Today I am 25 years old.
This is the oldest I’ve ever been, and therefore the wisest I’ve ever been. I still have so much that I can’t wait to learn as I grow and mature, but I thought I’d share some of the best things I’ve learned over the past few years. These things have truly revolutionized my life and set me free from faulty mindsets that were holding me back.
Not everything is my fault.
I am quick to blame myself for everything. If someone is upset near me, I’ll wrack my brain to figure out how I personally offended them. If something goes wrong, I’ll assume responsibility regardless of my non-involvement. I’ve come to learn that doing this is not only irrational but also is a form of egotism that assumes that I am that important in the lives of others as to be the source of their frustration. Can you say unbalanced?
You can start anything at any time.
I’ve spent most of my life either saying “I can’t do _________” or “I’ll do _______ later”. I always felt like I had to have more money, or be stronger, or be smarter, or more fill-in-the-blank to do the things I was thinking of in my head, whether it was as small as reading a book or as large as going to India. I finally realized that all I have to do is decide to start something and then do it. It can really be as simple as that. If you want to start running, go for it! If you want to blog, do it! If you want to grow in your weak area, the only person stopping you is you.
I can’t save anybody, I can only love them.
I’ve consistently found/put myself in situations over the years where I’ve wanted to help others. I see people in need or people struggling and my heart goes out to them. I want to do everything in my power to fix things for them or change their scenarios; at my best I basically want to save them– at my worst I want to tell others how to best live their lives. I’ve learned that even if I pour out myself and all that I am to someone else, at the end of the day, I can’t save them. People have to want to change in order to do so and that’s something that no one else can force upon them. The best I can do for anyone I want to help is to love them, present them with my best advice when asked and know that ultimately it’s God’s job to save them.
The only thing in life that I can (mostly) control is me.
I can be a pretty controlling individual at my core. I think it mostly comes from spending so many years alone and independent, but this being the case plays to my advantage as well. I started journaling my particular stresses a year or so ago and evaluating which I could actually control and which I would have to change my attitude on since I couldn’t control them (lazy coworkers, other people’s perceptions of me, the emotional energy of the room, etc.). Almost everything that I was able to control came down to my perspective, my attitude, my behavior. It’s humbling, but it’s real and it has saved me hours, days, of unnecessary stress.
We really do reap what we sow.
I’ve watched time and again in my own life and the lives of others this simple truth played out. I’ve watched shady coworkers eventually lose their jobs, I’ve watched dedicated servants of Jesus be blessed, I’ve watched people get everything they want fall apart in the end because they missed their opportunities to build character. There are tons of things in life that aren’t fair, but we can’t escape our good or our bad choices. I won’t do myself any favors by constantly thinking, “What about them?” It’s not my business or job to exact justice on anyone. I have to leave that to God.
I won’t reach my goals if I don’t plan to reach my goals.
Whatever my goal may be (read this many books, spend this much time in the bible, run this 5k, etc.) I will never reach it if I don’t plan to reach it. It helps to work backwards from a date or event and then I try to break it down to weekly goals and then daily goals. I’ll never be able to do a headstand or crow pose if I don’t start practicing. I’ll never read 12 books a year if I don’t make time to read. Goals are totally reachable, I just have to first prioritize what my goals are (spiritually, financially, physically, relationally, etc.) and then create and implement plans to get there. I’ve heard it said and seen it to be true that “failing to plan is planning to fail”.
If it scares me, I have to do it.
I will limit this to everything shy of jumping out of a plane, but I stand by this. If I’m intimidated and I chicken out, I lose an opportunity to grow. It may be as simple taking dance lessons or being vulnerable with someone I love, but I want to choose to do it. Instead of shying away from discomfort, I want to embrace it. It’s brought me the greatest growth in my life this far and while it’s not usually quick, if I’m consistent I can see great results.
Don’t talk about it, be about it.
I get really passionate about things and I’m good with my words, so it’s easy for me to talk or to sound like I know what I’m talking about. Words excite me, motivate me, inspire me and so I want to give that to other people. I’ve watched the damage both I and other have caused by offering words unsubstantiated by actions or behaviors and I don’t want that to be the norm in my life. It’s my policy now that there aren’t measurable differences in my actions to back up my beliefs, then I don’t have the right to speak to anyone about it. Plain and simple. It’s been a great challenge, but it’s been very necessary in my life.
These are just a few of the things from my list, but I’m interested to see what has set you all free? What life lessons has God used to deliver you from anxiety, stress, fear, or whatever it is you struggle with?