I have been working on my writing skills lately… and I thought I’d start sharing some of these attempts with you guys since they are more original than wedding updates or how much fun the DMV is. You know. Below is one I came across a few weeks ago but purposely saved for today – my birthday. Because I need a couple things to keep my brain occupied otherwise I might go back under the covers and stay there. ALL. DAY. LONG.
The object was to list 10 things I have learned in the proceeding 10 years, working on details and so on. Y’all know I have zero trouble with details right? I have to preface this post by saying that 10 years ago I was 19 and in my first year of college. I think ALL people learn a lot of stuff in the 10 years between 20 and 30, no? It’ll be interesting to read some of the responses to this by people in their 40’s and 50’s in my writing group online.
1) Vanity is useless. Not that I was particularly vain… I’m not a super model by a long shot (too short for starters!). But I prided myself of a couple things that had to do with looks. Namely, I had/have a whole head of thick blonde hair that I used to obsess over daily and I always had to try the new looks, I had a flat stomach that I showed off in some terribly misguided 90’s era tummy shirts, and I could always grow healthy and strong long fingernails. Ahem. I blame youth.
I do not wish to discuss my stomach and its flatness or lack there of at the moment. That is a whole other post for another day. And it’s safe to say that at some point in the last 10 years I have discovered that sometimes a girl needs to spend a little less time in front of the mirror worrying about her hair and a little more time in the gym worrying about the size of her ass. As for fingernails? Ha! Home improvement projects combined with the dry, dry, dry air at home have managed to successfully wreck both my nails and my hands. For example, my nails look okay today, short but all relatively the same length but the skin on my fingers and around the nail beds is chapped, cracking and very dry. There isn’t enough lotion in the world for me right now.
2) I am happier with a half dozen of truly close girlfriends that I would go to some pretty great distances and maybe even break the law for, than I ever was when I had a hundred friends and still spent most of my evenings running in the gym or watching sitcoms alone. I was lonelier 10 years ago than I am now. I felt like no one “got” me. Now I know that if I really needed to, I could pick up the phone and reach someone who actually CARES when they ask me how my day was. I thought I had to have a lot of friends to make myself feel fulfilled. Turns out I was wrong.
3) Somehow, my mom got a hell of a lot smarter and conversely I don’t know quite as much as I thought I did 10 years ago. At 19 I wanted to do it my way, I was fiercely independent (which my mother can take ALL the credit for) and I didn’t want to hear anyone else’s thoughts on what I was doing with MY life. Ha! I consider my mom a friend, someone I would chose to spend my (sadly) very limited amount of free time with, someone whose opinion I value. I probably still annoy her at times and we definitely don’t see eye to eye on all things, but I will always respect her and I think she’s learning to respect the woman I’ve grown to be also. Even if she doesn’t like some of my choices (cough ~ tattoo ~ cough).
4) Love should not hurt. Someone who claims to love you should not make you feel bad about yourself, they should not make you cry and then not care that you are crying, they should not tell you that you are worthless/a waste of time/not worth the energy. Likewise if you truly love someone you should not want to test them, you should not want to avoid them, you shouldn’t fear them. I’ve learned to love by putting someone else’s happiness on an equal level or above my own. I’ve learned that people can love each other without knock down screaming fights. I used to think fighting meant the relationship had passion, now I know all it means is that your relationship has problems. (And before I get a ration of hate mail, I am not talking about little petty arguments and so on – I agree that those things happen and are perfectly normal.) I used to think I wasn’t good enough for someone to want to be with, to stay with, to be faithful to. Now I know better.
5) I’ve learned that sometimes your friends, no matter how dear, will let you down, disappoint you, or make you angry. They are human. Chances are you have disappointed them a time or two also. I’ve learned that when this happens you have to sit down with yourself, have a little come to Jesus, and decide if you can forgive them, truly forgive them. If you can not, then there is no need to have a knock down drag out fight or spend hours rehashing the same things over and over. It is acceptable to just quietly walk away; you can both retain your dignity. We are adults, we can behave cordially. If you decide you can forgive them, you can not mention it again, to them or to anyone. It isn’t fair to keep throwing something someone has done wrong in their faces. Chances are they feel terrible enough without that.
