Two years ago, in another blog, I wrote a post on my 24th birthday that listed 24 things I had learned in my 24th year.
For this entry, I am to write 26 things I learned in my 26th year.
This may break a little from my traditional “place” centered entry – but traveling has taught me a lot about life and a lot about myself, as this list may reveal.
26. Practice trusting the universe. Practice trust that your internal compass is leading you the right place. Even if it’s not, you’ll just uselessly worry yourself doing otherwise.
25. Life passes fast and hard and every smile from a loved one is to be cherished (as is every tear, as is every embrace).
24. Reading a good book will hold you when you can’t find or trust a person to.
23. You risk making the person you are with feel unimportant and less loved if you choose to have your phone out when you’re with them.
22. Life passes fast and hard – cherish every opportunity you have to rest.
21. True rest means no phones!
20. You can be a strong, independent, feminist woman and still want a big, strong, man to love you and help you with stuff – and also, you can DEFINITELY still love yourself and do all that stuff yourself when there is no good big strong man around.
19. Guilt without action is both useless and unbearable.
18. Crying will make you feel better. Part of taking care of yourself is finding the space to cry when you need to and to let it out as fully as you can.
17. Cruelty can usually be explained away in one way or another. We may work to understand it, and even work to have compassion for its perpetrator – but we must not allow that to be an excuse for avoiding the fight against it.
16. If you ask for it, out loud, you are more likely to receive it.
15. To steal one from Charlotte Brontë, “I would rather be happy than dignified.”
14. There is no love more unrestrained in its expression than the love from a small child. Their enthusiasm can crack light into even the darkest of days. The generous amount of time my life has allotted me to spend with children is a gift.
13. The best time to eat noodles is at four am.
12. Laugh as often as you possibly can. Find every opportunity.
11. Having a place to call home is a blessing – having a home to yearn for and know you will return to, eventually – is a tremendous blessing, and one to be remembered when homesick.
10. Going to bed early and waking at sunrise is THE BEST. Especially in China, when you can hear tai-chi music alongside the morning birds.
9. Every hook-up, relationship, and heartbreak teaches you something new about yourself, humanity, intimacy, and love and is thus never to be regretted. Learn, move forward, continue in hope!
8. One day at a time, one thing at a time, you can calm down. I understand this lesson intellectually, still working on practicing it fully.
7. Sometimes, the best thing you can do, and the only thing you need to do, is just listen. Entirely. No need to speak in reply. (Also, still working on practicing this fully).
6. You are responsible for your own energy. Preserve and dispense it with care.
5. The kindest thing you can do for yourself is to forgive, let go, and not take it personally.
4. There is no cure for a hangover better than drinking hot water.
3. Don’t take clean air for granted!!! Go outside whenever it is fresh!!!
2. I wrote this in my journal in Huangshan, “It’s normal to be sad. It’s normal to feel lonely. I can’t promise you any solution or even tell you that it will all be okay one day, and I certainly will not tell you that it is your fault (though you can so often blame yourself for it). Rather, I just want to applaud you. I want to applaud you for continuing anyway. For writing when you’re feeling discouraged, for trying when you’re feeling scared, for embracing life as an independent, single woman who can adventure solo even when you’re feeling real lonely. People ask me “why do I do it myself?” My simple answer is that I couldn’t find anyone to do it with me – and I wasn’t not going to do it just because of that. Yes, I like being alone, but when I find someone and they inspire a sense of home, safety, and sky in my being, I want nothing more than to be in their presence as much as I possibly can. But the world demands to be seen, movies demand to be viewed, books demand to be read, mountains demand to be hiked, and words, cultures, skills demand to be learned – and while I will cherish, pine for, and treasure my time with familiar faces, lovers, and kindred souls, I will not wait until one of them can join me for me to set out and discover. I’m going to make a bold seizure of this life and trust that the universe will open up her arms to me when I step, alone, into the unknown.”
1. I learned how to say a lot of stuff in Chinese, maybe most importantly the phrase “hun hao chi” (very yummy food ;D ).