I’m older, wiser, more logical, less narcassistic and also feeling less inspired to write but still think its a good idea and still love run on sentences.
I used to write because it helped me close the loop — put a pretty bow on an idea I had and make it nice and tidy. But I’ve started to form an opinion on life: it’s messy and there is no bow to tie.
Still, I’ve figured out some stuff in the years that took me from 21 to 27. If you’re younger and feel like you’ll get something out of it — awesome. I hope so. But in all honesty, nothing will change you like life happening to you. In case you want to take a peak into your likely future or tell me I’m completely wrong, let me share my major revelations of these 20 something years. Here goes nothing:
Living in the present is a thing
It’s important to have aspirations but that whole phrase about “it’s the journey that matters” is so stupidly true. Once you reach the bar, it just jumps higher. There are 2 ways you reach this peek: slowly, so much that it becomes your new norm and is no longer satiating or quickly and the rush fades just as fast.
I’ve achieved a good chunk of what I imagined for myself in my 20’s and ya know what? It isn’t like my world flipped upside down and became a million times better once I reached this ‘ideal’ for my life. My standards have changed and this ‘ideal state’ feels normal, if not enough. I don’t feel like some majorily accomplished bad ass.
That raise? That amazing trip? The high is definitely there but it fades after a while and you’re left with plain old life which doesn’t have to be that plain or old.
I’ve learned that I don’t want to be famous or make a billion dollars or be the best of the best anymore. It’s not because I lack ambition. It’s because I know that outward ‘wins’ won’t give me peace of mind. Fulfillment (still figuring that one out) and gratitude for the good in my life — as it is right now, not what it could be — is what gives me peace of mind.
It’s very boring and unglamorous but the truth of it is, all that pendulum swaying — all the highs and lows of life — are not what make or break your happiness. Slow and steady wins the race. Happiness is a consistent mental check-in to say “I’m grateful for my life as it is today.”
Keep a gratitude journal and force yourself to write it in even when you’re tired and can’t read what you just wrote. When you feel like seeing life in a positive light, embrace it and ride that out. Yes, that moment with your friends, in your sweatpants lookin a hot mess and stuffing your face with cheetos is really as wonderful as it feels. That unseemingly magical moment of connection is the good stuff. It’s not about where you are in your environment, its about where you are in your mind and just being present through the good, bad, boring, exciting, the whatever helps you feel gratitude for your life with all its glorious, day to day minutia.
Surprise, you’re not immortal
Fast and furious — some car movie and also the name of my hangovers these days. Hello headache and overall-shit-vibe after a boozy night of a tremendous four drinks. I can already hear the 21 year olds laughing at my sad limits and the 50 year olds laughing at me because I’m barely a quarter through life with a decently healthy body. It still kind of is and bless it so! I won’t take it for granted. I won’t take it for granted. I won’t… most of the time. It’s like I left the 3 mile radius of my college town and all of sudden a 2-day hangover became a thing, I realized I desperately need 7 hrs of sleep to be human and discovered that what I eat and how much I exercise actually impacts my well-being outside of just looking fit.
This path to body enlightment was rocky. Like anything in life, you don’t really pay attention to it until your forced to.
Also learned (now that I pay for my own health insurance) preventive care is generally cheaper than diagnostic care. Take care of your bod! If you’re in your early 20’s and are weirdly responsible, here are some tips that will help you create a good foundation so you don’t feel yourself age like I have:
- Get into a consistent sleep habit, preferably with at least 7 hrs of sleep most of the time.
- Warm up before you work out (and screw muscle strains).
- Actually work out and do it several times a week — for your brain and to keep your hot bod.
- Food. Put some veggies on your plate at every meal and don’t become obsessed. Everything in moderation, including moderation.
- Don’t binge drink all the time. It gets old fast (and funny story, you will too). You’ll also start to see a direct correlation to your immune system function (or lack there of) with every episode.
Relationships are fluid
My dad once told me that he’s loved my mom in phases, every 7 years or so he felt like he was loving a different woman even though it was the same person and that he loved her a different way each time. He told me this when I was a teen and, frankly, I thought nothing of it other than it was a little weird. She is the same mom I’ve had my whole life — I don’t know what you’re talking about (haha naive little Amy). But now I understand and actually think, damn Dad, it took her 7 years to change? I feel like we all change so much, so subtly that being in a long-term relationship, you’re really dating a new person little by little. Both people change, the relationship changes. Just because you aren’t feeling a lovey dovey one month doesn’t mean you won’t the next and vice versa.
Relatioships aren’t solidified things: the commitment might be but the relationship itself is ever-changing and you have to go with the flow that it brings if you want to stick to it.
Same goes for friends. Friends come and go. Not one friend comes and another goes. More like one friend comes and then goes and then comes back again and that is okay. We are ever-changing, our perspectives and values and lifestyles. You might have someone in your life that you could never imagine losing but you could and still be okay because you’ll have moved on. They might pop up in your life again and it makes perfect sense to be close once more or you have lunch and realize you’ve both become such different people. A little sad, but not bad, just life.
Don’t cling on to relationships for dear life. If they need to breath a bit, let it happen. I don’t quite believe in fate but a string that still has me hanging: when it comes to relationships (platonic, romantic, familial) if they’re meant to be, they’ll come around again. If not, be grateful for the connection you had and let it be the foundation for each of you to have new happy relationships.
Pain brings new perspective
I don’t need to go into the nitty gritty on this post, but while my life may look pretty damn peachy, I’ve been through some shit. Maybe I’ll go into details in another post but for now, I’ll just summarize and say I fought my own very quiet, private battle for a while and can confidently say I was put through the wringer.
When you go through things, you’re miserable and it’s like you’ve put on grey-colored glasses. It sucks the joy of things and life is just different in every dimension.
It sounds fucked up but I really hope this happens to you.
For me, it was awful but I came out of it a truly better person. I feel shameless in saying that because I earned my stripes — slowly and painfully. My personal shit has made me a better person and it can make you one too. If you’re going through your own hell hole, please keep in mind that you can come out of this with a new perspective:
- You’re a tough cookie. Now that you’ve been through this, you feel a lot more invincible. A shitty day? Try a shitty month or year or more! You’ve got this.
- You are more understanding. Everyone is fighting their own battles. You take things less personally when you realize the root of behaviors have a lot to do with that person and their shit and not you.
- But you care less. You don’t put up with or tolerate small nusances because they just don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. When you’ve been to hell and back you see what matters to you and you prioritize it. All the other stuff falls to the wayside as it should.
- You see the importance of good. Good in people, good in the world. When someone is a fundamentally good person, all the little bothersome shit won’t even phase you. You’ll hold onto them because you’ll see how important that is in life. Good people are the life vest’s that will buoy you to the surface when life tries to swallow you up in a sea of hopelessness.
- And you’ll drop the shallow acquaintances. Yes, they’re hilarious when you’re all drunk but do they call a cab when you’re puking in the bar bathroom or ditch you to go home with the hot guy? BYE. Not worth it.
So there you have it. My revelations of my so-far 20’s. I am not as wise and old as I will be 5 years from now but I’m certainly glad I’m not 21 anymore. Here is to more discoveries and perhaps a complete unraveling of all my learnings so far.