Today is my twenty-second birthday. I feel like since turning eighteen, all of my birthdays have just flown by. Throughout these years though, I have learned some valuable lessons from my role models, peers, and through self-discovery. Here are 22 things I've learned in 22 years.
1. Work hard now, so it can be easier for you later
You know all of those times where you couldn't be bothered to do that thing you have to? Yeah, me too. Unfortunately, when working multiple jobs, volunteering and going to classes full time, I become super drained and not want to do anything after. Since that's not how the world works, take advantage of your "high" points in the day. For me its usually from 10:00am - 2:00pm. Since those are my most productive times of day, I have made sure to get things done during then so I'm not struggling later.
2. Family doesn't have to be blood related
If you know me personally you know I don't have a large family. But this doesn't really matter to me. There are so many people in my life who I could consider family. Hold onto these people. Not only are they amazing friends, but they offer unique perspectives to your life that are extremely valuable.
3. Do something for someone other than yourself
A huge part of my life has been dedicated to volunteering. I'm not the type of person to haul myself to some foreign country to help children that are in developing countries, and you don't have to be either. It takes nothing to provide empathy for those around you. Take a moment to give someone a hand, consider the thoughts and feelings of others (I'm pretty good at that as an introvert) and you might even make some friends along the way (shout out to my ARS baes reading this).
4. Take time to slow down
Like I've mentioned: multiple jobs, full time classes, volunteering, social life, boyfriend, family... there are so many things going on all of the time. Without proper planning it can be extremely overwhelming and stressful. I make sure to schedule time to just slow down, take a nap, put on a face mask and do nothing. You should try it.
5. It's okay to be soft
If you knew me in my teens (particularly from age 13 - 16) you know that I had (okay, maybe still have) an attitude that could kill (Sorry mum). I've learned over the last few years that it is important to be vulnerable sometimes. Vulnerability does not make you weak. Especially as a woman, I can get tied up in not wanting to appear weak and fragile. Sometimes you need to let that guard down.
6. Ask for help, but be self-sufficient
Similarly to being vulnerable, asking for help can be a real challenge for me. It's important to understand your limits and when it is important to have help so you do not become overwhelmed. However, I think many people take other people's kindness for granted and are unable to be self-sufficient. Make sure that you have your shit together, but are able to understand when it is too much.
7. Planning can only go so far
I am often told that I am "so organized" and that I "always have [my] shit together." The thing is planning can only go so far. You all know i am addicted to my planner and without it it is difficult for me to function. But some of my best nights have been the unplanned ones. Sometimes you cannot anticipate when something will go wrong. Be open to plans changing and try not to stress over it.
8. Treat yo self
I feel like there's this expectation to always have everything together and be the best version of yourself. Although these are important, it is also important to just be yourself and do what you want. Go buy yourself a damn cake, or get your nails done, or buy a new pair of shoes. As long as it isn't in excess, it will make you feel better and in the right mindset to keep working hard.
9. Question everything
The amount of Facebook articles I have read that are just so purely misinformed are ridiculous! I think as a society we need to stop absorbing media as though it is always correct. Look at your sources - is your article on how dairy is good for you funded by the dairy farmers of Canada? because I would not say that that is a credible source. Question who is profiting off your consumption of their media and see whether that is something you agree with before blindly following suit.
10. Stand by your views, but be open to other's
We all have an innate tendency to think that our input is the most important and valuable. We all have unique experiences and need to learn to listen more - myself included. Being open to other's views is a way that we can coexist in a more understanding way.
11. Your elders are not always right, but have important insight
There is a huge tendency for us to simply adhere to what people older than us have to say. I think I have taken for granted what my elders have advised for me, but it is important to know that they are also not always right. Especially with how fast everything changes through technology, societal expectations and differing experiences, they may not have the whole picture. Make connections with people with experience related to your specific issues.
12. Be humble
If you know me personally, you know I will forever say 2017 was the year that humbled me. It is embarrassing and difficult for me to admit that it took me not one, or two - but three tries to get my full license last year. Driving is a fear I have had (and still have) for years due to getting into a car accident at 18 years old. It was a different perspective for me to struggle with a test since I usually don't have to try multiple times at anything - let alone something as "normal" as driving. Stay humble dudes.
13. You don't owe anyone anything
There is nothing wrong with helping your neighbour or being there for someone but at the end of the day you don't owe anything anything. You don't need to do all of the things you overwhelm yourself with. Take a step back and think about what truly is important and what you simply feel an obligation to fulfil. You're not a bad person, just busy.
14. No one owes you anything
On a similar note, don't expect people to be the solution you need. No one owes you their time, guidance or resources. Being self-sufficient is a sure-fire way to not have someone disappoint you! (Sounds jaded, because I am)
15. Think it into existence
Have you heard of manifestation and the law of attraction? Honestly, take a second to google it. I am a firm believer now if you can imagine it in your head and focus in on it, you can make it happen.
Here's an anecdote: When I was working in my second co-op position, I went to a presentation on social media event planning. The person running the seminar really captured my attention by sharing the projects he had worked on in his department at the same institution. When he mentioned his office also takes co-op students, I made sure to make a connection or figure out a way to get there. Last week i finished 8 months of working in that department, where I had worked alongside him in projects for a period of time, and now will be starting my second co-op position with the team. Make it happen!
16. Take days off
Being a work-a-holic is cool and all when you're earning a great amount of money and have enough savings to graduate debt-free, but honestly take a damn nap. Make yourself a good lunch instead of grabbing a Harvey's veggie burger, take a nice shower or keep up with your blog posts (am I being too meta?).
17. Always make time for the important people
Related to taking days off, it's so important to prioritize important people. I have always been of the mindset that you shouldn't let a family member, partner or friend come in the way of your work. But it is essential to having healthy relationships to prioritize them over many things. Have a weekly date night, call your mom (hi mum I know you're reading this), or grab lunch with a coworker.
18. Don't put small tasks off. Just get it done.
Make that phone call or send that email. Putting it all off to get done in one sitting is more overwhelming than it needs to be.
19. Laugh at yourself
Went to go sit on the couch and fully ripped your pants? Had a ridiculous dream about the government wanting you to "go with the flow" more often? You're ridiculous honestly. Just have a laugh.
20. Don't force friendships. Important people will stick around.
For as long as I can remember I have always had different types of friend groups. Many of them didn't stick around, or I didn't stick with them. But after years and years of searching for something I feel apart of and like I belong to, I have found an amazing group of friends that get it. It's not worth paying attention to people who don't pay attention to you, the real ones will stand out.
21. Negativity isn't cute, badass or cool.
Fostering negativity all of the time not only is super unappealing to those around you, but it's not good for yourself. Be upset, vent about your feelings, get frustrated, but move on. Constantly being mad or upset is so mentally draining and not worth the effort. Also, take a nap, you'll feel better after (probably).
22. Everything happens for a reason
Whatever you're going through right now might suck but it will develop into something. Just wait.
Thanks for getting this far! It's my birthday after all, so the least you could do is read all the way to the end. I've learned a lot about myself over the last year in particular and I hope these twenty two things helped you learn something too.