Today, April 16th, is my 30th birthday. And Easter Sunday.
People make the age of 30 sound much different from what it actually is. Then again,
I’ve only been 30 for about 20 hours or so… (4 1/2 at the time of writing this, if you wanna get technical).
Time spent without having learned anything is time wasted. So, I’ve been thinking about some important things I’ve learned in life so far that might help someone else.
1.) Listen to your mother.
Sometimes, mother doesn’t always know best. But, let’s face it: those times are very rare and often insignificant. Obviously, there are exceptions to this, but your mother is your biggest ally in this world. There are so many times in life where I wish I’d just listened to the Cliff Notes of life my mother tried to impart, rather than dismissing her as though the advice were somehow irrelevant to me, thus learning the lesson the hard way.
2.) It’s okay to be wrong.
There’s a difference between being righteous and being self-righteous. Defending erroneous actions is just silly. Just admit it when you are in the wrong and learn from the mistake. Move forward and become better. Besides, nobody likes a know-it-all.
3.) Sometimes, the 4th time’s the charm…
…Or the 5th, or 6th, or 46th. The Wright Brothers (one of whom I share a birthday with!) didn’t quit after a few failed attempts.
4.) Speak up.
You never know who is thinking or feeling the same thing you are. The whole world can change because of a “stupid” or “crazy” idea.
5.) There are times when you have to suck it up and be ‘okay’.
Life isn’t all about you. There are 7 1/2 billion other souls on this planet, and at any given time, they’re all going through something, some worse than what you’re going through, and smiling bigger. That paper you have to turn in, that money you have to make with overtime, that deadline you have to meet, etc., will NOT RSVP to your pity party. Suck it up, buttercup.
6.) There are times when it’s okay to not be ‘okay’.
On the other hand, you are the only one living your life. If you need to take a personal day to grieve the loss of your dog (I’d be taking at least a few), if you need to escape to the bathroom to cry, turn off the phone and delete social media for a month, do that. Which brings me to my next point:
7.) Your (spiritual/physical/mental) health is paramount.
You only get one shot at this life. Some people don’t even make it past childhood before their time on Earth is over. Why be miserable? Why be in pain? Why live everyday in a depression, or anxious, or desperate to escape when there’s a better way? Talk to someone, get exercise and eat healthy, stay on top of your check-ups. Do your research on what spiritual path best aligns with your view of the world. Do what you have to do (within reason) to make life truly worth living.
8.) Life will BREAK you.
But, it’s usually because you need to be put back together the right way.
9.) Sometimes, a shitty job is better than none at all.
Because you’re an adult. With responsibilities. And an empty fridge. See #5.
10.) Bullies are the biggest bitches.
Oftentimes, they are hurting you because they have so much pain within themselves and have no other outlet and are scared to do anything else. A lot of them do it out of boredom (read: empty mind). Ultimately, they are only hurting you because you allow them to. Don’t be a victim. End the cycle.
11.) Personality doesn’t get wrinkles.
Real talk. People get better with age, even though our bodies deteriorate. Though some people are able to age very well, good looks WILL fade away, butts and boobs sag, thighs meet and fall in love and six packs give way to a whole keg. Even when outer appearances don’t fade with the passing of time, they melt like sugar in a teacup in the mind of a person who knows what their insides are really like. But a sharp mind, a good heart and a beautiful soul are always attractive. Your experiences and what you do with them build your character. And that’s something makeup and nice clothes can’t hide.
12.) Cars depreciate. People don’t.
Piggybacking off of the previous point, I’ve seen so many people around me hurting because someone used them like an object. Sometimes, it was to get something material. A few times, it’s been a petty squabble about a possession that was taken or stolen or borrowed that exploded into something bigger. The end result is that you have this thing that is worthless in a few years time, and you’ve lost a friend or lover or family member over it. People are meant to be valued. Every person that comes in to our lives has a purpose, even if it’s small. Our lives intertwine that way so intricately that the design of it all cannot possibly be overlooked.
13.) Get to know lots of different people.
Variety is the spice of life. Make a new friend from a different culture, learn more about how they live their lives. Try new foods, learn a few phrases in a different language, talk to someone who practices a different religion. Open yourself up and you will enrich your life so much. There are so many wonderful little things you can incorporate into your day-to-day from other cultures. For example, I find it much easier to beat eggs or turn over food in a pan with chopsticks.
14.) Time is precious. Be focused.
You can replace clothes, furniture, cars, houses. You can get a job and earn more money, if you should lose it. But, you will NEVER get your time back. Suddenly, scrolling on Instagram doesn’t seem like such a priority, right?
15.) Words are powerful. Be kind.
Who the French dressing came up with that stupid “stick and stones” saying?! One unkind word can be enough to discourage someone from pursuing the career of their dreams. You could think you’re being witty and sarcastic by saying something off-color and wind up ruining your entire marriage or other relationship. Saying something nice, on the other hand, that you don’t think much of can literally save someone’s life (I’ve been there). Furthermore, with this in mind, once your words are said, you can’t take them back again. Choose carefully.
