Friday, September 12, 2014

Dirty Thirty: 31 things I had yet to find out when I was but a young lass of 20

The day has come. My youth has departed. Today, I have officially survived 3 decades of life (well, to be completely honest, I wrote this post on Thursday, so I had not yet officially survived 3 decades then). Thirty. Wow, that's pretty weird to me. Even just a few months ago, that number kind of freaked me out. But now, I can say in all honesty that although a few freaked-out feelings do remain, the bigger part of me is excited for what is to come in this new decade. Like all things, there is a choice. I can either look at 30 as a phase of my life ending or I can look at it as a new beginning. A clean slate. And it is a new beginning that I know I have earned.

I'll take this time to confess that my sole reason for starting to lose weight 2 years ago was so that I could know that I looked better on my 30th birthday than any of my birthdays in my 20's. Just kidding! That would be pretty disturbing. It is a nice side benefit though. I remember every single year I would wish that I would lose weight that year. But for the vast majority of those years, that's all it was--just a wish, no substance or plan of action behind it. For your enjoyment, here is a retrospective look at my birthdays starting at age 23-29. It starts at 23 for no other reason than that's when I got a digital camera.

Age 23

Age 24

Age 25

Age 26

Age 27

Age 28 (6 weeks into losing weight)

Age 29

As you can see, there are varying degrees of weight problems in each picture. But that is an issue that I am perfectly satisfied to leave behind in my 20's. In my 30 years on this planet, I have learned some things, and a lot of them have been learned in the past decade. So I thought maybe I should come up with a list of 31 things (31 instead of just 30 because I'm an overachiever like that) that I have learned since I was a mere child of 20: young, stupid, and sure I knew everything. At first I didn't know if I could think of a list of 31 things that was a good mix of poignant and funny, but by the time I was ready to write this, I had to cut some out! Annoyingly enough, I tended to think of things to add to the list at the most inconvenient times i.e. while in the shower or running, or really any time I had no paper and writing utensil handy. I warn you, this list has cliches, but they are cliches for a reason, that reason being that they are true. I promise they'll be better than ones such as, "A penny saved is a penny earned." And there may be inspirational quotes too. I have kept a quote book to write quotes I like in for 10 years now, and I'm finally going to get to share these quotes with other people, dang it! I mean, what's a blog for if not to foist stuff on people? So without further ado, here is my list of 31 things I've learned by the occasion of my 30th birthday. 

1. Perfection is boring. This was hard for me to learn, as I was once so obsessed with achieving perfection that my mom thought someone had died upon seeing my reaction to getting a C on a test. It's not the end of the world if you mess up. Mistakes don't define you. How you react to them does. 

2. Use product in your hair. Forreal. Nobody needs to see the fro you were naturally born with, and conversely, no one needs to see the stick-straight, limp thing you call hair after straight ironing it to death. Repeat after me: waves and anti-frizz products are your friends. 

A few notes: I am not high in this picture, though my expression may suggest otherwise. Also, I deeply regret the scrunchie and Pooh t-shirt. The only defense I have is that I was 12. 

3. Digital pics are so much better and easier to deal with than printed ones, if only so you have the opportunity to categorize and sub-categorize them into various folders to your heart's content. 

4. Prayers are not always answered like you think they should be. There may be a different plan that you know nothing about. But take comfort in the fact that things are unfolding exactly the way they should.

5. Stay away from diet food. Non-fat, non-sugar, non-carb=non-sustainable and non-healthy. Eat real food that you can pronounce the ingredients in and you'll be fine.

6. What doesn't kill you actually does make you stronger (except for maybe weird diseases like leprosy or something). Hard times help make you who you are. Albert Einstein (who we all know was pretty dang smart) summed it up quite succinctly by saying, "Adversity introduces man to himself." Or in my case, woman to herself.

7. MP3's are better than CD's. No contest.

8. Second chances are real, but they don't usually come free. Be prepared to work your ass off for them. 

9. You are good enough, just as you are. I'm actually still learning this every single day.

10. You don't have to buy every movie you like. This results in a humongous DVD collection that you have to tote around every time you move. Same goes for textbooks. Don't save ALL of them. Or pack them all in one gigantic moving box in an effort to be space efficient. Bad idea for you and your back. 

11. Judging people based on superficial crap just means that you will miss out on knowing some truly incredible people. As my good friend Anonymous put it, "Judging a person doesn't define who they are. It defines who you are."

12. Emotional baggage can be a lot heavier than physical pounds. You have to lose the emotional stuff that's weighing you down before you can start losing the physical weight.

13. I am worthy of being loved by other people, and most importantly, by myself.

14. Reality TV will rot your brain. That said, I am fully prepared to cash in on my genius concept of Amish obese little people .

