For the past 28 years, I have learned so many life lessons some have been great experiences and others have knocked me on my ass but they all have contributed to making me the person I am today. Whether that is a good or a bad thing mostly depends on the day. But here are some of the things I have learned in my 28 years that I think could be helpful for those who maybe need some guidance in life or just want to hear about life from another person’s perspective.
I am by no means an expert in anything in life and I still have so much to learn and so many more experiences to have so please keep this in mind while reading. But maybe my major screw-ups can help you to make a few less of your own.
1. Not everyone is going to like you, get over it!
This is one of those that I struggled with a lot growing up, I desperately wanted to be liked and accepted by my peers. I think this is normal for most adolescents because who wants to be the odd kid that nobody plays with or talks to. The truth is though usually, those “weird” kids tend to be the most interesting when they grow up. Not everyone will always like you nor should they because if you are being totally honest with yourself there are people you don’t like as well. Not caring about whether someone will like you, gives you permission to simply be you. You are no longer putting on a show to gain friends, instead, you are finding people who truly like you for your personality and in return, you are also finding people that you like and don’t have to twist and bend to fit into their group.
2. Honesty is always the best policy!
You have no doubt heard this saying from the time you were a wee babe, but as you grew older people started telling you things like white lies can sometimes spare someone’s feelings or if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say it at all. These are contradictory to the first lesson and should be ignored. I am not saying to shit on your friends or to be unnecessarily harsh with people, but when someone asks for the truth tell them it. This will not always gain you friends and in some cases, you may even make a few enemies along the way, people will refer to you as cold or a bitch but being honest will always save you in the long run. That being said it doesn’t just mean speaking the truth but also living the truth in your own life. This lesson sadly took a lot longer for me to learn than I would have liked.
3. You are never too old to try something new
This may sound ridiculous coming from someone who is 28 because people older than me tend to think that I am still way too young to know anything about this. That being said I have already changed my career path multiple times. I started in musical theatre at 18, took a year off, and taught English overseas. Went back to school but transferred to a new university and went into psychology, changed majors to criminal justice, and finally finished off with political science. I graduated college and went into law school, then dropped out and became a nanny. Joined the Peace Corps a year later and came back early to work in after-school programs helping to introduce diversity programs to celebrate students and their uniqueness. Then I moved abroad again and began teaching at a pre-school, quit after hating my job, and started my own business tutoring. After a year began blogging because I wanted more of an artistic outlet. These are all just in my job front, I have also tried countless hobbies such as singing, acting, boxing, horseback riding, skydiving, CrossFit, archery, and many others.
What I mean by this is that taking risks and trying new things is the only way we grow; it is also the way that we get out of our own way and if we feel stuck in a rut it allows us to go for something we may have not done before. It does not always work out but it is fun to try and even if you don’t go all in the beginning you can always start off small and make the bigger leaps later.
4. Every day we are dying!
This one may sound completely morbid and maybe horrible to think about but it is the truth. We are put on this earth for a short amount of time, even a long life is short when you think about it. So, what are you going to do with this limited amount of time? As Tim McGraw says in one of his best songs “Live like you were dying” because as I said we all are. Whether that means going skydiving, taking that trip to India you always wanted to go on, or just spending every moment you can with your family do what is important to you.
5. You were given a voice for a reason!
I spent the first few years of my life with a voice that shouted more than it ever whispered. I was beyond confident and told you my opinions about everything. I felt important and like people wanted to hear me, somewhere along the line this changed and I dreaded speaking in front of everyone much less shouting for the whole world to hear it. I thought my opinions were stupid and that I knew nothing so I should keep my mouth shut and let others speak. Even when I disagreed or felt there was an injustice happening I was silent because I felt like my voice didn’t matter.
Sadly, I feel like this is something that occurs far too often in our society children are told to sit down and shut up, the adults are speaking. Don’t question what you are told, you are too young to know so, therefore, don’t even bother trying to speak. I was a victim of this society even my own parents constantly told me to tone it down and that I didn’t need to shout, I think they thought I did this to draw attention or to annoy anyone I did it because I was truly excited and passionate about topics. Instead of being encouraged for this, I was deemed too loud and disruptive so the constant berating made me shut up.
