My life's about to transition into something totally new and change is hard and stressful. Whenever I'm completely overwhelmed, I always tell myself that just changing one of the things causing me stress will make it all a lot better. I also usually turn to long lists of advice on places like Buzzfeed to give me comfort, so in honour of that, here's a rambling list of 28 things I've learned at 28 for anyone else feeling the changes approaching:
1. Call, don't email. You'll get the response you need without waiting days for an answer. Especially for job situations, calling makes personal contact and you'll be more recognisable. No one else likes calling either, so you'll be one of the few people that did. And in situations where you can ask face-to-face, muster the gusto and find out in person!
It's what Don would do.
2. Follow the instructions. Sadly, the rules apply to you, and taking shortcuts on things like submissions, applications, and job responsibilities are bad manners. Read things twice if you have to. Read things three times just to be safe.
Look how happy! Look how cute!
3. Ask questions. If you don't understand something, the likelihood is that the people around you don't either. The less you know about something, the more likely you are to make a mistake.
4. Offer your input. Most of the people around you spend a lot of time convincing themselves that what they think doesn't matter. Perhaps we're all just used to chipping in to comments on a Facebook rant, but in real life: make your voice heard. When you think of a constructive suggestion or have an informed response to a problem, say it! People will notice you in a positive way, and they'll respect you for being one of the few people who can talk in a lecture theatre. And trust me, when someone's standing alone in front of a group, they want you to contribute. There is nothing worse than public speaking to a dead audience. Imagine how you'd feel if you were in the same situation. Trust me: what you're thinking isn't useless.
Hermione had the skills to defeat Voldemort.
And so can you has them.
5. You will have to get used to public speaking. Everyone has to do it at some point or other. Just remember that most people hate it. You are not alone. I prepare jokes to use during presentations. Even if they're bad ones, people usually laugh because everyone feels awkward during presentations and laughter makes me in turn feel less nervous. Pointing out your own awkwardness can also be useful!
Just think of a million naked John Malkovich's.
That'll clear your nerves right up.
6. No job is beneath you. If you've run out of things to do at work, find something more. Ask your supervisor if they need help with anything. Reorganise something. Clean. You will be known as the hard worker and in many cases duly rewarded for it. Don't ever be at your job looking bored, and never disrespect anyone else's job. Ever. We all need to make a living somehow.
7. Put your phone away. You will remember your friend telling that joke. You will not remember liking that photo on Instagram.
An appropriate time to respond to messages.
8. Sometimes take the high road. Forgive. Even if it's probably not worth forgiving someone, you will feel better inside. Carrying around negativity is a cancer. Get rid of it.
9. Vent your emotions, talk about your feelings, share what you think. But stop complaining all the time, particularly when you're complaining about the same circumstances over and over. Complaining is not therapeutic or healing, it's negativity. And negativity never lifted anyone up. It's never feasible to change everything in your life at once, but find one thing you can change that will make you happier, even the smallest of things, and do it.
If it works for Taylor...
10. Save money when and if you can. These days, it's becoming harder and harder for anyone - especially people in their early twenties - to put cash aside. But when you're not sure if you really need those new shoes, that means don't buy them and try to put the money away for your future. Anytime you're not sure if you want to buy something, stick to that rule! You'll be grateful for the savings, and the shoes will probably end up staying in the closet. The earlier you start putting money to the side, the less you need to put away every month. If by any chance your part or full-time job has any stock or retirement options, use them!
11. But saying that...treat yourself every once in a while. Don't scrimp so much that you don't have fun or make yourself feel good when you can. If you know you want something, it's okay to splurge every now and again if you can manage it!
12. Your environment is your sanity. If you don't feel comfortable in your private spaces, you won't feel at home. Our home should be the space we can decompress from the day. Make effort to clean, decorate, and surround yourself with things that promote peace and fulfilment. The world is chaotic out there, but your space doesn't need to be. Buy some candles, or a pillow, or even a really comfy jumper to wear in the evening.
Like James Franco and his Japanese body pillow, Kimiko.
13. Seek the random in life. Randomness offers new perspectives and ideas. It's rare that we are inspired by repeating the same recipe every day. Challenge yourself to be a bit abnormal, it will bring out sides of yourself you didn't know existed. Even if it's something small like seeing a foreign film on a Tuesday evening: embrace the random. Go for a walk in a place you haven't been. Read a book in a genre you normally don't read.
14. Never avoid things out of fear that they won't work out or that you don't know what you're doing. Despite what the adults make it seem, no one really knows what they're doing. They might know a bit more than you, but we're all just winging it. Seriously. The people who have their shit together are a rare breed, and when you meet them, respect their organisation and find out how they got there. And ask them about the areas in their life that they're still not sure about. We all have them, and it'll make you feel better.
