We like lists. Order. Organization. We like how-to articles because they’re fast and skim worthy. We open articles in hopes that a few minutes will help us learn something new or entertain us instead. My personal preference is both. In fact, most of you probably skipped to my list already and aren’t even reading this awesome intro about flying spaceships landing in Los Angeles last Friday. Paying attention, now? I know, I know. I’ve got bad jokes.
The truth is that I don’t write for others to read it. I do that 40 hours a week at my day job. I write so that I can get all the messy thoughts in my head out on paper. I publish them to a blog so that my voice is out there in the universe. When a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound? Oh, philosophy. I was never good at that subject.
All I know is that I love to write. When I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I just don’t care how I feel anymore. It gives me solace. As Ernest Hemingway puts it, “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” I love this quote. I use it endlessly. It reminds me that, like all art, writing can touch people in the deepest of places even when, more often than not, the author was just on a thought purge.
In the past 25 years, I’ve taken away a lot of life lessons. I know that they will continuously grow with time… and that I have way more than 25 to list. However, writing them all would constitute as my first novel… So for the sake of being catchy, here are my 25 lessons for 25 years:
- Running away doesn’t fix anything. No shit, sherlock. While that common saying sounds simple, it’s really not. Everyone runs in different ways. We bury ourselves in work. We start new hobbies. We stay busy to avoid thinking about what matters. Turns out, when all is said and done, your problems are still there.
- Worrying is just wasted time. This one is easier said than done. I am a notorious worry wart. I worry that I didn’t plan enough, that I’m not on time, that another person isn’t having a good time when we’re hanging out. You name it; I worry about it. But what’s the point? Really. I need to learn to stop letting life bug me out.
- Things always have a way of working themselves out. This is another common phrase that a lot of us take for granted. I’ve tried to plan my way out of worry and stress and it just makes everything that much more difficult. Whether you believe in a higher being or not, something in the cosmos is working really hard to put the pieces of our lives together.
- You don’t have to be perfect. Cliche, right? But it’s true. I spend so much time trying to be the perfect copywriter, daughter, girlfriend, cook, host… whatever. It goes back to worrying. It’s okay if things don’t go as planned. It’s okay to be bad at something. It will all work out the way it’s supposed to.
- It’s okay to be a little broken. There is beauty in the breakdown. The Scene Aesthetic, anyone? Everyone reaches their breaking point from time to time. Life is tough. There’s just no getting around it. Learn to appreciate the collateral beauty.
- We will never, ever stop learning… and should never want to. I have an obsession with books. I love to read. I love learning about new things. I’ll spend hours educating myself on a new topic just because I find it interesting. Not everyone is like me, but it is so important to recognize how important life-long learning is. We need to continuously be cognizant of not only our own surroundings, but of the world we live in.
- Opposites attract… and even when it’s unexpected… just go with it. I met the love of my life in high school. We didn’t start dating until I was 23. He was my best friend for a long time, but I remember thinking to myself, “We’re so different. We would never work out.” Two years later, we’re stronger than ever. He makes me the happiest person alive just knowing I have him there to listen to me.
- Planning is essential; over planning is chaotic. If there’s one thing you need to know about me, it’s that I hate not knowing what’s coming next. I’m organized. Relatively clean. I like surprises, but I go crazy at the thought of spontaneity. However, I’ve learned that I often get myself in trouble when I plan too much. There is such a thing as over planning… and I’m the queen of it. I get these pictures in my head of what it’s going to be like and when things change, I’m crushed.
- You can’t fix someone else’s problems. Believe me. I’ve tried for decades. I had to learn this one the hard way. Everyone has their own load to carry and while it’s important to be a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, you can’t just fix things for other people. For them to be happy, they have to fix it themselves.
- Budgeting is important. I’ve wasted so much time and money not budgeting out my money. I’ve always had a savings, but I used to take from it like crazy without putting anything back in. Now that I’ve learned the hard way, I’m figuring out how easy it is to budget and save for those important purchases.
- Cooking healthy meals makes you feel better overall. I used to be so lazy when it came to cooking. I would rather eat a bowl of Cheerios than spend an hour in the kitchen cooking something I’d actually enjoy. I spent too much money eating out and I gained weight because of it. Now that I’ve learned how to cook, I’m feeling better and more accomplished after every meal.
