Hey y’all! March is coming to a close and we are rolling full steam ahead to April, my birthday month! I’m usually not one for birthday countdowns, but as I approach my 30th birthday (April 24th), I can’t help but reflect on some of the important things I’ve learned in this last decade. A few months ago, I wasn’t sure if I could or would really embrace 30, but I am actually pretty excited because, for the most part, most things in my life are getting better with time. Thank you to all of my friends and family members who keep me honest, make me laugh, encourage, support, and bring immense joy to my life. I love you all.
Lessons from my 20s
1. You don’t have to sign up/say ‘yes’ to everything.
This is probably one of the hardest but best decisions I’ve ever made. For those who personally know me, you probably know that I like to be involved. I’ve always enjoyed team sports, organizations, signing up for things at work, etc. and taking on some kind of leadership role. Right about the time I got to 25-26, I started getting burnt out. I felt like I was burning the candle at both ends and things that used to be fun felt more like obligations. So, about that time I resolved to take stock of what hobbies or groups were the most important to me and ditch the rest. I took it even further by saying no to certain leadership positions so that I could just enjoy being a member.
There will be times in my life down the road where my circumstances will change and I can take on a little more, but I’m actually thrilled to just enjoy being a part of something and not have to run it. 🙂
2. Aim for “kind,” not “nice.”
Most people do not like conflict. Fact. As I get older, the thought of having a difficult conversation at work or in my personal life still makes me cringe a bit, but I feel like I am definitely more comfortable and equipped to be direct and be open with others. As it turns out, being “nice” is not the objective. Being kind is the objective. You may think they are the same thing, but they really aren’t.
Nice: pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory.
Kind: of a good or benevolent nature or disposition, considerate, helpful, humane
What good does it do to let small things turn into bigger things or to deal with chronic negativity in your life? What good does it do to keep things at status quo when you are miserable? What good does it do to ignore a problem just to avoid conflict and be nice? Sometimes things have to get harder before they can get better. I think this is what kindness is really about. Being humane, being able to directly communicate something that has the potential to greatly improve the situation or relationship at hand is what matters. Maybe confidence is coming with age or maybe it’s because I have less time for drama, but the older I get, the more I feel comfortable with:
- addressing a problem or conflict as it happens or early on
- speaking directly to the person(s)
- speaking the truth
- cutting down on passive-aggressiveness
I’m not saying I’m perfect, but I am saying that I feel more empowered to address concerns head on more than ever.
3. Just start.
Sometimes I talk myself out of one thing because something else hasn’t happened yet. Let’s call this “I can’t start because I want it to be perfect” syndrome. When this happens, I have to tell myself to stop. Let’s take this blog for example. For months before I started, I had so many reasons of why I couldn’t start yet.
- Finding the perfect name. Darn, if every clever blog name wasn’t taken already. I spent weeks brainstorming with friends and it always seemed to stall out.
- Finding the perfect “theme” or design. I have no graphic design skills and no coding skills. I had approached a few friends about possibly designing something custom for me, but their work plates were full and it just never quite happened.
After realizing that I just needed to get going already, that’s what I did. I hopped on word press, bought this lovely colorful theme and hit the ground running. There are still many things I don’t know how to do and things that I discover one day at a time. (I was so excited when I finally figured out how to make the pictures bigger on the last post. :)) I got over my fear of things it not perfect and I’m glad I got started.
4. Comparison is the thief of joy. –Theodore Roosevelt
I saw this quote on Pinterest a while ago and it really hit home. When you get to this stage in life, it seems like there’s that invisible checklist that everyone knows about that you feel some pressure to meet: get married, buy house, have kids, get promoted, etc. With Facebook, Instagram and Twitter keeping you updated on your pals and (“everyone else”) by the minute, it seems that you constantly find yourself in situations where you are always comparing yourself with others subconsciously and consciously. When negative thoughts creep in or I feel like the only person on the planet who (you fill in the blank), I try and work hard on erasing those thoughts. I hope that as I grow older, I will continue to become the kind of person who creates her own barometer of happiness and success instead of that of someone else. I hope I will continue to be joyful on my own terms and be just as happy for everyone else as much as possible without the need to compare.
5. Take care of yourself. First.
The airplane flight attendants have it right. If there’s a significant change or upset in your life, secure your own mask on first and then the person next to you. This is not being selfish. Taking care of yourself is important and it is your right. How can we better caretakers, family members, employees, members, or friends if we are not taking good care of ourselves? It’s a fairly simple concept, but a difficult one to embrace after years of being taught that the word “selfish” always has negative connotations. Over the years, I have gone through some pretty significant ups and downs. From job loss, cross-country moves, getting married, weight gain/loss to other health issues, I have experienced significant change and consequences of my circumstances. It’s a process but I’ve finally gotten more comfortable with putting myself first” and I’ve never regretted making short term sacrifices to achieve long term goals. I’m always thinking long-range and I hope that the good decisions I am making now will pay dividends in the the future for me and my friends and family.
What are your most important take-aways from your 20s? Comment below and share your wisdom with others. 🙂
I Dream of Pretty Things