Each year on my birthday, I start thinking about things that I’ve learned the previous year and throughout my life in general. There’s wisdom in time and age, so here are a few things I’ve learned – some from personal experience and some from those around me.
1. When you know what you want, nothing scares you from getting it – not the time, the work, the sweat, the pressure – nothing.
I’ve learned this to be true in the gym and in life. In the gym, I stare down heavy weights – and I mean heavy (like, more than 300 pounds). For a long time, the thought of picking up that weight or getting under it on a squat rack made me nervous. What if I fell? (well, there’s a safety rack for a reason). What if I couldn’t lift it? (then put it back down, but try again). What if it hurts? (it’s going to, just deal with it). But it’s just metal. It can’t hurt me, and while I was nervous about it, I did it anyway. I wanted the end result too badly. It takes time, work, sweat, and sometimes tears to get to the end result. But it’s worth it. The same is true in life. Nothing scares you away from something you truly want.
2. Be you.
Don’t try to be someone else or manipulate a piece of your personality. God made you who you are to serve his purpose. If you try to change it, you don’t serve him with your best self, and you miss out on some of the joy he provides. I’m a naturally bubbly, excited person. I tried to reign that in because I thought I needed to be less loud, less excited. I was miserable. The Lord didn’t create me to be like that. He created me with all of my personality traits. And you know what, the people around me love me for it. The same is true for you. It takes all of our personalities to make the world work.
3. All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, and you can do anything.
I learned that from the movie “We Bought a Zoo.” I agree. Breathe and jump head first with all the courage you can muster. I bet great things come from it. This is the one I need to work on the most. I’m not scared of much, so I don’t often have to muster the courage, but saying what’s on my heart is definitely where I need 20 seconds.
4. Not everyone thinks and does things the same way.
There’s beauty in that. There’s no right way to fold towels or load a dishwasher. Did you know that? There’s no one way to be creative or solve most problems. Find the beauty in thinking differently than the person next to you. As long as the end result is accomplished, it probably doesn’t matter how you got there. And you may even learn something new in the process.
5. Let go.
Enjoy what’s in front of you and around you. Have fun. Lighten up a bit. Not everything has to be so serious. It’s just life, and there’s humor in nearly everything. If you know me, you know I laugh or make light of a situation. My dog destroyed my house (a few times, actually) earning her the nickname Hurricane Whitley. I can’t even be mad about it most of the time. It’s just stuff and that stuff can be cleaned or replaced. So let go and choose joy.
6. Experience something new.
For the longest time, I sought out something new and challenging each month to tackle or experience. I’ve jumped in a hot air balloon with perfect strangers. I’ve visited new places. I’ve tried circus-type workouts at the UP Factory. I’ve thrown hatchets and shot bows at targets. I’ve learned to climb a rock wall. I’ve attended more concerts than I can count. I made it a point to live rather than just go through my days with the same monotony. It takes intention. If you don’t seek out something new, they’re not just going to jump in your lap. The memories in those moments last a lifetime.
7. Treat people well.
You’re not responsible for the actions of others. You’re responsible for yours. So do good!