- Staying active is great; staying busy is overwhelming. I’ve started forcing myself to be productive. “Adulting” as some people call it. Of course, I didn’t really have a choice after I got my first apartment. I learned how to stay active. I planned weekend trips. I planned relaxation days. I planned for spring cleaning. However, I’ve also learned that if you plan too much, your schedule can get the best of you. If you’ve booked yourself silly for no reason, ask yourself: what are you running from?
- Exercise really isn’t that hard. I get in the habit of going to the gym, then I fall off the bandwagon. The truth of the matter is, once you get started, you feel so much better for going. While it may be trying in the moment, the rewards are so great you can’t help but go back for more.
- “You can do anything you set your mind to” isn’t just an inspirational quote. I truly believe that if you set out to accomplish something, you can do it. Who knew I could actually get paid for writing? It’s been my dream job since I was a child and I actually did it! Who knew that I’d quit my job to travel the world and still be able to afford everything I have now? If you set your mind to achieving goals and plan out how to get there, you can do anything.
- Understanding different perspectives shapes who we are as human beings. Growing up in a small town, I didn’t get a chance to surround myself with diversity. I grew up believing and thinking that all people thought and lived a certain way. As I’ve gotten older, I realized that the world is full of different perspectives, unique cultures, and inspiring stories. I am in love with discovering new perspectives and the way they change me every single time.
- Being open minded helps with stress. Do you realize how much unnecessary stress you put on yourself by thinking that your way is the only way? That there is a right and wrong that everyone lives by? Going off of the above lesson, being open minded relieves stress. Quit worrying about everyone else and focus on you. Be open minded to different perspectives, cultures, and opinions… and you will be better for it.
- Routines are essential for your health. I realize that when I set a schedule and stick to it, that I feel better. Going to bed between 9-11 on weekdays and getting up between 5-6. Making dinner and going to the gym at certain hours helps me stay balanced.
- People come and go… even the ones you thought would never leave. Everyone has a role to play in your life. Whether it’s to introduce you to others or to show you a new side of yourself, each person that graces your life has a unique purpose. Just because they come and go doesn’t mean that you’ve lost something. It just means that there is a reason to be grateful that you just haven’t discovered yet.
- We are all writing our own story. Everyone gets moody every once in a while. It’s difficult for me to control my emotions when I’m in one of those annoyed moods. However, we need to be patient with each other. Everyone is traveling on their own path. You have no idea what is going on in someone else’s life that may be causing them to infringe on your good mood.
- Addiction can’t be cured. The word addiction itself is scary. To be so emotionally and mentally tied to something that you can’t control the way you think about it… It’s terrifying. While it can be remedied, it can’t be cured. Addiction is something that we live with for our entire lives. As addicts and friends of those who are, we must be patient with ourselves as well as disciplined.
- Divorce hurts everyone involved. My parents went through a divorce two years ago and it’s still tearing my family apart. It touches every single aspect of your family life from traditions down to how you interact. I’ve vowed to myself that once I get married, it will be for life.
- Puppies are furry humans. Let’s cut all the serious talk for a second. Puppies are like fur children. I’ve come to love my little Luna as if she were my own flesh and blood. She is always the best part of my day and she scares me with her intellect. If she could only talk… I’m sure we’d be endlessly entertained.
- Love is a funny thing. We say we know what it means, but until it knocks us on our ass, we have no idea. What does it truly mean to give everything for another? That’s what love is. Love is letting go when it’s what best for the other person. Love is holding on when things are bursting at the seams. Love is an endless struggle, but it’s worth every minute of heartache.
- Resolutions are just words; taking action means commitment. Every year people make these insane resolutions to lose 100 pounds, quit smoking, quit spending so much money, etc. I think we all mean well when we set our goals, but taking action requires a lot more than just reflection. Commitment is tough and to honor your commitment is an accomplishment.
- You can’t begin to love anyone wholeheartedly before you love yourself. This one took me a long time to fully grasp. To love myself? What did that mean? I can’t give you advice on this. Everyone figures out who they are in time… and it continues to evolve and change. This adage is probably my favorite because of its depth and clarity. Before you are content alone, you will never be able to love another the way that they deserve.
I’ve learned a lot more in my 25 years, but I’ll leave it at that. Happy New Year everyone. Let’s make 2017 count.