I recently wrote this and then went back and got scared to post it. I finally talked myself back into it and edited this and then added more and then took some out. All in all, I think I’ve come up with a list that mimics what 28 has meant to me. Age is just a number, but this number has done some work on me this year. I’ve never been more excited for a new year. So, I hope you read this and hear my heart and understand where I’m coming from. 🙂
I’m a list maker, you all know this. So to commemorate my birthday month (and Harry Potter’s), I’ve compiled a list of 28 things you should know about 28. So, prepare yourself.
1. Do something that scares you. I started a business. I did. Despite all you haters who talk MAJOR SMACK about Rodan and Fields, I’m having a blast earning extra money and not spending a bunch of money on makeup! This was scary to me because there are so many people hating on having a business. You’re unhappy with where you’re at and I almost let that person keep me from doing this? You crazy? Y’all. Find that opportunity and take it. Do the scary thing and just commit.
2. Move. Please, please, PLEASE don’t wait too long to move somewhere. I’m 28 years old and it took all I had within me to step out and do what I felt I needed to do. Don’t let anyone keep you from achieving what you desire.
3. Make friends. And I don’t mean, “Hey, that’s my (insert air quotation here) friend Anna (end air quote)”. I mean, be yourself and go to coffee with someone new. One of my closest friends here is the result of a nerve wrecking request to “hang out”. Sarah is the greatest human being ever and I’m in her House Party for her wedding. WHAT?! How does that happen? JESUS. That’s how.
4. Find your own place of worship. I’ve loved church all my life. I’ve grown up in church. One thing I normally do is ask my parents and friends and sisters where they go to church and why they like it. I get great answers, but most of the time, I don’t know what I truly think about different churches. When I moved to Norman, the first thing I did was start looking for a church. And this time it was weird because it was just me. I didn’t have to ask someone what they thought about it. I visited 2 places. The first was nice but I just couldn’t get into it. The worship wasn’t what I enjoyed (someone shouting at you to sing…seriously, this must be stopped), and I just didn’t see myself ending up there. The next place I ended up at was because of a dear family friend telling me to go and with tears on my drive home from Tulsa, I listened to the pastor and prayed he wouldn’t be good so I could just drive home to Tulsa every Sunday. Instead, he was amazing and the worship… Dear Lord. I wept. For the first time, I really felt like “Yeah, this is home and even when I’m done with school, I’ll want to stay here”.
5. Connect. The best experience to branch off of number 4 has been going to Life Group. The leaders are an amazing couple, who didn’t know very much about me just the fact I started going to group while they were on missions. Liz and Trey are fabulous and the people that go to group are incredible. I’ve met so many wonderful people and I’m so thankful for that. You need people around you. If you think you don’t, you’re wrong. In my lowest times, my friend Rachel always texts me. It’s like she knows I need something encouraging or silly. I went to group because of her. These connections are priceless.
6. Drive. Just go for a drive around your city. In the summer, drive with the windows down and good music. It’ll lift your spirits.
7. SING. Like, sing loud. Who cares if anyone hears.
8. STUDY. Seriously. Do it. Study people around you. Study your latest piece of fiction you bought at Barnes and Noble. Study how someone takes their coffee and try that next time. Study to show yourself approved.
9. Don’t wear makeup all the time. Don’t. It’s not worth it. Especially when it rains and you won’t be seeing anyone. It ain’t worth it.
10. Go to the library. I have a library card. I love it. Free books? OK.
11. Write letters. Actually handwrite a letter. You’d be surprised who would appreciate a personal note from you and not through a machine.
12. Try something new. I bought myself a calligraphy pen. Why? Because it looked really awesome and I’ve always secretly wanted to see if I could be a cool artist with calligraphy. So far, its not looking great. But I only spent $10 on it. So no big deal!
13. Email people back in a reasonable amount of time. I got out of this habit because for a couple years I lived my life with my phone or computer attached to my body. When I left that position, I made a vow I wouldn’t live like that anymore. So, I actually quit emailing back. I don’t recommend that, but I do recommend acknowledgment. People deserve that.
14. Ask people how they are. I’ve been doing this every day for the last month. If I’m at Target, Starbucks, in the Student Union or whatever, I look the person in the eyes and say “Hi! How are you today?!” and their face changes from downcast and kinda “over it” to “light and airy”. The other day, a man took my order at Chick-fil-a had just finished with a difficult customer and I stepped up and he wasn’t even looking at me. I just said “Hey, how are you?” and he looked me in the face and said “I’m good… you’re the first person to ask me that!” It was 12:15pm. People can be jerks. Make sure you’re not one of them.
