Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lessons From My Twenties (part 2)

If you missed the first installment, hop on over here and check out the first five life lessons.

Otherwise, read on...

10 Lessons I Learned in My 20's
That I Hope to Carry Into My 30's
Part 2
6. Hard work trumps intelligence. As I typed that last line, I totally butchered the spelling of intelligence and had to look it up. I think I just proved my point. This is a lesson I regrettably learned late in my twenties. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I've got a fairly decent head on my shoulders. I made good grades in high school and in college. I can usually figure out how to do things - be it a job, technology, or a new recipe. But, when I look at the failures of my twenties, most (if not all) of them were directly due to a lack of effort - not a lack of smarts. I'm tempted to make a list of my failures just to prove it to you, but after thinking better of it, I've decided you'll just have to trust me on this one.
7. Pursue excellence, not perfection. There is such a huge difference between striving to be better and striving to be perfect. Perfection holds impossible standards. Excellence sets the bar high, but leaves room for grace. Perfection can only be achieved by perfect people. Excellence can usually be achieved by hard work (see #6 above).  Perfection asks: "What did I do wrong?" Excellence asks: "What can I do better tomorrow?" Perfection leads to depression and self-loathing. Excellence leads to anticipation and momentum.
8. Seeking advice = wisdom, not weakness. I was 22 years old when I had Chloe, my firstborn. I was surrounded by women who loved me and my baby - my mother, aunts, grandmothers, cousins. All who had gone before me in motherhood and were/are fantastic mamas. But if any one of them handed down some hard-won advice, I bristled. I thought I should have it all figured out, and every kind suggestion felt like a blaring reminder of my shortcomings. Nowadays, if the comments pass the haters test (See lessons 1-3), I hold onto them for dear life. Someone who loves me cares enough to risk offense and help me hack life? Bring it on!
Proverbs 15:22, "Refuse good advice and watch your plans fail; take good counsel and watch them succeed."
9. The best time to start a healthy lifestyle is right now. Helloooo!!!! I'm talking to you 20-year-old-newly-married-pre-baby-bikini-wearing me! LISTEN UP! It's never easier to be healthy than in your early twenties. After about 25, the hill gets a lot steeper (more steep? Whatevs.) That being said, I'm also talking to you almost-30-year-old-yoga-pant-wearing-mama-of-three me. Carpe diem, and all that. 
10. Jesus is my source. If I could write a letter to 20-year-old me and give only one piece of advice, it would go something like this: "You will spend  most of your twenties drawing from multiple sources - your husband, career, money, houses, friends, titles, grades, travel, and more. It's a natural part of life. But the most important lesson you can learn is that all of those sources - all. of. them. - will dry up at some point or another. Only one Source will sustain you when all the others fail. Only one Source doesn't ever dry up. And if you're not tapped into that Source, you're in for a world of hurt - mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually. So tap in. Daily. Be intimate with the Source. Gain all you need from Him, and the rest is just gravy.
So that's it. Those are the biggest lessons of my twenties. Oh that I can take hold of them, drag them into my thirties, and multiply them. Here goes...

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The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood