Sunday, June 9, 2013

Some Life Lessons That Everybody Needs to Learn

Here's my 24 tidbits of wisdom, as I recently celebrated my 24th birthday (some of these may turn into a blog post of their own--stay tuned):

1. It is amazing what you can do when you HAVE to do it--this applies to work, dealing with crazy people, finishing papers at the last minute, handling emotional events, finding random courthouses in a new city with no GPS and no smartphone, etc. If you absolutely have to figure it out, you will.

2. Along the lines of the first one--for many (but admittedly not all) things, if you want something badly enough, you'll probably get it. Because wanting it really badly makes you determined enough to work tirelessly for it--and it's usually the work, not the wanting, that ultimately gets you there.

3. Most of us are stronger and more resilient than we would ever think. And it's not till we are broken down to the core of who we are that we even realize it.

4. Writing is the best catharsis in the world.

5. It is not worth compromising your values for anyone--not your friends, not your boss, not anyone.

6. If you have to work hard to have fun and enjoy yourself with someone, that person is probably never going to be your best friend. Sure, friendships require work--but real friendships don't make you feel like it takes all the energy you have just to have a remotely good time with that person.

7. There's not much that ails you that a couple good phone calls with friends can't fix--or Skype, alternatively, for those that just have to live in foreign countries :)

8. Happiness is walking home from the library with an armful of books.

9. Continued, persistent, and principled disagreement with a person, an institution, a lifestyle, a belief system, etc. is not the same thing as ignorance. We play the ignorance card way too much in regular politically correct conversation, and I personally am over it. Disagreeing with something that you know and understand but simply can't get behind, for legitimate reasons you can clearly articulate, is the furthest thing from ignorance. And those who equate legitimate disagreement with ignorance are ignorant themselves.

10. Stop apologizing already. I apologize WAY too much--for stuff that is my fault, for stuff that isn't my fault, for stuff that is nobody's fault, before people even get mad, after they're mad, etc. I know you're always supposed to say you're sorry, and have known that since before kindergarten--but sometimes you shouldn't say you're sorry. Don't say sorry for things you're not responsible for. Don't say it just to prevent someone from blowing up at you. Don't say it when you don't mean it. Don't say it to defuse a person who consistently treats you like crap. Don't say sorry, stand up for yourself instead. You can, in fact, be too nice. It's ok to tell someone they are not treating you right.

11.  Let other people honor you instead of trying to honor yourself first.

12. Sometimes you have to do things because they are right, not because you want to do them, like being honest or sitting down and finishing your homework or not hitting the snooze button or resisting that doughnut or actually going to the gym.

13. You need to know the difference between whether YOU actually like something, care about something, and support something, or whether you just think you do because your boyfriend or girlfriend does. People who suddenly abandon all their old interests and adopt, like, 43 new ones as soon as they start dating probably aren't genuine about it.

14. Don't let people tell you:
  • that you need to know who your best friends in college are after two weeks, one month, or even one semester of school. You have four years, with new people entering and graduating each one. Your best friend your senior year is highly unlikely to be the same person it was your freshman year.
  • that you have to want something YOU know you don't want--a certain degree or career, marriage, kids, the list goes on. You're the one who has to live your life and deal with your choices, not the people who try to tell you what choices you have to make.
  • that the struggle and pain you're going through isn't significant or isn't worth the grief you feel over it. You know your own pain. Find people who will support you while you cry.
15. Eat breakfast.

16. If you say you're going to make a significant change in your life, talk it up, and go straight back to your old ways, you're going to look much, much more foolish than if you had just kept your mouth shut.

17. Religion and intellect/ intelligence are not mutually exclusive. Some of the greatest minds of all time have been devoted believers.

18. Do what you can, not what you can't. And always do the next right thing.

19. Don't park in the tow-away zone.

20. The vast majority of the time, you would never really want to trade lives, or problems, with somebody else, and if you could try, you'd probably want your own life back.

21. Some people just are constantly rude, unkind, disrespectful, and belittling. You'll never understand why and wonder how they can hate their lives so much. But on the flip side, some people are continually gracious, joyful, friendly, generous, and hopeful no matter what circumstances throw their way. Spend as much time as you can with people in the latter group and as little time as you can with those in the former.

22. Do free trials at every gym in your city before you buy a membership.

23. Be faithful in the little things. Seriously. This applies to work ethic, honesty, everything. If you are honest and trustworthy about very small things, no one will be able to accuse you of being deceptive with bigger things because your reputation will speak for itself. If you aren't willing to do the small things and the dirty work and the boring tasks at your job, don't be surprised if you never move up. Be the kind of person who, if anything needs to be done, you step up to the plate and volunteer to do it. If you think you're too good to file papers/ wait tables/ clean bathrooms/ anything else that needs to be accomplished, you may never be able to be trusted with greater tasks.

24. Your faith, your family, your friends, your reputation, and your ambitions are some of the most important things in the world.

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