15. Trust your gut. We often spend a lot of time hemming and hawing over a decision we know we're going to make in a certain way. It's important to think about choices and consider options, but don't spend too much time stressing over getting what you want. If something feels right, then it's right, no matter what anyone else says, how risky it may seem, or whether or not it fits into other people's ideas about what your life should be. Gut instincts are with you from the moment you're born: listen to them. A lot of people will spend time making recommendations that don't fit your needs. There's no reason we have to say yes to them.
Even if it loses you some popularity...
16. Feeling bored is a sign you're not challenging yourself. The next time you feel bored, ask yourself why and how often you feel this way. If you feel bored on a regular basis, that's a good sign that something in your life needs to change, whether it's finding a new activity, changing a current relationship, or switching jobs. We are often confined by things like finances, mobility, family responsibilities, relationships, and I could go on...but find the freedom you do have and seek to fill it with something that captures your attention.
I love taxidermy and I don't care
what anyone else thinks.
17. Don't hold onto something, be it a routine, a relationship, a job, a location, just because you're afraid of what it'll be like to lose it. Change is scary, but life is change. I have lived much of my life trying to get to a point of being settled down, but this is a fallacy. We're always having to make new choices, find a new path, figure out our goals. Particularly when we grow used to something, we can spend a lot of time justifying its presence in our life because it's harder to imagine ourselves without it. The Catch-22 is that we often can't gain perspective on things until there's separation from them. This does not mean we have to be uprooting ourselves all the time, but remaining open to possibility and opportunity is important for growth. The things that are meant to stay in our lives will always be there. When things are meaningful, they never really leave us anyway.
18. Listen more.
This is what you should generally
look like while listening.
19. Never disregard another person's pain. We all go through difficult times. Do not take mental stability for granted, and do not dismiss the immense struggle it can be for people to recover and cope with mental illness. Be understanding, always. We can't always be there for people in the ways that we want, but listening and understanding go a long way. Pay more attention to your own pain as well. It's as valid as anyone else's.
20. Saying that, someone else's pain should never be a reason for them to intentionally inflict pain on others. You will end up in situations and relationships that are hurtful toward you, unfair, and ultimately unhealthy. Don't dwell on the amount of time you spent in them, be proud of your efforts to make the best out of a dysfunctional situation, and do your best to get out as soon as you can.
21. Learn to love work. Find your passion, no matter what it is, and love building on it. It takes time to do things well and be successful at them. It can often feel frustrating and exhausting to do the things we love, but the perk of pursuing a passion is eventually you'll remember the reasons you're working so hard at it in the first place.
22. You can't always get what you want. Nothing is perfect. You may get an offer for a job you didn't want. You may find that your university programme isn't what you expected. Put effort into everything. There are always skills to obtain, people to meet, and perspectives to gain. If you don't put effort in, you'll never find out what something can provide. Every opportunity is an opportunity for something to change.
23. I still don't really get love. Who does? But I do know that real love is about finding happiness in the imperfections. It's not necessarily permanent, but love in a moment is worth a lot.
Kids describing love here.
24. Accept help when you need it. Offer help when you can.
25. Read a lot. Try to read non-fiction some of the time. Make your default webpage a news website so you know what's going on in the world, even if you don't read any of the stories in full. If you don't like reading, try buying a large print version of a book. It makes you feel like a kid again. Read teen fiction, it's fun and awesome and often insightful. Get audiobooks.
Yes, even Twilight.
26. Pay attention to your body and how it works. Everyone is different. Doctors will never know you like you know you. You have to live with yourself every second of the day. If you get gas after eating certain foods, if you get a headache when you drink too much caffeine, if you're really tired all the time, try to figure out why and what changes you can make in your diet, sleeping habits, and daily activities that make you feel better. Just because a certain way of life works for your friend doesn't mean it will work for you. Learn how your body works best.
27. Allow yourself one or two bad habits and get rid of the rest. But seriously, stop smoking. Walk more. Eat better. Not eating meat saves lots of money. Read the ingredients. Often things designed to help you lose weight are full of chemicals. Chemicals in your food are no good. The best way to be healthy is to eat with as much purity as possible. Vegetables and fruit and less processed food.
28. Get out of bed. Find routines that work for you. This applies to work, relationships, health, you name it. Too much routine can be boring, but having a structure in your life helps you deal with the stressful times when they inevitably arrive. Get out of bed. Seriously. On days when you feel like you can't get anything done, working for 5 minutes at 9am because you said you would is more affirming than skipping it all and putting things off until tomorrow. At least you did something. Something is always better than nothing. Get out of bed.
29. I'm still figuring that out...
Any bits of advice you'd like to add?