Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Twenty three things I've learned in the last year

Sometimes I feel like I am in the final part of a movie trailer—the part where they just montage a bunch of great scenes together at hyper speed with epic music. It's the end of the trailer where they have ten seconds left to really hook you, really make you turn to the person in the jumbo movie-theater seat next to you and say, "that looks good."

The protagonist is running herself to exhaustion with something clearly on her mind, and in the next second she's laughing with whom you can tell are her very close friends, the quirky kind of characters that make movies interesting. In the next quick transition they’re climbing a mountain, arms stretched out and screaming across open hills.  Next, there's a quick shot to a mentoring character telling the protagonist something deep, then the protagonist ignoring advice she will eventually learn and thank mentor for later. Jump cut to a passionate cry scene. Jump cut to the protagonist finally standing up to the antagonist. Jump cut to her kissing an attractive actor who you  probably recognize from another film. Jump cut to them fighting. Running for each other. Lessons being learned. Hopeful music. Crying. Laughing. Loving.

"That looks good."


Every year I vaingloriously celebrate my birthday with a list of the things I've learned in the last year, an item on the list for each year of my life. (See 20 things or the 21 things).

One day this list is going to be too long to put in one post. But for now, I give you Erin's Lessons of the Year, Volume 23:

1.  Anything you need to know about living life well you can learn from a dog. Loyalty. Forgiveness. Unconditional Love. Pure Joy. Excitement about the same exact meal every single day.
2. Make your life’s story a good one.  I love reading the life stories of real people. Not people like John F. Kennedy or Marilyn Monroe or John F. Kennedy with Marilyn Monroe, but about normal people you may have never heard of (until their awesome biogs came out) but who did something great because they decided to live a good life story (I hope to some day write these kinds of stories).  If somebody was going to write a biography of your life, first, would somebody want to write a biography of your life? Secondly, would people want to read it? Thirdly, would people tell their friends to read it too because it was a great life?
3. Contrary to popular belief, everything does not happen for a reason. This is just an excuse somebody who didn't want to take responsibility made up once, regardless of whatever higher power or galactic karma force you believe in, there are some things that just happen. People go against the will of the world all of the time. (In Christianity, it's called sin, and it's essentially doing the opposite of God's intention for humanity.) This might piss some people off. But there are really shitty people who do things to other people and animals and the environment. And then there's really good people who have really shitty things happen to them like cancer, or car accidents or ugly children. You can, however, change how you react to them. Taking the blame off of "everything happens for a reason" helps you cope with the crap and find real reason in your life. 
4. Show gratitude. Enough said. 
5. Never apologize for being yourself. So many times, women especially, apologize for really stupid and uncontrollable things. Apologize to me when you’re late. Don’t apologize to me when you’re a brunette or introverted or gay.
6. Care about the environment.  This isn't a political issue. It’s an 'I like breathing' issue.
7. Put down your phone. Tell me about your life dammit. Tweet about it later. 
8. Thank your lucky stars for a lot of conveniences the US has to offer. Europe liked charging my poor behind for everything it could possible charge it for: toilets, tap water, places to sit. I held onto my waste for hours looking for a bathroom on multiple occasions. I sometimes like to give the US a lot of crap, pun intended, for its regressive ways, but I'm thankful that I can find a toilet while I'm traveling.
9. When you meet someone who has enough patience to deal with all of your nuttiness, don't test it all of the time.  Thanks boyfriend for still liking me when I bawl at this commercial and for watching Parenthood with me every week. 
10. Get excited about how much you've changed. "You've changed" doesn't have to have such a bad connotation. Not changing means no growth. And that's kind of lame. Let yourself be proud of your growth. And don't be embarrassed that you used to wear this or dated that giant goober. Just be glad you've come that far. Because he really was a giant goober. 
