Yet another year is winding down. Let’s reflect.
Twenty-seven was the age that brought on a lot of personal evolution. Here are some of the biggest lessons that I am taking away from the age of self-discovery.
1. There is always room in your life to try something new.
Many have a general list of hobbies that they’ve had all their life. It’s never too late to find things that stoke your passionate side. You never know what you could find! I want to learn to play the ukulele, for no reason beyond the fact that I think it could be fun to learn a new instrument.
2. Spontaneity is an amazing thing. Go on an unscheduled adventure!
Even if we have nothing to do, we can’t just make the snap decision to leave town for the day. Two extremely fun days that I had this year were the products of a random decision to leave NYC. Margie asked me to join her and some friends on a pub crawl in Boston. I jumped on a bus at 7am to join them by noon. Another time, The Man randomly asked if I wanted to go to Atlantic City at 11:15pm. We were in AC by 2am. When you’re not harming anyone else or disregarding responsibilities, completely random and spontaneous trips make you feel alive.
3. If you want big rewards, you have to take big chances.
There was so much that made me want to avoid a relationship at the beginning of 27. I took a chance and found something beyond beautiful. In my writing, I have taken a huge chance on sharing my emotions, stories, and experiences not only with my friends and family, but with complete strangers. This is all with the hope of finding something bigger and better for myself.
4. Believing in love and commitment in the time of hook-up America is not a bad thing.
So many people are actively avoiding the relationship scene. Love isn’t for everyone, but I hate the promotion of the negative connotations of being in a relationship in your 20s. Also, ideas such as: “the one who cares less (whether honestly or in appearance only) is the one in control,” is wildly poisonous. People are good and deserve to be loved.
5. Your partner’s financial stability and future plans are important. Your credit matters.
Beyond finding the smart, strong, attractive man with a clear health history who will help put as many desirable cards in my offspring’s gene hand, I need to know that he can provide for any emergency. And that when the time comes to buying a home and settling down, there won’t be major setbacks in either of our credit history. I don’t want to live in a crummy apartment for the first few years of our married life.
6. Trying to schedule life events is a risky decision.
I had mentioned in Being in Love at 27 that time frames don’t work because life happens. At 27, there was talk of moving in with The Man. Why wouldn’t we move in together? Because two people have two different speeds at which they progress. Love is love, but decisions like this can’t be made on the idea of one person’s schedule. Let life happen, and the chips will fall where they belong.
7. Don’t spend all of your time and energy on a relationships and friendships, ignoring your career and personal growth.
Just don’t do it. It will lead to a lot of regret, resentment, and often times, unsalvageable relationships. There is a way to balance it all. If there isn’t, explore the idea that maybe your partner/friend doesn’t have the best for you in mind.
8. When the choice between love and a job needs to be made, choose the job.
Keep in mind, I’m not referring to married couples or those with children involved. Over the course of the last year, I learned that if you eliminate the career to keep the love, that door to a job or career is closed, often times, for good. If you choose the job, you still have the option to work out the love. That door could remain open if you and your partner are willing to work. Love finds a way.
9. To vanish is to not deal with a problem.
I used to cut and run all of the time. When I sensed a threat, I would retreat. Quickly. A good portion of the year was spent with The Man, who taught me patience, not just within the confines of our relationship, but with other interactions, my career, and expectations for myself.
10. There’s no need or use in explaining the dynamics of a relationship to anyone.
People judge people. That is the first truth that needs to be realized in this scenario. But there is no way anyone could understand the private dealings of two people. At the end of the day, it is two hearts. That is all that ever matters. You’re going to stress yourself out trying to make others understand.
11. Hold on to people who provide intellectual or mental stimulation, provide you with great connections to your past, and are positive influences. Let go of the toxic ones.
There comes a time in friendships and some relationships that you keep people around because of comfort, status, or history. If someone isn’t helping you to become the beautiful and amazing person you are meant to be, it might be time to cut them out. Intention and “usage” can change within the confines of a friend/relationship. I have no issue with those I have chosen to eliminate from my life at this point.
12. Some people don’t accept their own personal lifestyle decisions as personal.
Be a vegetarian, vegan, carnivore, cross-fitter, yogi, near-professional couponer, or organic aficionado. People make choices, and somehow still feel the need to make excuses for it or judge someone who doesn’t share the same ideals. There is no need to shove your mantras down other people’s throats, but some people do it anyway. It’s not worth stressing.
13. Love what makes you happy, and accept that all of it makes you who you are.
I love Great Expectations (the book, people!), Pop-Tarts, Spandex, movie scores, snowglobes, doll houses, the smell after someone smokes a cigarette, Mumford & Sons, Broadway showtunes, yoga, videos of soldiers returning from overseas, Paulie Gee’s Pizza, nail art, and hair clips. It’s all 100 percent true, and no one can convince me that any of it is wrong or ill-advised. People who try to make you feel badly about what makes you happy, present you with energy you don’t really need to thrive as a person. I suggest everyone finds their list of happy indulgences.
