25 Things I’ve Learned in 25 Years – Part 2
6. You are not better or more important than anyone else.
The harsh truth is that the world does not revolve around you. Your political orientation, sexuality, religion, race, education, or income level doesn’t set you above or below anyone else. You are not superior to the homeless woman on the train, or the kid handing you a burger through the drive-thru window. You’re not special. You’re only one of 7 billion.
It’s alienating to set yourself above others, to define yourself as different based on superficial, meaningless criteria. We are all in this together. It’s incredibly empowering when we start to treat every last person we encounter with respect, empathy, and as an equal, even if we don’t receive the same from them.
7. Take charge.
If you want something, not only do you have to work for it, you’ve got to ask for it. If you’re unhappy with your life, the only person that can change it is you. Pull your damn socks up. If you’re attracted to someone, ask them out! You want a raise? Sit your boss down and tell them why you deserve it! Stop waiting for good things to happen to you, and go out and take them for yourself. Once you silence your insecurities and give yourself the power to take charge, you’ll never go back.
8. Express your true self – people can see through almost any facade.
There is nothing shameful about being who you are. It’s okay to aspire to a certain look or lifestyle, but don’t mindlessly assimilate to whatever’s trendy at the moment. It’s painfully obvious when we put on an act, and besides, it’s exhausting to try to keep up the charade. Basing our entire identities on trying to seem cool to other people prevents us from exploring and developing our real character. It muffles our purpose.
9. Always tell the ones you love that you love them.
All it takes is a phone call or a text, even a Facebook message, to remind someone that they’re important to you. It doesn’t have to be long-winded or cheesy, or even contain the words ‘I love you’. It can be as simple as ‘hope you have a great day!’ or ‘how are things?’ or even a little heart emoji. It’ll brighten their day and strengthen your relationship. In our twenties, when we move away from our familial homes, start our careers, and generally have fuller schedules, it’s important to put in a good effort with our friends and loved ones even if we can’t see them as much as we’d like. Keep your relationships fresh and full of love.
10. You don’t have to do what’s expected of you.
We have expectations and hopes put on us from birth. Even when we’re tiny little humans, every interest we take and every talent we show promise in is projected onto our futures by the adults that love us. Even though these expectations come from a good place, they can cause a lot of stress and contention if they’re not exactly where you see yourself. Your brilliant mind isn’t wasted if you’d rather be a homemaker than a doctor. Your years of dance training aren’t void because you’d rather be a fishing guide.
Personally, I have really struggled with expectations that I’d be a musician. In my youth, I took years of lessons from prestigious music teachers, won several musical theater and folk awards, placed third in a huge songwriting competition, sang anthems at professional sports games, and even released a successful EP that was played on several radio stations. My family, friends, and other musicians have always pushed me toward trying to make a career out of what is essentially a successful hobby, but in doing so, the joy of singing was beaten right out of me. I recently decided to take a hiatus from music in order to reclaim it for myself. No performances, no recording, no pressure – just me and my guitar, just sound, just feeling.
It’s okay to not do what’s expected of you. I don’t feel like I’ve let anyone down by not working toward being a career musician. By pushing myself toward something I’m not meant for, the pleasure of it drained out of my bones. Only you know what’s right for you, and to hell with what everyone else thinks.