This year, in honor of my 28th birthday, I thought I’d copy Christie (who was inspired by this post) and make a list of 28 things I’ve learned along the way. This isn’t necessarily advice to live by, but tidbits that have helped me along the way or things that I try to remember when I feel frustrated.
1. If you can’t fix it, get over it
This is probably the most valuable lesson that I have ever learned, and it came from Mike, whose photography you should check out. It involved living in Mexico and being angry about a crowing rooster. I’ll tell you the story one day.
2. You are allowed to choose your friends
Sometimes, you grow out of relationships. Sometimes they come back, and sometimes they don’t. Honor your feelings, and honor your needs – it’s ok to walk away.
3. Sometimes, friendships end, and you aren’t ready
Maybe they’ll come back, maybe they won’t. It’s hard, sometimes harder than a romantic break. Similar to the above, people grow out of friendships, but it doesn’t always happen at the same time. But it happens.
4. There will always be things that you regret saying or doing, or not saying or not doing
Again – if you can’t fix it, get over it. You’re wasting a lot of energy thinking about the way things could have been.
5. Life takes care of you
This lesson comes from my mum, and is my favourite. Whenever I’m upset about something like not getting a job or running out of money, she always reminds me that life will take care of me. And so far, it has. The best part is that you often don’t expect what’s about to come.
6. If you’re struggling to make a decision, try to picture how you will feel about it in the future.
When you’re 40/50/60, will you most remember this or that? What will you be most proud of?
If you go to university, make sure it’s for something you love and are passionate about. What a pleasant surprise to discover that you love learning.
8. It’s ok to change your mind.
That’s been the highlight of my 20s so far, recognizing and accepting that sometimes, things just aren’t right. And it’s ok for you to say ‘this isn’t right for me, not right now’, and move on to something else.
9. You don’t have to agree with your parents.
This has been a struggle for me, and something that I’m still working on. They read this blog (hi, parents!), and I always feel like I censor myself just in case something I say upsets or worries them. I have tattoos (and am planning on getting more, surprise parents!), and they hate that. I keep changing my mind about what I want to do, and they hate that. I said that I don’t know if I want kids, and they hated that. I just keep reminding myself that it’s ok not to agree, and that they love me anyway (right, parents?). And let’s be honest – they should expect all of this from me by now!
10. No one sees what you see when you look in the mirror
When you look in the mirror, and see the extra jiggle or those blemishes, or whatever it is that you’re upset about, you (and your mom) are likely the only one(s) who notice. Go out, walk proud, no one cares.
11. It’s ok to be in debt, but make sure that it’s worth it.
I feel like such a grown up. In the last 3 months, I’ve gotten my finances under control. I no longer spend on useless things (which is helped by living in a small village with little to no shopping). I have savings (gasp!). I’m a few years away from paying off my student loan. I got paid last week, and didn’t even realize it. I mean, the difference was obvious in my bank account (I will never be that rich!), but for the first time since I can remember, I wasn’t desperately waiting for my next pay check to buy food/medication/bus fare. BUT! When all that is done, and my loans are paid off, I am taking off on a RTW trip. And will most likely incur more debt. But it will be so worth it. If I was the type to value buying a house and settling down, this is where I would incur my debt. To each her own!
12. Chocolate is always a good idea.
13. Not only is it ok to do things on your own, it’s great!
I frequently treat myself to dinner and a movie. Brunch en tête-à-tête with a good book. Solo road trips. I’ve been to a lot of concerts on my own. I know a lot of people who wouldn’t go to the restaurant or the movies alone, but it’s never stopped me. Jeez! I’d never do anything fun if I didn’t do it alone!
14. Call in sick, or go to work late.
If your week isn’t crazy, and you’re not feeling well, just do it. It’s ok, once in a while, to take a ‘me’ day.
15. Some people cherish the thought of getting older
I’m working on that one. I live in constant fear of missing out, or running out of time before I’ve done everything there is to do, and been to every single country. I recently heard a woman say that with every birthday, she is thankful to have been granted more time on this earth. I’m not that zen yet (last year, I decided to turn 19 instead of 27), but I’m keeping an open mind.
16. Make it a point to connect with people, and to remember them
I was so excited last year, when I set off on my cross-country drive, that I had a place to stay in each town along the way. Friends that I’ve met throughout my travels, and their friends and family. And it has only helped to expand my circle!
17. Don’t hesitate to ask for help
On the same topic as #16, never be afraid to ask for help. The worst that will happen is that you will hear no, or maybe people will think that you are asking for too much. But the best that will happen is that you will make great connections and accomplish grand things. I like to return the karmic favour, by trying to help people (even when they don’t ask for it.) Don’t be surprised to receive an email from me, out of the blue, connecting you to a friend of mine. It is likely because together, you can make grand things happen.
18. You don’t need that much stuff
I am SO guilty of owning too much stuff. I’m working on it, and haven’t acquired anything new in a long time. It’s exciting, and refreshing, and it feels great to know that I could (eventually, I’m not done downsizing just yet) take off on a moment’s notice.
19. Try not to attach sentimental value to too many things
I hate this one. I feel bad when thinking about getting rid of something that someone gave me, which makes downsizing really hard. But I’m working on that too.
20. Find yourself some role models, preferably real life ones
You will NOT always feel great about yourself. Make sure to surround yourself with people who inspire you, and make you want to be a better person. The benefit of having real life ones is that you can turn to them for support (again – don’t be afraid to ask for help!)
21. Stop making excuses
It’s too easy. If you find yourself justifying your choices, maybe you need to take a serious look at your options, and stop pretending like you’re stuck in this situation. Pick up your guitar/camera/notebook. Quit your job. Take that trip.
22. Stay in touch with people.
It’s worth it. My best friend from when I was 5 is still my best friend. I’m still friends with the people that I went to the International School of Sweden with when I was 12, people from elementary school, high school, college and both of my university degrees, not to mention people I met on various trips or through my millions of jobs. Facebook is a wonderful took for keeping touch with people you don’t talk to on a daily basis. (Speaking of which, my worst nightmare is that Facebook will suddenly disappear. I think about it daily.)
23. Say yes
Challenge yourself, for one year, to say yes to every new opportunity that feels right. It’s exhilarating!
24. Say no
If it doesn’t feel right, say no. If it’s causing you stress, and you don’t have to do it, say no. It’s ok.
25. Put yourself out there!
Apply for a job you don’t think you’ll get (how do you think I got all those crazy job offers?!) Talk to people you don’t know. Go on a first date. All of this is scary, but the rewards are always so great! Even if things don’t work out, you’ll feel so proud to have tried.
26. Stay curious
It’s so easy to stick to a regular schedule, and to do the same things over and over. I seem to put myself in situations where I have no routine, and need to rebuild my life from scratch. It’s awesome, but only when I force myself to be curious – believe me, some nights I would rather just stay in and knit!
27. Try again
Maybe you think there’s something you’re not good at. Maybe you have magically developed skills since the last time you tried, maybe you now have the right amount of passion and determination to make it work, or maybe you’ll try again and fall on your ass again. But try!
28. I’m leaving this one open, to learn this year. Comment below with your own wisdom!