Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Beauty of the Late-Twenties

As some of you know, I had a bit of a tough time turning 25. It wasn’t so much the number; instead, it was more of a place-in-life issue. I hit a wall where I was unsatisfied with so many things in my life, including, but not limited to:  having a career that sucked up most of my so-called personal time, focusing on negative aspects of life, and second-guessing myself at every turn.

Shortly after turning 25, I figured that not much had changed. I am still the same girl I was, but I have noticed some important things that have changed in my life that have made such a glorious difference in recent months. I’m not saying it’s necessarily because of my age; it’s more of a shift of perspective that comes from growing up, and it’s incredible.

Instead of wondering if people like me, I spend more time trying to decide if I like them. Whether dating or simply meeting new people, I have found that an important recent development in the fact that I no longer obsess over whether people like me. Sure, I always want to make a good impression, but I’ve also realized that I think I’m awesome (flawed, of course, but awesome anyway). Thus, it matters less to me what others think of me, and I spend more time cautiously looking at whether or not I want to let certain people in my life. (This skill would have probably come in handy during some of those I-told-you-this-was-a-heartache-waiting-to-happen relationships of my early 20s, because maybe I would have realized that they weren’t worthy my time).  

The little things matter so much more. Life is full of beautiful moments if we just look around a little more. Perhaps, it’s because I’ve stopped checking my emails 24/7 when I’m not on the clock. Or, perhaps, it’s simply because life is short; however, I have recently been reacquainted with the beauty in simple moments—everything from tossing a tennis ball to my dog, trying new varieties of tea, laughing for no reason at all, creating anything, making someone smile, giving small gifts, listening to the wind blow through the leaves, drinking coffee on a patio, making new friends, and more.

My parents are the smartest people on the planet. I’ve always had the utmost respect for my parents, but there were so many times when I felt like they “just didn’t get it”—whatever it might have been at the time. Lately, I have taken some time to realize just how smart my parents are, how much they’ve been through, and how much they are the blueprint for everything I aspire to be. They have been through hardship, happy times, successes, disappointments, loss, and stress—among other things—and yet, they still live lives of love, faith, perseverance, humor, and strength. If I listen, they always have solid advice. And, more often than not, I find myself understanding their logic.

Time doing nothing—or anything—with friends is time well spent. I’m fortunate enough to have a best friend who truly surpasses expectations. From getting my obscure jokes to allowing me to indulge in my quirky experiments with chia seeds, wheatgrass, and whatever else I can find at the Co-op, to helping me laugh in difficult times, I am truly blessed to have my best friend in my life. Whether we’re finding a new place to explore, acting like we’re crazy and young, or simply chilling and doing nothing, life is more beautiful with a friend in it! Also, I’m blessed to have friends who willingly trek alongside me to the international market, on new-restaurant adventures, or simply come over to talk about life. Once upon a time, I always felt like we had to do something, go somewhere, or be exciting. However, that’s not the case all the time. These moments are never wasted moments, even if we don’t do anything exciting, because life is all about people and making connections.

I'm pretty sure most of my friendships are accurately represented in this show.

Treasure everything, and live in the moment because life goes quickly. I remember hearing that “time flies” when I was younger, and it always seemed that whatever I was chasing—be it a dream, a goal, a purchase, a milestone—was so far away. It seemed like time passed so slow when I was waiting for summer, waiting to graduate, waiting to get into college—then out of college—waiting to get published, waiting for a career opportunity, time went slowly. Recently, though, I have become much more in tune with the fact that time really does go quickly. Maybe, it’s because I’ve had the chance to watch my precious little brother (who’s ten years younger than I am) grow up before my eyes—and seemingly at the speed of light. It has made me treasure each moment—especially time with my not-so-little brother, my nieces, my sister, my parents, my extended family, and my friends! The moments are fleeting, and we must learn to live in them, to come alive within the moment so that we are not constantly looking at the horizon of things to come. We must be present.

More in the moment.

People don’t get a spot in your life without earning it. I’m not saying there’s a tax to be my friend, although that would be a fun rule to try to implement. I’m simply stating that there comes a time and a place in life when you decide that your happiness matters more than trying to make someone happy who sucks the life out of you, takes and never gives, and makes you a worse person than you’d be without them. Cutting the tie in unhealthy friendships has never been easier…bless you, my old age!

Peer pressure isn’t a good enough reason to do anything. While I truly believe that peer pressure works best when the other person has a desire or a propensity to want to take part in the action, at 25, I do what I want. YOU can do another shot of tequila if you’d like, but I’d like to not pick myself up off the floor later. If I want to do one, I’ll do it. If not, sorry but I do what I want, and your whining probably won’t change a darn thing. I know my limits these days, I know what I want/what I don’t, and I’m pretty firm in sticking to that.

Cut yourself some slack; give yourself room to grow. We all strive a little too hard to be perfect. Sure, I’m a firm believer in personal growth, and yes, I am the girl who gave herself ulcers at 14 because of my insane need to be perfect—and the stress that came along with that notion. This is the same girl who would spend days beating myself up emotionally for stupid things I said, eating dessert while on a diet, messing up at work, or anything else that didn’t go exactly right in my world. I’ve adopted a much more laid-back approach to life. Do I still want to be the best? Absolutely…but, my only benchmark for that these days is whether or not I’m continually making progress on who I am. If I’m making strides, growing professionally, growing personally and spiritually, and becoming a better person, I don’t have to worry about being perfect; nor should anyone. The fact of the matter is that, in the years spent worrying about perfection, I was creating an impossible environment of stress and allowing so much to get in the way of being happy where I am—while still striving to grow how I can, when I can.

Overall, the late-twenties are a wonderful place of acceptance, being comfortable in one’s own skin, learning what—and who—truly matters, and growing up. I think that possibly the twenties are the most influential years of our lives, and that they can be the absolute best! Also, I am pretty sure that turning 25 was the best thing that ever happened to me, despite how much I wanted to resist it!

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