Every birthday inspires me to look back on my past and think about what I have learned. This year, after turning 26, I discovered the following:
- There are always two sides to every story– Once upon a time adults would tell you that things were the way that they were because they said so. There was only one side, one right or wrong choice. Black and white, plain and simple. Yet I’ve come to understand the world as one large mix of gray. With every choice there are consequences. While it is easy to see things as one sided, a more complete understanding of the life I live includes considering multiple perspectives regardless of how difficult it might be.
- Stop lying to yourself– I’ve begun to see that it is incredibly easy to lie to yourself. In some instances this can be a very powerful tool, and the reason that many people have developed such a particularly great ability to lie to themselves is self-preservation. For example when in a fitting room and trying not to feel completely terrible about yourself, its perfectly ok, in my opinion, to lie to yourself and say that something MUST be wrong with the mirrors in this place! Yet this amazing ability to help ourselves get through things by convincing ourselves of white lies also leads to this incredible ability to ignore larger issues. I’ve learned that if I want to change anything about myself the first step is to hold myself responsible and to continuously work on not lying to myself.
- If everyone likes you, you’re likely to not like yourself very much– This was another piece of wisdom imparted to me by my sister. She said this to me after teenage me showed up at home sad about someone being mad at me or whatever the situation was. This isn’t to say that you should take full reign and be an evil, awful person to everyone around you because the opposite also rings true too; if Everyone HATES you, then it’s not them it’s you. Somewhere in the middle of these two mantras lies the sweet spot. Trying to please everyone around you is impossible. People are fussy creatures in general and more often than not a bad mood of theirs has nothing to do with you. If you keep trying to please people around you, you will never develop your own opinions and style. Ultimately this will lead to you waking up with morals and beliefs you never chose and a deep seeded misunderstanding and hatred of who you are.
- Consistency=Success. It doesn’t matter how incredibly amazing you are for one day. If you can’t sustain that new energy and motivation you will never see success. Part of being consistent also includes being realistic about how to work small changes into your daily life. For example, you can shoot for the moon and work for 20+ hours one day in an attempt to be the most amazing employee every. However, if the next day you come in late to work as a result of being tired and only put in 5 good hours of work then you have completely undone your magnificent lean in moment.
- You will never have all of the stuff you want. Regardless of how wealthy you become, if you look hard enough you will always find some material object that you want. You will never have enough so just accept it and then decide that material things don’t matter. That $7 a day coffee drink is not worth feeling anxiety at the end of the month because you’re not sure if you can cover rent. Buying those new shoes you know you won’t ever wear just because they are cute and you have found some fool of a friend to agree with you that you should get them is not a good idea. Think simple, think less is more and you will find happiness.
- You are never too old to meet new friends.This past year I have been going pretty regularly to a salsa dance studio. This experience has taught me that you are never too old to make new friends. As new people have joined the dance studio, I have met so many wonderful people, many of whom are some of my closest friends. While I love and care for all of my friends, I have found that I have infinite space in my heart for more people. Thus irregardless of how old I am, I will never stop looking for more friends to share my life with.
- At some point you will have to face your elementary school fears. The beginning of 2016 has brought with it the realization that many of my fears these days can be traced back to some strange memory in elementary school….Alright, that’s a bit of an overstatement. However, there will always be parts of your past that leave you feeling a little bit afraid, or awkward, or ashamed. For me, it was my fourth grade class camping trip, when I tried to climb the rock wall and only made it half way. I was so embarrassed and felt like I was so uncool. Thus when someone recently invited me to go rock climbing my instinct was to say “ABSOLUTELY NOT”. And this is wrong, because at some point you have to stare elementary school in the eye and take on what scares you.
- Finally, my older sister will still be my hero regardless of my age. For those of you who are not the proud owners of an older sister, I am truly sorry. Perhaps this applies to older brothers, I’m not sure as I don’t have one. To me, every year that goes by only strengthens my bond with my sister. She will always be my hero, and I will always want to make her proud. I know this is true because regardless of the fact that I’m now 26 years old and very much a fully functioning adult, when we have a fight because I’m being oversensitive about something, she still calls me back right away because she and I can’t stand to be mad at each other. It’s even in the little things, such as the fact that I don’t have to call her every day, but when I do there is no need for small talk or polite starter conversation, but instead we do a full sprint into the latest and greatest. There is nothing like an older sister to put you in your place, and to make sure you are safe. So, no matter my age, she will always be the one I look up to.