Today is my birthday and I've reached the point in life where birthdays bring about a lot of self-reflection and thoughts about aging. I don't resent getting older- I actually quite like it- it's much more the fight against time that gets me. I haven't done what I wanted to do by now. I'm not where I thought I would be. It's pretty easy to get down on yourself when it comes to standard life milestones, but I think it's much more conducive to instead try to see how far you've come from the person you were 5 or 10 years ago. I'm not saying I've conquered adulthood or anything (I've got a mountain of laundry evidence to the contrary), but I've definitely grown leaps and bounds from my 21-year-old self. Although still a mediocre-at-best source in maturity, I am a wise old woman now (31) so I felt like sharing some of the sage advice and life lessons I've picked up over the years.
1. Be kind to yourself. You know those people that are always talking bad about themselves? Yeah, they're the worst, so don't be that person. I totally get the struggle. Sometimes it can be hard to look in the mirror and not hate everything you see. I mean, do I love every inch of my body? Or my ability to knock over everything I come into contact with? Absolutely not. But would I judge my friends over either of those things? No, and in fact their "flaws" are often my favorite things about them. Try to give that same leniency to yourself.
2. A cluttered life is a crappy life. Things are just things. Obsessing over having the latest and greatest, building up loads of debt, and having a closet that is constantly exploding just adds unnecessary stress to your life. When it comes to stuff, less is definitely more, for your sense of mind and for your wallet. And while you're at it, declutter your contacts, too. Ditch "friends" that make you feel less than you are (I promise you won't miss them) and invest your new found time into people you admire and that help you grow.
3. No one can make you happy or whole. Not in the long run anyway. And you don't want to be with someone that expects you to make them whole, either. Love yourself the best you can and then try to find someone who can do the same. Also, love is not always exciting. Sometimes the day to day is actually pretty boring, and that's okay. If you go into a relationship happy with yourself you will be able to find joy in the downtime, too.
4. But do choose someone that wants to make you happy. And do the same for them. And the next time you fight with your partner, forget keeping score. Try to be kind and understanding towards them (even though I know it's the last thing you want to do) and just see what happens. Unless you're a saint, you won't nail this one every time. But when you do, life will be so much easier.
5. Bitterness is a waste of energy. If your ex was a decent human being, it's okay to stay friends (healing time allotted). You thought they were great at one point, so go ahead and be happy for them as you both move on to greener pastures. And if your best friend forgets to call you on your birthday, forgive them immediately. In fact don't even get upset in the first place. We're all overwhelmed and getting mad at someone because they didn't live up to your expectations is not only unfair to them, but a total waste of your time. Are they nice to you and trustworthy? Do you value their presence in your life? Good friends are hard to find, so if you answered yes to these questions, just go ahead and forgive ALL innocent mistakes and shortcomings. Bitterness feels awful and just isn't worth it.
6. Just do it already. Do you want to be writer? Have you always wanted to learn French? If you really want to do something, you need to take the initiative and actually do it. Stop thinking about all the details. You're always going to be too busy, too broke, too something, so just start now and if you love it, you'll figure out the rest later.
7. Don't stress about failure. The more risks you take, the more you're going to fail. The more times you put yourself out there, the more times you're going to get rejected. The more things you try, the more ways you'll discover you kind of suck at a lot of things. No success story ever starts with "I hit it out of the park on my first try." If you have big dreams, don't let the failure aspect scare you. Just keep failing and bouncing back. Lather, rinse, repeat.
8. Think about who you are. Go to therapy. Write in a journal (or blog). Join a church group. I don't care how you do it, but I think it's our responsibility as humans to really examine our lives. Understand our pasts, really feel our feelings, know our strengths and weaknesses. Figure out who you are and who you're meant to be. It might be tough at first, but your whole life (not to mention the lives of the people around you) will be so much better for it.
10. Look your best and then forget about it. I'm so over our nation's obsession with being hot. "Hot body after baby" articles are creepy to me and put way too much pressure on women. It's 2015, dang it, and I don't want to be Kendall Jenner, I want to be Amy Poehler. No offense to the former- she's beautiful and is probably very nice, but she's 19. And as much as the fashion world is obsessed with her, I'm much more interested in having a brilliant, grown-up woman for a role model. You should take care of your shell the best you can. Exercise, floss, put on some mascara. Put in the necessary efforts but then try and move on. Forget about your thighs. Get things done. Be smart. Be interesting. Be Amy Poehler.
So that's what I've learned about life so far. I feel very under qualified to give advice, as a lot of these are things I'm working on all the time, and I won't be surprised at all if I look back on this 10 years from now and realize I knew nothing. But that's the journey, right?
What would you add to this list?