Thursday, August 26, 2010

10 things I've learned in my 20s, Part 2

10 things


Here is the second part to my "10 things I've learned in my 20s" post. You can view part one by clicking here. And don't forget to leave a link in the comments if you make a list of your own; I'd love to read it. This was so fun to write, and it was definitely an introspective, self-growth kind of process. Thanks again for reading!

Just to recap- and again, see part one for the full write up- here are my first five lessons:

1) Never let anyone else make you feel bad about your choices.
2) Get into the habit of working out.
3) Don't be flaky.
4) Do not, do not, do not change yourself to suit a guy.
5) Not everyone will like you.

and the final five...

6) Don't rush. I can't tell you how many times over my teenage and college years I would be thinking of what's next, what's coming in the horizon, what I could look forward to. Looking back, I feel like I always had my mind on the next milestone, plan, weekend, etc. and although I do feel this kind of thinking can be great...I think if you're too caught up in the "next" thing, you're bound to miss a lot. I remember when Hank and I first moved in with each other, in 2005. We rented the tiniest little apartment right downtown. I've mentioned it before, but it was basically a studio, but had a small, closet-like space that fit only a twin bed, with room for nothing else. I can remember in the beginning of that experience I kept talking about our next place, the next thing...and I can remember Hank saying to me, "Just take this in NOW, this is the beginning of us, and we will never be able to go back to these days again." That reminder was all I needed to be more present, and I cherished every single day we spent building the beginning of our life together, twin bed and all. It became our tiny little love nest, and we both look back so fondly on that adorable little apartment every time we walk or drive by it while downtown. I'm lucky I have someone who is so in tune with the important things in life because I would have been so sad had I missed all of it, hoping for the next thing to come along too quickly. And I think that can be applied to anything in life. I'm so happy I followed this advice, and slowly took in the many stages my life has had since that realization- falling in love, getting engaged, moving into different places, planning a wedding and getting married, many trips with my girlfriends and family, milestones for my loved ones, the process of buying our first home, and being pregnant. I feel like I've been so present for each thing, and I am beyond thankful for that.

7) Every single day is a choice to be either positive or negative. This has taken me the longest of all of my lessons to master, but luckily I am pretty much there. There were so many times over the past ten years or so when I would almost choose to be in a bad mood. I knew exactly what I was doing, made the conscious effort to just "give in" to feeling like shit, and instead of trying to cheer myself up I would just fall deeper into negativity. The older I got the more I realized that I control quite a bit in my little world- and although I can't control other people, I can control my reactions to them, in in turn, my mood. I can wake up and decide to have an awesome day, or I can wake up and let little things annoy me and in turn have a bad day. It's all about that first decision.

8) It's okay to let go; people change. Over the past decade of my life I've had lots of friends- high school friends, friends from different places I've worked, college, etc. It's hard when you've been friends with someone for a long time, and then life goes on, and you move on...and the friendship isn't what it once was. It can cause a lot of grief and upset feelings when friends drift apart, but I strongly believe that this is a natural thing that happens and it's best to just let things be as they will be. That's not to say to stop making an effort and let that fall to the wayside, but more so in the case of the "natural drift" (I'm sure you know what I mean). There's a lot of people I care for deeply, but we just aren't as close as we used to be. There aren't hard feelings, there's no weirdness, it's just a mutual understanding that at this time in our lives our relationship has a bit of a different definition. It's funny because sometimes friends come into your life, and then out, and then sometimes they come back in. One of my closest friends, let's call her S., was my best friend for a long time, at the end of college and for years after. We drifted apart a bit, but after I got married we came back into great touch and although we don't talk all of the time, she is one of the most important people in my life and will be an Auntie to our son. I really believe that it's okay for this to happen with friends. I feel like we try to hold on a lot to "what was," or what a relationship used to be, but in reality, everything is always changing- people, circumstances, friendships...so it seems only natural that if two people don't change in the same way, things will shift. You can accept it, keep loving your friend, and know that in time everything works itself out just as it should. Everything has a season, and whether that season is for a year or a lifetime, it's okay.

