Hey guys! Next week is my happy birthday! I’ll be turning 27 years old and I’m feeling very positive about that number because I’m going to be right between the still-adolescent-don’t-know-anything 25 and the mature-old-hag-not-really eponymous 30. However, even though 27 sounds like a big number and I’m supposed to be all adulty and knowledgable and smart and wise and all that jazz, I find that I’m still as dumb and lost and childish in some ways as I was when I stepped out of high school on my graduation day almost 10 years ago. I mean, I’m a really slow learner. Where other adult people my age are graduated from college, married and having kids and taking out loans and building houses and talking about taxes and whatnot, I’m still living in my small rented apartment, working as a freelancer, just started university for the second time after one huge failure with law school, watching anime, eating unhealthy, playing Bioshock and feeling completely freaked out about one day moving in with my partner of four years because, you know, commitment and anxiety and stuff.
So, almost being 27, I haven’t matured a lot in terms of being a serious responsible adult like the people around me but I have grown a lot emotionally and as a person. I feel that the past year particularly has been a special year for me in terms of learning new and important things that have shaped and will continue to shape me into a full-fledged confident and wise adult like all the ones I see in stores near me (for just $9.99 and if you buy now, you will also get a self-esteem boost for FREE!). What’s funny is that almost all of the things I will list down are things that we all know and have been hearing all of our lives. A lot of these things sound more like cheesy inspirational memes than life lessons, but that doesn’t make them any less correct. These are very simple truths that we are all consciously aware of but there comes a moment when something in your head makes a click and you just know and fully comprehend the fact for what it is. It’s like a smoker everyone is telling them to quit. They try to talk to them, tell them how bad smoking is for them and how they are slowly killing themselves. The smoker knows this and is aware of this and they will try to quit but only when the moment comes and they become truly aware, like really aware of what they’ve been told all their lives, will they successfully quit smoking for good. So, without further ado, below are some of the simple life facts I’ve heard and known all my life, but took me 27 years to finally learn. And yes, I’m aware of the irony – I may spend hours writing all of this to you only for you to dismiss it until you Know if on a fundamental level yourself, but it’s worth a shot!
Note: I wanted this to be a list with 27 things but I realized this got way longer than I wanted with only 10 so I stopped there. Maybe we can consider this a part one 🙂
1. Happiness starts with you
And you alone.
I was not happy for the longest time and couldn’t figure out why was that. I have a great job, nice pay, a wonderful guy, good friends and my sweet little apartment. Things couldn’t be better! But why was I miserable? What was wrong?
What was wrong is that I looked for happiness everywhere around me except myself. I could have all the money and the great boyfriends and cool jobs in the world, but it wouldn’t help me one bit If I wasn’t happy and in peace with myself. Having good friends and a good income and a great partner are all wonderful things that give my life more meaning but they should come as a cherry on top, and not as the main reason for my happiness. Which bring us to number two…
2. You are your own best friend
I am now 27 years old, and I’ve spent literally every single of those years trying to run away from myself. I did whatever I could just to avoid spending time just with me, myself and I. My recent trip to Bosnia allowed me to spend some quality alone time with yours truly and I realized that I actually liked myself. I mean, I spent some pretty crazy and disgusting years all on my own and made it – what’s not to like? Who was with me every single moment of my life? Who was there when I was crying? Who was there when I was the happiest person on earth? Me. I’m still on the training wheels with this one, but I’m trying to become comfortable with myself and learning to love myself.
3. Don’t be afraid to be different
I was always the special kid. I am overweight, had body odor problems in puberty (and no, deodorant and personal hygiene didn’t help – thanks for the gene bank, dad!), and I am extremely clumsy. I drop and break stuff like it’s my job, always talk too loud, always the one with the questions and always the one with some kind of a reply that is either totally not funny or out of place. I am too honest, sometimes to the point of being rude, have absolutely no tact in conversation, never agreed with the majority. I am not feminine at all, never wear makeup, don’t like gossip and drama. When I try to make a joke, 90 percent of the people would just look at me with a question mark above their head. To put it different, I’m not like everyone else and that bothered me as hell. I was so sad and angry that it was always ME that had to be special. The bus driver had to stop because I had to go the bathroom. I always order five glasses of water with coffee.
But on the other hand, me being different helped me in a lot of ways. Due to my sarcastic and in-your-face style of writing, people have approached me with writing offers. I have friends who love me because I’m always honest and straightforward. If I wasn’t such a loudmouth, I’d never meet my guy. If I wasn’t such I klutz, I would own the same glasses and plates for years! I’m not hating my differences, I’m instead trying to embrace them.
4. There are some things you can’t control
This point is the hardest for the anxious person in me because I’m all about control. If I can’t control a situation, I go crazy. I go scared and I panic. I’m not much for spontaneity and I really need to know what’s going to happen, down to the smallest detail. Uncertainty is my biggest fear. But, I have realized that I just can’t know everything and therefore I can’t control everything. What will happen in 5 years? I don’t know! Will I finish school or will I work as a cashier in a local market? I don’t know. What I do know is that I am going to accept that there are some things that I can not control and that I just have to let things happen on their own, and adapt. I can’t control the things around me or my future but I can control myself, my reactions to them and my actions for a brighter and better future.
5. It’s OK to freak out and be scared
I can do a whole article just on this topic (and probably will). There are so many people who consider fear as a weakness that should be condemned. People also gravely, gravely underestimate fear. Fear can be a bad, horrible thing that breaks and stops all progress and can hinder you even before you start. Fear is a lot of the times your biggest enemy and can quite literally ruin your life forever, if you let it.
