2 January 2016
Today's my birthday. I crossed the line between mid-twenties and late twenties and I feel fine. Good even. Being so close to New Year's, I tend to think doubly about my past year and reflect profoundly to try to make the next a little better. Here are some things I have learned in 2015.
1. You must test yourself all the time. Travel across the country to visit your cousins all by yourself. Move into a new apartment when your current one has all the ingredients of an anxiety cocktail. Let go of people you've known forever when they no longer bring joy and positivity into your life.
2. You need to celebrate yourself even when it's not your birthday. You deserve to travel and explore and find adventure simply for existing. But even more so on your birthday to acknowledge that you've survived another year in this wild, wonderful, wacky, weird world.
3. Some chapters within your story do not have clear endings. Some goodbyes are one-sided, so write your own and move along. There are bigger and better characters waiting to meet you.
4. Planning and making lists can bring clarity and calm to the chaos of your everyday. But remember that all of life shouldn't be a continual crossing off of items. Lists help with errands and chores, but don't get carried away and begin to list off every bit of fun in your life, too. Baking cookies, watching Christmas movies, decorating your tree all lose their magic if you only do them so you can cross them off a list (even hypothetical ones).
5. It can get discouraging to face each day when the things you hope for seem so far out of reach. Pray hard and know that what we imagine for ourselves can't hold a flame to what He has in store for us. Have faith and find little bits of joy in each day through the things you love. When we follow the things that bring us pieces of happiness, I have a feeling they will open us up to worlds of glory.
6. New York City at Christmastime is every bit as magical as it is hyped up to be. I am officially enchanted.
7. God is good. So so so so good. I wish more people knew Him.
8. When you lose someone who held a part of your heart in place, you never get over the fact that they are no longer physically around you. You just learn to grow accustomed to their absence. It doesn't get easier, you just get more used to it. I mean this for family and friends. Old boyfriends usually fade more thoroughly, thank Heavens.
9. Forgiveness is like a superpower. One of God's many gifts to us is forgiveness - and not just the kind He gives us, but also the kind we are asked to give others. What a weight that is lifted from our shoulders when we choose to forgive others. It is not our burden to bear or our judgment to make - leave that to the Big Guy. Just love others as much as you can. You can never run out of love, so give it away freely, especially to those who need it most. (Also remember that forgiving is not forgetting, and that we must learn from our mistakes and act accordingly in the future. Be not a fool.)
10. Smile at people more. It's healing. For all parties involved.
11. There is not a right time to do things. Life's not long enough to wait around until things always feel right. Wear that weird outfit you love. Tell someone you like their face. Kiss him already.
12. Your intuition is powerful. Listen to it. Learn from it. Listen to it better the next time.
13. Happiness and all the many forms of it seem to approach more quickly when you ask for it and search for it. It doesn't fall into your lap by you sitting around. Laziness is the quickest path to uneasiness and darkness. Get up. Get out. Meet people. Go places. That's how you're more likely to find happiness. (Even us introverts!)
14. So many things that are good for us begin with the "R" sound. Read. Write. Run. Ramble. Recycle.
15. All those boys in bands and on the silver screen are no more magical than the ones around you in life. All it takes is a clear head to watch a few interviews to realize they're, more often than not, pretty lame. Now while Justin Bieber has some sort of spell over me with his new album, he is an exception. Just kidding, he's a mess, too. Find a real boy, the kind that exists in the everyday world. They're the ones who aren't speaking for a camera or dressing for a photo. They're just living, as it should be.
16. When you lose one tangible thing that meant so much to you, like the gold car that drove your sister and you out to Tennessee for Bonnaroo and your family to the beach over and over again, it loosens your attachment to pretty much every other material thing. There's a freedom in that lack of attachment. The less you have, the less you have to lose. Give your shit away, minimalism is quite beautiful.
17. Barn cats turned house cats are scary, terrifying, unpredictable, and eternally feral. You have been warned. And yet, they also have the power to save you from yourself. Remember that, too.
18. Patience is underrated. There are very few things more beautiful in another human being than patience. It's important to be consciously aware of yourself, and aim for better patience, so you can be that person to someone or something else. (Babies, pets, spouses, coworkers, etc.)
19. Being productive should rarely be equivalent to exhausting yourself with work. That's how people burn out. Work hard, but remember you are a human being whose first priority is to live well and take care of the people (and animals) you love. That's true productivity.
20. Keep perspective. See the big picture. Enjoy as many of the details of that picture as you can, but don't forget what it looks like overall.
21. Find people like you. They exist. We just have to know the places to look. (This one is currently in progress for me.)
22. Believe in your big dreams. Actress? Writer? Musician? Try to be realistic about your abilities, but only to gauge your starting point. We can all get better at our craft. When we aim for the moon, sometimes we land on a star, but it's all part of the same night sky, all part of the same world. Have an ideal and go for it. You might not end up where you initially intended, but the outskirts of an ideal can be pretty extraordinary, and often even better than the dream itself.
23. Practice self-discipline. Set the alarm. Wake up. Go for a walk or a run. Even on a Saturday. Make yourself listen to yourself. Your words and your ambitions have weight, so act like it.
24. Remember music has a power like nothing else. Listen to old favorites. Discover new ones. Let it heal and soothe and calm your soul.
25. No one can make you feel old without your consent. Thank you, Eleanor, for your wording.
26. You. Are. Magic.