I keep telling myself I’m going to get better at keeping up with this.
Ever since I turned 20, I feel like I’m living in a different lifetime. And I mean that in a good way. It sort of feels like the clock has reset. Maybe that’s just my newfound wisdom in my old age. Here’s 20 bits of wisdom my seniority has taught me so far:
1. My 20s are going to be great
I’m not actually sure why, it’s just a feeling. Turning 16 was exciting because I got to drive. Turning 18 was cool because I was an “adult,” though I really didn’t feel like one. But turning 20 somehow felt different. It’s the start of a new decade and I feel like it’s filled with so many opportunities. It’s time I can take to get to know myself and live my life for me.
2. If I want to try something new, I should do it
There are so many things in life to discover and see and do. I want to experience everything at least once. You never know what could come of trying something new. I used to think crocheting was something only old ladies did, but having tried it for myself, I find it really relaxing. It also helped my regain dexterity in my hand after a nerve injury. Instead of stereotyping crocheting, I’m in the process of making a very lumpy, but very soft, afghan.
3. College really is the best four years of my life
Oh, the places I’ll go. There’s so much to see and do. There are so many new people to meet. College is great because you meet people from all over. You do things other than hangout in the same person’s basement every night. Football games are ten scale. The higher maturity level is also a bonus. There is a club for anything and everything.
4. I started to realize who I am
Growing up with the same people for 12 years, it was interesting to see how I fared outside of that mold. I had never really had a chance to explore anything other than the circle of friends that I had always grown up in. Being tossed onto a college campus, particularly a big one like Ohio State, started to bring out sides of myself that I didn’t know I had. I had ever had to think about making all new friends or signing up for new clubs. It has been really refreshing and eye-opening to get to know myself in a new environment.
5. I am learning who my friends are
That has a double meaning. For one, I’m learning that I will not be friends with all the people I was friends with in high school. Some of us just have different lifestyles that don’t mix anymore and we’ve grown apart. It’s sad sometimes, but it happens. And I’ve noticed that whenever one friend goes by the wayside, I meet a new one who better fits my lifestyle. Being in my 20’s and in college has allowed me to start to see who people really are as we start to come into ourselves. In that way, I am learning who my friends are; what their goals are, who they want to be, what their beliefs are. Things that weren’t so relevant in our teenage years are becoming much more relevant now.
6. With being 20, comes 20x more responsibilities
Laundry does not do itself. Meals do not cook themselves. Money does not grow on trees, or out of dad’s wallet. I suddenly have more to pay for, more to do and less time in which to get it all done. I constantly find myself wishing I had more hours in a day. Prioritizing is everything.
7. No one really cares if you don’t go to the party
It’s not the end of the world. Most nights, going out consists of the same activities. Work and school are way more important. The bar will still be there tomorrow night.
8. Trends die
Sometimes, I’ll look back on a photo from a few years ago and wonder what the hell I was thinking when I bought that dress. I expect I’ll still be doing that same thing another five years from now.
9. I worry about trivial things less often
One bad hair day for the month isn’t the end of world like it used to be. Yes that’s a zit and no there is nothing I can do about it. If the house isn’t on fire, my car is still running and I’m still breathing, then it’s a good day. I’ve come to realize that almost everything can be managed and dealt with if I take the right approach.
10. Turning something electronic off and then back on still fixes 99 percent of its problems
I don’t know why. I really don’t. Maybe my computer just ‘can’t even’ right now.
11. Having hobbies outside of what my friends like to do is good for me
It’s nice to be able to have an activity or a hobby that is just mine and I can indulge in. It’s a way for me to get some me time and relax. I like knowing that my friends and I have different interests, and it’s cool to hear them talk about their thing that they like to do. I like the individuality in my friend group and I think it’s important to have that. I don’t want a bunch of friends who are copy-and-pastes of myself. I need friends who are different than me to challenge me and help me grow.
