Thursday, May 23, 2013

28 things I've learned in 28 years

Today's my burfday. Here are some things I've learned:

1. Don't ever apologize for crying. I'm not sure I can think of a single occasion where it might be inappropriate to cry. I can think of several times when people might tell you not to cry, or to ask you to stop crying, because they find it inappropriate, but I have found that it is always OK to cry.

If you are crying every day, in a way that is not just evidence of a sensitive personality but rather is making you uncomfortable and indicating depression, then you should take steps to get yourself healing. But shedding tears as a reaction to something is fine, and should not be accompanied by apology.

2. Disneyland is more fun than Disney World. It just is.

3. A job that makes you cry is not worth it.

4. The outdoors are your friends. Get acquainted.

5. Just about everything on this earth is in constant flux, and nothing this side of heaven is going to be perfect, even things you love.

You will not always love that dress in your closet. You may someday find that coffee isn't doing it for you the way it used to. A friend or family member who you can hardly get through a phone conversation with now, due to eye rolling and irritation on your end, might be your best friend down the road. If today you're panicked, you might have the demeanor of someone at a spa tomorrow.

My favorite writer, Anne Lamott, tells herself to lower the bar of expectations. I find this advice extremely helpful. Lowering the bar doesn't make you a pessimist. It can help you keep your sanity, as a human among humans.

Keep moving forward. Take deep breaths. That traffic jam will end.

Call your friends. They'll talk to you, even if about nothing in particular, to get you through a long night, or a rough decade.

(I'm essentially saying here: "This too shall pass," but as a writer it is my job to rephrase things.)

6. Exercising is worth it.

7. People, for some reason, are way too competitive when it comes to volleyball. Which is why you will have to pay me large sums to get me to play it.

8. Even though I often find myself at my most judgmental while at church, I am still going to attend.

9. Drink free coffee when it is available.

10. If you have the freedom to do so, consider chasing after the weather that makes you happiest. Rain, sunshine, show. Put yourself in a climate that has a proven tendency to keep you calm. It makes life a lot easier.

11. Every city and town everywhere has an ego. You can trash talk any place in the world you want, but where you live is just the same when it comes to its regional pride.

12. I HATE guns.

13. Dating suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks. I want it to be fun, but it's just so not.

14. Making out, on the other hand, is very fun.

15. I love to write. And I think I'm not terrible at it. It's the only thing I've ever felt convicted that I am called to do.

16. I am exactly like my father, and turning into my mother. I do not view this as a negative.

17. For goodness sake, be nice to people. You don't always have to be feeling great yourself, and you are allowed your moments when you get to break down and be the mess, and let people take care of you. But even if you are one giant ball of anxiety, say hello to your coworkers. Make time for your grandparents. Understand that lines are long and slow, but they do not exist to make you furious. They are just a part of life.

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." --Socrates

Until just now, for years I thought that quote was "...fighting a harder battle." Either way, good advice.

18. Try flossing. You might end up loving it, and it can help your heart. The jury is out on the heart thing, but it's my birthday so we're going to be positive and assume that it can help your heart.

19. Old men are some of the most adorable creatures on this earth.

20. My cat is cuter than yours.

21. If you are having the worst day of your life, try remembering how it could be worse. This is not the solution to all your stuff, but it is a start. Be grateful, for example, that you never tried drugs, that no one ever hit you, that you have the ability to walk, or see. Whatever it is that has been protected in your life, be grateful for it. If you can't feel grateful in that moment, recognize the existence of the good things that are there. Genuine gratitude will probably, eventually, follow.

22. Living alone creates its very own breed of mental illness. Or self awareness. However you want to characterize it (my definition varies depending on how forgiving I am feeling, in general and of myself).

23. You can cheer for the University of Missouri and the University of Kansas.

24. Give people a chance. Have common sense in this: Don't spend time with someone who makes you fear for your safety. But if you find someone boring or arrogant or aggravating on first meeting, give this opinion the option to change. You wouldn't want someone to write you off after one impression.

25. Given what I just said in #24, you do not, I repeat: do not, have to go on a second date with someone you find to be, in the words of Chandler Bing, "a big dull dud."

Be loving with people, but you don't have to marry them all. In fact, you shouldn't marry them all.

26. Get. Out. Of the house!!! E'rrrrrry day. Except for days that you are very ill or taking a rare but well deserved complete day off, get your bum out of the house. Even if for a five minute walk around the block, get out. Listen to me. Do it. We are social creatures. Don't isolate yourself. And this is coming from the queen of "I need my alone time!". I have learned the hard way what isolation can do to you (See #22).

27. Ellen's YouTube channel is probably the funniest one you will ever find.

28. Surround yourself with good friends. I find that the best of the best are those who can make you laugh and will let you cry. Bonus if they'll pray with you. People who have a serious and a lighthearted side are, to me, people who have survived something. They know that life is rough, and they know that if you don't laugh, you die. Find these people and keep them close. If they are thousands of miles away, put them on speed dial.


  1. I enjoyed this, Bailey. Thanks for posting it, and Happy Birthday!

    1. you're welcome, and glad you enjoyed! thanks for the bday wish!