Tuesday, November 18, 2014
I started this tradition on my 20th birthday. I remember writing it in my 12'x18'6" dorm room (yes, super long and skinny, but suspiciously perfect for dancing). I excitedly shared bits and pieces of my thoughts with my bubbly roommate Kelley as I wrote. I'm not the same person I was when I wrote my 20 things, and I'm thankful for these written ideas, as not often do people have such a concrete list of their priorities and newly gained insight each year. I didn't think this list was going to be a thing, but I think after four times, something becomes an official thing. I just made up that rule, but it's a good one.
I couldn't have guessed all of the things that would come and go in my life in just four short years. Since the autumn that I wrote my 20 things blog, I've fallen out with people I really cared about, failed miserably at the job search, and cried in my father's arms about what the hell I'm suppose to do with my life. I suffered with the rest of the world in watching greed, disagreement and intolerance turn into anger, resentment, violence and terror. I held the hands of friends gone to hell and back, watched them battle depression, addiction and pain. I gave the eulogy at my grandfather's funeral. I laid my childhood friend to rest, and I grieved over the losses of four people younger than me in just one year. I experienced incredible anxiety and stress over my future and the thought of losing my friends and family.
I was reminded of life's brevity, yes, but I also learned of life's incredible worth. I experienced sloppy, wet bucketfuls of joy in my life every single day. I fell in love and learned what healthy meant. I traveled across the world, surprised myself, and spent a year nannying for the most amazing two boys and awesome family. I stood next to my cousin as she committed her life to her best friend, became closer with my brother when he moved 2,507 miles across the country, and surprised a sister a long drive away. I hit the jackpot in the job search, dove down to shipwrecks at the bottom of the ocean, and celebrated and cultivated incredible friendships — some brand new, some twenty years old. I met and lived with my soul sister and two black cats, moved to a new city, started a new career, found my inner athlete. I restored my faith in humanity through long runs, coffee dates and StoryCorps tears.
At the end of it all, the world still awaits. I celebrate the fact that I am still so young, and I thank the people (and animals) who have made me who I am. Because I'd be a super boring, lonely person without their conversation, advice and gooey warm hugs.
Internet, I give you this year's 24 things I've learned in the last year:
1. People who don't think dogs are worth the shedding don't understand dogs.
2. Joy doesn't just happen to certain people by chance. Joyful is a state of mind that is deliberately chosen and cultivated.
3. Being a writer actually means being a reader who occasionally strings words together.
4. There are better uses of your time in line than on your phone. Look up people!
5. Or how about I just forego the phone altogether? Forget your phone sometimes. Spend time with people who won't be on theirs the whole time you're with them. And hang out with people who will tell you to put yours down. Those are the kinds of people who get it.
6. Surround yourself with giants. I am currently working with brilliant minds! The things I have learned in my short time at this company have taught me so much. And it's because I'm surrounded by people who, not only are incredibly intelligent, but who have included me in on the conversation. They've brought me into meetings and interviews and let me write for big projects from the start. Surround yourself with people who are going to help you grow, and who won't squander your ideas or make you feel small.
7. Watching childhood friends grow into real, functioning and amazing people is a very wonderful thing.
8. I used to think lateness had to do with a person's character... and then I moved to a city where parking was impossible.
9. Be the friend who pays for the coffee.
10. Be the 'first responder friend'. Be the friend who is going to answer the phone, grab the pot of coffee, and head over at 2AM when there's been a eureka! moment, a bad break up, or somebody needed to eat Lay's and french onion dip with.
11. Be the friend who doesn't ask questions when your best friend borrows your favorite T-shirt and then holds onto it for a little over four months because you know she's enjoying wearing it all of the time. Of course this is really just because you have like 45 articles of her clothing still and don't want to have to give them back.
12. Surely you can't be serious. Nothing should be taken too seriously. When we take things too seriously, we get offended. When we get offended, we become sour and bitter. And as I've aged, I've found I don't like either of those flavors.
13. Don't call me Surely.
14. Writing requires a lot of vulnerability. When you write, you're basically putting your panties on a line for people to critique. When you write about yourself, it's like taking those panties, turning them inside out and showing everybody their skid marks. You have to expect people to forget that those are your mistakes, and thank them for pointing out your poo.
15. There are some kinds of people who don't understand that they have the option to write their own books, make their own maps. Show these people that this choice exists. Give them a taste of what it's like to create something.
16. Your online persona is not an accurate representation of your life, your relationships or the quality of either.
17. Cynicism is a disease. It's a contagious, contagious disease that I have decided to quarantine myself from.
18. Good stories need to be told. People crave real, powerful and beautiful stories.
19. You can learn a lot about a person's soul by what they think is funny.
20. "Once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time." - Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
21. The older you get, the more you look forward to Thanksgiving Day with family than what is under the tree Christmas morning.
22. Make every day extraordinary. Days fall together when you let monotony take hold. Weeks go by quicker when you do the same thing every day. Don't live for the two days tacked on to the end of the week. Do extraordinary things with every day of your life. You'll remember them.
23. Life is about giving someone else your last piece of gum.
24. I am by no means wise, I am by every mean still learning.