1. TIME GOES BY FASTER THE OLDER YOU GET.
I've worked at the same company for five years. I look back to those first few months and it seems like a lifetime ago. But when each year approaches, I’m always in disbelief that another has passed. Yesterday was January and now it’s MID-APRIL. How did that happen? It’s scary how easily time passes without realizing it’s been months since you reached out to a friend or how easily an “I'm going to just eat bad today” can turn into a month of unhealthy eating and excuses.
2. SOMETIMES THERE ISN'T AN ANSWER.
Sometimes things happen and you’re faced with the question, “Why?” And there isn't an answer, no matter how much you try to make sense of it all. Some things are simply a part of life, no matter how unfair they may seem. Sometimes you never come to grasps with why it happened or figure it out. And sometimes, maybe we're not meant to.
3. PEOPLE ARE HUMAN.
We all struggle with the same things. We all feel the same emotions. We’re human. Which means we aren’t perfect. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Our good habits and bad. Realizing this has helped me be slow to judge and more compassionate toward others.
4. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE PEOPLE WHO think you are less than you are.
Sometimes people treat you less because your gender, race, age, or some other criteria. For me, I've learned that being young and a female means you’ll have to work harder for people to take you seriously. Having a baby face evidently doesn’t help. I learned about “baby-face bias” while reading Universal Principles of Design. The book states, “People and things with round features, large eyes, small noses, high foreheads, short chins, and relatively lighter skin and hair are perceived as babylike and, as a result, as having babylike personality attributes: naiveté, helplessness, honesty, and innocence. This bias is found across all age ranges and cultures.” I’ve always been stereotyped as naïve and innocent. I have learned to not let other people's perceptions define me. (Also, it's nice to prove people wrong.)
5. most workers aren't hard workers.
That’s the biggest understatement. I don't know why I was so surprised by this when I started my first job out of college. I thought the majority of people with a job were decent workers and good at what they do. Many are not. I put 100% into my work and the reality is so many people don't. And the ones who put 50% into their work? Yeah, they usually get paid more.
6. BEING SUCCESSFUL AND HAVING A LOT OF MONEY DOESN'T MATTER.
When I was younger I used to have big dreams of moving to New York and being a journalist. Now I just want to have a small life. Small, but meaningful. Surrounded by loved ones and beauty and peace. I want to be busy with things and people that make me happy. I don’t want to be stuck at a job that makes me anxious all the time. Which leads to...
7. I JUST WANT TO BE HEALTHY.
Physically, yes. But especially mentally. My anxiety started taking over my life in my late teens, so much that it resulted in bad stomach pains that I’ve had on and off over the past nine years. Once the pain hits, it can last up to 12 hours. It’s miserable and after several tests, doctors have concluded it’s probably “stress.”
8. CHANGE IS THE ONLY CONSTANT.
Nothing stays the same forever. Neverland doesn’t exist. People leave. Memories fade. You grow up and time moves on, whether you want it to or not.
9. HOME ISN'T A PLACE.
Home is the people you love and who love you and make you feel safe. For me, that’s always been my parents. But I’ve been fortunate to have had other people in my life who’ve felt like home too.
10. SAYING GOODBYE TO CRAPPY FRIENDS SUCKS, BUT IS THE BEST THING FOR YOU.
There comes a point where it’s best to just walk away. From friends who are negative and make you feel crappy about yourself. Who don’t put in time or care nearly as much as you do. Who always make you go out of your way. Or, on the opposite end, are completely needy and suffocating. It’s okay to not want those people in your life.
11. THERE ARE GOOD PEOPLE WHO DO BAD THINGS.
Example: When I was younger, I used to describe people who did drugs as "druggies." Today, I hate the term. The reason being that when people use this term, they usually use it in a way to express that a person deserves the position they are in (that position a lot of the time being addicted) because they chose to do drugs. But I don't believe that. I don't think any person chooses or deserves to be an addict. Yes, that person made a choice. And I think it's a bad one. But the pain that results from addiction--for the user, their families, their loved ones. That pain is heartbreaking and shouldn't be written off with some remark about being a "druggie." That person is someone's son/daughter, brother/sister, significant other who is struggling with something I and most of us can't begin to understand. And a lot of the time, those people are good people. Sometimes, the best people.
12. SEXISM IS SO REAL.
I could go on and on about this. Sometimes I do. Sexism is watching a show with family and comments being made about how it’s okay for a man to act like an asshole, but the moment a woman sticks up for herself, she's labeled as having an attitude problem. It’s people saying that Donald Trump’s comments about women are okay. It’s saying something at work and it being discredited. Only for a male to say the exact same thing and his thoughts to be sung with praise. It’s understanding that you can’t go to gas stations (or the grocery store in my neighborhood!) alone at night because 9 times out of 10 a man will make a comment or stare at you inappropriately. It’s being told a million times in your life that "you should smile" and the fact that "resting bitch face" is an accepted phrase, typically used to shame women. Sexism is real and I'm still learning how to handle sexist encounters and remarks.