15. Take time to explore. I live in Norman. I attend one of the most unique campuses in the United States. It’s old world Harvard meets new modernization. It’s brick and mortar. It’s clean but slightly a mess (no, really. There’s construction everywhere and it’s literally insane). Recently, I was in Nielsen Hall…did you know that’s the physics building? I FOR SURE did not. It was so cool. I walked in and thought “This must be what attending Harvard is like!” There are buildings I have access to, but haven’t experienced yet. Why not?
16. Pay your bills. Be an adult. Welcome to life. You have a credit card? Pay it. You have bills? Pay them. Don’t be a wuss about it. Just do it.
Let’s talk some serious things…
17. Forgive. We’ve all been hurt. We’ve all had people hurt our feelings. It’s easy to say “I’m fine” but to be hating yourself for letting that person in so close that they hurt you that bad. It’s easy to say “I forgive you” and it’s a completely different thing to actually walk it through and let it go. I’m still in the process of saying “I forgive you” and walking through it. I have several people on my list. I can’t change them. All I can do, let Jesus work on me and help me move through the “stuff” and on to what’s next.
18. Give people a chance. Everyone deserves a chance. I am not an easily trusting person. I usually want to see what people are like before I open up to you. When I trust someone, I truly trust them. I let them in on ALL MY STUFF. I recently was with my friend Jesse and he and I had one of those conversations where “there’s no going back now, YOU KNOW TOO MUCH” deals and I left that table feeling lighter than air. It wasn’t because I dumped all my stuff on him. It was because he shared with me just as much as I shared with him. It was an even exchange. We’d been saying for a long time we’d be friends, and it’s taken me living in Norman and him living in Tulsa for that to happen. I’m thankful that people take chances on me. I’m more than happy to give that same shot to others.
19. Learn from others. You know what, I don’t know everything and NEWSFLASH you don’t either. There’s a reason we’re all on this freaking planet. It’s not to bitch and moan at each other (excuse my french), and it’s certainly not to pin your belief system as more superior than someone else’s. I am a Christian. I love Jesus. I love what his word says. But I don’t like when people take his words and slam them against people he loved and created. Hatred is not acceptable. And when you post those “Oh no, what is our world coming to” posts in relation to what is happening in our world, you are inevitably closing the door on any opportunity to speak into that person’s life. I wish I would’ve been at OU for my entire academic career because I’ve learned more about communicating with people who aren’t exactly like me and I LOVE IT. I lived my life judging people for too long. I let other people tell me how to treat others who lived life differently than me. I was blinded for far too long. Being in a learning environment that supports identity exploration and provides a safe place to do so opens your eyes to what you’re not seeing. All I’m saying, don’t shut others out because they’re not like you.
20. Human relations. Have you ever thought about how you relate to others? Did you know that I’ve been pinching my eyebrows in class every time my professor would mention something I wasn’t sure I believed or agreed with? It wasn’t until I had a great conversation with my now favorite professor that opened my eyes to that fact. “Linds, you’re a beautiful girl who is extremely smart and funny, but every time you’re not sure of something I say in class, your eyes get tight and your eyebrows pinch up. Your whole face changes from bright to unsure. Let’s discuss this because while I know I’m challenging you and you’re about to rise to the occasion and dialog with me, your face would offend the most learned person”. OUCH. I hung my head and said sorry and asked how she noticed. “I was like you. I grew up in a bubble and when I was released in a learning environment that challenged me, it shook me. But here’s what I have to offer you…” This woman offered constructive criticism and did so in a way I would relate to. I went to a PRIVATE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL from high school to undergrad. NOT A LOT OF EXPLORATION HAPPENING THERE. My professor, a believer by the way, took time to share how she started to learn from every person she got the opportunity to learn from, no matter how different they are. She said the words I value most… “You don’t have to agree with everything someone says or does, but you need to be open enough to hear what they are truly saying. You will learn more from listening than you will from speaking on your soapbox. And guess what? They’ll come back to you”.
21. Family is everything. I love my family. I love them more now that I’m not directly in the same city as them. I make the trek back and forth and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Soon, I’ll have a piece of my heart here with me in Norman and I can’t wait. You don’t realize how special your family is until you don’t have them sitting around your table for pizza night on Sunday night.
