Well. I’ve done it. I’ve hit 35. And, in my infinite wisdom, I have been sitting here thinking all day about lessons to learn in life. Lessons I have learned in life. You know, those things you wish you knew then, but you know now.
When I started my blog, I was in what I defined a full-on 30-Life-Crisis. I had no idea what the hell was going on in my life, only that the life I had dreamed of was, in fact, the life I was living, but no longer the life I wanted. So, I did what any sane (ha!) 30-Life-Crisis person would do: I ditched it. I headed to a foreign world to soak up different languages, cultures, foods, experiences, and then, when that ended, I came home, decided it wasn’t for me, and then moved to Thailand.
I think today, it is safe to say while I may be hitting that 35-year-old milestone, I’m certainly not in that head-spinning mode I was in five years ago when I lived in Atlanta and was trying so desperately to find out that one thing in this world which would save me.
Editor’s Note: if you are curious about that one thing to save me, spoiler alert: it’s me. And, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, it was me all along.
At 35, looking back, there are so many things I wish I knew at 30. So many things I wish I knew at 29. 25. 21. 18. Every year we get older and wiser, but these days, I find myself just wishing I knew then what I know now. If I could go back and bestow the lessons learned to my younger self, these would be them:
1. You don’t have to know what the heck you want in life from the moment you leave the womb. You don’t even need to have a solid picture at (gasp) high school graduation. Figure out the things you enjoy and then go from there. This can change multiple times in life, and that is absolutely FINE.
2. A plan is only as good as its makers. If you aren’t ready to push that plan forward, figure out why and then decide whether or not you want to adjust the plan or adjust you.
3. Don’t be in a relationship with someone who does not love themselves. Likewise, love yourself. If you don’t love yourself, the only people you will attract are those who are as broken as you.
4. Respect yourself enough to stay away from situations where you feel uncomfortable. Set boundaries and keep them.
5. Travel. But not to run. Travel to learn about you. About the world. If you’re running, you will accomplish nothing but running further away from the world you know. And deeper into your own frustrations.
6. Try to smile and stay positive as much as you can. No one likes a negative person or one who constantly complains about life. Don’t be surprised when people don’t want to be around negativity.
7. Things that make you unhappy are in your control. Either choose to keep those things which make you unhappy in your life, or get them the hell out.
8. Find. Your. Niche. The rest will come.
9. You are only as good as the company you keep. For reals. (Although this one took me a super long time to learn.)
10. Tell the people you love that you love them, often. And hold tight to those people.
11. Be kind to animals and all other living things. (Note: I have always been kind, now I am just more compassionate.)
12. School is important, but those lessons you learn in life are equally, if not more, important. So, be a student of the world.
13. Write often. About whatever you want. Just write. (And please don’t think of it as a school assignment, because really, who enjoys writing those?)
14. Don’t smoke, jackass.
15. Eating to feel better only works until you’re stuffed. Then, you are full and still sad/angry/mad/happy.
16. Work out. Consistently. And, don’t take diet pills to lose weight.
17. Respect your body.
18. Respect your mind.
19. Practice being mindful and grateful everyday. You are lucky, lucky, lucky.
20. Don’t pretend to me impenetrable. Or perfect. Everyone has faults. Everyone has weaknesses. And it is OK to ask for help and to receive help.
21. Let go of the preconceived notions of what being an adult is. You don’t have to be married at 28. Have kids at 30. It’s OK to not follow a rigid schedule. Or even have one.
22. Say “yes” to more things in life.
23. Save money. For real.
24. Step out of your comfort zone. Regularly.
25. Don’t let negative comments from others ruin your day. Those ugly moments come from another’s issues and mire that person far more than you.
26. People have their own shit going on. Remember their reactions to you aren’t based on you necessarily, but what is going on with them.
27. Don’t take everything personally (see 26).
28. Love, but don’t love blindly.
29. Everything happens exactly as it should. It is a part of you, a part of your story. It is what shapes you into the person you are today. Don’t fight it.
30. You don’t have to be like everyone else.
31. Appreciate the beauty of the world around you.
32. You don’t have to make a lot of money to be successful. Happiness is a measure of success with as much value (and more in my opinion) than the green in your pocket. Although, yes, you still should have a savings account. But, that’s just for airfare and starting exciting new stories in far off lands.
33. Ask questions. Ask a lot of questions. About everything. Soak up as much knowledge as you can from every person you can soak it up from.
34. Remember, not everyone is out to get you. There is good and kindness in this world, you just have to be open to receiving it.
35. Life isn’t about living happily ever after, it’s about living.