Things I’ve Been Learning Lately, vol. XIII: 25th birthday edition

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HAPPY 25th BIRTHDAY TO MEEEE *throws confetti in the air*

I experienced a lot of mixed feelings about turning 25 in the weeks leading up to today.  25 is a big year.  You’re halfway through your twenties, which is a pivotal decade for a lot of people.  You’re a quarter-century old.  That’s all pretty cool stuff.  I get that.

But I spent most of the last few weeks panicking about how I don’t feel nearly adult enough to be 25.  I don’t have a salaried job.  I don’t have a job that provides health insurance and I get kicked off my parents’ plan in a year.  I don’t have a car.  I don’t know if I want to go to graduate school.  I don’t know if I’ve found my vocation yet (am I meant to be single?  Do I need to start dating to see if marriage is for me?  Do I need to start investigating religious orders?  SOS GOD I NEED A SIGN.  #CatholicProbs.).

(please excuse me while I go drown my quarter-century angst in a pile of cupcakes)

In all seriousness, though, I’ve been learning for the past few years that not everyone follows the same path, and not everyone goes through life at the same pace.  And I’ve been learning to be okay with that.  Considering my desire to replace my feelings with cupcakes, I don’t know how okay with it I actually am.  But I’ve been trying.

I’ve been learning a lot of other things in my 25 years on this earth, too.  So I thought I’d share 25 of those things on this, my 25th birthday.

  1. There aren’t many people out there who wound up becoming whatever they wanted to be when they were 7. Plans change.  People change.
  2. Words hurt. That “sticks and stones may break my bones…” stuff?  Utter garbage.  Words can be daggers.  Words can be branding irons.  Don’t be ashamed if you’ve been hurt by someone’s words; it doesn’t mean you’re a wimp.  On that same note, use your own words carefully.
  3. Anxiety is a real thing. But it’s not shameful, it doesn’t make you crazy, and it doesn’t have to rule your life.  Get help if that’s your struggle.  Please get help.  You’re worth the care.
  4. It’s okay to be crazy about something. A band, a movie, a subject in school or a field of study, an author or books series.  Be a fangirl/fanboy.  Life is better when you don’t care if people think you’re a dork because of it.
  5. You can’t be like someone else. You just can’t.  But that’s okay, because the world doesn’t need you to be like that someone else.  It needs you to be you.
  6. It’s okay to be quiet. It’s okay to forgo invitations to parties and football games because you’d rather stay home and read.  It’s okay to not like being the center of attention.
  7. Be quick to forgive. Others and yourself.  It’s so much harder than it sounds, but it’s so necessary.
  8. Accept mercy, help, and grace from others when they offer it to you. The world has conditioned us to be hard on ourselves and not to expect those things, so it’s a difficult thing to do.  Similarly…
  9. Be kind. Be generous.  Be humble.  Be understanding and merciful.  I hate hate HATE that the world tells people to be bitchy (I’m sorry) and rude and to always fight for their way.  The world has enough of those people.  Be nice.  Beyond that, be loving.
  10. Learn to cook a few dishes. Learn to appreciate whole foods.  Watch a few cooking shows or read a few cookbooks.  It takes more time and effort to make things from scratch, but it’s so much better for you and so much tastier than frozen meals and take-out.
  11. Learn to write well. I’m not saying that we all must be poets or novelists, but knowing how to properly structure and punctuate sentences will take you far.
  12. Find your tribe. Find friends at work or in a class or special interest group or at church.  Hang out with them.  Do life in community.  Even if you’re an introvert.  You’ll remember times spent with those people better than you will times spent alone.
  13. Get outside. Young people these days aren’t being forced as much to entertain themselves outside and that makes me sad.  Nature is a treasure.  Go enjoy it.
  14. Don’t be ashamed or afraid if you find yourself questioning your faith. Going through that kind of thing often winds up making faith stronger; it’s hard to own something, to make something yours, if you’ve never wrestled with it.
  15. Hating yourself isn’t cool. It’s not trendy.  When I started on Tumblr, I followed a lot of people who wrote and reblogged posts that gave me the impression that they were their own worst enemy.  I understand that a lot of young people struggle with low self-esteem.  I know that self-love is extremely difficult for some people.  But whether or not that’s you, don’t feed into that mindset.  Don’t believe it.  Don’t let it win.
  16. You don’t have to fit the world’s idea of beautiful or cool. The world has some pretty messed up ideas about that kind of stuff anyway.
  17. Care about your grades in school. Try to do well.  But realize that accomplishments in school don’t really matter after you’re done.  I graduated Magna Cum Laude from college.  I wasn’t able to get into AP classes in high school because my reading score on a standardized test was a hair too low.  Wanna know how much those things matter now?  They don’t.  Not at all.  Do well in school.  But don’t tie your identity to your academic performance.  It won’t matter for long.
  18. Next time you see a big scary bug, resist the urge to run away or smash it. Look at it closely.  Bugs are actually really cool once you get over the initial gross factor.
  19. Don’t live through your camera.  Put it away every now and then.  Take things in with your eyeballs.  You’ll actually remember more that way.
  20. Listen to your mother. Do I really need to spell that one out for you?
  21. Don’t be afraid to take an unconventional job. Experience is experience.  There is so much pressure on young people to succeed and the people heaping that pressure on us all seem to have the same idea of success.  Don’t let that get into your head.  I like I said in my intro, we all go through life a little differently.  And that’s okay.
  22. See your favorite band live. Just do it.  If you have to travel a few hours, do it.  It’s so worth it.  If you can afford it, get a spot close to the stage.  Even more fun.
  23. Care about people. Care about causes.  If you’re in school, care about school.  An “I don’t care about anyone or anything other than me” or an “I don’t care about my grades” attitude is not cool.  Apathy is not the way forward.
  24. If a stranger wants to tell you a story about themselves, listen. People treasure their stories, and so many people just want someone to talk to.  If someone shares a story with you, do them the courtesy of listening and caring.
  25. God is a God of second chances. He doesn’t care where you’ve been.  All that matters to Him is that you’re willing to try again.  He’ll help you.  He really will.

Soooo, about those cupcakes…

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