There are thousands of analogies we could use to describe life but for today I’m going to stick with classroom. Day in and day out we learn lessons small and big. Just a few minutes ago I learned not to wear a white shirt while feeding infants mashed peas and last night I learned it is best not to drink two mochas within an hour before bed. Life is the most intense course we will ever take and honestly I don’t think we will ever be prepared to ace the exam (metaphorically of course). Today I wanted to share some of the more cliche life lessons I have learned the hard way in hope that you may be able to gain some insight (or laughter) from my failures.
1) Determine what your priorities are.
There is definitely something to be said for being a multi faceted person. It’s admirable to go to school, hold a part time job and play on a soccer team twice a week however it no longer becomes admirable when you lose the ability to complete each task to the best of your ability. I was so determined to work 3 nannying jobs through college that I actually skipped a class for the entire quarter to keep one of them. Miraculously I passed the class (despite only attending a handful of times) but looking back my over commitment was stupid. What did I gain by spreading myself so thin? At the end of the day the $150 extra each week wouldn’t have been worth it if I had failed the course.
2) Cheating won’t make you feel better.
Whether it’s on a test or a boyfriend cheating will ultimately hurt you the most in the end. I cheated once (though there is no excuse I was primarily motivated by the nativity and insecurity of feeling “unwanted”). Even though my boyfriend at the time forgave me (I don’t even know how!) I could never forgive myself. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror without wondering what kind of sick masochistic person would intentionally sabotage something they cared about so dearly. I’ve learned how horrible cheating is (from both sides of the equation) and I know I could never act so recklessly again not just out of respect for another person but out of respect for the woman I want to be.
3) Don’t ditch your friends for your boyfriend.
I learned early on how much it sucks to sit alone at lunch because all of your friends moved on without you while you were busy playing footsies with your boyfriend in the hallways. I can’t stress enough how critical it is to maintain friendships outside of your relationship (as well as separately). As much as I love double dates I know it is important for my sense of self, independence and friendships to spend time with my girl friends without my boyfriend (or their boyfriends) present too!
4) Everyone is doing the best they can.
Whether it is your friends giving you relationship advice, your parents advising you on your career, everyone is offering up what they believe to be the best advice. It may be annoying and you certainly don’t have to follow it but rather than rolling your eyes it’s better to listen to what others have to say and know that from their experience it is the best they have to offer. Listen, nod your head and at the end of the day make whatever decision you feel is right.
5) Different people show love & support in different ways
Using basketball as an analogy there will be those who train you to play basketball, those who cheer for you at the game, and those who take you out to dinner to celebrate. Not everyone can be your coach, not everyone wants to buy you a pizza…even outside of organized sports people show love in different ways. For a long time I felt sad because I looked for people to love me in the same ways that I show love; consequently I often felt disappointed. I show love with words and letters but others show love by helping you move, getting your oil changed or always remembering to wish you luck on a job interview or test. Don’t look for one person to demonstrate support in every way, look for the ways they are showing support already.
6) Dogs are a MAJOR commitment.
I adopted a puppy my freshman year of college while living in a dorm (obviously not my brightest move). I thought I would be with my boyfriend forever but four years (and three boyfriends) later I don’t have the money or home to support a dog. I love her more than anything but I wouldn’t recommend taking on the responsibility of a pet until you’re really ready. Take your spontaneous trip to Thailand, live in a house with four of your girlfriends, intern in a new city, spend a year jumping from job to job and adopt a pet when your life has the stability another living creature deserves.
7) Tanning isn’t just expensive, it’s dangerous.
I started tanning as a social thing weirdly. My friends were going tanning and to get smoothies and though I really didn’t care about my skin tone all that much I didn’t want to miss out on the fun. Not only was I wasting hundreds of dollars but my skin looked like leather and I knew I was putting myself at risk for skin cancer. After getting a gross fungal infection from a tanning bed I finally realized how vapid I was being. It was the wake up call I needed to remind me that tanning beds are so much more risky than a treatable infection. I wish I could reverse the damage I’ve done to my skin but I have vowed to care for my skin since.
8) Credit cards are only a smart decision if you’re responsible enough to handle one.
I made a few credit card mistakes early on in my college years. The shoes I bought back in 2012 are scuffed as is my credit rating.
9) There will always be people who don’t like you.
How does the saying go…”you can be the ripest juiciest peach but there will be people out there who just don’t like peaches”? Shake it off and focus on the people you can make happy (including yourself).
10) The right person won’t make you feel guilty for the experiences that make you who you are.
Your past has brought you to where you are now despite mistakes you’ve made or heart breaks you’ve endured the right relationships should see the person you are now and how your past has formed you.
And most importantly if you’re within the confides of a moving vehicle driving 70 miles per hour on the freeway and you find yourself about to vomit it is best to do so straight onto the floor rather than attempting to do so out of the window. Likely the contents of your last meal will not only cover every inch of the upholstery but your face, hair and the right side of the driver sitting beside you. Chances are the last thing you’ll want to do the next morning is scrubbing old thai food remnants out of the back seat of a Prius. Just one of the many lessons I decided to learn the hard way so maybe you don’t have to.
Which life lessons have you learned the hard way? Do you agree or disagree with any of mine?