So, like everyone else in the world it seems, my birthday is in March and after watching home videos of myself as a one-and two-year-old I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned and how I’ve changed in these past twenty-seven years. It feels like so long and yet so short a time to have been alive all at once.
I’ll expand on a few of the lessons I’ve learned and also omit the events that led to some of these points as they’re quite personal, a few even painful. And some are just self explanatory. So, in no particular order, here we go!
1. Say “I love you.” Always.
I honestly probably say this too much now, but this is one of my biggest regrets. You never know when it will be the last time you see someone you care about. Tell them.
2. Say “I’m sorry.”
It’s the hardest thing to say when I mean it the most, but it’s so important to own up to mistakes and make things right.
3. Don’t be afraid to go alone.
If I’d waited until someone wanted to go to Japan with me, I’d still be waiting. If I’d waited to do most of the things I wanted to do, I’d still be waiting. Trust yourself and just go. This is probably a whole blog post on its own with how passionate I am on this topic but please, don’t let your fear stop you. It’ll be okay, I promise.
4. I am capable of more than I think.
And so are you.
5. All I really need to be happy is a small group of true friends.
6. Waiting without taking any action will get you nowhere. (Life isn’t a spectator sport.)
Wishing on a star is all fine and dandy, I definitely still do it, but you’re not gonna get that degree or promotion or vacation if that’s all you’re doing with your time.
7. Drama isn’t worth it.
It’s just not guys. Don’t put yourself in the middle of it, and if you’re already in try to forgive, forget, or distance yourself from it. Life’s too short to spend on people or situations making you stressed and miserable.
8. Be unashamedly you.
You add beauty to this world. Don’t deprive it of that. There’ll be people out there that don’t like it but there will also be those that do. I’ll let you choose which group to pay attention to.
9. Never regret anything that made you smile.
My favorite quote, and also a reminder that even sad or unpleasant situations may have not been a complete waste.
10. Dream big. Like, really big. Scary big.
If you can dream it, you can do it. Just make sure to revisit #6 and don’t let those dreams stay only in your head.
11. Leave your comfort zone as often as possible.
Similar to the last point, I remember best the days I did something scary. The moments I took a chance. These actions grew me into the person I am right now. I still get stuck on this one a lot because I get super duper comfortable in my daily routine, but I try because I know how good it feels.
12. Learning is awesome! There’s so much to know.
I can’t believe I went to school, took the test, and then promptly forgot everything! Now I’m going back and reteaching myself a lot of things because they’re so fascinating! How mountains are formed, how wars began and ended, drawing two-point dimensions, the reproduction of plants, Shakespeare, how to find x when it gets lost again… I’m now interested in it all and more. I basically want to know everything about everything. God bless libraries and the internet!
13. Let go of anger–don’t let it poison you.
I very rarely get really angry, so I can remember most every time it’s happened and the people involved. And when I think about it I start to get angry yet again! What a waste of time when I can’t go back to improve my arguments or tell someone off in a more creative way. They probably don’t think about it anymore, so why should I spend the time that I could be using to do something I love reliving something unpleasant? I’m trying hard to just let it go.
14. Take full advantage of opportunities.
I had so much time, so many resources, so many people around me back in high school and college and I didn’t really appreciate any of it. I wish I had gone to the craft room in college more, socialized more in high school, gone on more Poly Escapes backpacking trips. Anything that comes up now that sounds fun or interesting I try to say yes to and I appreciate various opportunities to do something new more now because there are fewer of them.
15. There is good in everyone and beauty in everything.
I really believe this, even if it’s difficult to find.
16. It truly is a small world after all.
People are people no matter how far. We all want to live safely and happily with people we care about while doing work we believe in to support ourselves. I wish more people would recognize that and not stigmatize others because of where they were born or what they believe. At the core, we are all the same.
17. Don’t hesitate to help someone.
Self explanatory. Don’t walk away knowing there was something you could have done to help someone who needed you.
18. Listening without judgement or selfishness is powerful.
19. Working hard always feels better in the long run.
I am a professional procrastinator. I know this is true, but I still struggle with it. A work in progress!
20. Remember to make time for your loved ones.
Don’t take them for granted, anything could happen at any time. No one is invincible. Make the time in your schedule to put down your phone and talk or watch TV or go somewhere. No distractions. Just quality time.
21. People come and go, and that’s okay.
I don’t regularly talk to very many people anymore, just a handful. I have met hundreds of wonderful people that I’ve loved spending time with in my life. It’s okay to let people come and go over time. Every single one teaches us a lesson and it’s always fun to catch up, but find the ones that will stick around for the long haul and simply enjoy the time you have with everyone else.
22. A smile will get you a long way.
So will being polite and considerate. Never underestimate the power of being kind.
23. Look forward, not backward.
I’ve had trouble with this since leaving Japan. It’s so hard to move on from happy places sometimes, but living in the present is so much healthier and rewarding. Don’t miss your life as it is right now. You won’t get this time and place back.
24. Life will laugh at even the most carefully made plans.
Nothing goes according to plan. Nothing. Ever. And that’s okay, too.
25. Mistakes are great–as long as you learn from them.
Making exactly the same mistake over and over again means you’re not paying attention, or just don’t care. Learn the lessons you need to and grow as a person.
26. Every single person on this Earth is given the same amount of time each day. How you spend it is up to you.
Someone said this to me recently and it kind of blew my mind. I had never thought about it that way before but I have the same amount of time in a day as world leaders, CEO’s, humanitarians, athletes. I’m trying to be more careful with how I spend this finite resource. I don’t want to regret how much time I wasted mindlessly scrolling Pintrest instead of reading something really cool!
27. Life is a journey, not a destination. Take your time and enjoy it.
There you have it. Getting to the next “milestone” in your life–be it graduation, a job, a house, a partner, retirement–will not automatically make you happier. It’s the small moments that become special. Don’t miss them in your relentless pursuit of the next step. It’s all about balance.
I’m not at all perfect, and most of these lessons I’m still learning. But here they are, for better or for worse, and I wonder how many will have changed or been added by the time I’ve lived this lifetime over again and I hit 54! Is there anything valuable that you’ve learned? I’d love to know!
Have a wonderful day everyone and I’ll see you in April! Ja ne!