’m glad I’ve never done with anyone else. I’ve always known that patience in life was a good virtue to have, but–as corny as it sounds–now I know that good things come with time. Trust that your patience with all of the idiosyncrasies in your life is worth it.

7. Let go. You can’t control anything. I’m very much still learning this. You can only control and take care of yourself. Eat healthy, exercise and maintain a healthy spiritual life. Just know that everything else is not yours to control.

8. Everything will be okay. Even the things that aren’t okay will someday be okay. Your attitude dictates how you’ll feel; however, one fact remains: everything turns out okay in the end. Sorry to spoil the ending. Even if things turn sour for me today or next week, I know that it’s not permanent. Kevin may not always be around. I may lose many things, by it’ll be okay. This is something I learned last year, but it’s true.

There are a ton of other things I’ve learned from Kevin, but this will have to suffice. I’m thankful that I get to spend two birthdays with this happy little clam. He’s the most positive person I’ve ever met, and the jelly to my peanut butter. I’m incredibly thankful that he was born today.

I love you, Kevin. I hope you have the happiest of birthdays, and that you only change for the better.