9) It's not that big of a deal. Have you ever been through something terrible, and while it was going on you thought to yourself, "Oh my god, this is the WORST. How am I ever going to get through this?!" I'm sure you've had moments like that, I've had my fair share like I'm sure everyone has. This lesson is only learned after going through this horrible, bad thing, and coming out on the other side. I can think of so many instances that seemed like it was the end of the world for me. In my early twenties, I can think of some seemingly life-changing moments- breaking up with a boyfriend, having drama with a friend, getting into a fight with my parents, failing a "huge" test...and guess what? In the span of things, time goes by, and all of these instances that seemed so big and life altering are just bumps in the road, lessons to be learned, and memories, as your present becomes your past. It's good to live in the moment and to feel those emotions, but always keep in the back of your mind that you've been there before, and you'll be there again...this too shall pass. Thinking this helps me see the big picture when I think that things just can't get worse, or when I feel down in the dumps. For every up there is a down, and vice versa. It's just the way it goes. Accepting this, and knowing that it WILL get better is key.

10) Don't let anyone else's definition of happiness/success/life make you question your own definition of those things. This is the last lesson on my list, and I think it's the most powerful lesson of all that I've learned. Similar to my number one lesson, but still different in its own right. No matter what you do in life, no matter who you surround yourself with, there is always going to be someone who doesn't understand why you choose to do what you do, why you've chosen a certain career, partner, passion, or life path (hell, you can even add to that list outfit, tattoo, or sandwich at lunch!). Sometimes these people can be your parents, your friends, or even someone you don't know at all. Maybe you're a musician who has a dream of touring around the country in a van, with four of your best friends. Maybe you want to be an artist, but your parents think you should be a doctor. Maybe you are happy working, and college isn't for you. Or maybe you want to GO to college, but your friends think that's lame. Who knows. But someone will always have an opinion and someone will always NOT understand how on earth you could be HAPPY doing what you're doing. That's because they are imposing their definition of happiness onto you, even though you are totally different people with totally different goals and hopes and dreams. Even at this point in my life, when old classmates or friends find out that I won't be "using" my Bachelor's and Master's degree and will instead be staying home to raise and take care of my family, they are shocked. They don't "get" how I could be happy doing that. And they don't get it because again, it goes against THEIR idea of happiness. Hank traveled in and out of the country right out of high school with his band Life in Pictures, and a lot of his family didn't get it. When I started dating Hank and he was gone for months at a time, and some of my friends didn't get it. They were appalled that he could "leave me like that," but again, they could never really get it because they have different ideas of what happiness is. Believe me when I tell you that if you worry about what ANYONE thinks when you are making big life decisions, you will never be happy. You can't go to law school to please a parent, and you shouldn't not join the Peace Corps, start a small business, or fall in love with who you love just to please another person. How are you supposed to live an entire life (hello, you only get one!) for someone else? You have to follow your idea and definition of success and I guarantee you will find happiness in whatever that may be. Granted, the journey of actually finding your happiness is another topic for another day, but following your heart is a good start. ;)

I also thought I'd include 10 "smaller" things that I've learned along the way -

1) People really are the company they keep.
2) If someone talks shit about everyone, it's pretty probable they talk shit about you too.
3) Negativity is contagious.
4) Follow your gut, it's usually right.
5) Mean girls are just sad, insecure girls. Don't let them affect you.
6) Stop comparing yourself to others. There will always be someone smarter, prettier, luckier, etc.
7) Quality over quantity is a good rule for most everything.
8) It's NEVER too late to make a change in your life.
9) The grass isn't always greener.
10) Do wild and crazy things/take spontaneous trips/fall in love a million times while you're young, you'll be in a different place in your life before you know it, and all of these things either a) won't seem appealing or b) won't be possible. And experiencing a multitude of these things are important things to learn from and to be able to look back on as you build your life in your late twenties and thirties.

50 comments:

  1. Oh my, I just got home from work, and have had SUCH bad day. So much has been running through my head and it's been dragging me down like crazy. I read this and it helped SO MUCH.You're such an inspiring person, and thank you so much for posting this. :)

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  2. Love these 2 articles!! they really got me thinking and its a great reminder to be aware of our happiness :) I'm in my mid-twenties and a lot of these are things I've learnt too (or still trying to learn!).
    Thank you!

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  3. You nailed it on these. Thank you so much for this.