It took years for me to gain my voice back, please don’t be like me and let others silence you. Please encourage kids to speak up and question you, they are not being disrespectful they are just learning that not everyone and everything should be taken at their word and it is okay to disagree or to stand up to an adult if you don’t understand something or think something is not right. Keep speaking up!
6. DON'T chase after someone who wouldn’t chase after you!!
Here is some advice that I think is important but not from personal experience but from observing my friends do it for years. I am not a person who believes in romantic relationships they simply do not work for me and I am not interested in them. That being said I know I am a part of a very small minority that believes this, most of my friends spend the majority of their time talking about their boyfriends/girlfriends, husbands/wives, or how they are looking for their special someone. I have no problem listening to them when they talk about their relationships most of the time it makes me happy to hear about their love lives and how happy they are or to just be there to listen if they are struggling with their significant others. The one thing I cannot stand is hearing my friends chase after men or women who have absolutely no interest in them or are clearly using them. From the outside perspective, it sometimes comes across as distressing that they value themselves so little that they put everything into a relationship or trying to form one with someone who barely gives them the time of day. If a guy or girl is not contributing to their relationship just as much as you are there is no hope of it going somewhere. Relationships obviously go up and down and there will be times when you contribute more and they are busier, but if you are always the one giving up everything and breaking yourself in two to make it work- the simple answer is IT WILL NOT WORK!!
I don’t say this to be rude or to sound mean, but people really need to stop being so desperate to be loved that they give away everything of themselves to the point they can’t even recognize who they are anymore. Don’t chase after love, find someone who wants to stand by you not run away from you!
7. Looks do matter!
This is one I wish I never had to learn! It confirms how superficial the world is and that no matter how good of a person you are there will always be people who don’t give you the time of day based on how you look. There will be people who deny it but no matter what they say your appearance will be the first thing they notice, and it is unlikely that they will not make a judgment about you right away based on their observations and whether they like what they see or not.
8. Learn to be alone
I think one thing we need to learn to do as people is to be happy by ourselves before we can be happy around other people. Learning to be okay with being alone is something that is needed to live successfully. If you are a very social person you don’t need to love being alone but you need to tolerate it and be able to live with it. If anything, the last year has taught me in quarantine it’s that before this I really didn’t appreciate myself enough or take the time I needed to reset and rebalance doing the things I like on my own. Obviously, this was inhibited since I could not go out and do things I loved but it allowed me to explore other parts of myself that I didn’t know existed and it also made me aware that I can count on myself and get through things on my own if I give myself the space to do it.
9. Take time for yourself
This is different than learning to be alone in that it is specific to taking time to do things that you enjoy, especially if you are in a relationship, you are a parent, or you live with people. You need that time in order to do things you love that make you feel like yourself so that you are not always compromising and doing what others want. It is easier said than done but it crucial for your mental health and wellbeing.
10. Be kind to yourself!
Again, this is one I struggled with big time, from the time I could talk I have been a super self-deprecating person. Whether I am insulting my body, my intelligence, my lack of talent in sports, or my mental health; I never run out of bad things to say about myself and it is a habit I am really trying to break. For your entire life, you will get judgments from the outside world whether it is about your weight or your personality, your sexual orientation, or your race. We don’t need to do it to ourselves as well! I have spent the last year telling myself the good things about myself every morning, I thank my body for supporting my life, the air in my lungs that allows me to breathe, my legs that allow me to walk, and my eyes and ears that allow me to see and hear the world around me. It felt absolutely absolute STUPID, to begin with, I have never been a person that believes in that self-help stuff I always thought it was a bunch of crap. But my affirmations have really helped me to feel better about myself, I still feel hate for certain things about my mind and body that I can’t control but most of the time I am just grateful.
11. Move away from home! Go and see the outside world!
I am not saying it is critical to leave home and never come back, I am just saying get out of your hometown at least for a year. You should experience the world outside of your own viewpoint. I have lived all over the United States and around the world and I can say with the utmost confidence that every place I lived changed me in some way or another. It wasn’t always a great experience but it made me more resilient and knowing I could conquer any challenge I encountered. If you never leave your comfort zone you will never know if you can. Home will always be there waiting for you; most likely it won’t even change that much but you will change and you will come back with new experiences and maybe even a new outlook on life.
