Oh, remember how I was writing a list of 36 important life lessons I've learned in honor of my 36th birthday (almost) a year ago? Don't even think that I've forgotten about it. You know what it is.
25) When you think something nice, say it! - If you think your friend looks nice in their new shirt, say so. Out loud. To them. If your co-worker has a great idea, tell them what a smarty-pants they are. If someone writes something funny, meaningful, moving, important, thoughtful, etc. in this crazy world that we call the internet, it takes five seconds to let them know it. Make the open expression of appreciation a habit. Keep sending little bits of love out into the world. It costs nothing, and is worth so very much.
26) There is a crack in everything. That's where the light gets in. Look back with the blessed perspective that hindsight allows on all the times when it seemed like your world ended and survey the unexpected Eden that has covered your life in their wake. I have borne all of my hurts and heartbreaks with minimal grace and a cataclysmic dearth of wisdom, but all of the muck has been unimaginably valuable. Sometimes you have to be grateful for the times you didn't get what you wanted.
27) Don't freak out over people's clothing or cosmetic choices. - I used to do this constantly, and I still catch myself doing this all the time. Hey, I get it. We all have different tastes and an endless, spiralling universe of reasons why we make the aesthetic choices that we do, and it's an irresistible impulse to see another person and do an instant analysis.
But lately I've been trying to not make assumptions about how a person presents themselves. We disparage people for not wearing what's currently "cool" and we ridicule others for trying too hard and being "basic". Many women are shamed for wearing clothes that are too revealing and many others are scorned for covering up too much. We're all supposed to be beautiful and natural, thin and strong, perfect and effortless, all the time, no matter what and we drive ourselves crazy and tear each other down constantly while we're trying to do this. It's an immensely exhausting losing battle.
I'm lazy now. I look like a wreck half the time. A comfortable, boring wreck who wants to look better all the damn time, but who also doesn't really give enough of a fuck and is starting to see the absurdity of it all. A stranger's haircut is not an affront to you. In fact, it has NOTHING to do with you. If you're freaking out about someone wearing yoga pants or flip flops to a coffee shop, please also consider why you have no chill. I'm gonna try not to judge simply because I don't want to be judged. Wear what you want. Peace out.
28) Make friends of all ages, races, genders, backgrounds and experiences. - Be sincere. Be curious. Be honest and aware of other people’s struggles, opinions and passions, so that you're not just trapped in a tiny box, thinking that echoes and mirrors define the whole world. People across the world have joys and sorrows just like yours. Learning to see the nuanced depths of people very different than us will actually allow us to appreciate how much we have in common as humans.
29) Unexpected people will bring out the best in you. - I used to work very closely with a woman and we could not have been more different in terms of temperament and inclination. I was introverted, politic, earnest and discombobulated. She was unabashedly inquisitive, frank and free. She was so artlessly cool it was exasperating - the kind of person who looked strikingly stylish even when she hadn't showered for 2 days and literally threw on the first shirt and jeans she found in her closet. Her random likes and loves became trends a month later, and she got along with everyone. I was terrified of her.
But she was unendingly generous with both her technical knowledge and her friendly, interesting advice. She was an impeccable listener and always ready to laugh. She was the first to tell you delicately that you were being a dope, and also the first to help you out of the hole you fell in when you didn't listen and kept your dope glasses on. By the end of our time together I was a million times more confident and open-minded than I was at the start. We still couldn't be less alike, but she had planted the idea in my brain that it is fucking rad to be yourself, and it's turned out to be a perennial crop that gives out a better harvest every year.
30) Get Started - Make awful things that aren't half as good as you'd hoped. Write crappy drafts that make only a little sense. Accept the temporary anguish of being terrible at stuff, because that is the inevitable first step to being okay at things, then better, then good, then kickass. You can only learn how to do most things by actually doing them, so if you really want to make stuff, dive in. The sooner you start something, whether it's a two week project or a lifelong process, the more valuable time you'll have under sharpening skills instead of wringing your hands.