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  4. I really enjoyed your 10 things, and I have to say, I too have learnt some of the same lessons in my 20s..Your a wise woman Danielle, and I know that son of yours will grow up to be such a fine man :)

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  5. Danielle, you are SUCH an inspiration for me. These lessons are wonderful, true and hard learned. I hope I'm as strong as you are one day. <3

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  6. Fantastic post, I found myself nodding along to so many things I love your philosophy :D

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  7. danielle i've been reading your blog for a long time and loving it, but everything you've written on 'things i've learned in my 20s' has been exactly what i've been learning this past year (slowly, roughly, alebeit in the most difficult way). this whole post just made me bawl, because it's so true.
    and i will say definitely one of the biggest things i've learned this year (as a newly turned 23 year old) that is the in the same vein of what you talk about is finding happiness and fulfillment for yourself, not from parents or outside pressures or lovers. i've seen too many a friend lose themselves unknowingly to someone they think they care about, which waked me up that i need to be in charge of my own destiny, to take complete responsibility for my actions in order to fully live.

    xo
    emily

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  8. These posts have been awesome, thanks for sharing. I am now in my 30s, and in all honesty I've learned NONE of these things, because I have been running round trying to please/impress/not disappoint family and friends but just reading these two posts (especially the second one) it's like everything has just clicked. Thank you, Danielle. You are an amazing person and little Henry will be so blessed to have such an awesome Mama! <3

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  9. hey there! I have absolutely no words to say ur writing is awesome! and the list is really amazing... esp when u said about friendship my exact thoughts :) love it and really u def. nailed it for both the articles love love ur thoughts! keep it going! :) cheers!

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  10. this was just a little bit inspirational! such a good read :) thankyou for sharing! :)
    http://cityscapesandromance.blogspot.com/
    xx

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  11. this was just a little bit inspirational! such a good read :) thankyou for sharing! :)
    http://cityscapesandromance.blogspot.com/
    xx

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  12. Awesome post. So true, and I'm only 21. I have a life time ahead of me yet, but I feel the four years since I moved out of home have taught me more than years of schooling ever did. Life is constantly amazing, for better or worse.

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  13. Make sure to keep number 6 in mind when the baby gets here. Too many new parents worry that their children haven't reached milestones and keep talking about when their children will get there instead of enjoying the now with their little ones.

    And to add to number 10- there will be people out there who question how you have time for whatever it is that you do for fun. You will hear, "I wish I had time for crafting/photography/internet/reading/etc." I have learned to say, "Well then you need to make time for it. I do." Don't feel like you are lazy or self-centered because you make time to keep your soul healthy!

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  14. I really love this. I think one of the most valuable lessons I have learned in my 20's so far has been your #7. We are perfectly capable of choosing joy every single day. It's not always easy, but it's possible. I wrote a similar but simpler post earlier this year....23 things I learned when I was 23: http://wheremyheartresides.com/?p=1489

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  15. YES! YES! YES! You are fabulous and have soo much insight. Love it!

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  16. You're a fabulous giver of advice, seriously. Truly an inspiration. <3

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  17. These are all really great, and super helpful. Thanks Danielle! You should turn them into a mini poster so I can hang it on my wall as a constant reminder! :P

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  18. Another fantastic post. Number 10 really, really rings true. Well, all of them do. :)

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  19. Such an articulate post. I couldn't agree more!

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  20. you are the best. honestly, this had me in tears as so much of it is true and so much are things like you said, that only you can change. you control your life and what you make of it. i'm in my mid twenties and so many of your points apply to me. i will be saving this for sure, to look back on...
    thankyou

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  21. Danielle,

    I have been waiting for your second edition of this post. I can relate just as much to this one as I did the first. I love #9. I did mine last week, check it out!

    http://2littlepuzzlepieces.blogspot.com/2010/08/5-things-ive-learned-in-my-twenties.html


    I hope school is still going well for you and that your growing family is doing great. I hope you have a fantastic weekend! xo

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  22. wow by far my favorite post of yours ever. thank you thank you.

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  23. I think you wrote your ten smaller things based on my life. Seriously. And number 2, just about the truest and hardest thing I've ever had to learn.

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  24. I loved reading these two posts! They are so inspiring and really got me thinking.
    Thanks for sharing!

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  25. i love these. i've been feeling rather introspective and thoughtful myself lately. so much so, i've recently expanded my own blog in a new direction.

    i have been following your blog for a number of months. at first i was interested by the fact that you are a teacher, too- and i've kept reading because of much more. i enjoy your "blog-voice", your honesty, and your little bits of insight. keep it up, girl!
    megan

    http://ilovelovenotes.blogspot.com

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  26. i just want to say i love your blog. you are inspirational. the things you wrote about are things i have to remind myself so often. thank you so much for sharing~

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  27. Thoroughly enjoyed reading part 1 & 2. Lovely posts!

