This past year marked a quarter century of being alive and gracing all 12 of my blog readers with unforgivable puns. Sorry about that, guys. As my birthday nears, pushing me further towards 26 each day, I reflect back on the things I learned in this particularly noteworthy year.
Pre-25 I was a fairly typical 20-something. I graduated college with a degree and a marketable resume; I landed my first job that, thankfully, didn’t actually require me to wear big girl pant suits — win; my taste in wine expanded nicely to include an array of dry reds. Sup, Pinot Noir? I was essentially killin’ it. Twenty five came and hit me with its own proverbial version of a Mac truck – the millennial Mac, if you will.
Luckily for me, I learned a ton about who I am and where I belong. You know — growing pains. However, if I had Marty McFly-type powers and could revert back to the future? From the future to the past? However that works, I would remind myself of these few essential rules about being a successful human being while going through hard shit.
1. The things they say about you are not a reflection of who you truly are.
You’d think that we would have learned our lesson about sticks and stones in middle school — we didn’t. Throughout your life people’s perception of you will deeply affect you. You will question yourself. You will become convinced that you aren’t as good of a person as you thought you were. You will let other people define your self-worth when I t isn’t theirs to control. However, something else will happen too. You will realize that what they see isn’t really your mirror image.
You will face people that will misinterpret you for the rest of your life. Want to know what’s liberating? Like, skinny dipping for the first time-type of liberation? What they think of you doesn’t fucking matter.
You’ll learn that you will meet people that will go to war for you. They will stand up for you, allow you to breathe freely, and they’ll never take more than you can give. These people will mold you. Wait for them; hold out for them because they will be worth it.
2. You choose to see the best in people closest to you. That does not make you naïve.
When you offer yourself up to another person — whether it be emotionally, physically or spiritually — you believe that person is worthy of the responsibility. It isn’t your fault if they didn’t treat you with the care you deserved.
The trick is to keep yourself open. It’s easy to crawl under the comforter of life and resign to feeling like all humans are untrustworthy. Even your dog is giving you shifty looks like he’s about to bolt. He isn’t, and you will come across the best humans that will take your breath away. Again, wait for them.
3. You’ll find your due North.
No, this is not a North West pun. This is about finding your foundation, your cornerstone, the thing that grounds you and sets you on the right path. I know that life can feel noisy, frivolous, and mantic. It’s too easy to get swept away in waves of likes, notifications, texts, swipes, filters, posts, and 140 characters of desperate wit. That’s not you.
Finding your due north is so elementally essential to your wellbeing. When you are headed in every single direction at the same time but the right one, this sacred thing will root you.
It might be your favorite book, your favorite person, a beautiful, peaceful spot, or a corner of your memory that houses a special experience that will always make you smile. Whatever it is, cherish it and keep it close when life gets too real.
4. You’ll end up much stronger.
I’m not talking about the cynical or jaded type of strength that consists mostly of adrenaline-fueled anger; I’m talking about an inner strength you never knew you possessed. I’m talking about the invisible steel beam that helped you to stand up and stand tall when you we’re more likely to crumble away. Consider all the crap you went through a rite of passage to get to the person you are today.
5. Love the life you’ve got.
You’ll look back on your life and take painstaking note of the paths untraveled, choices you should have made, and the adventures planned but never taken. Let it all go.
Don’t let your soul become a breeding ground for resentment. That resentment will quite literally eat you alive. Your digestive track will get all weird and you’ll find that it’s difficult to poop, a clear sign that your body is rejecting your negative attitude. Most of what I said is probably untrue. If you’re having digestive issues, it’s probably due to a lack of fiber in your diet. However, resentment will hurt your happiness. So learn to love the life you’ve got.
That’s it, kid. Wander onwards and be happy – you deserve it.