12. Eating a meal alone isn’t pathetic
I actually really enjoy it. During the school year, half of my meals are eaten on-the-go or in class anyways. While it is nice to have dinner with friends and catch up, sometimes I just want to eat my pasta in peace and scroll through that new blog I found. I used to think that people would look at me weird if they saw me eating alone. Then one day, I took a good look around the cafe and realized that one 1.) the people who are eating alone don’t care if I’m also eating alone and 2.) the people who are eating in groups don’t care if I’m eating alone. Strangers aren’t paying attention to me.
13. Sometimes I feel like I’m getting dumber with age
I don’t really know why. Maybe I’m not getting dumber but the world is actually getting more complicated. Whatever it is, I have less answers than I did before.
14. I don’t really care if my phone dies
While I’m still weirdly attached to my phone, I don’t have massive panic attacks anymore if it gets down to 5% and I don’t have a phone charger. I’m actually sort of relieved if/when it dies (which is still rarely because I tend to carry a charger) because for that period of time I can’t be bothered. What is that important anyways? What could I possibly miss out on in the twenty minute drive home from work? Let’s see: Mom, telling me the weather is nice; Dad, asking if I’ll be home for dinner; a random snapchat; some Instagram likes; Bed Bath & Beyond letting me know that my 20% off coupon has arrived.
15. Spending time with my family isn’t lame
I actually really like it. The older I get, the more I start to get to know my parents as people and not just as my parents. My family is pretty fun and has a great sense of humor. It’s nice to have friends too who can come and hang out with both me and my family.
16. My friends are supportive of whatever goals I have, no matter how crazy they may seem
I noticed that I had this list of goals in my head but I was too nervous to say them out loud in front of my friends. I was worried they might think that I’m crazy or not be supportive, but it turns out that they’re just the opposite. And I should have known that because I have great friends. When I mentioned that I’d love to write a book one day, one of my friends not only said that they thought I’d be good for it, but they started brainstorming things for me to write about. If my friends can’t support me for being me, then they’re not people that I should be friends with.
17. No one is going to push me but myself
Thankfully, this is something that I sort of always knew from a young age. I’ve always been pretty self-motivated. Still, there have been times where I’ve caught myself throwing a pity party and subconsciously expecting someone to do the dirty work for me. In the real world, the teacher does not ask you for your essay, nor do they remind you that it’s due. My grade doesn’t affect them, but a C versus an A does affect me. If I want something, I have to go and get it.
18. I can’t fix everyone
It’s a hard truth, but a truth. I’ve had a few close friends who suddenly have started to crash and burn, and it’s hard to watch it happen. But the bottom line is that I can’t help people who don’t want to help themselves. This has probably been one of the hardest things for me to try and come to terms with, because I like to fix people, especially people who are close to me. I want to help people and I don’t like to see people get hurt. But if they don’t want my help, they won’t take it. And if a person continues to become a toxic force in my life, then I need to put myself first and cut them out.
19. What I think of myself is greater than what anyone else thinks of me
The only people whose opinions I really value are those of my friends and family. But my friends and family might not always agree with the decisions I make. Sometimes, I’m going to have to make decisions for myself with myself in mind. At the end of the day, what matters is that I’m able to look myself in the mirror and know that I did what was right. I need to be able to know that I determine my value, not anyone else. There is an old African proverb that says, “If there is no enemy within, then the enemy on the outside can do no harm.”
20. The world is so big
The world is a big, big place. That really got put into perspective when I went away to college. I find myself longing for places that I’ve never been to. I want to travel the world and see new places and experience new cultures. There is so much Earth and I want to take in as much as I can while I’m on this planet. I can’t miss out on the world, and I’m looking forward to exploring it.
My favorite city and a camera…so much to discover.
For years, my son has been using my wife’s makeup to give his Barbie dolls makeovers and put makeup on a life-size mannequin head he got for Christmas a while back. Then he started doing my wife’s makeup regularly, so I figured it was inevitable that I would be his next victim.
If I said no to something as trivial as allowing him to paint my face, what would I be teaching him?
I’d be teaching him that playing dress-up or giving his dad a makeover is something to be ashamed of or something to hide. I don’t want to teach him that.
I want to teach him that…
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They want to see you succeed, but they never want to see you do better than them.
