Pop! Goes The Reader is back and today I’m returning from my two week hiatus with a post that’s a little out of the ordinary. You see, it’s my birthday today. I’m officially twenty-seven. (As an aside, does this mean I will now be described as being in my ‘late twenties’? Egads!) And while birthdays elicit little in the way of fuss or fanfare for me anymore, they do inspire a great deal of introspection. So, as I blow out the candles and enjoy a slice of cake (or two), here are twenty seven serious and not-so-serious lessons I’ve learned as I reflect back on the dawn of my 27th birthday.
The stories held within their pages have provided comfort, support, and inspiration during some of the most difficult moments of my life. Books are life-changing, life-saving, and one of the few unwavering constants in my past, my present, and my future.
With your family. With your friends. With yourself. This doesn’t mean compromising your values or your voice in the interest of being ‘nice’. But empathy and compassion cost nothing. Reach out a hand in assistance, rather than slapping one away out of fear. You have the power to change someone’s life, and wouldn’t you much rather it be for the better?
Freeing yourself from the burden of other people’s expectations, demands, and judgements is one of the most liberating and valuable gifts one can give themselves. You can’t please everyone. You won’t please everyone. And that’s okay.
No-one expects you to. So what if you don’t know where you’ll be next year, next month, or even next week? Life is a learning process. The promise of possibility and the unknown is what makes the future so exciting.
The contended purr of a kitten. The spontaneous laughter of a child. The sticky sweetness of an ice cream cone on a hot summer day. We can find magic in the smallest and most unexpected of places, if only we take the time to look for it.
Taking a regular inventory of your physical, mental and emotional health and acting accordingly is not only not selfish, it’s absolutely necessary. After all, you can’t take care of anyone else until you take care of yourself. The people in your life deserve the best possible version of you. You deserve the best possible version of you.
Dance along to Uptown Funk. Sing aloud to Shake It Off. Read Twilight. Write fanfiction. Make a Star Wars reference (or twelve). If it makes you happy and it doesn’t hurt anyone else, there is absolutely no need to feel guilty. Life’s too short to police what brings you joy.
I am a feminist. As such, I believe in championing equal political, economic and social rights and opportunities for women. I will not allow others to corrupt or redefine this word or this movement for their own self-motivated gain. I will proclaim this as loudly and as often as I need to until I no longer need to define what should be a self-evident concept.
There is a serene tranquility and clarity to be found in solitude. Become comfortable with your own company. Find the rhythm in your heartbeat. Find the movement in the stillness. Find your voice in the silence. You never know what you might discover when there are no outside diversions to distract you.
There are people – lots of people, in fact – who will love you for being just that.
You don’t have to shout the loudest in order to be heard. Be an ally. Invite others to the table. Amplify other voices. Do not talk over those that need to be heard. Remember that silence does not always equal complacency or condonation.
Make new mistakes. Learn new lessons. Take new chances. Your past does not have to define your present or your future.
As difficult as it can be to let go of, it does no good to dwell on past offences. Cast off the anger, the insecurity, the resentment and the bitterness that weigh you down and threaten your lightness of being. Don’t allow these feelings to have power over your life or intrude upon your pursuit of happiness one second longer.
Ignore what society tells you; Don’t automatically make an adversary of a potential ally.
No matter how hard you might try. No matter how much you might wish to. Learn to prioritize your time and your commitments. Learn to say ‘no’. Being successful does not always mean doing everything, but rather doing one or two things extraordinarily well.
Tell your story. Make your movie. Paint your portrait. Sing your song. Write your blog. Your voice, and your art, matter. Your work has the power to change someone’s life.
There will be days when optimism seems impossible and the simple act of getting out of bed feels like too much to bear. That’s okay. Let it out. Talk it through. Unplug. Unwind. There is no shame in the struggle. Just know that you do not have to struggle alone.
The good news is that no matter how anxious, how depressed, how lost or how alone you feel, there is always hope. There is always the possibility of tomorrow. Even if it doesn’t seem like it. Even if you have to take it one minute at a time.
“Pivot!” “This is brand new information!” “It’s like a cow’s opinion; It’s moo.” “Phoebe hates Pottery Barn?” “Joey doesn’t share food!” Go on. Try me. I dare you.
Every time I share my day with Ashley, a secret with Becky, a conversation with David, a joke with Jeff, an email with Amy, a care package with Alison, or a movie night with Kathryn and Ashley, I’m reminded of this fact. Over the last two years I have formed countless friendships as real and as important as any in my life and for which I’m grateful everyday. I am a better person for having met each and every one of them.
Some even have oatmeal and raisins. They’re practically a health food!
Take it anyway. Life often begins the moment we step outside of our comfort zone.
If you could share one life lesson you’ve learned, whether it be silly or serious, what would it be? How has this effected the way you live in the world? Let me know in the comments – I would love to hear from you!