25 was always "That Age" for me. When I thought I'd have it figured out. I would be a REAL grown up. Did you all roll your eyes when you read that like I did? For those who haven't hit the halfway point, and maybe even if you have (age is really just a number people) here are the top ten little nuggets of wisdom I have gathered so far.
10. You'll Never Really Have It ALL Together:
The idea that you're going to have everything on the ball all at once is a nice one, but it's almost impossible to actually attain. I think everything in my life may be on point all at once for a period of 24 hours before some type of shenanigans pop up in one area or another, whether at home - one of the kids is sick or just acting like they don't have the sense God gave a goat; or something catastrophic happens at work on a case (paralegals are really firefighters for cases, trust me!) or some financial emergency pops up and your car needs something you can't pronounce that will do something absurd to your savings; been there done that. I finally stopped trying to "have it together" and learned to take on what I can take on, one thing at a time!
9. Grown Up is a Misnomer:
Seriously, I know people pushing 40 who are worse off than when I was 17. Maturity is relative. Don't expect others to have sense (Again I say, God even gave a goat some) common sense isn't common. I used to get so riled up when people would commit social faux pas. Seriously? Did you just do that? Even I have days where I feel like I'm just waiting for my parents to show up and be like "Okay, this experiment was cute, get in the back seat, you're going home."
8. It's YOUR Life:
Simple right? Not really. Sometimes when you're in the midst of turmoil, it can become very easy to point fingers. In my early 20's, my relationship with my now husband was, eh, rocky to say the least (story for another day) and it became very easy at times to play the victim. He did this so I did that... They did this to me... Trust me, I know how the finger pointing game goes all too well. But eventually, I had to embrace the fact that this is my life. What you allow is what will continue. When you refuse to make boundaries for yourself and the way you want your life to be, you're just inviting others to determine how it will be for you. Decide what you want and go for it. Take responsibility for the direction of your own life. It's a heavy thing to carry, but I promise you'll do a better job at it than anyone else can.
7. Closed Mouths Don't Get Fed
Really I borrowed this one from my Daddy (yeah, 25 and my parent's are still Mommy and Daddy, problem?) He used to say this ALLthe time when I was a kid. You know when your parent says something until it just loses it's impact? This was one of those in our house growing up. But now that I'm a mom, surprise surprise, I find a lot of those old sayings popping out of my mouth. This goes right along with number 8: No one can read your mind for you. You'll never know the doors that you can open for yourself just by speaking what you want. And it won't always be pretty, you can't always say it nice. But if you don't say it all, you'll miss on things you want, things you deserve, hell, you'll miss out on things you NEED. This is something I really had to learn in my professional life. Being a paralegal can be heavy. Early mornings, late nights, taking work home type of heavy. Legal professions can eat your life alive depending on where you work. I had to learn to tell my boss NO. Yes, you read that right. I tell my boss no. No I cannot do that. OR in the alternative, how much does it pay. Yes, you read that right too. Anything extra, salary or not, I need my greenbacks. The same goes in relationships, even friendships. SPEAK UP. You'll be surprised the things you can get if you only ask.
6. Act Your Wage:
I'm going to tell on myself because it will help someone. I was HORRIBLE with money. My parents (mostly my daddy) spoiled me. I never really was given money to delegate to particular needs, I was given money to spend. My dad once said that I acted as if he had a tree in the backyard and when I wanted more Seven Jeans (they were everything in my high school days) he could just go back there and shake it and money would fall. So when I got a job, what did I do? Blow through money like water. It wasn't until my now husband and I broke up and I had a child plus another on the way and no clue where to begin, because he'd provided for us up until then, that I realized this was not a way to live. There were definitely pitfalls on my road to financial stability. Even still, I learned not to spend more than I make on things I don't need! I also ask myself before buying "non-essential" things - "Will it still be here later?" If it will, then I don't buy it if it would put me in a pinch.
5. You Are Enough:
Life is hard. We all have low points. I've had my share, trust me. The difference between our generation and those before us, however, is the internet and the ability to constantly peek in the window of other people's life via social media. Most people don't post their lows and dirty laundry for the world to see, so a lot of what rolls through our timelines are braggadocios status updates and perfect snapshots of people so happy, so beautiful, free from worry behind a filter to boot. It can make your lows feel even lower and make you strive for unrealistic euphoria that none of us ever really reach. Everyone argues with their spouse, or has a spat with a sibling. We all know what it's like when money is funny and you're just trying to keep up with the household bills while everyone else seems to be jet setting and living the high life. During those times you have to remind yourself that you are enough. Being you, as tough as it can be at times, is your one authentic journey. I've been through my version of hell and back and not only would I do it again, but I wouldn't trade who I am on this side of it for all the tea in China.
4. Treat yourself like a brand:
“Dressing well is a form of good manners ”
— Tom Ford
This is the "boss" in me speaking here. And YES, I am a boss, you are too. Remember when I said It's your life? You're the boss. Now what is your brand? What are you saying to the world about yourself. Around the same time that I realized I was responsible for my life, I also realized I had been WAY too loose at the lips when certain things happened in my life. I know I was just looking to connect with people during the things I was going through, but not everything is for sharing. People do not always understand you the way you think they do, and it's easy to be painted as something you're not. Watch what you put out on social media; even the way you dress says a lot about who you are. Tom Ford said "Dressing well is a form of good manners." Everything you do is a piece of the cohesive (or not) puzzle that makes up how you will be perceived. Act and tweet accordingly.
3. Sometimes Friends Are Your Soulmates:
This is for everyone looking for love in all the wrong places. Baby, do I know the crazy things we'll do for love. Jay-Z called it his achilles heel. Mine too, Hov. I discovered though, what I sought in the wrong way had been with me all along. My best of best friends has known me since we were six. No distance, no time, and no difference of opinion has ever gotten between us. She is more my sister than she could be if we shared DNA. I'm lucky enough to say I have another best friend, my sister who is my close confidant and a circle of other friends who have never failed me. When I say never, I mean NEVER. As I've gotten older, I've realized they're each like a piece of me. I love my husband, words couldn't even cover it, but those girls are the real deal unconditional. Sometimes you have to take stock of what's around you and wait for the romantic love you deserve to show up at the appointed time.
2: Embrace The Chaos:
My life is the hot mess express at the dysfunction junction. For real. I'm about as put together of a mess as you're going to find. I tell people all the time, I couldn't make the stories up. But one thing I have learned to do is get a laugh out of all of it. I literally crack myself up. I used to take myself far too serious, and you know what? I was miserable. So the day was crazy; call up a girlfriend when you get in the car and laugh it off. Life happens. Embrace it. You only get one. Some of the shenanigans I've gone through are my best party stories. Take it all in stride.
1. YOU HAVE TO HAVE FAITH:
I think this one speaks for itself, but it is the most important and profound principle upon which I have built my life. I'm not lucky, I'm blessed! Whether you believe in God, Buddha, the universe, the Goddess of the Sun, you have to have faith in something. Faith will carry you in the dark places, and the dark comes for us all. You have to have faith as a totem in the midst of utter uncertainty. The most successful people were willing to take a chance. Why? Because they had faith in the possibility of a positive outcome on the other side of their proverbial leap. I look forward because of my faith. It's the reason I'd rather jump and build my wings on the way down than wait on the edge for the stars to align. I don't want to miss my chance, and I believe no matter what I'll be better off on the other side for it.