Monday, December 30, 2013

The best advice I can give...

I know it has been a very, very long time since I last sat down and typed out a post.  It's not for lack of desire to blog, but entirely because of lack of time.  Since the last post I wrote, back in June, I have gone back to work part-time, and am continuing to plow through part-time school, as well.  And that is on top of being a mom and a wife, and trying not to let my house turn into a HAZMAT-suit-required zone.

I wish I was one of those superwomen who could say in all truthfulness that they can juggle everything and still find the time.  The truth is, the only reason I have time right now is because one of the kids is off at jiu jitsu, it is Christmas break from the school (where I work), and I am between school terms.  It feels very odd to be this "free," let me tell you.

Anyway, let me get derailed before I even begin...  Sheesh...

I was having a conversation with my brother's girlfriend the other day and she said, "You know, you should really be a blogger or something.  You are full of so much great knowledge and advice on things, and your perspective is interesting."  I told her that I already had a blog, but that (as I stated above) I have lacked the time to really devote to blogging since going back to work and school.

But I thought about what she said.  The immodest part of me was, like, "Heck yeah, I do have a lot of awesome things to say and the whole world should hear it!"  Then the modest part of me was, like, "Get over yourself.  You have a lot of opinions, but that doesn't make them special or unique by default or anything.  It was a nice compliment, but don't let it go to your head."  Then the part of me that marinated on it for a few days decided, "You know what?  Your perspectives may not be new or profound or anything, but they are still worth being heard.  So, why not give it a shot and offer some advice?"

So here is is.  In no particular order, here is some of the best advice I can give.  Take it or leave it.  It's valuable to me, and at the end of the day, that is really all that should matter anyway.

1.  Be a good friend.
There is a time in my life I am not proud of.  It was a time in my life in which I thought I was better than everyone else.  That somehow, at the tender age of 20-something, I had "arrived" at the moral high ground, and everyone else was somehow more sinful (just because they sinned differently) and therefore beneath me.  I cut ties with a lot of people.  A lot of people.  And for no other reason than they were different.  Their choices, lifestyles, life paths, and/or beliefs were different.  And somehow, in my sick, twisted mindset of the time, this meant they were unworthy of being a part of my life.  I then surrounded myself with only people who thought and operated within my narrow little "thinking box."  Then, long story short, I went through a series of difficult family and personal events, and when the proverbial poo hit the fan, all those people ran out.....and I was left mostly alone to pick up the pieces and rebuild what was left of my very damaged heart and spirit.  I ate my heaping helping of humble pie, and slowly began opening my heart up again to the people I once deemed as unworthy of my love....and those people loved me back. 

That was one of the most eye-opening lessons I ever learned.  If someone offers you friendship, take it.  If someone loves you even when you are a complete nightmare of a mess, that is a true friend.  They may be very different from you, but that's okay.  If they are the type of person who says, "Call me, day or night, whatever you need, I'll be there," then never let them go.  If they are the type of person who runs out when times get tough, then let them go.  Still offer them respect and kindness, but that is not a true friend.

And be a good friend.  Don't be judgmental.  People's lives are hard enough already.  Nobody wants to be called on the carpet just because they are different, or because they are struggling with something.  Instead, be supportive.  Be kind.  Be an anchor.  Be someone people can put their trust and secrets in and know they'll be safe.  Lend a helping hand.  Speak with kindness.  People don't want to hear your version of truth as much as they want to know they're loved.  Give them love.  And leave it at that.  Save your "truth" for another day.

And offer this to everyone.  Don't limit yourself to only people who fit in your little "mold."  Because I have received far more love and support from those who have stretched my "mold" to the limits than those who fit neatly within it.

2.  Always ask questions.  Always!
I have learned that the most dangerous thing a person could ever do is quit asking questions.  If you think you know the truth, you don't.  You might think you do, but you don't.  If you don't have questions, question that.  That's an excellent place to start.  Question yourself, question others, question your beliefs....and accept that there are many questions that don't have black and white answers.  Or perhaps the answers are relative or case-specific to you and your own life or beliefs.  And that is okay.  It is okay to have different opinions.  It is okay to disagree with the status quo....or, to agree with it....whatever the case may be.

Never stop seeking more knowledge, never stop philosophizing, never stop consulting science...or faith.  You need them both.  Never stop thinking for yourself.  Never hand your brain and your convictions over to someone else....not even to science or faith.

And never fear what you don't know.  Instead, learn about it.  Quiet the fears.  Give the fears answers, and they will disappear.  But to limit your mind only to what is known and what is comfortable is dangerous. 

You are bright, you are strong, and you are brilliant....tap into that, seek after that, and never let that go.  Because the minute you do, you will be duped.  Or hurt.  Or brainwashed.  You will lose time.  You will lose your sense of self.  And it takes much longer to get it back than to lose it.  So never let your sense of wonder and your thirst for answers be snuffed out.  Take it from will regret it.

3.  Let it be.
Yes, I am stealing words from John Lennon.  But they are true, and deep, and should be internalized and applied.  Live and let live.  You do your thing, and let others do theirs.  Help others when and if warranted, but nobody likes unsolicited advice on how they should be managing their own life.  You may think you have all the answers on how you would live someone else's may think what they do is flat-out wrong....but it is their life to live.  It is their mistakes and learning experiences to make.  Or, conversely, their benefits to reap.  It is not yours.  And your interference isn't necessary, and may even rob others of the life experiences they need.

So let it be.  Keep your opinions and judgments to yourself, and focus on living your own life in the best manner you are capable of living it.  It is not your job to try and dictate how anyone else should live.  So and let live....and let it be.  Keep your actions loving and your words few.  Everyone is happier when you do.

4.  Believe in yourself.
You are you.  You are unique.  You are smart.  And you have a lot to offer this world.  You are valuable, and you are valued.  So many people you will encounter in life will try and convince you otherwise, but they are liars.  You have to be willing to do the work, but you are worth it, and the world needs you.

Never settle for less than your own abilities.  Never allow the lies out there to make you believe that you have to settle for a life that doesn't make you happy or benefit others.  Your potential is far greater than you probably even realize.  And if anyone - or a collective group of people - tries to convince you that you should ever settle for less than you were put on this earth to be and - don't walk - away!  As fast and as far as you can go! 

You are worth it.  Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise!

5.  It is never too late to start over.
If what you're doing isn't working, start over.  Nowhere is it written in stone that we can never make a change.  If you are unhappy, change your path.  Do something different.  Do it fearlessly. 

If your job stinks, get a new one.  If you hate where you live, move.  If people are treating you badly, speak up.  If you're in a bad relationship, get counseling and/or get out.  Life is too short to live it miserably. 

Yes, change is scary.  And risky.  But its better than living a mediocre, hum-drum life you don't enjoy.  So if you need to go back to the drawing board, do that.

It is never too late.

There are so many other little nuggets of wisdom I have, but I think those five kind of envelop all the others.  I don't have all the answers, but these are all lessons I wish I'd learned much earlier in life.  I could've saved myself a lot of heartache if I had.

Do you have any sound advice you think should be shared?  What are some tough lessons you wish you'd learned earlier in life?  Care to share?

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