I’m sitting in my living room. I’ve been snowed in because six inches fell on Rochester, Minnesota over the weekend. My stomach is full of chocolate chip eggos, and Keeping Up With The Kardashians is on TV. It’s the episode where Kendall turns 20 and is part of the Victoria Secret Fashion Show.
This might sound like an easy and sleepy Monday morning, but don’t get it twisted it’s been a long 28 years. My 29th birthday is coming in January, so I’m reflecting right now.
I’ve moved several times in my life. I’ve spent months and years in South Carolina, Pittsburgh, Illinois, Los Angeles, and Minnesota. I know what it’s like to be away from your family. I’ve made friends in each location I’ve spent time in. Some I keep in touch with, and some I don’t. I’ve shared time with two dogs, three cats, two snakes, and several fish. I really didn’t date much, but my husband and I have pretty much been together for the past eleven years – and married for four of them. I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression since my teens.
I’d like to think that all of these moments have taught me things. Some I had to learn the hard way. I’m grateful for all of them.
To honor my upcoming birthday, here’s a look at 28 things I’ve learned by the time I reached twenty-eight. It’s my hope that you’ll find some guidance, or hope, as I explain.
- You cannot control the thoughts of others. I’ve tried so hard to be someone that brings happiness and joy to everyone, but I’ve learned that concept is simply impossible. Their perception is going to be what it is. Letting go of trying to please everyone might’ve been the most free-ing thing I’ve done.
- Animals really can add to your life. Sure, it hurts when they cross the rainbow bridge, but they provide a source of comfort that just seems to only come from them. It’s those moments where your cat curls up with you because you’re crying or isolating yourself because you’re depressed. They just know. Except for snakes… I don’t know what they’re thinking… ever.
- Don’t compromise your style. You can have a million people calling you a “satanist” because you like to dress in black and wear items with skulls on them (…yes, that’s actually happened to me – don’t be that guy who does that. Nobody likes that guy!), but if you’re comfortable – who cares? You have to be happy from within. Sure, work clothes are work clothes, but there are ways you can make even them reflect your creativity.
- Anxiety and depression are nothing to be ashamed of. You’ll feel like you’re an alien for having them, but you’re actually part of 40 million American adults who deal with one or the other, or both.
- Talk about it. Whether it’s mental health struggles, interpersonal issues, or just sending the message that you’re not “in the mood” today – say something. You’ll not only help others around you get to know you, but you’ll feel better for getting that info out there.
- Don’t assume. It really does make an ass out of you and me.
- Every “crisis” ends. The harder moments in life do pass, even when it doesn’t feel like they will.
- Your crisis is not mine. Choosing how you’ll handle tasks within your day is not something to feel guilty about. Helping others is awesome, but you’re useless to them if you’re burnout to begin with.
- Travel, but don’t go into debt over it. I’m still digging myself out of this. You can learn a lot from traveling. It’s usually a wonderful experience! It’s annoying when you’re in debt because of it though. Do yourself a favor and plan your travels well ahead of time so you can be sure to set aside cash for those vacations. Don’t put pressure on yourself and feel like you have to get your travel on before you’re thirty or forty. Travel on your time.
- Orange juice and brushing your teeth don’t mix. It just goes without saying.
- Take your time. I don’t have enough hands to acknowledge all of the stupid things I’ve done simply because I was in a hurry. Car dents, tripping, yelling at others, incomplete work, not speaking eloquently enough… you name it! Be kind to yourself and give yourself a minute. You’re respecting yourself and others when you do.
- Social media can be used for good. From a young age, I knew it was important not to take reality TV or the internet seriously. I’m seeing this with social media too. Sure, the midday meme is great for a laugh in the middle of your workday, but there are facets to social media that provide more substance if you’re looking for it. I love open forums on mental health and female empowerment. Check them out! Support those who are providing those platforms!
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. How can you deliver on a promise properly if you don’t really understand what you’re doing to begin with? Ask the questions you need to. Who cares if it looks stupid.
- Intent speaks louder than actions. At the risk of sounding paranoid or sinister, I’ll just say this – pay close attention to the intent of someone’s heart while they show you their behavior. Good hearted people can do dumb things, but that doesn’t mean they’re terrible people. Don’t always judge someone by their actions. That guy or girl who suddenly stopped calling or interacting with you, however, well… ask yourself why that’s happening and you’ll probably find that their intent wasn’t the best to begin with. Read between the lines.
- Politicians are dumb, voting isn’t. I’m referring to all politicians here. Sorry, but I just can’t trust many of them anymore. The water is too murky. However, it’s insanely important (and honorable) to vote. It’s a beautiful right that we have in the country. Use it. Don’t waste it. It’s the only time we get to speak.
- Pineapple doesn’t belong on pizza. Fight me.
- You’re not “stupid” because you took a risk and it didn’t work out. You did learn something though, didn’t you?
- Fashion shouldn’t compromise safety. Heels are cute. Broken ankles aren’t.
- Soak up the good. Life is hard enough. When you are having moments that you’re feeling amazing, enjoy it!
- There’s no excuse for drunk driving. I sincerely believe that no one should ever resort to drunk driving. In fact, you really shouldn’t have to in 2018 anymore. Uber, Taxi, Lyft, and hell, just communicating with friends as to how you’re feeling should help you avoid that situation. You have options. Use them! You really are inconsiderate if you’re driving drunk in 2018.
- Your “phrasing” isn’t going to please everyone. We’d love it if a manual on how to deal with every single person we encounter were dropped on our laps, but that just doesn’t happen. The way you use language is not always going to please everyone. Do your best to be considerate, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t hit a home run with everyone every time. Learn as you go.
- We do better when we compete with ourselves…. not the guy across the street. Has jealousy, bigotry, or narcissism (let’s be real, these things are what “competition” leads to) done anything positive for your life? No? Imagine that! You can’t succeed when you’re hyper-focused on others. Do your best, and your best only.
- Look for the clothes and shoes that speak to you, not the ones that everyone is saying you “have to have” or else. If you really aren’t into a style or color, don’t force it because others like it. Trust me – it’ll sit in your closet for a year and end up at Goodwill anyway. Wait to purchase what means a lot to you.
- Listen to every song at least once. How else can you tell if you’re really into a type of music or not if you don’t give it a chance first?
- When someone shows you their ego, believe them. It will rear its head again.
- Listen to instinct and gut. The older you get, the more refined they’ll become. Trust them. You’re feeling apprehensive for a reason.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s a losing battle. We’re not robots, so what is there to compare to anyway? We’re not all alike, and that’s okay.
- Know your strengths. They can guide you in wonderful ways! Knowing your strengths means you’ll be best able to serve others too, in a way that you excel at.
What lessons wold be on your list?