IT’S MY BIRTHDAY, Y’ALL. so to celebrate, i thought it would be fun to share a few “life lessons” that i’ve picked up along the way. ready? let’s go!
one: age ain’t nothin’ but a number.
it’s cheesy, and disgustingly cliche–but it’s true. your attitude and approach to life do wonders for making you feel younger (or older) than you are.
two: loving yourself for who you are is the single best decision you will ever make.
again, cliche, but true. unless you’re like, angelina jolie, there are probably things you wish you could change about yourself. join the club. but once you come to peace with who you are and how you’ve been created, life becomes a whole lot easier. and you become a whole lot happier! win-win.
three: exercise is good for body + soul.
i used to hate working out. seriously. like, loathed it. but the plain truth is that it’s good for me. all of me. when i exercise, i feel better about the way i look, but i also have a better outlook on life in general. again, win-win.
four: credit cards are for emergency use only.
as tempting as it may be to max out your mastercard on a shopping spree or that dream vacation, don’t. use your credit as a way to get you out of a pinch, not to waste on things you don’t really need that you can’t really afford.
five: forgive, forgive, forgive.
life is messy sometimes, and people are imperfect, and you’re going to get hurt. that’s brutally honest, but it’s true. there is nothing to be gained by holding grudges and hanging onto bitterness because you just can’t get over what he or she did to you. let it go. forgive–and then keep forgiving.
six: don’t settle.
you’re pretty awesome, and you deserve awesomeness in your life as well. don’t stick with something (or someone) that makes you feel yucky just because it’s easy. respect yourself, and refuse to settle for less.
seven: get a hobby.
learn how to dance/paint/mountain bike/whatever. choose something specific to your unique interests and skill set, and then do it.
eight: know thyself.
seriously. get some self-awareness. be quiet and reflect. find out what you like, what you don’t, who you want to become, what you need and want, your strengths and your weaknesses. when you know who you are, you are free to become exactly that.
nine: just because it’s allowed doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
this goes along with number eight. once you’re all enlightened and self-aware and stuff, make sure you figure out the limits and boundaries that you’re going to set for your life. then live by them. just because something works for someone else doesn’t mean that it’s for you. (oh, and read 1 corinthians 6:12. that paul guy knows what he’s talking about.)
ten: take a trip.
go somewhere, anywhere. the world is a big, beautiful place filled with amazing people, cultures, and stories. expand your worldview; it’s so much more than your own little corner of your own little neighborhood. get out there and explore!
eleven: quality beats quantity.
pretty much all the time. whether this applies to the pairs of shoes in your closet (who’s with me, ladies?) or the number of close friends in your social circle, something that will last the long haul is worth so much more than mass accumulation.
twelve: go with your gut.
i mean it. if you’re like me (read: human), you have pretty strong instincts. trust them. they are your friend, not your enemy.
thirteen: it’s not (at) all about you.
it’s easy for us to go through life consumed by our problems, our goals–our selves. and while i am all about self-care and making sure that all the different parts of us are healthy and thriving, i also recognize that selfishness is a very real problem, especially in this day and age and culture. fight it. look beyond yourself and seek out ways to serve others. at the end of the day, how we’ve loved each other is all that really matters.
trust me. do this. like, all the time. it makes you look better, and it’s a gift you give to the world.
fifteen: listen to your body.
for real; i’ve unfortunately learned this one the hard way. the truth is, our bodies are extraordinary, and they have a way of letting the rest of us know what they need. if i’m hungry, my tummy growls a bit, or i get lightheaded. if i’m tired, my head starts hurting. if i’m getting sick, my bones ache, and i know i need more rest. learn to listen to your body’s signals, and act accordingly. all of you will be thankful for it!
sixteen: cats are evil.
there. i said it. just a piece of advice from me to you. you’re welcome.
seventeen: there’s nothing that a glass of red wine and some dark chocolate can’t fix.
wellllll…that’s not entirely true. it may not actually fix anything. but it will definitely make you feel better. so drink/eat up!