However, fear can also be your friend and ally. Once embraced and accepted, it’s so much easier to face it and move forward (oh man, this is sounding zen as hell -.-). What I’m going at is that fear can be dealt with in a way that will make you a stronger person. If you are anything like me, you will use fear as a motivation to do what you want and fear. I actually love my fear because I work in spite of it, to show it that I am better for it. Yes, I am afraid and yes, that’s perfectly fine.
6. It’s OK to make mistakes
This has definitely been the single most important lesson that I had to learn. I made a few really big mistakes and because of them, I lost some people that I loved dearly. I went to law school and spent 6 completely useless years and tons of money there, despite warnings from everyone. Because I made so much bad mistakes, I spent the past four years trying to never make another one. I had so much anxiety over every single action I did because I was afraid that whatever I chose, it might be the wrong thing. For example I never dared to make a tattoo even though I wanted to because what if I don’t like it in 5 years? This fear of making mistakes has haunted me for way too many years and I’m so glad that I am finally rid of it.
The thing is, it’s perfectly fine to make mistakes. That is the point of life. You make mistakes, you recover from them and then you move on. Those mistakes will always be there with you, they will always influence your life in a way but they will also serve as hard lessons on what not to do in the future. You messed up? It’s ok. Pick yourself up, continue with your life and learn from it. Don’t ever let your life stop evolving because of your past mistakes.
7. You are not, and never will be, your parents
Most of us have grown up with normal, loving parents and look up to them as heroes. By adulthood, our carers and protectors have hopefully become our closest friends and allies. But what if you had crap for parents? What if they were addicts, abusive, manipulative? What if they were downright awful people?
I spent so much of my life trying not to be as my mom, whom I resemble physically. Without going much into it, I will say that I suffered a lot of abuse from her and because of this I was absolutely terrified that I will one day end up like her. Because of this, I never died by hair blonde (like she did) and as soon as I noticed a character resemblance of her, I would start to freak out. I have even considered never having children so I wouldn’t molest them as I was molested. However, I thought long and heard and realized (doh!) that I am not, and never will be my mother or my addict father. Yes, I am a genetic combinations of them both but I also have something extra that makes me who I am so I am concentrating on that. Moreover, I have learned to be grateful for all the positive things I have inherited from my parents – I have the edge and flare of my mother and a taste for the aesthetic from my dad. I have a strong self of pride and I am extremely defensive towards the people I love, which I also a gift from my mom. My dad gave me my pretty brown eyes. But in the end, I am still me and I have to remember that!
8. Whatever you do, there will always be someone that will hate it
I have spend so much needless time (okay, I still do) thinking about what others thought of me. I was scared to voice my opinions because I knew that there are people around me that don’t share them. I was afraid to start writing because I knew that there would be people who would hate on my work. I preoccupied myself with other people’s impressions with me and my character and was so afraid that they will think that I’m stupid or fake or too obnoxious or whatever else came to my sick mind. I nitpicked about my every course of action on everything, down to Facebook statuses just because I was wary of the haters. And sure enough, there were always people that didn’t like what I did, even when there were twenty more that did.
So, I just said f**k it, I’ll just be natural and do stuff as I like. There are 7 billion people in the world and there is no way in hell that all of them will like what I do. If I post a Facebook status stating that I’m not an atheists, sure enough there will be people saying that I’m stupid because of this, but there will be more that will say that they accept me as I am. I will write an opinion piece and a thousand people will say that it’s idiotic, but there will be five thousand that will say that it was a great piece. That’s life. Haters gonna hate. You can’t make everyone happy, but you can feel awesome for the people you did make happy.
9. Not all people are meant to be here forever
This was a very sad lesson to learn, because I lost quite a few friends and loved ones due to time, circumstances or just stupid stuff. I don’t have a lot of friends so each one I do have is a treasured gem. Sometimes, my friends don’t put me on the same priority list as I put them and they go. Sometimes people grow apart and change. Sometimes something happens and you can’t stay friends anymore. The loss is sad and devastating each time. Each person filled a special hole in your life and when they are gone, you feel that hole open up again.
However, while their lack of presence is sad, I have to make the best of the times I had with them. I remember someone writing something ages ago. I don’t even know where that person is, but I will never forget their words: Some people are in your life to be there forever, to enrichen it and make you better, but some people are here for just a short while and will leave after their purpose is filled. Each person that was in our lives will give us something new to learn from and change us in a way (okay, sounding zen again, sorry!) and that is something important to have.
10. Never walk barefooted on ceramic tiles or you’ll catch a cold AKA Listen to your elders
Like, seriously. I’m not kidding. I have been told, persuaded, yelled at, whatever – to never ever ever walk on ceramic tiles without slippers or at least socks. And of course, being the stubborn head I am, I never ever ever listened. I also never wore an undershirt to cover up my kidneys. Or covered my throat in during the harsh Zagreb winters. I was told that when I become an adult, that I would miss high school. I was told that life was short. Relationships are hard work. I heard the dreaded sentence “One day, you’ll understand” so many times, but it always went out on the other ear. To put it short, I never ever listened to what I was told.
Being almost an old fart myself now, I realized (again, doh!) how right they were just about everything in life, from simple medical advices to extremely important and valuable life lessons. They told me so much about life and I never listened, until now. Having learned some of the stuff they preached myself, I started preaching them to people younger than myself (hello, blog post reference!). I mean, really, listen to your elders. They have lived a long time. They know what’s up. They might not agree with you on everything, but they have some experience in stuff that never change so open your eyes, take your headphones off and Listen.
So, that was it! I hope you will like what I just summarized about what I learned in my (not so) long life. If you have a life lesson or advice, be sure to put it down in a comment! Till next time!