There’s been a flood of ‘things I’ve learned’ articles across my Twitter and FB feeds lately. Most are voiced by people who want to target the young adult, twenty-something crowd. Being so near to age thirty, much of the advice rings true. I’ve saved quotes from the pieces I love, including this one from a mom to her daughter:
Choose your friends because you feel most like yourself around them, because the jokes are easy and you feel like you’re in your best outfit when you’re with them, even though you’re just in a T-shirt. ~ Caitlin Moran
Choosing and holding onto amazing friends is a talent I’ve been blessed with since a very young age, and I largely attribute it to surrounding myself with people who I can laugh freely and often with. I was excited when one of my most wildly fun girlfriend’s from the Bay Area reached out to do a joint-post on 20-something advice. We’ve been sharing everything from style tips to dance moves to dating horror stories since before we could legally drink, so why not share something slightly more substantial like life lessons?
Created by two Kristens born in March of 1985, here is a list of insights that have most impacted us in the last 28 years of our magical little lives. My namesake and I have traveled to five different countries and lived in London together, ran through the streets of SF in costume countless times, and spent the past few years painting our hearts out. Below, we touch on topics like sex and dating, networking, career, happiness, and anything else we feel adequately experienced in at this ripe ol’ age.
1. I’ve never regretted going on a run or taking on a workout. Some days exercising is the last thing I want to do; Often those are the days I am most thankful I’m out there sweating, and they are the most powerful days.
2. You aren’t defined by the number of people you’ve slept with or your job or where you went to school. You are defined by how you show up today. You decide how you want to show up, right now.
3. Everyone is afraid. Everyone gets embarrassed. Everyone is afraid of getting embarrassed. That’s life, and that’s okay. Whenever you feel these two strong sensations, remember that (a) everyone feels like you from time to time and (b) you don’t have to dwell on it. Let it pass, it’s only temporary.
4. Taking your pulse constantly is a surefire way to feel like you’re sick or troubled. If you are constantly checking in and asking yourself, ‘how does this make me feel? Am I sad? Why am I sad, when everyone else seems so happy?’ and questions like that, you are asking yourself the wrong things. The questions you should ask instead are, how do I want to feel? What’s stopping me from feeling how I want to feel right now?
5. Before you dedicate yourself to another person ‘for life’, be on your own long enough to know what makes you come alive, what values you hold, and how you want to feel every day. Love yourself, first.
6. Everyone can benefit from seeing a therapist. We are all complicated and messed up in our own ways. No one should be embarrassed to ask for help.
7. Sex is great. It’s not gross, wrong, dirty, bad. It’s natural, fun, and amazing when you are choosing to engage in a consensual, safe experience with people you connect with.
8. Sometimes the people you least expect to notice you are most impacted by your actions. Live boldly, create with your heart, and watch as those people emerge from the shadows to praise your bravery.
9. The more you let people into your world, the less lonely you’ll be. Seems obvious, but it took me a while to learn this one.
10. You get to define your boundaries in relationships. ‘I love you’ are three words that mean different things to different people, and those meanings often shift based on the context. What does an open relationship look like to you? What does cheating mean to you? Speak up. These are important questions to ask yourself and the person you’re with, to make sure you are on the same page from the get-go.
11. There are days in the month when you’ll feel super sexy and other days when all you want to do is wear sweat pants, not wash your hair, and sit indoors behind the glow of reality TV. Give yourself permission to be a hermit once in a while; consider these necessary rest days, similar to the days in between workouts when your muscles need to recover. Tip: Well manicured eyebrows and tossled curly hair are instant sexifiers, no matter what day of the month it is.
12. Sometimes when you grow up in a past-paced, competitive environment it’s hard to know that life is not a race. Never forget that you can make your own rules, that you can start all over again. No matter how fast you go, we’re all headed toward the same ‘finish line.’ Might as well enjoy the process.
13. High school to college to grad school to 9-5 job isn’t the ONLY path. It’s not even the right or best path. It’s the path of lease resistance, the most socially accepted. But things are changing, and as you get older, hopefully you’ll take a beat and question the path you’ve been following. Has it been purposeful?
14. All connecting with other people requires is a willingness to get over yourself and take a real interest in someone else. I used to hate networking — I thought it felt fake and uncomfortable. That was because I was so worried about MYSELF and how I’d come off. Now I love connecting with other people because I stay present and take in who they are, instead of taking my pulse the whole time.
15. People are in your life for a reason. Sometimes it’s to teach you a lesson, sometimes it’s to make you a stronger person, sometimes it’s to be a distraction from a heartache. We may not understand right then and there, but someday it’ll make sense.
16. You can forgive in the midst of trying to heal—healing and forgiveness can be part of the same journey. Until recently, I believed I had to be 100% over a situation to fully move on and I didn’t realize that I could start forgiving at my earliest convenience. My heart felt lighter and thanked me later.
17. Travel as much as you can, whether that means hopping on a plane or driving across the nearest state border. It will teach you how to interact with different cultures, open up your mindset and bring more compassion to your life.
18. When you’re feeling blue-r than Tobias in Arrested Development, “refer back to the things that have always made you happy.” Keep a list of the things that undoubtedly bring joy to your life–your hobbies, nice notes from loved ones, your favorite comedy, etc. Concentrating on my art instead of my sadness has helped me get through a frog or two.
19. If your sexual tension is worse than any Real Housewives Reunion and you want a one-night stand, then have one. But, do it for yourself. Don’t do it because you hope it will get Mr. Saturday night to “like like” you. Embrace your sexuality and do it for YOU, not for a phone call back. You’re Stella, now go find your groove!
20. There is no timeline for any experiences. If you cry a little longer than you “should” or take a little longer to get over a situation than “the norm”, then so what? —who is to decide how long experiences take? Be gentle with yourself and do it on your own time. No one has instructions for this damn thing anyway. But also take care to be proactive in moving things forward.
21. There are boys, and then there are men. If the guy you are spending all your time with is a boy (see: playing games, doesn’t follow through, doesn’t make effort) and not a man (see: respectful, true to his word, shows effort), then let that boy stay in Never Never Land and run the other direction. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
22. Don’t ask everyone for advice. Each person will have their own opinion because of their individual history, and that might confuse you on your quest. If you need to, ask a few close trusted friends, but most of all, trust your gut. It’s stuck with you your whole life and knows you best of all.
23. There are very few things in this complicated life that will make your heart as full as the simplicity of spending time with someone you love — someone who just ‘gets you’ — doing next to nothing.
24. Embrace those things that make you feel in the moment. Painting, dancing, reading, sex…whatever it is, make the most of those experiences.
25. When people are talking to you, look at them and acknowledge what you like about them. Your compassion Klout score goes way up!
26. As my mom has always said, if you can count your close friends on one hand, then you’re one lucky son of a gun.
27. Take risks–wear red lipstick, go on blind dates, travel to a place where you don’t speak the language, talk to people who intimidate the shit out of you. Keep pushing yourself to be alive.
28. Love with your whole heart, keep growing and be thankful for each day the sun rises. I’m not quite sure why else we’re here, anyway.
With courage, love, and intensity,
About the co-author (and the sassy mind behind 15 through 28)
Born and raised in the East Bay, this non-blogger is a marketer by day, extreme Pisces by life. As a talented abstract artist, Kristen Jaber’s way of self-expression is through acrylic paint and embarrassing dance moves. She values deep relationships, expensive coffee, terrible puns and travel. Feel free to say hi and check out her art here www.artbykristen.wordpress.com and follow her beautiful love affair with San Francisco on Instagram @kagerade