6) I’ve learned that one should always have a specific notion as to their financial situation. You should know how much you are making, how much you are spending and how much you owe. I of course learned this the hard way. I’ve learned that it’s not a good idea to pin your hopes on surprise inheritances from distant, unknown relatives. You get yourself into this mess, you get out. I’ve also learned to be at peace with the idea that I didn’t get into this situation overnight and there isn’t an overnight solution to get out of it. I’ve learned that you have to invest, even minimally to secure your future. No one my age is going to have Social Security so it’s up to us to make sure we aren’t a burden to our families once we retire. I’ve learned that new shoes aren’t as important as the mortgage payment and that drugstore make-up can cut it most of the time. I’ve learned I can live with only one or two hair appointments a year. I’ve learned that when I DO have money I’d rather do something with it than get something for it.
7) I’ve learned that life is too short to spend it with people who aren’t invested in you, working at jobs you despise (with the exception of #6 above – you can’t cut off your nose to spite your face so to speak), or just generally feeling unhappy about your life. If something is making you unhappy it is up to you to change it, it won’t change itself. And no one will know you are unhappy or that you need or want help if you don’t tell them.
Please note – while I KNOW this I still struggle daily to FOLLOW this. But I’m working on it. Life is a work in progress right? I believe in being able to choose your attitude. Choose Your Attitude. How great is that? If you think your life is terrible it will be. If you think you are happy and life is great then you are and it is. I’m hoping that didn’t come out to New Age-y but y’all know what I’m getting at right? It’s up to you.
8) I’ve learned that you can not believe everything you hear, see or read. You must consider the source, the context and then judge this information. It is up to you to educate yourself before taking sides on a position. I’ve learned that education is truly, truly important. It is so much more important than I ever knew at 19. I’ve also learned that you don’t need a fancy degree to be educated and that it is never too late. The information is out there, go find it. And then once you’ve found it, look at the context, consider the source and come up with your own ideas. I’ve learned that even honest people can sometimes present their views as fact or can give you advice based on incomplete information. It is up to you to question everything.
Especially some crazy, Self Help-ish crap a blogger writes for a creative workshop and spouts on the internets. :D
9) Stopping to smell the roses is a really good idea. Maybe I’m just focusing on this one because I’m yet another year older and I am officially at an age where in High School I thought I would be OLD. Not that I necessarily thought old was bad or anything but in my little teenaged old brain I thought by 29 I would be married, with a couple kids, having a career, traveling the world. You know, I’d be established. Well I suppose I have a few of the things I thought I’d have… the house, the husband-to-be, etc… But I don’t FEEL like I’m as mature as I could be, like I don’t have my shit in order and that’s bad.
So instead of dwelling and obsessing about the things I lack, and hopefully bypassing the stage where I sit silently rocking myself back and forth in the corner, chewing on my hair with a half dozen empty wine bottles in front of me, I am choosing to stop to appreciate the things I do have. I have a nice tidy home. I have flowers blooming all over the place that thanks to the collective efforts of my mom and future MIL are NOT dead! I have good friends. I have a good man to spend my life with. I have a snuggly cat whose sole purpose in life seems to be keeping my toes warm. I earn a steady paycheck. I am old enough to buy booze. All of these things are positive and I need to take the time to appreciate them.
10) Your health is important – you only get one shot at it. This is the only body I am ever going to get you know? So I figure it’s up to me to take care of it. That means different things to different people of course. For you it might mean drinking eight glasses of water a day and taking a multi-vitamin. For others of you it might mean riding your bike to work or something. For me, this means eating less processed foods with chemicals and scary additives I can not pronounce. It means more fruit and veggies and less burgers and fries. It means more water and green tea and less wine and tequila. It means getting my body moving, somehow, every day. Whether it’s taking the stairs between floors at work instead of the elevator, or the walk in from the bus stop, or going to a hike on a Sunday morning, or doing an exercise DVD in the evenings before I start dinner. That is what I am trying to do, for me, for my sanity, for this body that I am hoping to keep around for another decade or five.