Newsflash: I’m kind of old. I’m not that old, but definitely old enough to be most of your mothers.
Not to frighten those of you with a lot more life to live before you reach my age, but 25 to 27 were probably the hardest, worst years of my life. (My co-blogger and I talk about this all the time; 20 to 22 should have been the hardest but we were just so dumb and so enabled by our other dumb friends that it kind of went okay.)
Here are the biggest lessons I learned this last year that might not seem monumental, but trust me, are worth paying attention to:
1. Retaliating diminishes you, not them. I keep catching myself saying in jest, “If I was 20 I’d have done X.” But jokes aside, the sooner you learn that fighting back—especially to people you perceive have said or done hurtful things but you can’t be certain—gives up rather than fortifies the upper hand, the better off you’ll be. Recently some conniving chick who has been jocking on my boyfriend since like 2005 text messaged him a bunch of shit presuming I wasn’t aware of it. Girl, I’m 29. You’re clumsy. You’re casual. I wanted to read her the riot act, but what good does that do? Nothing. I stopped being angry in about 20 hot seconds and there’s no residual damage or embarrassment to deal with. Move along.
2. Coming up off someone else’s failure will never pay off. In your adult life you will be presented with a lot of opportunities to make yourself look better at someone else’s expense. That might buy you the recognition you’re looking for in the moment, but you’ll cement yourself as manipulative and untrustworthy. Everyone will be better off if you succeed based on your own ability and merit, and as an added plus you won’t wake up with anxiety dreams or the yucky feeling that you’re about to be found out any second.
3. Coming up off anybody period is gross. Be real, be you, don’t copy someone else or try to leech off of people you admire. Earlier this year a “famous cat” (lol so hard that that’s even a thing I’m saying out loud as a mostly-grown woman) I met through work friended me on Instagram and I’ve probably had more than two dozen wannabe cats friend me on Instagram as a result. Get your own game.
4. You will always find a way. No matter how miserable or screwed or hopeless I’ve ever felt, I’m still here and kickin’. It will work out one way or the other. You might have to make some sacrifices or ask for help or downsize or confess or give in or otherwise embrace humility, but you’ll find a way. So take your circumstances seriously, but don’t lose your head. It will be okay.
5. You’re not alone. As lonely as you might feel, there’s someone there who cares for and about you. Even if it’s a stranger on the internet, someone will listen. Might even be me. :)
6. It’s okay to be alone. By contrast, it’s okay to be alone too. As an extrovert one of the hardest things for me is being alone with my thoughts. I’d do just about anything to be distracted from my internal monologue. But with enough practice I can tell you it will be just fine. Just breathe, meditate, relax.
7. I bet they care less than you do. Biggest thing I’ve learned in the last year or so is that whomever you are so worried about impressing or pleasing probably cares a lot less than you do. Not to diminish your feelings, but to point out the simple fact that you’ve probably blown up the situation to be ten times worse than it actually is. Chill out, it will be okay.