Things I Learned From Being 26

Today I turned 26. Ok, actually I turned 26 ten days ago. But today, many of the lessons I gleamed from the changing of ages came rushing into my head like a Macker (see surfer’s glossary of terms for definition). As I was preparing my mind to unfurl the flag of these great revelations, I stumbled upon some writings that other 20-somethings had scribbled long before I had set my mind to such a task. This writer shares 25 Things Learned in his Twenties, and just months prior, this same author notes the many overlooked benefits of being in one’s twenties. While I occassionally wish to bury my head in the sand, get a makeover, and hide the fact that I am a struggling 20-something for fear of not being taken seriously, sometimes I appreciate being carded for a glass of wine or being asked if my 18- year old brother is my boyfriend (kidding, thats actually really awkward). I have also been asked if I am his mom though, so I guess that one is not a good egg to put my baskets in.

Here are some of the valuable, life-changing lessons I have discovered as I have crossed the line from being nowhere near 30, to being REALLY ULTRA CLOSE to 30:

I always thought that all of my friends were birds of a similar feather and flock and I could deal with them all in the same way. I assumed I could send everyone helpless text messages at one in the morning and see them all just once a decade while we travelled about our separate ways, and still be able to pick up right where we left off. I thought I could prop my feet on the chair of every pal I had, and crack open their refrigerator to help myself to a snack. Incorrect. Friendships and relationships come in all shapes and sizes. Some friends, you call everyday and talk to for hours on end, or just breathe into their ear for an extended period of time. Some you email once a week, others you send a greeting card in the mail or poke them on Facebook every now and the; still others you see every night while you both just hang out on the front porch and watch life float on by. People tend to get mad at others when they can’t “figure them out” or they are not “speaking the same language” or when they are not able to relate to them like all their other friends. It has been interesting  for me to see, amplified over the past 10 years, which friendships have faded into the fringes and which have been strengthened despite trial and tribulation. Perhaps it’s when we try to put our friends in these little tiny, understandable boxes that this happens. Instead, is it best to let friendships and people unfold in an organic and intrinsic way and see what flows? All friends fulfill a different part of us, and all of them require us to examine what we are bringing anything to the table also. Giver’s Gain? And often just give, give, give. It’s usually a lovely thing, a much more lovely thing than your Lego block ideas of what it could be could have made it, and far easier.

Today while I was walking, I passed a runner who totally gave me the stink eye, the one that said, “You crazy walker, look at me running, who is burning the most fat, who is going to be fitter, live longer, and happier…SUCKER!” Meanwhile, unbeknownst to him, I was thinking, “Wow, you really need a chiropractor or to work on your posture in yoga or something, dude.” Then, feeling like I wanted to offer his stinky eye judgement a myriad of excuses to defend myself as to why I was not running, I realized what had just occurred. We had both judged each other, or at least perceived what was each other judging each other. I do this all the time: comparing one person’s age and accomplishments in life to my own, another’s perfectly tanned chiseled legs to my pasty white tree trunks, and I try to base my choice of wine at a restaurant on what the chicest, classiest woman in the place chose moments before me. When will I get it. My life is mine! Her life is hers. Your life is yours. We are all so different and individual that comparing can actually become a hopeless, addictive downward spiraling cycle. Naturally, it’s easier to stay hidden under a rock so that we are not always looking towards what the Smiths and Jones are having and wondering if it is in some way better than ours, if they are somehow more enlightened. Circumstances in life usually have us out and about. We must keep focused, with horse blinder vision and ensure we are living up to the standards and ethics that we have set before us, rather than what another is telling us we should be / should not be doing. Ascribing to the opinion’s of others, taking someone else’s conviction as your own is not my idea of a good time. Find your philosophy, know where you are and where you are going and waver not. 

Ok so I have not ACTUALLY learned this lesson yet, but I know it’s one I should have learned and when I am done worrying about everything, I will be able to tell you that this is something I learned from being 26. I am a little worried that it won’t be done by the end of this year though….

Magazines. Articles. Blogs. Friends. Health professionals. Counselors. Lawyers. And your kid’s sixth grade Teacher. It seems advice is everywhere, just waiting for us to voice our problems so it can rear it’s ugly head through someone else’s windpipe. My advice is not to follow everyone’s advice. I don’t want a guidebook written by someone else to tell ME what to wear to a job interview, or how to act when I go on a first date…isn’t all this advice just perpetuating the notion of “following the crowd.” Here’s some more advice: go against the grain. I must say, I have noticed that I am rather invisible lately, and in realizing said fact, I am much less worried about following everyone else’s perfect societal mold for my age, stature, body fat percentage, and gender. I am just me, I am part of you, and will one day become part of the ground and turn into a tree or hopefully a camellia, and I don’t really know what that means but no one else does either, so who are they to tell me that three eggs a day is healthy for me or that I should be using avocado peppermint hand soap. I guess when it all boils down to it, we’re all here learning and growing together. Share the wisdom you have when you are asked and keep it small, simple, and exquisitely personal to those around you. Then don’t be offended if they don’t follow it. That’s bite-sized advice from me to you.

To recap, these are artifacts I have gleamed this past year that are not to be taken seriously nor to heart. They are my own inner bubblings and gurglings and had I been smarter, I would have kept them all to myself. But I didn’t learn much in turning 26, so I still shamelessly broadcast to the world….maybe by 27 I will have learned to hush up.

I leave you with this interesting thought that hit me over the skull the other day:


Can I charge it instead?


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