Remember when you were 13 and everything about you was just…awkward? Full of puberty and emotions and acne? It is known as the awkward stage in life. Well, let me tell you what:
There comes another point in our lives, for most people at least, called the “quarter life crisis”. It happens around the ages of 24-27, when we realize we have lost ourselves and must go on the soul-searching journey to find ourselves. The thing is, we don’t reconnect with or find the person we used to be, we find the person we ultimately will become.
There are many stages of life, and we can become many different people during those stages. I am 27 and am still in this quarter life crisis stage (I think it may be lasting a bit longer than “normal”) and I have never felt so awkward. Uncomfortable. A bit lost. And yet, quite excited! Big things are happening! I am embarking on the path that will lead me down to the rest of my life. Just as everyone else does every single day. No matter the stage in life.
A few years ago, as I was first entering this “quarter life crisis” stage, I thought, even in my awkwardness, that I had figured it all out. I had solved the mathematical equation to life. Recently, I have learned a few more things, one of them being that you never really do figure it ALL out. But here are a few more tidbits, pieces of wisdom that would be wonderful to be born knowing, but seem to be only learned through living.
— Choose your living quarters wisely: a ceiling fan in the bedroom and living room is a must!(There is little worse than stagnant air). And wood floors are beautiful, but they don’t hide dust bunnies. It may feel great to live in a house, but you must first decide if it is worth shoveling, and mowing, and paying to have your fridge repaired. Speaking of repairs, make sure the heat/AC/stove, etc. work. Trust me, they rarely get repaired in a timely manner and you’re stuck for weeks sweating/freezing/microwave cooking.
— Be honest. Not only with others, but especially yourself. Allow yourself to feel what you feel. Don’t hide or avoid your emotions. Confront the tough times head on with a confident and positive-as-possible attitude and you can do anything. Being open with others allows them to help you through it if they can. Accept the help.
— Not everything works out the way we hope. There will be loss and letdowns and heartbreaks. But there will also be love, and happiness, and sweet surprises. Don’t give up. Keep on moving forward. Believe in life. Believe in yourself.
— Try new things. It’s ok to be afraid, but it’s even better to conquer your fears. Eat sushi. Go skydiving. Say “hello” to someone new. Go back to school. Move away from home. Wear a different color. Whatever it is, big or small, step out of your comfort zone and experience an unknown part of the world around you. Your eyes will open. Your life will change.
— Do good. Be good. It’s as simple as that. Be kind. Don’t assume. Don’t judge. Don’t hate someone’s differences, embrace them. Embrace your own. Or accept them and move along civilly. Smile. Say hello. And “please”. And “thank you”. The world will become a much better place.
— Take care of yourself. Drink water. Eat your vegetables. Get enough sleep. Move around. Brush (and floss!) your teeth. And don’t completely deny yourself of every indulgent happiness; grab a beer, eat some chocolate.
— Budget. Save. Don’t be frivolous. Again, don’t deny yourself everything you want, but make sure you’re still able to have all you need.
— We are born into this life tiny and helpless, surviving only by the love and care of our parents. After years of growing in wisdom and gaining strength, we eventually get to the point where we return the favor.
— Keep calm and have patience. The most difficult virtue to attain. But it keeps you calm. Keeps your levels in check. You cant control everything. Sometimes things are just the way they are. Sometimes you just have to wait. Deal with it.
— You cant choose love. It chooses for you. Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have. And even though they may love you with all they have doesn’t mean it’s right.
— Communicate. Keep in touch. Friends, family, neighbors, whoever. Don’t let someone important to you slip through your fingers. While time alone is sometimes needed, loneliness is so cold and dark. Communication can also be the key to preventing or resolving conflict. Talk. Be open. Uncork the bottle of your thoughts and emotions.
— Don’t leave anything behind. You never know where life may take you. Feelings change. That shirt you left on the bed? The toothbrush in the drawer? The movie in the dvd player? It’s much more difficult to get back after someone has become a regret. Just take it with you unless you are sure you can live without it, or you can’t live without them.
— Make a bucket list. Big dreams, little dreams, simple things, impossible things. Write it down and one thing at a time, do whatever you can in your life to get a step closer to making at least one dream come true. And when it does, work towards another. Some of the best feelings are those of accomplishment and self-pride.
— Wear sunscreen. The temporary tan or burn isn’t worth it. And every few years or so, porcelain skin is in!
— Get to know yourself. Find your passions and strengths. Embrace them. Let them shine. “To thine own self be true”. Follow your dreams, not someone else’s. Go where you want to go, and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for being “selfish”…this is after all, YOUR life.
— And lastly (for now), don’t be afraid to make mistakes. As my hero Bob Ross said, “There are no mistakes, only happy accidents.” How true, how true. Chin up. And if by chance embarrassment creeps up on you, just think of me today…It is my 1st day back at college (University of Wisconsin – La Crosse), after taking a break for a few years. 1st day, 1st class, I was in the wrong room. Right next door to the correct room. I might as well have been living that “naked in front of an audience” nightmare. Talk about awkward. I’m 27 and maybe returning to college was too lofty of a goal….I should have returned to Sesame Street first to review my numbers.