eighteen: grace makes the world go ‘round.
this is a big one. (probably should have put it as number one, but that would be too obvious.) give grace to others. be gentle with them. they’re people, just like you. i used to be extremely critical and judgmental, and it was like a cancer that infected every part of me. that’s when i realized, deeply and truly realized, the gratuitous grace of Jesus. he tells us in the scriptures that whoever has been forgiven much will also love much. i am well aware of my shortcomings, and i know that i’ve been forgiven of them. so what right do i have holding other people’s faults and failures against them? none. and neither do you. give grace; it’s a beautiful thing.
nineteen: style is subjective.
as a woman, i’ve read tons of fashion magazines, all telling me about the newest trends and what the current style is. and let me tell you: i used to buy into it. but this girl’s got curves, so how can i expect a size zero “supermodel” from vogue to tell me what i look good in? since then, i’ve learned what looks good on me, and i werrrrk it. that, my dear friends, is style.
twenty: drink lots of water.
maybe this comes from my years of living in a tropical country like Liberia, but water has become my new BFF. it’s good for your body, makes your skin look fresh–and it keeps you from being dehydrated! #winning
twenty-one: love God. love you. love others.
this is the greatest lesson i think i’ve ever learned. want a formula for a beautiful life?
step one: love God (which should be easy, because let’s face it: He’s pretty awesome.)
step two: love you. value yourself, accept every part of you. this is crucial, because you’re not going to do a very good job of loving others when you can’t even love the person in the mirror.
step three: love others. treat them as you would like to be treated. be kind and gracious.
it truly is that simple. try it.
laughter really is the best medicine. watch a funny movie. hang out with friends. go see live comedy. find something that will make you happy, and let those laughs out. it’s one of the best feelings in the world!
twenty-three: you are not your past.
i once read somewhere that “every sinner has a future, and every saint has a past.” surprise, surprise; it’s actually true. we’ve all done things we’re not exactly proud of; we’re human. it’s what we do. but our mistakes are not our identities. you are not what you’ve done or what has happened to you. you are more–so, so much more.
twenty-four: say what you mean, and mean what you say.
our words are incredibly powerful, and sadly, not many of us realize that truth. so often, we speak in the moment and end up saying things we regret or that we didn’t actually mean. take the extra second to think about what it is that you actually want to communicate, and be purposeful in the words that you use. don’t talk just for the sake of talking. it’s ineffective.
twenty-five: cook at home.
i used to hate cooking. in fact, to be honest, it’s still not one of my favorite things to do. but cooking at home as opposed to going out to eat not only saves me money in the long run but is also healthier for me! plus, i get to try out new recipes, and my culinary skills have been upgraded from ‘dismal‘ to ‘mediocre‘ as a result. (that’s a joke, guys; it’s okay to laugh at that one.)
twenty-six: make friends with people who are different than you.
we are all different from one another. no one thinks or acts or believes exactly the same. and that is okay. we can still learn from one another and grow and be challenged by those who are not just like us. celebrate the differences; without them, life would be sheltered, shallow, and just plain boring.
twenty-seven: learn to be okay when things don’t go your way.
i’m a planner by nature; i suppose that’s partly due to my love of control. but here i sit, on my twenty-ninth birthday, and i have to say: nothing, not one single thing in my life today is what i had planned for. and in the past, when i didn’t get my way, i’d pout and sulk and throw a big ol‘ temper tantrum. guess what? it didn’t change a thing. life is still beyond our control, and plans don’t work out, and the best way to stay happy (and sane!) through it all is to accept it. okay? okay!
just do it. the end.
twenty-nine: life goes on.
this is probably the most helpful lesson i’ve ever learned. no matter what you’re going through, no matter how much it hurts, even if it feels like this is the end: i promise you that it’s not. you will get through it. the pain will heal. life goes on, and you will smile again one day.
any thoughts from you guys? what are some of the best lessons you’ve learned/pieces of advice you’ve been given?