I did the math, and I’ve officially been living for over 8000 days on Planet Earth. For some reason, 8000 days seems like a relatively small number (maybe because I have a tendency to think of numbers in money and 8000 days totals only $8000…), but it sounds more impressive than saying I turned 22 years of age. Let’s be real, the only good part of turning 22 is that there’s a song specifically dedicated to feeling 22 (shout out to you, Taylor Swift).
Anyways, in celebration of these last 8000 days, I thought I would share 8000 lessons I’ve learned - one for each day. …just kidding. Maybe. But I will share 22 things I’ve been learning over the last 8000 days, and in particular, over the last 365 days.
I. Jesus is like a mountie; He always gets His man. I said I spent a year wrestling with God & was shown this video - not only for its extreme hilarity, but also as a constant reminder that Jesus is like a mountie - He always gets His man. If you try to run away, He will find you. He always gets his man. (I am so sorry for the song that will be stuck in your head for a week. I hope you laugh hysterically.)
II. Be unapologetically yourself. In my first summer working for Housing, someone said this and it has always stayed with me. Be unapologetically yourself: which is what I tell myself when I walk around with a blowhorn, when I roll through the quad dressed in all black like a ninja, or when I awkwardly dance to Taylor Swift always. Be who you are & who God has called you to be - not who the world is telling you to be - & don’t apologize for it.
III. You can’t just love people with the pieces of your heart you deemed ‘not damaged’. You have to love them with all of your heart. I am by no means a relationship expert. In fact, I’m probably the opposite. But what I have learned is that you can’t just give what you’ve deemed "not damaged". You can protect yourself, for sure. But at some point, you have to give all you have to truly love someone. Loving in pieces won’t work. And more pieces of your heart may get damaged in the process, but I’ve heard it’s worth it.
IV. Enthusiasm is good. Lukewarm - that’s what is no good. “I began to realize how important it is to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it, and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good.” - Roald Dahl
“Nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness.’ Which is not a good insult at all.” - John Green
We all seem to be living in a world where we’re too cool to get excited about things. Y’all: if it has a button that says, “Add to Google Calendar”, I’m going to get excited. If a band plays my favourite song at a concert, I’m going to get excited. I know I operate on a higher level of enthusiasm than most, but I love what I love. Please don’t be too cool to be excited about things or people or places that make your heart beat faster.
V. Own your story. “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” - Anne Lammott You own everything that happened to you. The good, the bad, the ugly. It’s not always nice, it’s not always fun, and it’s not always written the way you wanted it to. But you also cannot run from it. It’s important to share.
VI. Your path looks different. Repeat this to yourself when you forget (because you probably will). Repeat this to yourself when you’re scrolling through Facebook & you see friends in graduation robes, while you spend some quality time with your advisement report. Repeat this to yourself when people are getting engaged or having babies. Repeat this to yourself when you are campaigning. Repeat this to yourself when you slip into a trap where you compare your life to everyone else.
VII. Cinnamon will ruin an entire batch of spaghetti. Don’t put cinnamon in spaghetti. I know it’s not your instinct to, but in case you’re ever wanting to experiment, I’m just going to save you the trial and error process and say it’s just not worth it.
VIII. You can’t be a cure for loneliness. Nor can humans cure your loneliness. "Humans are just humans. They’re not lifeboats. They’re not bandaids. They’re not completion.” - Hannah Brencher. You can never be enough to fill people’s holes. You can never twist yourself to fill up their empty places, & it’s unfair to expect others to do the same for you. Find someone who compliments you, not completes you. (I’m pretty convinced Jesus is the only cure for loneliness, to be honest, but that’s just me.)
IX. Those scars on your heart will be used. You may not realize it right away, but Jesus will spin your straw of grief into gold. I used to think the scars on my heart were just for decoration. War wounds. Scars to show I survived. Badges of honour. They’re not. Which makes me laugh, even more so when I realize Jesus is using the very things that broke my heart to help others.
