Friday, July 7, 2017

18 Things I've Learned in My 18 Years of Adulting

I turned 36 last week. I started thinking about how to start this blog around the same time. About how to introduce myself. I love making lists so I thought “why not make a list?”. So here it is. An introductory list in honor of my 36th birthday. 

18 Things I’ve Learned in My 18 Years of Adulting 

1. You can’t make everyone happy.

Seriously. You can’t do it. Stop trying. You are only making yourself crazy. You are not in charge of other people’s happiness. You are only in charge of your own. So do the things that make you happy and surround yourself with people that do the same. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking you must always be happy to have a happy life. Even a happy life has sadness, and tough days, and challenges that seem insurmountable. Don’t ever think that just because you struggle that you are not happy. I struggle with at least one thing every day, some big and some small, but I still consider myself a happy person. 

2. It’s okay to break up with friends.

I used to think that friendship meant giving all of yourself over to someone else. So that’s what I did. I threw myself fully into my friendships compromising what I wanted, or what was best for me, because that isn’t what my friends wanted. When I finally stood up for myself I learned that those friendships weren’t as strong as I thought they were. So we broke up. Yes. We broke up. Like you would do with a boyfriend or girlfriend. We even joked about it as it was happening. And that’s okay. We had a good run and some amazing times but we were going in different directions and it was actually healthier to go our separate ways than to try and hold on to a friendship that was slipping away.

3. Getting dumped is soul crushing.

Even when you don’t like the person all that much. It does something to you that nothing else does. It twists your insides and makes you believe that the person that just dumped you was THE ONLY PERSON FOR YOU IN THE WHOLE WORLD. This obviously is a lie. If they were your person they would not have dumped you. My friend Ed said it best. It was shortly after I had been dumped. Over text message. While I was in the grocery store. With my mom. We were on his porch drowning my sorrow in Camel’s and whatever alcohol he was serving that day. He said to me “Are you sure it’s the guy you’re upset over and not the getting dumped?” I said of course it’s the guy. I love him. Ed’s eyes nearly rolled out of his head when I said this but he was the ever supportive BFF and listened to me drone on and on until I finally got back together with the loser. (Which is a whole other story I will likely never tell). Moral of the story: Before you drown in your sorrow make sure you’re really sorry and not just insulted. 

4. Social media is lying to you. 

Actively. And all the time. That girl you used to be friends with that you now hate-stalk? Her life is not as perfect as it looks. She is posting only the good pictures and never posts about how her husband is an insensitive jerk. That ex-lover that posts all his awesome nights out with that pretty girl? It’s actually his cousin. That click-bait you fell for that promised to tell you what career you should have based on your color preferences? Okay do I actually have to explain that one? 

5. People are judgy. 

People are going to judge you. It’s inevitable. So fuck them. Live for you and let them pass their judgments.  They don’t matter. 

6. Parents just don’t understand.

Except when they do. Because they are people. The thing you think they don’t understand? Yeah. Not only do they understand but they’ve likely already been through it so just fucking listen to what they have to say for once okay? Now that you’ve listened you can feel free to disregard. Because your parents are just fucking people. They are going to be wrong sometimes. And that’s okay too. 

7. Family is the most important thing. 

Except when it’s not. Sometimes you get dealt a crap hand and your family is shit. When that happens it’s okay to cut people out of your life. Life is way too short to let toxic people poison you. Let your tribe come together naturally. Gather to you the people who are supportive and loving and return your love in a healthy way and make yourself a family with them, while making a clean break from the toxic ones. And remember that you are not the failure when family members turn out to be awful people. 

8. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words fucking hurt too. 

Sometimes we say things in anger that can never be taken back. We can apologize and we can retract our statement, but we can never make the other person unhear what we say. Make sure that what you say is what you truly mean because you cannot unsay it. Never forget that words have power. I read a story on the internet once where this teacher had her students crumple up pieces of paper and throw them at each other. Then they retrieved their crumpled papers and tried to smooth them out. Try as they might the papers could not be returned to their previous smooth state. She told them “The creases in your papers are the same as the damage that words can do. That damage can never be undone.” Keep this image in your mind when you are angry and take a moment to think about what you are about to say. 

9. Maya Angelou was right. 

About damn near everything. Unfamiliar with her? Go get yourself some new books. I promise you will not be sorry. 

10. Stop saying “Sorry”

Unless you did something wrong. We say sorry a lot. This conversation is usually about women saying they are sorry but I am going to expand it to include everyone. Yes, women may do it more often than men on the average but as a whole we do it a lot. We say we’re sorry for walking past people. Don’t think you are guilty of this? Have you ever walked past someone in a store and you were the one that moved out of the way but you still said sorry as you passed them? Yup. I did it today. We don’t even realize we’re doing it. When you send something back at a restaurant do you start with an apology? When you disagree with someone do you start with “I’m sorry, but…”? It’s like we are apologizing for existing. That’s not good for anyone. Stop it. 

11. Chivalry might be dead but manners are still very much alive so stop ignoring them thankyouverymuch. 

I don’t believe that you should open the door for me because I’m a woman, I believe you should open doors for me because I am a person carrying things and my hands are full and you’re standing next to the fucking door. There is no reason that you can’t be a polite person to everyone you interact with. No excuses. 

12. What society expects of you is bullshit. 

So are everyone else’s expectations. Parents, teachers, friends. The only expectations that count are yours. (We’re talking general expectations for life. You are still expected to show up for work if you’d like to be paid)

13. You can’t be good at everything. 

No matter how hard you try eventually you are going to suck at something. Sure with work you’ll get better, passable even, but you still won’t be good at it. And that’s okay! 

14. Getting older is a good thing.

It means you won another day. This is especially important to remember for those of us that struggle with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or the myriad other mental and physical illnesses that make getting from one day to the next a challenge. So never stop celebrating your birthday and never be ashamed to answer proudly when telling someone how many years you have won. 

15. You become like the company you keep.

So make sure you keep good company. You’re always going to take on traits of people you spend the most time with. It’s natural. Just make sure those traits are worth taking on. I speak from personal experience. Just trust me on this one okay?

16. If you are going to go into debt make sure you have something to show for it.

And try to have a way to pay it off too. Debt is easy to build. Trust me. It starts with “I’m just going to put these cute boots on the emergency card because I really need them for fall” and snowballs into “Hey they raised my credit limit. Free money!”.  Make sure the debt is worth the struggle to pay it off. 

17. Kindness matters. 

I know this makes it onto everyone’s “Shit I’ve learned” lists but that’s because it’s true. Really really true. Do some small kindness for someone and it will have a ripple effect. A smile, a compliment, a door held, a bill paid, a bully corrected. One simple act of kindness can change someone’s entire day. Don’t you want to be the change?

18. There are no adults…

…only good actors. 

*If you can fold a fitted sheet you are clearly a witch. Stop gloating. 

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