This past Saturday was my 27th birthday! Will and I went to Taipei’s National Palace Museum, and then ate our way through Shilin Nightmarket with my cousins. Yesterday, we celebrated some more by spending the night at a hot springs resort. We bought a sushi platter and a tiramisu from the nearby Costco to eat in the hot tub. #dreamlife!
I’m excited because 27 is my favorite number, so that means it’s going to be a great year. I am now in the advanced stage of my late 20s, and feeling pretty great. Growing up is kind of crazy – I’ve always thought that, as we grow older, we start to get our shit together. I think part of getting older is realizing that that is not true, and, actually, no one really knows what they’re doing. Even the people who seem like that have it all together…there’s always something going on. You just never know.
This year was a really great one. Left a job that made me unhappy, and excelled at a new one in a short amount of time. Got married. Traveled A LOT. Picked up a freelance job. I’m so lucky. I love my life.
I’m sure I could list 27 things I’ve learned in my lifetime up until now, but that’s a little excessive, so here’s 7 things I’ve learned (and am still learning) from the past 27 years.
1. You can change yourself, but not others
This is the type of advice you always hear, and it sounds good, but it’s actually a pretty difficult concept to grasp! In fact, I’ve only started to learn how to apply this mindset into my life in the past few months. I think it’s human nature for us both judge and also take things personally. Think about it: has there been a time when someone did something to make you feel bad, and you felt really bad? But then, you think about it, and it’s like….should that thing really have made you feel as bad as it did? I think most of the time, unimportant things unnecessarily ruin our day or make us feel bad just because we let them! It’s crazy!
It’s easier said than done, but lately, I’ve been trying really hard to ask myself what I can change about myself in negative situations. If I am talking to someone and feeling bad, should I try to exert more patience and understanding? Should I use my words to change the tone of the conversation? Am I being sucked into negativity because of the person I am talking to? Am I feeling so bad that I need to take time and walk away so that things don’t progress into a worse situation?
Many times, if we get into an argument or fight with someone else, we feed off of the other person’s negativity. Arguments are usually battles that need to be won – we end up spending a lot of time, energy, and emotion trying to get the other person to admit defeat. We are right, they are wrong. But this is terrible – it’s been super important for me to learn that I cannot change others. I may be able to encourage others to change or give advice, but, ultimately, they can only decide to change on their own. The only person I have the power to change is myself. Realizing this has given me a new type of freedom from negative and toxic people in my life.
2. Apologize more – for others, not yourself
This is a hard one. The other day, my friend’s boyfriend told me my input in our conversation was invalid, and it really hurt my feelings. I was really angry and hurt, because I felt like he was devaluing me and my efforts in the conversation. In that moment, I had to speak up for myself, because it made me feel bad. I immediately stopped the conversation and said we could continue another time, because what he said was rude, inappropriate, and unproductive. Then, I took a minute to reflect: how did it even come to this?
I came to the conclusion that I was suggesting things in a way that I would have wanted someone to suggest things to me. I also recognized that the points I valued were not the same points he valued. He told me he felt like I was being pushy, and so I apologized. It was kind of difficult to do so, because as I re-read the conversation, I didn’t feel like I was being forceful at all. But I’m learning; the apology is not about how I feel. It’s about how he feels. And if he felt wronged, then it’s important to apologize.
Just like how you can’t expect people to change, you also cannot expect them to apologize back to you. Even when they did you wrong, and even when you might deserve it. This is an even harder lesson to learn than to apologize to others. If you spend forever waiting for an apology from someone who’s not going to give you one, it will hang on to you like a prisoner’s shackle. Just move on the best you can.
3. It’s ok to have days of rest
There have been periods of time in my life when I’ve just been really lazy. It always turns into this weird self-guilt trip. I’ll regret not doing certain things or not taking advantage of the time I had to do the things I had planned to do. I would think about how silly it is that I can get really into cleaning the house when I have other obligations waiting for me, yet I can’t find the energy to do one small chore on a day off. The more guilty I feel, the lazier I get.
What I’ve learned, though, is that I need to take time to evaluate my mind and listen to my body. After being in a job where I’m working 100+ hours a week, standing on concrete floors and talking to people all day, it’s only natural to need a break! Instead of feeling guilty, I am learning how to take time and give myself the time and relaxation it needs to recover. It actually has helped my productivity a lot! When I take time to let myself rest, I feel more inclined to get things done sooner than later.
4. Avocados = Privilege
Unpopular opinion time! I know that there are plenty of places in the United States where you can buy inexpensive avocados. And do I think that avocado toast is what’s keeping millennial from being able to afford houses? NOT AT ALL. But, generally speaking, if you can afford to buy avocados for your household, then you’re probably doing alright financially. I could elaborate more, but I’m not going to. Because unpopular opinion is unpopular.
5. The best skincare is drinking smoothies every day
Seriously, guys. This works. You can slather on as many skincare products on yourself as you want, but they are not going to stop your pimples from randomly appearing. When I’m drinking smoothies, specifically green smoothies, on the regular, I have fantastic skin. But when I skip a few days? PIMPLE. So it works. Trust me.
6. Chase the money, but don’t be a prisoner
Four years ago, I had a lot of debt that I accrued as an irresponsible college student, and I was living paycheck to paycheck. There were times when I barely had enough to grocery shop after I paid my rent. I remember crying on the phone to Will one night and he offered to help me get a sales job while I figured things out. I feel incredibly lucky and proud of myself, that I was able to excel in the sales field in such a short amount of time. That might be an arrogant-sounding statement, but it’s not. Because after two years, I was able to use the money I made to pay off my debts, AND still have a savings account. Like, are you kidding me? That’s freakin’ awesome!
But I think there was also a certain point when I was stressing more and more about how much money I was making, and I also became afraid of letting it go. Paying high rent in California really stressed me out because I felt like I was just throwing it all away. This year, I decided to take time and re-evaluate the way I view money and my relationship with spending. I don’t think it’s bad to work hard and do what you have to do to make money and save up, but I also think we can’t be prisoners to the high’s and low’s of our bank accounts. I am learning to express gratitude for when I have extra money to spend, and I am also learning to practice mindfulness to avoid frivolous and unnecessary spending. It’s all about balance!
7. Learn to cherish the people around you, especially when you’re mad
This is kind of dark, but whenever I’m in an argument with someone, I imagine them randomly dying and no longer being around. It’s a very humbling and scary thing to think about, but sometimes when we fight with others, we project that fight onto the whole person. When I think about someone disappearing from my life, it allows me to one, disassociate the negative matter at hand from that person, and two, think of other things that I appreciate about them. Again, I know it’s weird, but it’s helped me learn to stop and take a breather. Most of the time this helps me to re-think the type of language and/or tone I am using in the conversation. And if I’m too heated up with emotion, I recognize that maybe it’s time for me to step away and end the conversation.