X. Lean in to what makes you scared. Like class talks and public speaking and campaigning. Or telling someone how you really feel. Or an essay. Or a job. But if clowns really scare you, I don’t think you have to lean into that. You can run from clowns.
XI. If exhaling is the only prayer you can muster, that’s okay. I am someone who loves words immensely, and some days, when my heart feels heavy with all the things, all I have is an exhale. & to be honest, when I speak less, I feel Jesus more.
XII. His timing is not your timing. His plans are not your plans. Jesus is never late. He is never early. He is always right on time. Even when you think His timing is off. Even when you think He’s too early with something, because you’re not ready. Even if you think He’s too late. Even when you’re pretty sure His plans should be your plans.
XIII. Drop the freakin’ anchor. Hang up the metaphorical running shoes. Staying isn’t a bad thing. Not everyone is going to leave. You don’t have to run away before they do. You can stay in a place, be truly known and seen, and - this could be the shock of all shocks - people will stay. So you can too.
XIV. You’re not less strong or less resilient because you're a joyful person. Sometimes, people write off joy as naivitie. I am not naive about the state of the world, and I am not less strong than others because I like laughing. However, I am in control of my emotions and I choose every day to be joyful, which I think is a pretty strong & resilient choice.
XV. You don’t need to have all the answers. These days, everyone can have answers to questions within the 2.33 seconds it takes to complete a Google search. I’m a recent convert to the idea that sometimes, people don’t need your answers to fix them. Sometimes, people just need you to sit and listen. Sometimes, the bravest thing you can say is, “I have absolutely no idea what I am doing.”
XVI. Find people that call you on your shit & love them fiercely. Or have those people be your family. Find people that aren’t afraid to look you in the eyes and say, “You need to stop running.” Find the people that see you trying to play small, and let them remind you that you were made for grander adventures. And maybe they aren’t calling you on your shit all the time, but find people that remind you of your value and worth, & love them immensely.
XVII. Writing three pages each day does have benefits. I’ve been writing (approximately) three pages a day every day since May and it’s a game changer. I process things a lot better. I feel more creative. And it’s better than looking at my phone all the time. Plus you get more long-winded blog posts! Living the dream.
XVIII. Your playing small does not serve the world. So know you’re doing well, you’re doing alright, you’re doing good things, you are brave and strong and capable of hard things and worthy of celebration. But then also keep your mom’s voice in the back of your head, saying, “Remember to stay humble.”
XIX. Sometimes you grow like a flower, popping up beautiful each new season of spring. Sometimes you grow like a tree, roots seeping into the ground and taking years to mature and form into something big. “If God made you a duck, then you’re a duck my friend. Swim like mad but don’t get bent out of shape because you wobble when you run.” - Charles Swindoll You’re growing at the pace you need to be. It may look like there’s no growth right now, but one day, you’ll look back and you’ll be like those giant trees in California.
XX. You may not have the life you dreamed of, but you can spend every day celebrating the life you have. I spent a lot of time this last year telling God this is not the life I dreamed of & I was exceptionally hostile towards it. This isn’t the life I dreamed of when I was in grade school or high school or even the life I dreamed of last year. But my life is filled with so much good, so much joy, so many beautiful people, and so much love. That’s so worth celebrating.
XXI. Random strangers talk to you more when you have history slides up on your computer. Roll with it. Apparently nothing makes you more appealing to the male gender than some World War II slides up on your computer. This may be the most important lesson in this collection of lessons learned.
XXII. Adventure is out there. So don’t be afraid to hop on a subway or a streetcar & not have a set plan. Go sign up for bike memberships, grab some roller skates, hop in a car & go on a crazy road trip, spend time outside, climb mountains, choose to sit in the cab of a truck, watch a sunset, watch a sunrise, walk along the beach, go painting, go scuba diving, go sky diving, get a tattoo, learn how to fly a plane, run around with balloons, give Happy Meals to random strangers in Zellers, do all those things you keep putting off. I promise, every day is a grand adventure if you let it be.