1. The belief that everybody figures out their career in their twenties.
I thought I needed to have everything figured out by twenty-five or even – “God forbid” – thirty. What I didn’t realize is that you don’t have a career in your twenties, you have a job that pays the bills. Your twenties are not for sitting on your ass and pretending to find yourself, but they are about trying out a lot of different things in order to continue navigating the path that will lead you to your life’s calling. The definition of a career itself is: “An occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life.” So chill out, friends. You have to be alive for a whole lot longer before you need to determine your career and announce it on Facebook.
2. The belief that everybody else’s life is way cooler than mine, according to social media.
Instagram is hella fun. But it’s also completely full of shit. Yours is full of shit. Mine is full of shit. Kylie’s is full of shit. Everybody, now!
3. The belief that it’s more important to have a lot of friendships than it is to have a few meaningful ones.
I grew up right around the time you could literally quantify your friends publicly through outlets like MySpace and Facebook. So naturally I thought ‘as many friends as possible’ was the end goal. But as I’ve grown up and encountered failure, challenges, and dark moments, it’s clear that true, genuine soulmates are the people you want by your side in those times, not your infinite number of ‘friends.’
4. The belief that romantic love solves everything.
It doesn’t. I’ve been in love with an amazing person for three years and life is still complicated, hard, exhausting, and scary. Being in love doesn’t solve your problems and it’s not a finish line that brings you to peace and fulfillment. All it means is that you have a partner by your side who will support you through the limitless failures, losses, questions, and fears you will continue to experience throughout life.
5. The belief that being a good friend means remaining friends with someone, “no matter what.”
I’ve finally realized that “no matter what” should not be taken literally. Yes, being a good friend means staying by someone’s side when they screw up, or when they make a few poor choices, or when they experience rejection, shame, or heartache. But when someone mistreats you over and over, or makes you feel second-rate, or turns you into a lesser version of yourself, you are under no obligation whatsoever to remain ‘friends’ with them, if that’s what you can even call it.
6. The belief that the world owes me something.
Working hard and being a good person doesn’t mean you automatically deserve that job, that person, that promotion, that recognition, that anything. There’s billions of people in this world and a lot of them want the same things you do. So getting ahead in any aspect of your life means bringing so much more to the table than just being a “good worker” or “someone who deserves it.”
7. The belief that I could mistreat my body without there being any long-term affects.
My diet in college, and the first couple years after graduation, makes me shudder when I recall it now: absurd amounts of highly-processed snacks, a couple of sodas everyday, liquor every time I went out (which was at least three times a week), not enough water, frozen meals full of sodium when I wanted a ‘healthy option.’ I heard it over and over and over, but my brain did not want to process the logic that what I put into my body had a huge effect on my overall health. I’m grateful now that I’ve started to treat my body more lovingly – not only because I know it will be better for me long-term, but because I feel better right now – every. single. day.
8. The belief that people can be summed up in a sentence.
Learning that someone is a 27-year-old female marketing manager who went to Stanford and likes kickboxing tells me a few things about her background, her interests, how she spends her time, etc. But I do not know (nor am I allowed to judge) anyone simply because I could contribute a few tidbits to their imaginary bio. Understanding a person means learning about their beliefs, their quirks, their fears, what makes them tick, their secret desires, and a thousand other things that require patience, listening, and respect.
9. The belief that vulnerability is a flaw.
It’s the opposite. In fact, it’s at the core of what makes up our very essence. Vulnerability is the easiest way to be truthful in your art, to be successful in your eventual career, and, most importantly, to be genuine in your relationships.
10. The belief that happiness comes from attainment.
Throughout my teenage years and very early adulthood, I was an obsesser. I didn’t dwell on ‘happiness’ as a concept very much – I mostly just thought about the next thing on my list of wants. I’d feel good when I weighed this much, I’d feel good when I required this job, I’d feel good when my social life looked this particular way. What I eventually realized, and am still struggling to grasp every day, is that what I was actually chasing after was a state of being, something I’m capable of having this very moment and could have had in the past, if I had just learned how to be present, grateful, and aware of the beauty of existence, instead of hopping from one shallow desire to the next. Diseases like depression and anxiety are in a totally separate category, but when you’re in a mentally stable condition and are healthy enough to focus on happiness, I’ve learned that it’s a practice in mindfulness and gratitude, rather than a checklist of things to be required. And that’s been my favorite lesson of all.