15. Having the power to Google anything, anywhere, at any time is highly addictive.

16. True friends stick by you no matter what. They may be like, "What the hell were you thinking?" sometimes, but they're still there for you. If they aren't, then they're not real friends. Period. Oprah "YOU get a car!" Winfrey said once, "Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down." True, but I'm still waiting for that limo too. 

17. Being able to write bullshit essays in school in record time really does pay off in real life. I mean, I can whip out these blog posts like nobody's business!

18. You, not your circumstances, determine your happiness. If you decide to be happy, you're gonna be happy. But the same principle applies if you decide to be miserable. I think Hugh Downs (yup, totally random, I know) put it best when he said, "A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes."

19. You are responsible for the kind of person you are. Anne Frank, who could have turned out terribly and would have had completely justified reasons to blame her circumstances for that, once said, "The final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands." Pretty smart for somebody who was only 15. I wish I was that smart then! I'm not saying how you were raised or your circumstances don't somewhat affect what kind of person you become. But seriously, man up and accept that you're an adult now, and that you and only you are ultimately responsible for the kind of person you are right now. 

20. Just because you're good at taking care of people doesn't automatically mean you are good at taking care of plants. Let's just say I have a black thumb. 

21. George Eliot once said, "It's never too late to be what you might have been." And I believe that down to my very core. I spent approximately 28 years knowing in my heart what kind of person I was meant to be, what kind of person I wanted to be, and just never was. I can't even tell you how satisfying it is to know that I am now that person I waited an entire lifetime to be. And I don't even mean physically. These changes are all on the inside.

22. A family is like superglue. It's messy and sometimes it gets in places you don't want it to, but in the end you're always glad to have it around. Except unlike superglue, families cannot be removed with acetone.

23. Excessive list-making is both efficient and satisfying, if also evidence of slight neurosis. I have 23 various lists on my phone. I also once received an entire year's worth of list-making paraphernalia as a gift. I guess you could say my list-making is a well-known quirk of mine.

24. I am pretty good at decorating cakes as long as they don't involve sculpting people. I learned via Youtube, as any good millennial would. Here are pictures of my best and worst cake efforts. I'll let you decide which is which. 

25. Pets love you unconditionally. They may express that love by laying on your chest and making it very difficult to breathe as you sleep, but hey, it still counts. 

Yes, of course my guinea pig had a pirate costume. Doesn't every guinea pig have one? His name was Captain Jack Sparrow; the pirate outfit was practically required.

26. Laugh at yourself. I've always found it difficult to name my strengths, but I do know that one of them is the ability to laugh at myself. Whenever I'm facing a bad time, I can usually still see how it's going to make a funny story later. Facing life is immensely easier if you don't take yourself too seriously.

27. Don't take a selfie or have someone else take a picture of you that you are not fully prepared for the world to see. Because no matter how much you think somebody won't post it online, they probably will. And the internet is forever, my friends. Google searches are omniscient and omnipresent (SAT words!)

28. Confidence is sexy. I mean, so are stilettos, but my deformed foot won't tolerate stilettos. It's probably for the best, as I have a large clumsy streak, and falling over your own two feet is NOT sexy. So I will just have to be confident and stiletto-less.

29. Shorter skirts and shorts are not better. I found this skirt the other day that I wore in college, and I thought "Homegirl was a ho!" Okay, I may not have actually thought "homegirl"in my head, but I did think ho. Here is a picture of said skirt, with a book laid on top so you can see the scale. 

30. The vast majority of the stuff you worry about never happens. Take it from me, as I used to be practically a worrying professional. Live in the present and have faith that things are going to work out. I mean, plan ahead and all that, just don't worry about everything constantly. It's draining. As Corrie Ten Boom (seriously, I really do have a staggering amount of random people quoted in my quote book) said, "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows. It empties today of its strength."

31. And last but not least: Age is just a number. I know, I know, another cliche, but it is so, so true. I've seen 80-year-olds having the time of their lives, and I've also seen 20-year-olds slowly dying inside day by day. 30, 21, 55, 12, 116 (the age I hope to live to be, just so I can have another sweet 16 party); they're all just numbers. You may be limited by one thing or another at each age, but when it really comes down to it, life is what you make of it at any age. As my homie Abe Lincoln put it, "In the end, it's not the years in your life that counts. It's the life in your years."

By now you may be thinking, "Damn, this girl is seriously brilliant!!" Or alternatively, you may be thinking, "Why did I ever start reading this? Will it ever end?!?" Or maybe just, "Why does this girl have such a weird quote fetish?" Or maybe a little of all of these things. That's okay. I only spew out random words of wisdom on milestone birthdays once a decade, so I'm all done till I'm 40. And who knows what random wisdom I'll have acquired by 40! For right now though, I'm all set to ring in 30 with a bang (and some pretty amazing cake too)!

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