Friday, June 19, 2015

My First Year as a 20-Something

I recently shared an article on Facebook from The Odyssey entitled "20 Things To Start Doing In Your Twenties" and it is a fantastic read...even if you're not in your 20's. As I began thinking about the article more, I thought that I would share some reflections and encouragement from things on that list that I have taken up in the last few years. ((These are numbered in correlation to The Odyssey article.))

1. Keep a book by your bedside and read it before bed instead of falling asleep to Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest.
I formed a habit in college of being on my phone late at night in bed. Scrolling through social media on a bright white screen. However, I had a goal for myself over the summer that I would read more books. I've read two books so far, and it's been great. Instead of checking my phone at night, I find myself wanting to pick up a book instead (which is cool because I would not be considered a "book worm" at all). There's a special type of joy found in finishing the last few chapters of a book late at night when you are fighting to keep your eyes open. Don't get me wrong, there are still nights when I am on my phone. I do not need another excuse to check my phone. But reading before bed is a great substitution to technology-overload. I'd recommend it.

2. Open yourself up to the world around you.
YES. I have been so blessed to travel and meet people from all over the world. Stepping outside my bubble of culture and normality has been one of the most rewarding things ever. I do not have the means to travel all the time, but there are so many resources out there to make me more cultured as a person. (In fact, the book A Year Without Makeup is on my to-read list this summer!) God has made the world a beautiful place; experience it. 

3. Stop giving changes to people who don't treat you how you want to be treated.
"Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:23 
Two years ago I wrote this verse on my mirror. It is a constant reminder that while we are called by God to love everyone around us and to be a light in the darkness, we are also supposed to guard our own hearts. Love others, but protect yourself. When I was in middle school, my youth pastor gave an analogy that went something like this.... There are two types of people: those who fill your bucket and those who empty it. The people who fill your bucket are those who encourage you and refresh your spirit. In contrast, those who empty your bucket are not necessarily bad people. They may be people who you are pouring into, constantly encouraging, and walking alongside in tough times; I believe we are supposed to do this as Christians. However, the point is that you cannot empty your bucket into someone else if your bucket is already empty. Find the balance. 

4. Start to take responsibility for the holes you dig yourself instead of looking for others to rescue you.
This is a tough but great lesson to learn. I consider it a blessing that my parents have been incredibly supportive of decisions I have made since I was a kid. They always give me their honest opinion of my options, but regardless of what I choose they support me. Clever, mom and dad...because if something does not turn out the way I wanted it to, it was a result of my own decision not something forced upon me. I am a very stubborn person, and in those scenarios I am left with no one to blame but myself. Trust me, I learn a lot faster that way.

5. Time is space; learn how to design your space.
I am SO sick of people saying they are busy. I say it and I hate that too. One of my mentors once told me, "Busyness is a choice." This phrase will always stick with me. We choose to fill our lives with things: good, bad and indifferent. But everything we do is a choice. Where we spend our time is a reflection of what is important to us. Yeah...I'm still working on this one. 

6. Start reading The New York Times (or any respectable news outlet for that matter). 
This past semester, I was required by a few business classes to keep up with current events. Whether it was for Marketing or Economics, I had to know what was going on. I signed up for NYT morning briefing email and reading it has become a part of my daily routine. It comes in every morning around 6am. I personally love the email because while it includes crucial news that may sometimes be depressing, it also includes interesting and encouraging news. Instead of hitting snooze one extra time in the morning, I read through the morning briefing. It's a great way to start my day by taking my blinders off and hearing about what is going on in the world. (Plus, it's really impressive when you can talk to people about current events. Bonus points for professionalism.)

7. Ignite your fire for the causes you believe in.
...and don't be ashamed of it. If you don't know by now that I am in LOVE with what God is doing on the Camino, I have not been doing my job.

8. Mind Map it out.
I'm pretty sure I'm on the verge of a large mind map. Lots of resources recommend doing this to figure stuff life.

9. Start to develop your personal aesthetic.
I have NEVER been on top of trends. And the best part about it is that now...I don't care. I see people who have their own personal styles that I could NEVER pull off, but I love that they do what they want. Buy clothes that make you feel like you. Also...I had my first Plato's Closet experience yesterday and I'm in love. Grab a friend and pick the racks. A $50 shirt for $7? Yes please. 

10. Constantly change up your environment.
"Don't live the same year 75 times and call it a life." Robin Sharma

((Whew...half way there. Thanks for reading this far and I promise the second half is shorter.))

11. Venture outside your typical crowd.
Trust me, God made every person beautiful and unique. Live vicariously through others. Ask someone what is the craziest thing they've ever done. People have cool stories. I'd hate to miss that beauty and adventure just because I was too comfortable in my own little bubble.

12. Connect with a mentor in the field you're interested in pursuing. 
This is such good advice. Even though I have lived for over two decades, I don't know everything there is to know about life. HAHA. Treat a prof to coffee and listen. They love it. 

13. Ask more questions.
I babysit a little girl who asks more questions that any person I have ever met. However, she is one of the smartest little girls I have ever met. Coincidence? I think not.

14. Develop your people skills.
I love talking to people but I still have lots of room for improvement in this area. One of the biggest things I need to work on: listening. Yes, that's a people skill.

15. Invest in a mature wardrobe.
I've been finding that while I have a closet full of clothes in great condition, they are not all as mature as I need. Again...consignment shopping is great. It's way more convenient to buy a couple pieces at a time than to hit the "real world" and need to buy a whole wardrobe at first.

16. Save money from each paycheck for needs you're not even able to conceive of right now.
Cons to saving money: none. I'm working on putting this into regular practice.

17. Know your flaws and focus on ways to improve rather than being insecure about them.
No one is perfect. We've been told that forever. Then why are we so afraid of our imperfections? Work on them and be gracious with others. 
"Perhaps it is our imperfections that make us so perfect for one another." Jane Austen

18. Travel, study abroad, or move to a foreign place.
YES. While I was on the Camino this year, I had the most interesting conversation with a German man about American stereotypes. Americans are known for having blinders when it comes to seeing the world. We travel and expect everyone to speak English. We criticize because we do not take the time, or do not care, to understand. One of the things I love about the Camino is that you do not just experience the culture of the country you are in; you experience the culture of all the people who are also walking. The possibilities are endless (and so are the lessons). 

19. Hang out with kids under the age of four.
Kids are hilarious. Filter-less conversations and endless amounts of creativity. Be inspired.

20. Learn about food.
While this is totally a "fad" it is super important. I've been learning a lot more about this recently, especially through a personal experience with detoxing. No gluten, dairy, corn, soy, and other various things. I still ate and was never hungry. But man, it's crazy how much better I felt. Lost some weight, so much more energy. Find what is right for your body!

21 & 22...Ok, I added these.
Turn technology off every once in a while. Go to dinner with your friends and play the phone stack game (everyone puts phone in the middle of table and first person to reach for their phone pays for everyone). At first it may be stressful, but it really is freeing. And if hiking on the Camino for 2 weeks with your phone on airplane mode is what it takes, I can hook you up. Technology is not bad. I'm not saying that. I'm actually really grateful for it. But make sure technology is a means to an end, not the "end."
Lastly, keep a journal. Record stupid small things and the biggest life-altering events. Write down prayer requests. Draw a picture. Tape movie stubs into it. But most importantly, don't forget to go back and read about how far you've come.

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all. 
Oscar Wilde

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