22. Dating. Oh boy. Here it is. The WINNER. I’ve tried blind dates. Most of my friends tried (thanks guys) but no. I’ve tried dating apps (don’t ask). I’ve tried just sitting back and waiting because “it’ll happen when you least expect it” (gag me. If one more person tells me this I will throw water in your face and then kindly offer you a towel. Because I’m nice and don’t like hurting people and water is harmless). I’ve tried. I’ve been extremely patient. Patient to the point of hating myself. I decided I should give online dating a decent try because a week on Match.com isn’t really trying it. I’ve now had my account for 2-3 weeks and I’ve met one guy so far and he was so nice! He wasn’t weird. He wasn’t overtly sexual (dudes, this must be stopped. Quit it. No woman wants to deal with that). This guy was genuinely nice and paid for my meal and challenged me to a “therapy session”. He’d never been in one before and I said I needed practice. He lasted 8 minutes and said “Wow. You’re good. You’ll be a great therapist.” Dating isn’t bad. It can be fun, and it can ridiculously trying. It’s all about the approach. If you’re happy and approaching it as something fun.. you’ll have fun.
23. Mental health. Guys, if you don’t have a problem going to take your car in for a routine check up, then you shouldn’t have a problem going and sitting with a counselor for 45minutes to an hour. I hate (and I don’t use the word hate very often) the stigma that comes with mental health. We all have crap in our lives. We’ve all been bullied. We’ve all had that moment where everything got really weird and unstable and our breath started to get really quick and and our heart raced. Mental health should be talked about. Y’all, the struggle is real. Anxiety is real. Panic attacks are the scariest things ever. ADD sucks. But with the right people to help me through those issues, my life has changed for the better. Don’t wait another minute to go for your “mental health check up”.
24. Regrets. It’s ok to have regrets. Just make sure those regrets don’t take up all the room in your head. Regrets are real and most of the time, they keep us from stepping out to do something different. That sucks. Don’t let the regrets of your past keep you from an exciting future!
25. Breathe. In moments where people drive me crazy or maybe I’m just disappointed in myself for a situation that happened, I tend to hold my breath. It’s true! It’s weird. It’s like I just stop breathing for a minute. When stuff like this creeps up, breathe in and breathe in deep. Then close your eyes and just take a sec and let it all out. Let out all the stuff that your upset with and just let it all out.
26. Write down everything. There are some things you just can’t speak of. That’s where writing comes into play.
27. Let it go. Who knew you could learn something from Elsa. One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn and continue to learn is to let things go. There are things I’ve gone through that still haunt me. “Why? Why did I let that happen?” “Why on earth would I say that to that person?! I probably hurt them so badly!” “What was I thinking? I was being selfish…” “Why did I let that person in so close?” Hear me when I say this: that’s shame talking to you. Shame sucks. It’s the worst enemy to you when you’re trying to move forward. Shame is that mean friend who, when you have something bad happen in your life, chimes in to let you know just how bad that thing is in your life. Shame is the worst. The only way to combat that… acknowledge where you went wrong, make a mental note to not walk in that same pattern again, and let it go. You can’t change people. You can’t go back and fix what went wrong. But, you can decide to not do that thing again or not let that particular person who hurt you hurt you again. It’s hard, but it can be done.
and… last but not least…
28. Look back but don’t stop there. I’ve heard it said “don’t look back. You’re not going that way.” I get that. I do. But sometimes, it’s good to reflect. Reflection is an important part of life. When I look over what got me to this particular place in life, I don’t dwell on the crap that happened, and trust me, there’s been a lot. I go to the happy things. I go to the moments that shaped me into who I am right now. I think of my friends who helped me get here. I think of the mentors I’ve chatted hours on end with about life and the future. I think of the pastors who never stopped praying for me and always were encouraging. I think of the new friends who have laughed with me and cried with me and who have been so uplifting it makes me tear up writing this. I wish I could mention everyone by name, but I know I would inevitably leave someone important out. But I can mention these people by name: my mom, my dad, and my sisters Jessica and Hailey. Without them, I would still be stuck in the rut that I found myself in. My parents didn’t always understand my thought processes or reasons for why I did certain things or hung out with certain friends, but they never questioned me. Jess and Hailey have had moments where they’ve switched roles with me. They were able to see more than I could at a particular moment and then encourage me to get back up and move on. There have been moments where they were stronger than me. I’ve learned so much from them and I know for a fact I wouldn’t be me without them.
Here’s to 28. I’ve probably hated you more than loved you, but I’m thankful I walked through every single moment. And I can honestly say, 29 has never looked better. And I’ve never been more excited for a new decade.