We’ve all heard that phrase before and, until now, I’ve never given it much weight. I took it with a grain of salt and moved on. How could my good friend not want me to succeed? The thought always baffled me. Until about an hour ago when I got a taste of it for myself.
It’s funny when I make jokes about failing. It’s okay when I fail alongside her. But apparently it’s not okay when I pick myself up, succeed, and then succeed better than her. Incredibly, she actually gets pissed at ME. Somehow, my success is my fault and her failure is my fault.
But if she were succeeding alongside me of course there would be no problem at all.
Instead, she’s wasting her time being hostile and harboring resentment at me for a success that has nothing to do with her. I was the one who found 10,000 ways to do it wrong. I was the one who finally found the 1 way to do it right. I busted my ass for all 10,001 ways.
I chose not to get pissed at the people who succeeded before me. Instead I learned from them.
I chose not to harbor negative energy because, ultimately, the only person it would affect would be me and my performance. Instead I focused my time and energy into perfecting my work and fixing my mistakes.
They want to see you succeed, but some people just don’t want to see you succeed better than them.
I can’t help but get the feeling that there is something more to life. We’re missing it. It just doesn’t make sense to me to wake up to a 9-to-5, maybe longer, to the same routine, and to hate it. Over and over and over again.
We go to school.
We go to college.
We work hard every day and still we’re in debt. Loans. Bills.
Can’t afford a house. Can’t afford a family.
And when we can, we have to work the system to keep it all.
Tell me, are you happy?
Maybe right now, at this moment, watching your kid’s soccer game you are.
But are you really happy?
Anytime I mention this to anyone, they look at me like I’ve got three heads and just descended from some other universe. “That’s just life”, they say. Let me word it this way:
Are you completely fulfilled? Every day? Completely happy?
There’s always something that we want and the problem is that we think that we have to work the system in order to get it. If we just work a little bit harder then we’ll have more money, we can buy that nicer house and we will be happy, right? Wrong.
The system is fucked.
We make things ten times harder for ourselves than they actually need to be. “It’s not that simple”, seems to be everyone’s favorite phrase. But really, it is. We’ve just been programmed into thinking that we need society’s approval when we want something. There’s horrible things happening in the world on a daily basis, people don’t know what they want, people aren’t happy. Everyone says how society has changed, possibly for the worst. So then, why do we want society’s opinion anyways?
Some things are beyond our control and with that, we have to take it as it comes. But life is 20% what happens to you and 80% how you react to it. So for that other 80%, why not choose to be happy?
We are chasing after the wrong things. The materialistic will never completely fulfill the void. That J. Crew jacket might feel great when you wear it to the next work party but it’s not going to comfort you when your husband dies. The newest version of iPhone is not going to take away any pain or sorrow you might end up with in your life. You cannot make personal connections with material goods. It is unrealistic to expect that the material will fill the empty void of love and personal connection that you’re missing.
So what do we do? It’s even more unrealistic to tell everyone to drop their iPhones and go back to the Razor. That’s not what I’m saying. Buy your iPhones. Go to college. Get a job. But in the meantime, go after what you want. Stop being so afraid of the world and go after it. Stop wanting a defective society’s approval on how to live your life. They’re probably going to find something wrong with it anyways so you might as well do what you want to do. And by doing what you want, chasing after your own happiness, finding compassion for others – maybe we can make this society a whole lot less defective.
If you love someone, you tell them. Even if you’re scared, even if you think it’s not the right thing to do. What if they’re thinking the same thing? What if they’re waiting for you to make the first move? Love that person until the ends of the earth, whoever they may be. We have no right to judge. Love is so pure, it would be a sin to judge such a purposeful and positive thing. If you want to put college on pause for a year and go backpack Europe, then do it. College can wait. Life cannot. Go to a new culture. Study it. Learn something. Find compassion where compassion doesn’t exist. Bring it there so that they have it. Connect with the world and everything in it. Connect with people. Experience something. Do something. Dive so deep into something that you can’t find any reason to turn back. Experience everything full and wholly and completely, in the moment, every moment.
Wouldn’t that be a life worth living?