The first thing you should probably know about me is that I am a born writer but a failed blogger. Seriously, hopefully for me, seventh one is the charm. The thing is, I often write with the intention to please an audience. We all often live life that way, to please an audience.
One of the things I’ve lamented on recently is that your experiences are not my experiences and therefore all I can do is bring mine to meet yours and we can discuss how funny, fragile and fascinating life is together. So this blog is not about you and your experiences, it is about me and mine.
I couldn’t think of a better way to begin this new adventure in writing than to give you some of my best nuggets I’ve gleaned in my short/long 27 years on this planet. Why? It’s my birthday week. This is my gift to me, to do something I love that also scares me. Writing is real, it’s honest and it’s like unpacking a little bit of your soul and leaving it on the table to bear witness to the world. If done right it can inspire, encourage and delight. Walk through the world with me.
27 Things I’ve Learned by 27
- There will always be work. The truth is, I’m a try hard. I’ve always been very ambitious and I hate sitting still. I love to work. I have to actively work at not working. But I’ve learned that if you strive to find your fulfillment solely in your work, you’ll be left with nothing but bitterness and disappointment. Work alone cannot fulfill or give you purpose. You have to create margin for other things. Work will never be done. Even if you love what you do and it seemingly fulfills you, you can’t make it your existence.
- Embrace your broken pieces. I am not bright and shiny most of the time. It’s not my natural disposition. It’s easy to shame ourselves into hiding pieces that we are afraid to share with the world. Strength sometimes comes in the power to be vulnerable. My pieces go by the name of depression, anxiety, insecurity, unkindness and loneliness. They are my broken pieces. They are not all of my pieces, but they are the most blatant because I’ve dealt with them my entire life. You have your broken pieces. Use them to be better. Don’t allow them to cripple your existence. They don’t define you. Instead of depression I choose happiness, instead of anxiety I choose thankfulness, instead of insecurity I choose self love , instead of unkindness I choose kindness and empathy and instead of loneliness I choose contentment in my circumstances. These are active choices that I make every day. Sometimes I win that battle , sometimes I lose. Nevertheless, I make the choice. Someday someone will come into your life who bears your load and you will be able to give them encouragement, strength and confidence that they are not alone.
- God is sovereign. I decided on God a long time ago. The thing I’ve learned is that you either believe God is who he says he is or you don’t. If you don’t, then you believe in a God who is a liar. You don’t have to believe the characteristics people apply towards the character of God. People are not sovereign and they are fallible. That is why the church cannot be equated with God, though we often do. All I know is that whether or not I’ve been to church, whether or not I read the Bible, whether or not I pray without ceasing or sing hymns…God still reminds me of his sovereignty. That is a thing I know to be true. I have to believe in God because my soul seeks a remedy for the depravity of man.
- You deserve to be the leading lady of your own life. This is definitely a quote from “The Holiday”. I believed it to be true when Kate Winslet said it and I believe it to be true now. You can be happy. You can be complete and live your life with joy. You can collect your own shiny pennies. This does not lessen the amount of kindness, empathy and service you are able to give to others. Remember that self love and gratification are ok within our existence. You deserve to exist and take up space. Use your voice, find your purpose and go after it heartily.
- Good for you, not for me. I gleaned this from Amy Poehler’s book “Yes , Please”. Stop competing. Be happy for others. It’s ok that other people have things, experiences and stories that you do not. It doesn’t lessen your story and it hardly ever takes anything away from you. Something amazing happens when we , especially communities of women, start to rally behind one another as cheerleaders instead of competing in the game.
- You only need so many friends. Invest in people well. The people you do life with, those are your friends. Everyone else is just an acquaintance. Love your people well.
- We only accept the love we think we deserve. This is a quote from Stephen Chobosky.( I’m a bibliophile, what can I say. ) Stop allowing people to treat you like crap if you’re being treated like crap. You deserve more. I deserve more.
- It’s ok to try new things and not like them. Try everything that sparks your curiosity. Don’t be afraid. End of the day it doesn’t matter if you hate that experience, it’s yours and you did it.
- Everyone’s story is worth telling. I got into PR to tell powerful stories. The more I learn the more I realize how much people have to say. Stop and listen.
- People hurt you. You love them anyway. It’s so easy to sow a seed of bitterness towards people. At the end of the day, people are just people. They’re working through their broken bits the same time you’re working through yours. Sometimes they say things they don’t mean, sometimes the wounds are real and scarred, sometimes they just leave you or disappoint you. Love them in spite of their circumstances.