13. TRAVEL OFTEN.
Nothing will make you feel more alive and there's nothing that can compare to being in a foreign country for the first time. Skip the fancy shoes or purse or whatever. Splurge on that trip and GO. It's more worth it.
14. TAKE EACH DAY ONE DAY AT A TIME.
Don’t worry about tomorrow. Do what you can, today. That’s all any of us can do. I often think about everything on my list -- and it's always an endless list. Of things I need to do or learn. It can be overwhelming. So take things one at a time. Don't try to solve for everything all at once. Understand that things take time and have patience with yourself.
15. START SAVING YOUR MONEY NOW.
Enough said. Because it feels oh so good and adult-like to have a good amount of money in your bank account.
16. SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO BE YOUR BEST FRIEND.
There will be days where you feel like you don’t matter and that no one loves you. On those days, take a deep breath, cry if you need to, and tell yourself it’s going to be okay and that you matter. Practice being kind to yourself.
17. IT’S OKAY TO SAY NO.
So many times in my life I've worried about disappointing people and have felt obligated to say yes to their needs and wants over my own. If you want to stay in and watch Netflix because you just need an evening to yourself, it's okay to say no to the person who wants to hang out. Sometimes you have to put you first.
18. that said, SHOW UP.
For your family, your friends. Little things like going to your nephew’s hockey game. Surprising your grandparents with pizza for dinner. Texting a friend to show you care. Those little things matter so much.
19. FROM ALL BAD COMES GOOD.
That does not mean that bad things are good things. It means that from every difficult situation, something good can come from it. As has happened with every tough situation I've encountered. It's encouraging to know that out of the darkness can come light. My teens started with my mom getting sick and unable to get out of bed most days for two years. It was awful and I hated that she was sick. But I'm thankful that I met God during that time and started a life with Him. Another example: I dated an abusive boyfriend at the time that my grandma with Alzheimer’s lived with us. It was her death that gave me the courage to walk away from a harmful relationship, knowing that she'd been through so many abusive relationships in her life. These things were awful things that happened, but I'm thankful that good things can come from our most difficult experiences and shape us into better people.
20. THINGS TO NOT TAKE FOR GRANTED: HUGS, DOGS, AND THE OUTDOORS.
These things may seem random but they're the things I took for granted when I lived with my parents. I didn't realize how much I'd miss these things once I was on my own. Living away from my parents has meant: 1. not getting hugged daily, 2. living without a dog for the first time in my life (I never realized how much more love you have in your life by having a pet around that loves you unconditionally; not coming home to that love isn't my favorite), and 3. not having a big yard to spend time in daily (I didn't realize how much time I spent in my yard growing up; I find myself having to go outside because being inside all the time is suffocating and is bad for my mental health).
21. BEING COOL IS OVERRATED.
I've always marched to the beat of my own drum, and I like it that way. In high school I had sleepovers and game nights versus partying. And today I’d way rather stay in and watch Netflix than go out to a bar. That said:
22. "GOOD FOR YOU, NOT FOR ME."
Every day I encounter moments where I'm reminded of Amy Poehler's motto. In Yes Please, she says: “’Good for her! Not for me.’ That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.” AMEN. Growing up, people always felt awkward around me when I wouldn't drink. I just didn't want to, but could care less if the other person did. Simply put, "Good for you, not for me."
23. NOTHING HURTS MORE THAN HEARTBREAK.
At least, nothing that I’ve experienced. Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. God wasn't joking. Other translation: "Guard your heart, for it determines the course of your life." Nothing has shaped mine more.
24. EXPERIENCE IS THE BEST TEACHER.
I graduated high school a year early. School was never a happy place for me. Plus, I had the idea in my head that I learned everything I needed to by 6th grade. So why waste away a year being a senior who goes to school half a day? Just knock out the last few classes needed in summer school. And so I did. Hands down, the best decision I ever made. I’m glad I was in a hurry to get out of school and start what's next. Working has taught me more than any class ever could. More than ever I'm convinced half of my education was a waste of time.
25. LISTEN TO YOUR GUT versus your head/heart.
If your gut says something is wrong, listen. For me, not knowing an answer right away has been, in a sense, an answer. It's my gut saying, "Hold up, something's off." I tend to regret when I ignore that feeling.
26. BE WILLING TO ACCEPT THAT YOU MIGHT BE WRONG.
Accept that some of the opinions that you have are just that -- opinions. And that you might be wrong. There are several things that I believe are right and wrong, but I'm willing to accept that one day I may learn that I've been wrong all along.
27. Always be kinder than you feel.
I haven't mastered this by any means. But I try to practice this daily.