This past weekend, my dad celebrated his 52nd birthday. For those of you who haven’t met my dad, you’re missing out. Seriously. He’s one of the most open hearted men I’ve had the privilege of knowing in my 22 years. Throughout my life, he has been there to patiently guide me through the good and also not so good times. I’ve learned countless lessonsfrom him, and in honor of year 52, here is one for each year I’ve been alive. (Because 52 would be too many.)
1. Journal, journal, journal.
Being able to look at a journal you wrote in 3, 5, and 10 years ago is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. It’s important to see where you once were, so you can be reminded that where you are isn’t all there is. Also… one day, you’ll most likely forget a lot of this stuff, so write. it. down.
2. Listen to people’s stories.
People matter. Whether you are friends with them or not, they still matter. Take the time to get to know their stories, because when you do, you see them in a whole different light. You suddenly understand why they act that certain way that always gets under your skin, and suddenly, it doesn’t get under your skin all that often. People become more beautiful when you know their story, and more known. KNOW people.
3. Give cards. Always.
Presents are okay, but cards matter more. You never have the chance to tell someone how you feel quite like you do when you write it down. There’s something about reading how loved you are as opposed to just hearing it. It doesn’t just have to be for special occasions either… Give cards any day of the year, because it’s important people know they are loved.
4. If your food isn’t right, send it back.
As long as you do it politely, you’re not being rude. It’s okay to want something a certain way if you pay for it. Just always remember to treat them with respect.
5. Never let someone tell you you can’t do something.
There are going to be people in this world that tell you you can’t just because they can. Or maybe they really think you can’t. Don’t let that stop you from trying. Whatever it is you decide to do, give it everything you’ve got, and prove people wrong.
6. Failure isn’t something worth being afraid of.
I’m not saying that at times, it can’t be scary. It really can be. But don’t let it stop you. If you ever find yourself saying no because you’re afraid to say yes, say yes anyway. There aren’t many things you’ll do that you’ll back on and regret. Don’t look back and regret not doing something because you were afraid to fail. Find a better excuse.
7. Say yes to ice cream.
8. Make up your own bedtime stories.
Don’t let your imagination die. Take the time to lay in bed with your kids at night and make up stories. They last as long as you want and can go on for days. They’ll remember them more than you think they will.
9. Read. Anything and everything.
Learn to get lost in a book. The books that make you think about life are great, but also take time with the ones you can read in two days and forget about. In books, you can do anything. You can slay dragons, fight the bad guy, fall in love. The possibilities are endless. You’ll learn about who you are, who you were, and who you want to be.
10. Never settle for less than what you deserve.
You deserve the best. Don’t let someone talk to you like you’re less than what you are. Don’t stay in a job where you’re miserable. Go for two scoops instead of one. If you ever find yourself with that feeling of “I think there’s more than this,” go and find out what that more is. Don’t settle.
11. Learn how to take criticism.
You’re not perfect. And that’s okay, but don’t be surprised when other people notice. There are always ways we can get better, and it’s important to be able to learn from those around us. It’s also not up to you how they deliver said criticism, but it is up to you how you take it. Fight the urge to argue. Ask questions if you need to. But please, don’t argue.
12. Ask questions.
Every person you meet has something to offer you, but the thing is- you won’t know unless you start asking. Now, we’re not just talking about the “how’s it going, what’s your favorite color” type questions. We’re talking the real questions. Most of these questions start with why or how.
13. Presents are more fun when hidden around the house.
Trust me on this one. Bonus points if it’s a scavenger hunt.
There’s a whole other world out there besides the one you grew up in. Take the time to go out and see it. Fill up your gas tank, and take every opportunity for adventure you can. You won’t regret it.
15. Be passionate.
It could be anything from a new career you’re embarking on, a cause that touches your heart, or your favorite ice cream flavor. Whatever it is, own it. Be so passionate about it, it’s contagious. Being passionate means you’ll always have fun with it, no matter what it is, and if people try to tell you it’s not a good idea, just keep going. P.S. If you’re really into football, you’ll yell at the TV every once in a while. This also shows you’re passionate.
16. Call your mom.
She needs you to call her. Not because it’s her birthday, but just because. Call her about how your day was, or the new boy you think is cute. Whatever the reason, just do it.
17. The real point of hide and seek is to scare the seeker, not find the best hiding spot.
When you reach a certain age, hide and seek takes on a whole new meaning. The new goal is to hide as quietly as possible until the seeker is close enough for you to jump out of a dark hallway and scare them half to death. You’ll both remember this game a whole lot longer when you start to play this way.
18. 401k’s are not overrated.
Neither are budgets. Learn about them. Figure them out. Actually use them. You’ll thank me when you’re 50.
19. It’s okay to not have it all figured out.
Life is hard. Sometimes you’ll find yourself overwhelmed with joy and gratitude at everything there is around you. Other times, you’ll be on the verge of tears trying to figure out your next step. Both of these are okay. As much as you want to have all the answers, you wouldn’t learn the same lesson you’re about to if you did. So, take a deep breath, cry, laugh, whatever you need, and keep on keeping on.
20. Make time to be alone.
This is a big one. You’ll never be able to know who you are if you don’t spend time with yourself. Just you. Go for a walk. Curl up with a good book. Travel, solo. You’ll learn more about yourself in these quiet moments than any other time. The older you get, the harder this is, so you have to be intentional.
Just as important as #20. Be intentional with the people that matter. Be intentional with everybody, but especially those that have that place in your heart. Life will get busy and crazy, and you’ll have a million excuses to not do this. Do it anyway. There’s something so powerful about letting yourself be known to other people and knowing them in return. Experience it once, and you’ll never go back.
22. Laugh at yourself.
Life is too short to take yourself too seriously. You bombed an interview? You realized you had toilet paper stuck to your shoe in front of your crush? You cry every time you watch The Lion King? So. What. The older you get, the less you laugh. Don’t let that happen to you. The world needs people who laugh.