- It’s not that big of a deal. This is something I have to tell myself all the time! I’m a perfectionist and a worrier by nature. When I come across situations that conjure up negative feelings, I repeat that. Doing so gives me the perspective I need to understand the weight of the actual problem. That perspective helps me understand that my wants aren’t actually needs and that in the big picture my problem may not be that big of a deal.
- Receive that compliment! My friend Scovia taught me this. Too often I shrug off a compliment. By receiving it you are acknowledging it as truth and taking it in. In the same way you can choose to not receive a bad comment and then it doesn’t have to ruin your day!
- Choose to be happy. Happiness is not dependent on our circumstances. We are the ones who make it so, which is why most of us spend day in and day out in a cloud of mundane melancholy. It is an active choice we can make every single day. A great human being I know gave me a gift last Christmas that says “Happy is the new perfect.” It sits on my desk. Every day I look at it I think, “Today is a great day to have a great day. Today I will make the active choice to be joyful, to be happy.” You have that right. You have that choice. Don’t let your circumstances define you.
- It’s ok to say no. Stop being the yes person. It’s a sickness that ends in a mental breakdown.
- Try your best to make eye contact with everyone you meet. I’m terrible at eye contact. Sometimes it makes me lose my train of thought. I think it’s just a way to show people you’re there, with them, in that moment.
- Your life. Your timeline. You can plan for big things on paper but at the end of the day life just happens. Accept your story and don’t ever let anyone make you feel like your behind. You’re exactly where you need to be.
- Tell your own story. Now that you’ve accepted all your pieces, bare them. Use your learned experiences in life to get others through their unknown places. One of my most fulfilling things is being able to mentor, give advice and help other people when their struggling.
- Realize that people come and go and that is okay. There is a time and season for everything under the sun. Sometimes the season is short and sometimes long. Find your people in the season you’re in and be ok when that season is over. You loved them for a time and they’re still part of your story. We have very few people in our lives who are forever people.
- Know what you want and be okay with it. Deciding things in general is difficult for me. I’m indecisive when it comes to minute things but life things I know what I want. In career , in circumstances and in relationships. Getting older might cause those desires to be molded a bit but for the most part I know what I want and I’m not afraid to wait for it, work for it and not settle for anything less. Never settle.
- Ask/demand/work for what you want. You know what you want. If you don’t want to settle you need to work hard. Never let people tell you what you want.
- The thing is never really the thing. The root cause for people blowing up in anger or behaving strangely is hardly ever the real reason they’re upset. Get in their head and understand their plight and you’ll see the problem isn’t normally on the surface.
- Above all, be authentic. If you haven’t already gleaned by now , a lot of these nuggets are about self awareness. I had to learn them. I had to walk through seasons of unhappiness to gather them. I realized that most of the unhappy parts stemmed from lack of authenticity. I tried to be all things to all people and realized I couldn’t. I’ve been told a lot of different things about what I should and shouldn’t be/do. One instance stands out in particular. Someone told me that I was probably single because I used big words and that boys don’t like that and it makes me sound pretentious. Anger was my first go to. But when I stood back and assessed what she said it saddened me. Saddened me that another educated woman told me this and saddened that she was advocating relationships built on inauthenticity. I know who I am. So what I like to use big words, words are awesome and I read a lot. I don’t use them in pretentiousness, I use them because I’m smart and educated and I just like them. This is only one very small example of being authentic in my life. Find your authentic self and be that person.
- Reading is the hidden answer to most of your problems. I’m a bibliophile. Books help you understand life and people.
- Find your people.
- Use every single opportunity to be teachable and realize that you’re never done learning.
- Never let others define your worth. Other people do not get to define your currency , you do.
- We are all human. So sit down if someone else is speaking. It’s ok that we don’t share the same experiences. I am a white, affluent female. To some this means I don’t know a hill of beans about poverty, blight, racism, illiteracy , etc. One of the things I use to hate most in the world is when people would tell me ” Well, you don’t know.” You know what, that’s true. I let it go. I accept who I am. I don’t know what it’s like to live in extreme poverty or to be a victim of social prejudice. I do think reverse racism exists and I know for a fact that misogyny and sexism are alive and well. People like to talk about them. People like to say black lives matter and others like to take pride in their sexuality. You know what, they do and they should. These topics are not a part of my story. Other people can speak freely about hard things. That does not quiet our voice. Sometimes we just need to sit down and listen. We can’t all be on our soap boxes at once.
I have so much more to say but until then I wish you a great and happy day. May something wonderful happen to you.