ringing in 28.
Good or bad, here are 29 things I've learned in my little stint here:
1.There's not much I've experienced that's as rewarding as reaching adulthood and being close with your siblings (and parents!). There's something so sweetly special about creating new memories and jokes with those who've known you the longest, who know you the best.
2. Repeat after me: go for the cheap mascara, and always wash your face at night. Splurge on stuff for your face and lips, but it's my opinion that mascara is the thing you shouldn't waste too much on. It dries out, it flakes off... it's basically all the same.
3. Learn how to change a tire and change your oil... even if you never need to do it, it really is comforting just to have that knowledge tucked away. Is there anything worse than (being a girl and) being stranded somewhere? Nothing sets my anxiety shooting through the roof like car trouble (at the bare minimum, invest in AAA).
4. We've all seen friends come and go, and it's tough--especially when you never imagined those people would be out of your life. But every now and then, you'll realize that some of them really do become family. And that is just amazing to me.
5. Take the time to thank a veteran when you see them... it doesn't matter where--at the grocery store, in church, at a concert. Get over feeling uncomfortable about approaching a stranger and embrace their sacrifice--just for a minute. It'll make his/her day... I guarantee you. It's the absolute least you can do. The warmth you provide that man or woman with your one or two sentence exchange will last a lot, lot longer than your nervousness.
6. Get out of town. While I loved my Baylor experience, I'm confident I would have flourished anywhere... and I feel fortunate (as I've said a million times) to have found myself in Nashville (after stints in both Dallas and Birmingham). I think you learn the most about yourself when you are in unfamiliar surroundings. You find your resilience, you force yourself to grow. There isn't much to substitute for that. Living in Nashville has changed me a lot, and I really like the effect this town has had on my life.
7. ...that being said, there's no place like home. Texas is so very much in my blood... I literally grin every single time we drive over the state line in Texarakana. No matter how long I'm gone, I know without a shadow of a doubt I will return to the most familiar and welcoming open road under the brightest stars that exist, a rich history and bevy of stories that never cease to wrap me up, and every kind of terrain and personality I could hope to encounter. There's nothing like it, and I love that it's such a part of me.
8. There's a bold red lip hue for every girl. Find yours and pair it with a d'orsay pump and I dare say you'll never feel more empowered.
9. It's perfectly reasonable if, at the end of the day, the only being who seems genuinely excited that you exist skips around on four legs and is covered in wispy loops of soft fur (her big brown eyes reassure me of her endless adoration for me, every single time, without fail). Lesson: get a dog. You'll never have a better friend or learn more about love.
10. I'm a big proponent of faking it 'til you make it. Be confident, but take the time to learn what you don't know. Never stop learning or setting goals. Find someone you respect, someone you can emulate. To be constantly setting goals and reaching them is my definition of success. People will respect you if you show them you're passionate. Also? Work will never feel like work when you love what you do.
11. Odds are, you might lose your job at some point. It is NOT the end of the world, and often, as cliche as it sounds, it's often a blessing in disguise. You'll find work again, and likely, something you enjoy more, something that's an all-around better fit for you. Trust me.
12. Not having a prototypical lovey relationship with your Mom won't destine you to be a bad mom. And on the contrary, it will likely open you up to an unbelievably amazing relationship you'll foster with your dad.
13. Learn how to argue--it doesn't have to be combative. I am incredibly opinionated--and some of my favorite people to converse with have drastically different opinions than I. Respecting the opinions of others earns you a lot of respect, and those conversations have the ability to really keep life fun. (Sidenote: find something to believe in, and cling to it. Don't let others sway you... por ejemplo, I believe in Jesus, always fostering my insatiable desire to make this world a better place, and Art Briles).
14. Post a selfie if you want to... but for the love of God, own it. Who doesn't enjoy the ensuing compliments that roll in? But by all means, don't pair a ridiculous caption with it. Or act like your personal paparazzi team just shocked you with a random shot. Everyone sees right through it. We're girls--we post selfies. Just be conscious of your audience, please.
15. Sometimes the best therapy is listening to that latest jam you can't hear enough of... 20, 30 times in a row. Make a playlist of your college jams and it will take you straight back to dorm life like nothing else can. There are those few songs that will always, always unfailingly take you back to a moment in life. Remember the songs and you'll distinctly remember those moments.
16. Buy more of what you need and less of what you want. Shop for quality and don't try to justify a sale. Splurge on the expensive jeans because they last (true story--I have a pair of Sevens I bought in college that are in impeccable shape--and also two sizes too small right now, but dammit they're still around) and by all means, dress for your body type (and age). This will hopefully save you money and closet space--learn from my mistakes.
17. Never underestimate the power of a well-balanced cheese plate.
18. Write letters. Keep the ones people write to you.
19. Some things will never, ever make sense... and you'll make yourself crazy trying to figure them out. Learn when to let it go and let it be (this is much easier said than done).
20. Make it a point to play with kids... be it your own family or friends, or through volunteering, or church. One of the purest and sweetest ways to bring yourself back down to earth is to have a conversation with a five-year-old. Make them feel heard and you'll earn a friend for life.
21. You'll become who you're supposed to be when you stop trying to cram yourself into a box. It's such an elementary concept, but we hear throughout life how to stay unique, be an individual--and yet SO many milestones in life force us to adhere to parameters and stipulations. For me at least, I feel best when I'm defining myself and my life by my own guidelines. For a bulk of my early school days, I constantly felt like something was just off--I wasn't girly enough, I was too gangly, or not as witty as I could've been or as smart in math as I should've been. It helped to have my positive traits recognized, but the best part was when I honed in on them myself. I see this with my friends as they become wives and mothers--many of them seem to feel like they're coming up short in some aspect. I think if you focus on all the good you actually do, it's easier to feel whole.
22. When you surround yourself with good people, good things will happen.
23. We're all doing the best we can, and we all make mistakes. While there are people who will try to hurt you, in any chapter of life, all you can do is move on and keep your head up. You cannot change anyone, so remember what's in your control. Also, remember that everyone is fighting their own battle. Just because someone didn't reply to your text or call you back, or answered more curtly than you think was necessary, doesn't mean they're upset with you. Life happens--give people the benefit of the doubt.
24. I'm the biggest fan of technology like the iPad and Kindle--I love flipping them on and curling up for some mindless entertainment... but there's nothing like the weight of a book and the scent of ink on a magazine page.
25. I can't stress enough how much being super involved at a young age has impacted me. Some of my absolute best memories were from playing team sports, but a lot of my interpersonal and social skills arose from those early years too... so I'm not sure how this translates to you, in terms of advice... but maybe if you have kids and wonder if it's good for them, encourage them to try something--anything--at least once. You never know how it'll impact them for the rest of their lives. Plus, this has really opened me up to be adventurous even now... There's so much I want to do in this lifetime.
26. Planning can be the best part of the event but spontaneity is good for the soul.
27. Sometimes all that needs to be said is "I'm sorry."
28. When someone dear to you passes away, write down every single thing you can remember about them. Do this in the day or so after he or she dies. It sounds frivolous and maybe a bit odd, but over time, the little memories will fade, and maybe never resurface. I learned this first with my Mimi... and to this day, when I remember something she'd say, or a look she'd have, or an experience with her, I'll jot it down. I want to remember these silly little things, so I can share with my kids how incredible this woman was.
29. Learn how to stand up for yourself early on. Regardless of your support system, you'll get to a point where you need to be your own biggest fan.
What have been your biggest life lessons thus far?