11. Don't get jealous as people your age are having babies and diamond rings and husbands and really fancy jobs.  Sometimes I need to remind myself that I don't want to get married any time soon because I have a ginormous pile of debt and even more ginormous personal goals and my entire life to do those things. I have to remember that I chose a career that probably isn't going to make me a lot of money, but that I would rather have no money than not do it. My life is pretty damn good.  Looking at pictures of my friends' cute babies is sufficient for now.
12. Social media interaction does not build real relationships. Foster a real friendship. Not a spoon-fed Facebook one. 
13. Anger and violence are not the solution to anger and violence. For example, I really really hate rape culture. I'm a passionate feminist who is done with letting things slide. But screaming the F word at rape culture down your town's main street isn't the way to solve a horrible horrible problem. The F word is an inherently violent word.  It makes you only look irrational and crazy. And the people who you want to hear your message will only roll their eyes. I don't know what the solution is. And I know taking back the night is a very empowering experience that I really love. I know something needs to be done. And I am glad people are trying everything they can. Maybe on my 24th birthday I'll have a solution to this. 
14. Being a nice person doesn't always get you the job, but it's a heck of a lot less lonely. After being the longest and hardest working employee at my job in college, I applied for a Supervisor position. They told me I didn’t get the job because I didn’t dress well enough for the interview. It later came out that I didn’t get the job because I was too nice and they worried I wouldn't do the job well (har har). I will never let my niceness be a bad thing. I will never regret being nice because someone who was intimidated by my courage to treat people well tried to hold me back.  Instead, I skipped over the supervisor position into a higher-up managing level position, won the award for “Friendliest” for three years straight, and won the Butch Hill Customer Service Award for my kindness to all other employees and patrons at my job. While a few people had tried to discourage me from continuing to work hard and with integrity, I owe them a ton of gratitude for being one of the most motivating factors in my career. They will never be able to carry my kindness-covered briefcase. People are going to try to hold you back because they fear your potential to one day out-do them. This leads me to #15:
15. Surround yourself with giants. Surround yourself with people who are going to inspire you, push you and never tell you that you can't do something. Meet people who aren't afraid to be extraordinary, people who work their asses off. These kinds of friends and mentors will inevitably rub off on you a little bit. 
16. Don't be the kind of person who always points out when a person in the room farted. This is both a literal and metaphorical lesson. 
17. You need to do it now. Not later. Now. “Living a life fully engaged and full of whimsy and the kind of things that love does is something most people plan to do, but along the way they just kind of forget. Their dreams become one of those "we'll go there next time" deferrals. The sad thing is, for many there is no "next time" because passing on the chance to cross over is an overall attitude toward life rather than a single decision.” - Bob Goff, Love Does
18. If there is a person that you see walking to and from every where you go every single day, you should become best friends with him or her. This happened. I'm really thankful. 
19. There is no correlation between volume of your voice and correctness. The winner of He Who Shouts The Loudest or She Who Uses the Most Obscure Metaphor doesn't get a prize. And if they did, it wouldn't be being right. 
20. Don't let someone else's wrong opinion of you make you cry too many tears. When I got my LSAT score back and it wasn't what I'd got in my practice tests, I actually cried. Not because I wasn't proud of myself or because I wasn't going to get into a good law school someday, but because there's a person who makes me feel dumb every time I talk to him, and I didn't want to have to deal with what he'd think. Isn't that horrible? If someone doesn't want to take the time to learn about how smart or INSERT OTHER TRAIT HERE you really are, then that's on them.  
21. I still refuse to believe "bad with names" is an actual thing. 
22. My parents are still really incredible, in every sense of the word. 
23. I am by no means wise. I am by every mean still learning. 


"When you decide to drop everything that’s typical, all that is left is just a big idea about an even bigger God and a world that’s worn out from the way everyone else has been doing it. The world has been shouting over the noise of our programs that it doesn’t need more presidents or organizations, what it needs are more friends. If you are a sincere friend, folks around you will quickly understand that there’s no hidden agenda and nothing on the other side of the equals sign, just you." - Bob Goff, Love Does

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