A couple of weeks ago a friend gave me a pearl ring. Wait let me say that again.
A couple of weeks ago a friend gave me a glorious, HUGE, luminous, flawless South Sea Pearl Ring. It is one of the most extravagant gifts I’ve ever received and I still can’t believe it’s sitting on my finger. As I stare into the lustrous surface (and I do mean INTO it, it’s so deep it’s like looking into the future) I can’t help but feel a little giddy and also totally humbled by the good people and good things that have snuck into my life while I was sweating all the small stuff.
Only a few days before I was hanging out my washing and looking into my past, getting reflective about my 20s. I’ve somehow found myself smack bang in the middle of my 29th year and i don’t know how i feel about that. Honestly, I’ve been strung out about the big 3-0 coming up next year. I feel like there’s so much to do & I want more time.
I had to make so many important decisions in my 20s, many of which I did not feel qualified to make at the time. University degrees, career, boyfriend, husband, church ministry commitments, leadership, creative pursuits… I can’t help but wonder, did I do the right things with my 20s? Did I do enough with what I had? Did I waste time and effort and emotion on pointless stuff?!
I probably cared too much about what others thought of me at the beginning of the last decade. I probably got my knickers in a knot more than was absolutely necessary. I probably worked too hard at stupid stuff and too little on the important things. But as I did the most mundane of things (hanging out the washing) I had a moment of clarity.
I invested my 20s. I invested them into things I thought were right at the time. I made the best decisions I could with the circumstances and information I had. The time I spent in the writing cave, the times I endured, the times I choose to believe the best in others, the times I refused to let bitterness and disappointment take root, the times I worked at the things that I sucked at – it was my little investment into other people, into making my corner of the world a little better (somehow), into myself. Was I always smiling about it? >>> Not really. Was I miserable? >>>No. Would I do things differently?>>> Well I want to say yes, but I think the only thing I’d do differently is DO MORE STUFF, which may not be that smart anyway. Some things can’t be rushed. Some things only come with time and when they do come they’re worth that wait.
So in the spirit of notes to self, I’m penning 20-something notes to 20-something year old me.
- Be brave and make the decision you have the slightest inkling to make.
- Making mistakes is part of the game, just roll with the punches.
- Apparently your brain “sets” neurologically at age 26. Meaning that neurological pathways will become more set (the things you do habitually will become set, the things you don’t do enough of will be cut). Now is the best time to quit doing stupid stuff and practice the stuff you want to keep as habits. Also remember that what we know about the human brain is evolving, so as long as you’re using it you’re on the right track.
- You twenties are the best time to begin refining and working at mastery. Challenge yourself.
- Your flaws and foibles make you unique & human & relatable & loveable even. Don’t be afraid to let it all hung out sometimes – it’s refreshing in a world full of fakers.
- Learn to ask good questions and you’ll start to see the world in technicolour!
- Being a good friend is not easy nor is it something that comes naturally. Work at it.
- You can’t change another human being – but you don’t have to give up on humanity just because some people suck.
- Sometimes a really good cry and a lie down can fix everything.
- Do not let another person treat you as common. Friend, boyfriend, colleague, acquaintance, whatever – sorry but ain’t nobody got time fo dat.
- Breath deeply.
- Pay attention to what’s going on inside of you.
- There will be superiors in your life who frustrate you & who make your job harder than it needs to be. Learn to work with them & to respect & honour them – you’re no good for anything if you can only work well in ideal circumstances & if you consistently bail when challenged.
- Do yourself a favour and develop a habit of exercise. Your thighs will thank you for this. So will your heart and your emotional well being.
- Routine is your friend. Build routines and you half the amount of effort and mental space that goes into things that you have to do anyway – washing, cleaning, writing, creating, regular work tasks, exercise. Autopilot that crap, STAT.
- SPF 15 on your face all the time. Be as stingy as you want with everything except face lotions.
- Buy property as soon as possible. Just the discipline of saving for a deposit is transformative.
- Don’t settle for average in your career, think about what makes you happy and do whatever you can to start doing more of that. You don’t have to turn every passion into a career, but make time for those things that make you come alive.
- Take the pay cut and change careers if you know it’s what you want to do with you life. Even if you’re not so sure about it, if the thing you are currently doing is meh, BAIL as soon as you possibly can!
- Don’t hate the haters, beat them. Oh and be kind to them, it drives them nuts.
- Only marry someone you are confident you can talk to about anything. If that person is a good friend and if that person makes you laugh, never ever let them go!
- Don’t marry someone who consistently walks away from a fight or who is not as interested in your dreams as he is in his own.
- Don’t let a day go by without laughter.
- Frustration is a good thing, you’re on the right track.
A pearl now seems like the perfect “just because” gift to a 29 year old. Diamonds are formed under intense pressure, pearls are formed out of frustration or irritation. I’ve been pretty frustrated throughout my 20s, but I’m counting on all of that energy creating more beautiful pearls in my life.