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  28. Thank you for these two posts (parts 1 & 2). I only recently started reading your blog, and am continually impressed. I just turned 23 and am slowly trying to learn so many of the lessons on your list. I recently had a huge, life-changing experience that really helped me understand rule #10, and now I feel I'm better able to learn and accept the other items on your list. You're an inspiration, and I really look forward to each new entry you post.

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  29. As a 21 year old woman from New York City who just graduated with a journalism degree and hasn't been able to find a job, while all of my closest friends (and I mean ALL) are still in school, working, interning, etc... I want to say thank you for these two posts. I'm going to print them out and tape them up on my desk so that I can read them whenever I'm feeling particularly down. I hope I can truly say that I've learned all of these lessons in the next 7 years. Thanks again, and all of my best wishes to you, especially in these last couple of months of your pregnancy. :)

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  30. I saw u on Top Baby Blogs. Please visit my blog when you get a chance http://gumdropswap.blogspot.com. I own a kids boutique that allows parents to swap in the kids clothes as they outgrow them.

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  31. i've been away from your blog for awhile + was soooo happy to pop back over to this post.

    #6 + #10 are extremely relevant to me right now. my husband + i are small business owners + i was laid off from my day job earlier this year. times have been rough, money tight + i saw myself focusing on getting a job, being ready to buy a home - everything in the future. i had to check myself to just enjoy this time. just like you said, when we have teenage kids and a mortgage + full plates, we're gonna look back on these newlywed years fondly. gotta make the most of it now!

    thanks for this post!

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  32. I wish I could get better control on my being positive. Everything you said in both posts are great advice. You are very wise :)
    I especially love the 10 smaller things you've learned.

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  33. cool necklace! i bought a black and gold locket a while ago off of etsy with our baby's first initial and i LOVE it! i'm so obsessed with everything initialed/monogrammed..

    great post as well ;o)
    XOXO

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  34. i agree about letting go when people change. this used to be sooo hard for me. i had some idealistic idea about being friends forever and some idea that there was something wrong with ME if a friendship couldn't last. sometimes people just change- and that is it.

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  35. This summer has taught me alot and here are some the rules ive been following:

    1.Enjoy the little things. I think we tend to worry to much about the bigger plans and situations.
    2.Where I am right now is perfect

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  36. That was relaly great, this advice really hit me directly because of where I am in my life. Thanks for sharing that :)

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  37. That was relaly great, this advice really hit me directly because of where I am in my life. Thanks for sharing that :)

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  38. Your 10th learned thing is absolutely spot on, and so wonderfully said! I remind myself of this idea all the time, and it's so nice to see it expressed so elegantly by a positive, inspiring woman such as yourself. Thank you.

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  39. I've been stressing about a few things lately. I'm a junior in college and EVERYTHING seems like the end of the world. This really helps, and it's always good to hear that everyone's going through the same things as me. Can't sweat the small stuff. This really is inspirational and I enjoyed reading it. Thank You :)

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  40. I loved this. So wonderful, and so true. I'm going on 22, and I find there are STILL people out there who are stuck in high school mode, and there are STILL the mean girls out there who will try and make you feel horrible any way they can.
    It's kind of sad to know people will still be acting like jerks even when I get older, but I will keep this advice in mind whenever something listed happens :)

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  41. Hello! :) I'm kinda new to this whole blogging thing, been doing mine moreso regularly since October. I stumbled across your blog from one of my friends blogs, and love it! I have been reading your noticeable posts and LOVE the part about letting people go, friends drifting apart on the 10 things you learned in your 20's! SO TRUE! I couldn't have said it better myself. Do you mind if I quote you on that section sometime in the future? I'd definitely link it back to your blog!! and BTW, congratulations on your new baby!! <3

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  42. wish i'd read this sooner :) following :)

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  43. OH Danielle I love you!! You are Awesome. I came home from a bad day at work after making possibly the biggest mistake ever and i sit and read your notable posts and it makes me feel a million times better.I just wanted to let you know your blog is appreciated in Australia!!
    Shan xx

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  44. Really getting to me.. it goes deep.. wisdom, already hoping/knowing this will influence my life in a positive way! Love 2 ur fam.

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