It’s my birthday! More specifically, it’s my golden birthday! What’s a golden birthday, you ask? A golden birthday is when you turn the same age as your birth date [look it up on Urban Dictionary, it’s a legit thing]. And in honor of my golden birthday, I would like to share with you 22 lessons that I have learned in my 22 years. None of these lessons are scientific and some may or may not be completely original ideas, but trust me, experience is life’s greatest teacher.
1. Be yourself. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is more youer than you.” Don’t let the world miss out on the incredible person that you are!
2. Life is short! This is a cliché, but haven’t you noticed that clichés are almost always true? For instance, I graduated high school a little less than four years ago and three people I graduated with are no longer with us. Life is short and precious; death does not discriminate.
3. Comparison is the thief of joy. The times I have been the least happy are the times that I’ve been comparing every little thing about myself and my life to other people. Joy is inherent. Don’t let comparisons rob you of it.
4. Sometimes you’ve got to stick up for yourself. Now I’m not sure if Queen Elizabeth II actually said this or not, but I’m really hoping she did: The world is not the most pleasant place. Eventually your parents leave you and nobody is going to go out of their way to protect you unconditionally. You need to learn to stand up for yourself and what you believe and sometimes, pardon my language, kick some ass.
5. Don’t date someone who doesn’t stick up for you. This seems like common sense, doesn’t it? But for me, it wasn’t so. I have always been the accommodating type. I may not like your team, but if we’re watching it together I’m going to pull for them. I may not like where you want to go eat, but I’ll go and not complain. That just seems natural, right? Well don’t date someone who won’t give you the same courtesy [especially if they turn on Alabama].
6. Follow your heart but take your head with you. As in previous posts, I’ve confessed my fondness for love. I just love it. It’s one of life’s greatest gifts. If you find yourself madly in love, don’t forget to stop every once and a while to re-evaluate your personal goals and your happiness. If not, you’ll find yourself living in your ex-boyfriend’s town with no friends.
7. Never half-ass anything. If you’re going to do something, commit to it and do it to the fullest extent. People notice when you do something half-heartedly, but they also notice when you do something 110%. You might as well make it worth everyone’s while.
8. Forgive each other. When I was about three years old, my dad was making me laugh by flipping me upside down and turning me right side up again…until he moved his foot a little bit while I was upside down and stepped on my hair. I can still feel the pain and I distinctly remember a bald patch. Oh my goodness…it hurt so bad! Then a couple years later on Father’s Day, I was wearing this cute, little pink outfit and I spilled grape juice on it. He got so mad at me for ruining “his day”. But as it turns out, we forgave each other and we still kinda like each other. I think he’ll even dance with me at my wedding.
9. Order something new off the menu. I’m a picky eater. Right down to my peanut butter sandwiches without jelly. Recently, I’ve started to order something completely out of the ordinary when I go out to eat. It’s exciting to anticipate the new dish and what’s it’s going to look/taste like. More often than not, I’ve liked the new item better than my normal, go-to order. So go for it! Order sushi instead of your typical hibachi steak. You won’t regret it!
10. Write thank you notes! You never know how much a small note of thanks means to someone.
11. It’s okay to not be perfect. We weren’t made to be perfect, so there’s really no reason to try to be. You’re only setting yourself up for a let down.
12. Well-behaved women seldom make history. Have you not seen Grease?! Now, don’t go get crazy on me, but let’s face it…everyone loved Sandy more with big hair, in her skin-tight jumpsuit and red high heels.
13. Paint your walls purple. Or pink. Or red. Or black. Just do something daring! When I moved out of my parents’ house, I painted two of the walls in my apartment a deep purple. The guy at Home Depot swore that I would hate it. That it would be too stark of a contrast against the white walls. Well that guy was wrong. I love my purple walls. I love that at this time in my life I don’t have to take anyone’s opinion of my apartment into account. I can have purple walls and a technicolor New York City skyline all in the same room. That’s what life is about.
14. Never regret anything. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience.
15. Clear mascara! [Okay, okay…this really only applies to my fellow brunettes out there]. It will be your best friend…especially if you’re a crier like I am. I cry about everything: country songs, Toy Story 3, old couples who hold hands in restaurants. Seriously, I cried this morning when my grandparents called to sing happy birthday. BUT clear mascara lets me cry without raccoon eyes! It also lets you go swimming/tubing without getting gunk all in your eyes.
16. Love has no price. You can shower people with gifts, but you can’t make them love you. You can have all the right material things (iPhones, fancy cars, etc.), but that’s not going to guarantee you love. Love is selfless. Love is kind. Love is friendship. And as the Beatles sang, “I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love.”
17. It’s the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter. I appreciate all of the wonderful and beautiful friends and acquaintances in my life. Some of them sharpen me to be a better worker, a better listener, and a better friend. Some of them teach me patience, loyalty, and understanding. But the ones I hold very dear to my heart are the ones who have my back even after I’ve messed up and the ones who talk to me when I can’t sleep. I cannot express how much I love those friends. You desperately need that specific breed of friend.
18. Draw a crown on your mirror with a dry erase marker. I promise you that you won’t be able to not smile. It’s impossible.
19. If you stumble, make it part of the dance. The number two rule of dance recitals is: if you mess up, keep going. Don’t acknowledge it, just keep going. The audience doesn’t have the steps memorized; they never have to know. Unless you fall…down the stage prop steps…in heels. That’s a little harder to come back from, and that’s when rule number one comes into play: smile.
20. Keep your heels, head, and standards high. Self-explanatory.
21. There are just some things you can’t learn in school. My Meme has this quirky knack for giving me strange gifts. One time she gave me a singing bear. It was the MOST terrifying thing in the world. It sang “I Hope You Dance” and moved it’s head back and forth and it’s mouth moved. I’m still a little scared of it and I’m pretty sure the batteries are dead in it. Anyway, when I left for college, she sent me a book called “Do’s and Don’ts of Underwear” and there was a note that said “Information not offered in college.” That book sits proudly on my bookshelf as a reminder that no matter how many degrees I might have on my wall, there are some things that you’ve got to learn on your own. [Don’t worry, I definitely have the do’s and don’ts of underwear down pat].
22. Embrace messy hair. As someone who had spikey hair until the age of 14, I didn’t grow up learning how to fix my hair. I didn’t play beauty pageant and I cried the first (and only) time I had my hair french braided for a dance recital (pre-haircut). When I finally grew it out, SURPRISE! It was a curly, wavy, uncontrollable mess. Needless to say, I almost always need help in the hair department. I would straighten it and people would say “Oh, I love your hair when it’s curly. It’s so beautiful.” I would leave it curly and people would say, “Your hair looks so much better straight.” Make up your minds, people! Within the past year or so, I’ve learned to embrace my messy hair. That’s all you can do.
Well, there you have it. I wonder what lesson #23 will be. I hope it’s a good one!