[Listen to an audio version of this blog HERE.]
Lot's of hyphens in that title, huh? I'm turning 27 today, somewhere around 9:30 p.m. My birthday is also my parent's anniversary (32 years today), and I like to joke that this makes me the favorite child (probably not).
I feel lucky to be here, turning the page from 26 to 27 with relative ease and not much (read: nothing) to complain about. I love my job, I love writing this blog, I love running very long distances that knock me on my ass for days. I love my friends and family fiercely and fully. Life feels ripe with possibility; expansive and filled to the brim. But life wasn't always so good, and there was a time when I couldn't imagine 27 because I couldn't imagine being here. Life was one-day-at-a-time for awhile, and the ability to look into the future with excitement is a particular type of blessing.
Without any further pointless rambling, I've compiled a list of lessons I've learned over the past 27 years. I'm sure when I'm 37 or 47 or 57 or 107 I'll look back on this list and think, "Gosh, how sweet and naive." But today's my birthday, so I don't give a damn.
1. Be nice, but don't be a pushover.
2. Instant gratification isn't gratifying.
3. Figure out what you love and do as much of that as you can.
4. Any time spent with people who love you is time well spent.
5. You can leave that bad date, that toxic relationship, that boring job, that town you don't want to be in. You can. Nobody's stopping you, and limitations are usually self-imposed.
6. Say, "I love you" as honestly and as often as you can.
7. Play the long game. Anything worth doing takes time. Blah blah blah "life is a journey, not a destination."
8. Breaking is only problematic if you convince yourself you can't be fixed.
9. Life is pretty damn short. Go big, or what are you doing?
10. Dating apps really suck. Like, really, really suck.
11. Nobody cares how drunk you got last weekend. Making excuses and self-aggrandizing only makes you look like an asshole.
12. It's really easy to be like everyone else, but eons more gratifying to be yourself.
13. Comparing your pain or trauma to anyone else's pain or trauma is pointless at best and self-destructive at worst.
14. Learn to be comfortable being alone. If you don't like you, why should anyone else?
15. The end result of an inflated ego is severe sadness. Keep that shit in check.
16. Tackling challenges that seem insurmountable is the best way to boost self-esteem. You can do the hard thing. You can. And if you fail...
17. you'll learn failure is an amazing teacher. Failure isn't shameful. It keeps you honest and usually leads to eventual success.
18. You have endless worth, outside of your limited definitions. You are not your job, or your hobby, or your relationships status, or your paycheck. You are you, and that's enough.
19. Self-actualization takes time, but like saving for retirement, the sooner you begin, the more you will benefit. Self-actualization is not, however, a game to be won. Leave your crystals and self-help books and meditation pillows at home.
20. Nobody you follow online is your friend. Put your phone down and live in the moment.
21. Judging anyone for anything is a waste of energy and makes you look like a dick.
22. Be as kind to yourself as you are to other people.
23. It is good and wise to ask for help when you really need it.
24. You don't exist to entertain anyone or to be a token in someone else's life, and vice versa.
25. Ask. The worst answer you'll get is, "no."
26. Softness isn't weakness, and hardness isn't strength.
27. Life can easily make you cynical and guarded. Don't let it. Believing in the better parts of humanity, and in the better parts of yourself, will keep you grounded, humble, and grateful to be a small cog in this funny place called life.