This year has been an absolute whirlwind so far. It's been full of unexpected, but ultimately necessary, changes; full of new challenges; and now, at this point almost halfway through the year, full of hope for the future and full of a realization of how faithful God has been in my life.
So without further ado, here are some life lessons I've learned so far this year:
1. If something in your life is broken, FIX IT. Please, please, please just fix it. Don't do what I did, and try to convince yourself for many months that something is working when it obviously isn't. I'm definitely not advocating that you just run away from anything that's not working (key example--marriage isn't something you just walk out on when the going gets tough). But I think you'll know what I mean by this. I tried for such a long time to convince myself that certain areas of my life were "just fine" when they were causing me so much pain, frustration, and unhappiness. YOU are the only one who knows whether your life is really working for you or not. YOU are the only one who knows whether you are really and truly happy or not. (Quick side note on this: if friends or family tell you when you talk on the phone, "You sound so happy!" and your immediate thought is, "But I'm so NOT . . . don't you get it at all?" then that's a sign something's got to change!) I know this isn't always possible, but when it is possible--If where you live isn't working for you, move! If your job isn't working for you, get a different one! If a friend has proven over and over that they're not really going to be there for you, it's ok to gently and kindly let the friendship go. And please don't try to talk yourself out of making a much-needed change because you tell yourself, "But I really wanted this! But I really worked hard for this!" Or even . . . "But I really prayed for this!" Sometimes, God gives you things for a season, and only for a short season, and then He wants you to move on. Sometimes, the things you thought you wanted just fall flat. And that's okay, and that's life, and God is not going to be "mad" at you for moving on from something that you once prayed for because it's not healthy for you and is sucking the life out of you. The desires of your heart can change. And that's normal, and healthy, and completely okay.
2. Along the lines of #1--When you "fix" whatever it is that you need to fix, you will feel like the weight of the WORLD has finally fallen off your shoulders. And you will wonder, "Why didn't I do this so long ago?"
3. There's really no better therapy than hiking, writing, or being on the beach. Really.
4. You are the only one who gets to decide what kind of career you want to have. If people try to push you away from your passions without giving you a clear reason why, you are under no obligation to listen to them or heed their advice.
5. Don't assume that someone won't step up into the role of a true friend just because you've only known them for a little while. Even relatively new friends can prove themselves to be the kind of people that you can call in the middle of the night; the kind of people who will come over to your place to help you assemble furniture; the kind of people you can cry with over brunch when life gets overwhelming; and the kind of people you want to call first when something amazing happens.
6. You should make a list of fun things to do in your city and actually do them. Y'all, I have a list of 85 things I want to do in this city this summer, and I've already done a LOT of them. Along the way, I've discovered fantastic restaurants, great hiking trails and outdoor spots, fun new shops, local farmer's markets, and my favorite new coffee shop. Get out and explore the place where you live.
7. Go after the things you want. Keep sending the follow-up emails. Ask and keep on asking. The worst thing that can happen is that someone says no or gets annoyed with you. The best thing that can happen is that you stumble right into an amazing new opportunity.
8. This is one of my favorite lessons of all from the last few months--so many more people in this world WANT to help you than don't want to help you. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Don't be afraid to contact people that you don't know out of the blue and ask them to meet with you (one piece of advice though--use any connection you do have, like a school or organization in common, to help). I have met with so many people in the last 6 months that I simply contacted and asked for advice. I don't think I'm exaggerating to say that 95% of the people I asked to meet with me actually DID. And almost all of those people helped me in one way or another--by giving me advice, by introducing me to someone else, by asking around to their networks about opportunities I should look into, etc.
I was shooting for ten life lessons, but that's about all I have for now!