14. Outward appearance is not indicative of inner satisfaction.
We need to stop “Real Women Have Curves,” and similar sayings. I have a satisfactory body by my own standards, but at a whopping 110lbs, I’m not exceptionally curvy. If you have the sex organs of a woman, you are a real woman. Most people are wildly insecure and that’s why we shame each other and blame it on society. Accept the fact that everyone feels insecure and alone, and in that, none of us are really ever alone.
15. Teen girls oversexualized in the media, and I worry about the young girls of today and my potential daughters.
I love the show Modern Family, but have major qualms with the oversexualized image of Haley. I loved playing dress up as a child, but why are there companies making makeup for girls as young as 3 who play dress-up? I’m no longer in that age group where I don’t care. I worry about my daughters growing up in a world that not only accepts but promotes the painted jailbait image.
16. Conventional cool is a thing of the past.
It’s imperative to understand and accept that nothing is conventionally cool anymore. Life isn’t what it was like in grade school through college. Liking a beer that you think is well made, living in an area that inspires you, jamming out to tunes that make you feel alive, and generally doing what makes you happy is the new cool. My brand of cool will not be the same as your brand of cool.
17. Everyone should have their private space that is his sanctuary.
When you have roommates, in a bustling city, where demanding schedules rule all, you need a retreat. You can’t rely on your apartment as a whole because the wavelengths different people ride rarely match up perfectly. Over the course of the last year, I have discovered what it is that relaxes me, and makes me feel at ease. I’m very proud to say that my room is a tranquil place where I can find inspiration and sleep peacefully.
18. There is great satisfaction and reward in owning a pet.
I’ve known this fact since 2011, but I spent February 2014 living without Lily, my lionhead rabbit. It was terrible. She has not only taught me how to care for a living creature, but how to truly love immeasurably. Plus, regardless of the evoking force, you can’t stay mad or sad when there’s a fluffy bunny hopping around your bedroom.
19. Vacations from technology is a great thing.
Texting is easy, quick, and dangerous. E-mails take a little more thought, and there’s less room for wild misunderstandings. Instant Messaging is convenient and a nice distraction at work. Just log off every now and again. Nothing really beats face-to-face interactions with a living, breathing human.
19. #FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is bullshit and making us all crazy and miserable.
There is also the problem of reaching for your phone to avoid being lonely or spending an evening without your local party scene. A marketing team somewhere in America really thought “#FOMO” would be something to which we could all relate. That is sad. Sit and feel the loneliness of a night at home, or when you’re presented with heavy situation. Don’t immediately reach for your phone to call/text someone to see what is going on somewhere else. Be in the present.
21. It’s great to stay in on a Friday night just so I can go to yoga the next morning.
Even when I do go out on a Friday night these days, I’m often home and in bed well before midnight. Why? Because waking up refreshed, not hungover, and ready to go focus my energy on the betterment of my body is more rewarding than any tasty cocktail any bartender could whip up. I’m building this body to relax in one day.
22. The excitement that I feel for an upcoming wedding now greatly exceeds that for the bachelorette party.
We are coming up to wedding season 2014, and I am thrilled to see some lovely people promise the rest of their lives to each other. In previous years, I remember being thrilled beyond words for some bachelorette parties. This year, I’m going in having already realized how expensive they are, how terribly inconvenient, and oftentimes awkward. Part of me would rather hang out with some of these brides alone and watch Magic Mike as our manly entertainment.
23. Don’t take your neighborhood for granted.
You’re young once, explore it while you still have the energy and passion to do it, and while it’s still there. Five Pointz was an old industrial building covered with really impressive graffiti from local and distant artists who made the pilgrimage to this holy site of street art. I lived here for nearly five years before visiting the site. A few months after, the owner sold the property and all of the graffiti was covered with white paint. You never know when building politics will wipe out art as though it never saw the light of day.
24. Memories are important.
Remembering your experiences and happiness of moments past is always a great thing for the soul. For me, these are being with my sisters for the holidays, or just taking photos around the property like we always seemed to do. We’ve all grown up and moved away from home, and remembering the brand of friendship that can only exist between sisters will forever be important.
25. Sometimes you have to let old stomping grounds go.
Where you used to hang out with your girlfriends until 2am multiple times a week, might not be the best place to go with your significant other when you’re older. It was fun, but sometimes you should just let go of your favorite playground.
26. It’s so important to take life one day at a time.
There are so many events to evoke anxiety. They seem overwhelming and impossible to tackle upon first sight. If you can, take it one day at a time, examine the situation, break it apart, and make a plan to overcome each smaller obstacle until the entire mountain is conquered. Don’t try to tackle entire projects in one go. Nearly everything can be broken down. You will be ok!
27. No one really has the answers.
Eat Carbs. Don’t eat carbs. GMOs are bad. GMOs are really nothing to worry about. Don’t get into a serious relationship in your 20s. Having a serious relationship in your 20s is the greatest decision you could make. The way you get ahead is by getting at least a bachelor’s degree. Today’s market calls for trained craftsman. Life is a board game where the rules are constantly changing. Don’t expect the world to teach you everything. You have to make mistakes, dust yourself off, and try again.