27 Things I’ve Learned at 27

Can I just start by saying it’s my birthday?! Ok, I just needed to put that out there. Having your birthday the day after Christmas or near a holiday in general, it often gets forgotten or overshadowed. But hey, we can’t pick our birthdays last time I checked. After a great deal of travel nonsense that I don’t wish to discuss at the moment, I am finally enjoying my time relaxing in the beautiful Bahamas and would like to share some insight, tidbits, moments and memories of what I’ve learned during my 27 years on this Earth. They might be based on my experiences or discussions with other people. On my travels, hopes, dreams, fears and losses.

  1. You will never regret dancing, ever.
  2. Actions will always speak louder than words.
  3. Our life circumstances may not always be ideal, but every moment passes.
  4. Stay focused on reaching your goals, but be sure to find lessons in the journey.
  5. Attend as many of your friends’ weddings as you can, even if it means traveling. I’ve made some of my best memories and learned valuable lessons about myself in the process.
  6. Phones are not as scary as you think. Hearing the voice of somebody you love will mean more than a text message, especially if you’re a million miles away. (In other words, call your grandma. She misses you.)
  7. Don’t be afraid to cry on your bedroom floor. Sure, it sounds weird and it will probably be over the end of a relationship, but there’s nothing like coming back from it.
  8. Be silly with the person you love. If they accept it and are able to be silly with you, don’t let them go.
  9. Find something good in each day.
  10. Things are replaceable, people are not. Apologize to the ones you care about when you make a mistake.
  11. Forgive often, even if it takes awhile to reach that point. Your heart will feel lighter when you let those negative feelings go.
  12. Remember your most perfect and amazing days. Record those memories. Recount them to family and friends. Capture these beautiful moments any way you can.
  13. Go to college or don’t but don’t let anybody make you feel bad based on your decision.
  14. A job is a job and that deserves respect.
  15. Be able to accept criticism but don’t go finding faults in others.
  16. When you’re able to, purchase a nice mattress of good quality. You spend lots of time in bed so that’s important.
  17. Always keep flashlights in your house and probably in your car as well. (This sounds so simple but I learned the hard way when my power was knocked out for a week.)
  18. Never settle. If you are faced with the choice of a lifetime of unhappiness or learning to navigate the world on your own, always pick the second one.
  19. You are stronger than you think. Remind yourself of that and surround yourself with people who remind you as well.
  20. Learn to cook. Just being able to whip up something basic can be so nice.
  21. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. I can’t tell you how many times I have called up my mom or dad, asking for advice on topics ranging from purchasing a car to planning a trip.
  22. Date. A lot. You will discover what you won’t tolerate, how to love yourself completely, and the feeling of heartbreak. All of these will lead you to find somebody worth being with, who will love you just as much as you love them.
  23. Laugh more than you cry.
  24. Stay in touch with friends. Yes, you will both be busy and life will be hectic but having great friends by your side through all of it can keep you sane. Make the effort.
  25. Per my dad, “The only thing you need to know in this life is to be a good person.” So simple and true.
  26. Always, always make room for love. Your heart may break but it will heal in time. Don’t close yourself off to incredible potential relationships.
  27. Most importantly, find a way to be in love with your life. Make changes in the pursuit of your happiness. Be fearless and vulnerable in your search. Nobody is responsible for your life except you. Own up to what you want and never stop chasing it.

When Holidays Bring Heartache

Can I just start by saying, “Holy Christmas craziness.” There has been a lot going on these past couple of weeks my friends. Almost too much, if I do say so myself. I survived, but my writing went on the backburner and that makes me sad. Look for 2 posts this week!

The holidays can be hard for many of us. Surrounded by family and friends whom we are maybe not particularly fond of. Getting the stink eye from great-aunt Ethel when she asks the ever looming question, “So, are you still single?” Yes I am Ethel, because I enjoy watching TV with no pants on and eating ice cream straight out of the container. Just kidding, I’m sure Ethel is a lovely lady. Not to mention, we have to tell everybody our life story, from careers to our love lives and everything in between. When in all reality, you just want to drink a bottle of red (by yourself) and binge watch your newest Netflix series obsession. Oh, is that just me?

This year I am not particularly cheery whenever a holiday comes around. Ever since the loss of my mom, I find that the holiday season brings with it an immense sadness. A reminder of what I lost and what I’ll never have again. Ask any of my friends, I am depressing to be around somewhere within the 2 week period of any major holiday. That’s not counting her birthday or the hardest one of all, Mother’s Day.

If I’m being completely honest, I actually have no idea how to navigate this unknown territory. I have found that after such a major loss my life has been divided into two parts. My life with my mom and my life without her. This first year has been particularly painful and it will only ease with time, patience, acceptance and love. Grief can seem like a never-ending labyrinth that way. We wander around, hoping to find our way out, but instead encounter obstacles and wrong turns.