16.) Save a little money.
You never know what life will throw at you. Your future self will thank you.
17.) Violence is not to be tolerated.
When I say violence, I don’t just mean punching, hitting, shaking, etc. When someone punches your wall, throws something at you with no real intention of hitting you, destroying your personal property, or even makes a threat to do any of the above, this is still violence. Just like harm to your person, it is meant to instill fear, because people who are afraid are easier to manipulate and control. When I say ‘not to be tolerated’, I don’t just mean from other people. I mean from you towards yourself or other people as well. You need to find a constructive outlet for your emotions, or it will cost you a price you’re not willing or prepared to pay.
18.) Know thyself. Spend some time alone.
It’s generally thought healthy to want to have interactions with people, but everyone should take time to be completely alone. Some people cannot stand to be by themselves, and would rather maintain toxic relationships than deal with just themselves. BUt, when you know yourself, you understand your place in the world more. You know what kind of people you need in your life, and what people should be let go. When you know yourself, you can love the loveable parts, and change the not-so-loveable parts. and when you finally like yourself, your whole self, the right people will start liking you, too.
19.) Know your limits…
… And don’t let others push them. The people who do will need to get cut from the team during the annual review.
20.) Trust the process.
All of my cohort friends and family members seem to either be married, have kids, a four-year degree and a great career, are homeowners, or some combination of the above. I don’t have any of that yet. Maybe I wasn’t meant to. Or, maybe I wasn’t meant to yet. I’m just now stabilizing from a major setback, and I look forward to finishing my degree and embarking upon that great career, and I’m relishing my time that is truly mine to work on myself, not devoted to kids or a spouse. Everyone’s journey is different. It’ll happen when it’s meant to. In the meantime, enjoy the meantime.
21.) Failure is a part of success…
…And a part of life. A seed can’t grow unless it’s buried. Last year, I read Failing Forward by John C Maxwell, and it detailed how so many of the great scientists, businessmen, and other legends seemed to be ‘behind the curve’, lacked in resources, started over and over again, or started too late to ever be successful. Vera Wang failed to make the U.S. Olympic figure skating team, but she’s not a failure. She didn’t design her first dress until she was in her 40s! As long as you’re on this side of the ground, it’s never too late to begin.
22.) When (not ‘if’) you lose everything, you will gain so much.
Like, knowledge of who is really in your corner, strength beyond what you ever dreamed you could possess, empathy, humility, wisdom, etc.
23.) It’s okay to be mad at God.
He can take it. Besides, you won’t be angry for long.
24.) Pick your battles carefully.
Learn to discern what is worth your time and energy and potentially losing something valuable over, and what isn’t. Some battles, the stakes are too great and are doomed from the start (see #s 2 & 8). Really delve deep and decide for yourself what your deal-breakers are, and what are merely just opportunities for compromise.
25.) Healthy food is called ‘healthy’ for a reason.
As recent as 50 years ago, we were using certain types of food as our medicine. People in the old days rarely got sick. In the 90s, they started putting all these chemicals in our food, and eventually got to the point we’re at today where we have food that has no actual food in it, and every other person has allergies to anything with protein in it. Cancer is rampant, and diabetes is epidemic. It’s all preventable! Just because you don’t feel the effects of a poor diet and lifestyle right now doesn’t mean you won’t later (See #7 again). Just because your baby isn’t born with its arm where its naval should be doesn’t mean that eating crap during pregnancy has no consequences. It all adds up, and can rear its ugly head in a heartbeat. You may save a little money on the cheap food now, but you’ll have to pay big time when the medical bills pile up and the doctors “can’t figure out what’s causing it”. Take care of yourself; you only get one body.
26.) Your family is the people who love you the best.
My family is a bit dysfunctional. While I love my whole family, there are many family members who I no longer talk to, simply because they’re too damn toxic. The ones who I like definitely know who they are. I don’t believe in nurturing relationships simply because of blood relation. There are members of my family that aren’t related to me, who I love as though they were.
Even if you feel like your prayers aren’t heard, just keep doing it. It may not seem like it’s getting better, but at least it’ll make you feel better. Which brings me to my next point:
28.) Define your spirituality for yourself.
Ultimately, it’s YOUR relationship with God. Don’t let anyone else tell you how to pursue and maintain that relationship, or any relationship, for that matter.
29.) Just take the damn compliment.
Most people these days are so self-absorbed, they aren’t going to say something nice to someone else unless they mean it. Don’t insult a person and discourage them from being nice in the future by refusing to accept their good gesture. Even if you don’t particularly feel cute or pretty or smart, just say ‘thank you’ and move on.
30.) Trust yourself.
Especially your gut. A person can lie, but their vibe can’t. A situation can be hazy, but your intuition can always see through it. If you notice a pattern, if you see the signs, DON’T IGNORE THEM! And don’t ever sell yourself short because you think you’re not good enough, or that you’ll make some monumental mistake and ruin everything (whatever ‘everything’ is in that moment). Own it, be confident and make those mistakes: they’re opportunities to grow (see #21).