What I’ve learned in the past 30 years

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See that? That girl with the huge smile and overplucked brows? Yeah, that’s me about 10 years ago when I was 20. This photo was taken in the middle of a huge convention centre during an Oktoberfest celebration where I was standing in what seemed to be two inches of spilled beer, pant cuffs soaked. I’m cheek-to-cheek with my then best friend, whom I have since lost touch with.

Since that time in my life, things have happened and changed- I’ve moved about eight times, been engaged, worked eleven or twelve jobs, lived on the side of a mountain, put myself through University, etc. etc. etc. I have learned way more about myself and the world than I would have ever imagined while drinking warm beer out of plastic cups that September.

Here we go…

Fake it til you make it.
I used to think everyone had it figured out, except me. I’d ask myself, how do all these people have their shit together? Truth is… everyone is asking themselves that question. No one knows which way is up, but no one wants to admit to it. I’ve learned that if you appear to know what you’re talking about, speak confidently, and not too much then you come across as one of those people with it all figured out. Example- this week I am giving a presentation to a ton of big wigs in government. How the hell did this little girl get a chance to speak at the Legislative Building?!? She faked her way through it, now she doesn’t need to fake it so much… Maybe just the confidence part.

Trust your gut
If something feels off to you, it probably is. I’ve always given people the benefit of the doubt that they are being honest and good. But, truth is… not all people are as trustworthy as I am. When people make you feel uncomfortable, say something. Don’t just assume you are being too sensitive or making things into something they are not. It isn’t necessarily you. Things need to be said when you don’t feel right about a situation. You don’t deserve to feel uncomfortable in your workplace, relationship, or anywhere else.

Travel far, travel often.
There is nothing better, in my eyes, than traveling. Getting far away from your everyday life and creating new experiences. Experiences are better than things, better than money. Traveling alone is one of the greatest things I’ve ever done and will continue to do for the rest of my life. I’ve learned more about myself on road trips and flights than I did in the first seven years of my 20s. Don’t put it off til you’re ready, because chances are you’ll never have the right amount of money or timing won’t be perfect. Then… it’s too late.

Grudges aren’t worth the energy they take.
I’ve learned that forgiveness is one of the best tools to have at your disposal. It takes a lot of effort to keep a grudge going for years. It doesn’t do much of anything for you besides preoccupy your psyche, damage relationships, and make you look like a bitter ass. I’ve had some pretty devastating things happen to me in my 20s, but I’ve forgiven those who committed them, even when I thought it might be impossible. The forgiving wasn’t to make them feel better, but so I could feel better and move on from the hurt.

Risk it. You could be rewarded.
Hop that plane! Kiss that boy! Apply for that job that’s way out of your league! Risks are there for the taking and if you don’t take them… what is there really? There is just dull, day-to-day life and I know I don’t want that ever again. Fear of the unknown is silly. Worrying is even worse. I’ve only recently realized that regretting having done something sit much better in my mind than regretting something I was too afraid to do.

 

What have you learned in your 20s?

 

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