Holidays can be a double-edged sword. While I can feel completely alone, empty and so sad, I can also feel grateful and loved. Grateful for those friends and family I get to spend my time with and for all my mom taught me during her time on Earth. For now, I can recognize my feelings for what they are and remind myself she will always have a place in my heart.

While the holidays can be difficult, resist the urge to sink too deep into the sadness. Surround yourself with positive people who love you and let you be who you are. Don’t be too hard on yourself when those memories come back. Spend time volunteering. In fact, one of my favorite Thanksgiving memories is when I volunteered to serve others who didn’t have anywhere to go during the holiday. It was a truly humbling experience.

The best I can do is remember that my best is ok. That I don’t need to tuck everything away because I experienced something that changed me forever. I can be sad because I know one day I will be me again, and I will step into the sunshine with joy in my heart. Until that day arrives, I’ll continue to find my way, a little at a time. And yes, while the holidays can bring unwanted feelings and reminders, they can also bring an atmosphere of gratitude and love when we need it the most.

 

When Becoming Who You’re Meant to Be Scares the Crap out of You

“Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.” -Judy Garland

One night, my boyfriend and I had a disagreement about something and were talking through it. With tears pouring down my face, I told him, “It’s so hard, becoming the person you’re meant to be.” I didn’t realize how much those words would upset me until I had spoken them. And it doesn’t sound scary right? But, as somebody who has put a great deal of pressure on herself ever since a young age, the weight and the expectations felt enormous.

We’re all scared of turning into somebody else, whether it be our parents or others who had a large impact in our lives. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s a completely natural feeling. Even the most perfect parents are flawed. Perhaps we are afraid of taking on their personality traits or following in their footsteps. Whatever it is, that night I had never felt so unsure of who I was as a person. I mean, what really made me….me? I certainly didn’t have the answers.

My sweet and wonderful boyfriend, bless his heart, said something that resonated so strongly with me that night. “Become who you are meant to be at the sake of other people.” WHOA. What?? I’m just supposed to go out in the world, stumbling around and being a jerkwad so I can become “who I was meant to be.” Whatever that even means. Alright everybody, calm down. Deep breaths. That is not where this post is going at all. (Thank goodness. Am I right?)

So, what does that mean then? At the end of the day, you’ll interpret it as you will, but I’ll break it down how I see it. (Or hear it I guess.) You have all these people in your life, some lovely or maybe not so lovely, some by choice and some not I suppose. You have your really awesome inner circle. We will call this your Core of Greatness, because they lift you up and make you a better you. These people are your friends and family that you couldn’t live without. College friends, siblings, parents, significant others. It can be made up of anybody really. Some may stay for awhile and some for only a bit. They are your heartbeat in this world.

So, back to the COG (Core of Greatness). And yes, I know it’s a kick ass acronym. Anyway, they live their every day lives of course but also devote a portion of time to you. Now, these people should be honest with you, but in a good way. They can tell you when you are being dramatic, or maybe a diva, or just an all around miserable person. And at first your response might be,”Well, that’s rude.” Then you list all these reasons why your actions are justified. But then, after taking a minute to think about it you realize, “Yeah. They’re right.” Hopefully, you apologize and life goes on.

Now, here is why the COG is so essential to our lives and how they shape who we become. It comes down to love. That’s it. But, this is the best kind of love. The real and unconditional stuff. They love you no matter what. Even if you look like crap and have worn the same clothes for the last 3 days while crying your eyes out over some jerkface, they will take you with open arms. (And hopefully hand you a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.) They will look at you and know when you’ve had a bad day. They will apologize when they are in the wrong and find a way to make it right. They will be there, always. Doesn’t that just make your heart go crazy? Like, what did I do to deserve these beautiful people? When I think of those people in my life, in all their craziness and silliness, I absolutely adore them.

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Photo Credit: LiveLifeHappy1981 via Compfight cc

The thing is, these people aren’t afraid to tell you the truth. They see you at your absolute worst but still know what a fantastic human being you are. Because real love is about acceptance of who we are in the present, along with faith in the person we have yet to become. It is not a judgment of our past nor a worry of what we may or may not do in the future. It is here, right now, in each and every day.

Listen closely to what these wonderful people advise, but never change at the expense of your true self. Don’t feel the need to tiptoe around them with uncertainty and risk the chance of never achieving your full potential. They were brought into your life for a reason. They will catch you and guide you, because of their unwavering faith in what you have yet to accomplish in this world. You’re going to stumble and you will definitely make a fool of yourself, probably more than once. But, my dear, it’s better to be made a fool a few times than to miss the opportunity to soar.