When I first started this blog, its purpose was to catalogue ideas and memories to look at when I’ve lived long enough to let them slip my mind. Now, as I turn 29, this little page has really started to look like me: a collection of at times misshapen, though endlessly genuine pieces that don’t quite have a label or a calling. And so, today I’d like to share the most important things I’ve learned not only in this past year of course, but throughout the most emotionally monumental moments of my life. The last thing I would want is to tell anyone how to live their life, what things they “should” know by the time they’re a certain age, or any variation on those sorts of lists. This is only a little offering – my contribution to the potluck of life, and what I believe is true. I’ve interspersed little segments from my birthday weekend into the mix, because I’m a grown-ass 29 year old woman now, so why the hell not.
1. Life is right now, and not the way you hope or imagine it will be in the future. Pretend you’re on vacation someplace really incredible and you know you only have a week there. Maybe today you’ll try bungee jumping, just to live it up. Maybe tonight you’ll walk on hot coals, just to know you did it, and because it’s your one opportunity before you leave. You make the most of your vacation because you know it’ll end soon. Imagine if we truly envisioned life that way as well-as a tangible, finite bit of time-and did something special every day, and made the most of today before the vacation ends.
|It's nice to have co-workers support my donut addiction. pictured: box of (what used to be) 6 honey crullers, gift card, and ridiculously adorable birthday card signed by my team.|
2. Forgive. Forgive the people who don't know any better and the people who do, not to be the better person, but because it just feels so much better to let go. And while you're at it, forgive yourself, whether or not you knew any better.
3. Recognize when fear is controlling you and stop giving it so much power. I held on to a really awful friend for over a decade because I was afraid of what losing her support would do to my life. I let this fear keep me in a place where I constantly put myself down just to keep her around, until I it backed me into a corner and I had no other choice but to say bye Felicia because I had finally had enough. And you know what, it’s been awesome. (Note: her name is not Felicia)
|It's also nice to have friends who help you build your "sugar stamina" with venti lattes...I'm getting better at plowing through these 20oz. bad boys!|
4. If you’ve got a funny joke, just say it. Never, ever worry about whether someone will get it, or that no one will laugh. Did you ROFL when you thought of it? You’re golden, baby.
5. Don’t be afraid to be alone. The thought of coming home to an apartment where nobody asks how your day was would make anyone want to cry onto a Sarah McLachlan CD and take up smoking. But you know what's great about coming home to silence? The opportunity to at least attempt to read a book that you can then talk about at parties (“Yes, well you see, I’m currently working on the novel by the great…[some German buzzed-about author]…I find it’s so much more meditative than anything, almost like a commentary on commentary itself…quite..”), to do an entire stand-up routine (that's what she said jokes included) without anyone asking you what your damage is, to wear your Spongebob Squarepants pyjamas without having to flex your core muscles when your significant other is looking. Don’t be afraid to be alone: there are so many things you can do now by yourself, before you meet that really great person who will politely ask you to stop burping MC Hammer lyrics.
6. Stop freaking out if you aren’t carpe-ing that diem, if you aren’t being everything you’ve ever dreamt you would be, if you’re not continuously sipping a green smoothie through a striped artisanal straw, or if your job isn’t reaching into the pit of your soul and shaking every ounce of passion out of you. We are bombarded with supposed opportunities which, in the end, just make us feel like losers for not having accomplished everything we ‘could’ be doing. Life isn’t easy, and sometimes just getting through the day warrants a glass of wine, so don’t you dare hurt your own feelings judging yourself because you haven’t opened your vegan food truck in Hawaii. Every night, try to ask yourself: were you as kind as you could be and do you stand behind your actions? If it's a yes, you’ve officially seized the day, and that’s all there is to it.
|Speaking of carpe diem, I definitely did when I dragged my mom, sister, and her boyfriend to the Carp Fair on Friday.|
7. In order to be happy, you have to accept the non-linearity of life and let life do what it wants. Or I had to do that, anyway. Strictly planning your next ten years will inevitably lead to a handful of disappointments because your future is not a static continuation of your present. Things change. People will come and go, you might get sick, you might get fit, you might get a dog, your hamster might die, you might get promoted, you might get hit by a helicopter, people will give you some wonderful news and people will hurt you, and you have to let things happen as they do. Take each day as it comes and be happy you can watch the sunset once more.
8. Keep it real. Regardless of where you are or who you’re surrounded by, the more you act like yourself, the more you’ll attract like-minded people and the more positivity you’ll project. At work, I’m surrounded by middle aged suits who now turn to me before a meeting, waiting for a joke from me to break the ice. I used to worry that I didn’t wear enough blazers or heels, but now I throw in a pun here and there, and I’ve made what I’m pretty sure is a good impression, just by being myself, bypassing the need for office jargon.
|I love homemade gifts, and this year, my girlfriend spoiled me with a homemade blanket and a card with little jumping hearts!|
9. When you’re feeling shitty, remember that your future is not a static continuation of the way your life is now. Think of yourself a few years ago. You were so different, life was so different. Inevitably, everything will change and there’s no way you’ll continue feeling this way forever so put down the jar of Nutella. Okay, one more spoon. Make it a big one. Are you serious? That’s not big enough.*
*That's what she said
10. Life is just too short to settle for anything less than kaleidoscopic, explosive, confetti-covered, incredible, ridiculous, maddening love, whether it’s love for the perfect donut, for your best friend, or simply for the way it feels to make somebody laugh.
And on that note, this year I told my sister I wanted an idea for my birthday. Knowing that the Barenaked Ladies are one of my favourite bands of all time, she wrote me a song to the tune of their 'One Week'. I had to get her to start over three times because I couldn't get through it without bursting out laughing. This is one of the best gifts I've ever received in my life.
And my mom, being endlessly thoughtful and creative, decorated the house with ribbons and signs, found my favourite caramel cake, and took us to a late night haunted walk of Mackenzie King's estate, which is like super haunted, and also super ugly. I'm just saying if I was a baller political leader, I'd decorate my estate a little better than some black and white pics. I'm surprised those ghosts even wanted to chill there. But anyway, it was adorable, as everything my mom does tends to be. My dad, true to form, stressed out about exactly the sorts of Russian delicacies I required to properly celebrate the advent of my last year in my twenties. Altogether, I was once again reminded that I wouldn't have learned half of those things I mentioned above without the kindness, selflessness, and love of the people I am so lucky to share my life with.