12. Friends will come and go: IT IS OKAY!!
The longest friendship I have currently is 12 years, but the majority are from the past 5 years. That may seem like a very small number of years considering I have been alive for 28 years but here is the reason for that. I DON’T HOLD ON WHEN ITS TIME TO LET GO! I know this may sound super harsh to some but after moving around so much and being in so many unique places around so many different people I know that if a friendship feels more like a chore than a respite then it's time to cut the cord. I was a person who grew up having tons of friends in elementary school, then middle school came and that number was cut in half, then high school came and I barely talked to anyone. I went off to college and found great people with whom I had many things in common with but we just lost touch over the years. Then in law school I made my first true best friend who has stuck with me through all of my shit and we know each other’s weird idiosyncrasies and we not only appreciate that about one another but we love these quirks.
As you get older you learn that friendships are less about surrounding yourself with people you can have fun with on a night out, and more about finding people you can call when you are at your worst and you know they will pick up. I have tons of acquaintances I can call if I want to go down to a bar or get some dinner, but I can count on one hand how many people I can call when I have had the day from hell who genuinely care and want to hear about it. Friendships change and evolve and in some cases, it just so happens that you evolve separately to the point that you find you are no longer friends. It is not a bad thing; you will always have fond memories of those people it just means you no longer fit together.
13. "Screw 'em if they can’t take a joke"- Mamma Mia
This is a piece of advice I learned from one of my favorite movie musicals Mamma Mia. If you can’t laugh with the people in your life and they take offense to everything you say you should not be around them. Now please don’t take this as permission to say incredibly sexist things or make racist jokes and believe that if people are not laughing they are the wrong ones. I simply mean here if you can’t make fun of your friends and yourself without it becoming a massive issue then they are probably not the right people to associate with.
14. It is okay to be upset about your life
This may sound a bit weird to some, but hear me out here. It is alright to feel upset and to feel unsatisfied with your life, what is not okay is to continuously mope about it and complain about it endlessly forever without doing anything to change it. I have definitely felt like a complete failure many times; I have felt like my life did not turn out anything like I thought it would and it was f*cked up beyond repair. It is okay to feel this way and to let yourself be depressed for a bit, to wallow in self-pity and misery; all of these feelings are normal. At some point, though hopefully not in the distant future you need to pull yourself out of it if it is simply the blues and not a deeper problem and try to fix it.
15. Hard work will get you a lot, but it won’t get you everything!
Sadly, this is something my parents’ generation does not feel is true, they have this mentality that with hard work you can achieve anything. This may have been true 60 years ago but in today’s society, it will only get you so far. Sadly, a lot of wealth and success comes from timing and luck, I am not saying successful people did not work their asses off to get there. With that said it is not that simple anymore, there are a lot of factors that contribute to whether someone will flourish in the real world or not. Take my parents for instance both were first-time college graduates in their family, my mother got an amazing job before even going to school. They were from lower middle-class families and both had disadvantages in their home lives that could have prevented them from reaching their goals. However, they were both able to find gainful employment that paid extremely well and go to school while working, they had no debt when they left college and both rose to the top in their careers with companies that they spent decades in.
This is simply not the case with many jobs today, you are lucky to be able to afford college at all, usually, you will drown ins student loans even with scholarships and a job, and you will come out owing a lot of money. Next, you will usually struggle to find gainful employment because you are either overqualified or under-qualified for the jobs in today’s market. If you are lucky enough to find a job moving up in a company is much more difficult than it used to be and staying with one company for years is next to impossible in today’s climate. I am not saying it does not happen for people, it does but there is a reason so many college-educated students are unemployed and living at home with their parents today. The American dream just isn’t what it used to be.
16. “So, this is my life. And I want you to know I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be”- The Perks of Being a Wallflower
I am ending it at 16, I could go full out and add 28 things for 28 years but that is just a little too conventional for me, plus I think that the advice I have given is truly all I have to give for right now. I am leaving you with this quote because it encompasses my life up till now. I have felt utterly depressed and exuberant joy and I still don’t understand how that is, but I am trying to just continue to live life one day at a time, do things that make me happy, and continue to practice the things I have said here. I am not always successful and there are many days I don’t even want to get out of bed to face the day but somehow I do and I am still here living each day.
So, friends and acquaintances and even to those strangers I leave you here, please tell me if you have any advice that you think could be helpful to me or the others who are reading this post. I would love to hear from you.
Signing off until next time,
The Mental Millennial Mom