A Short List Things I’ve Learned About Living (Thus Far)


1. You have to choose to love – there is no such thing as fate.

We are given choices every single day: when to speak, which road to travel, which person to love. You have to make a conscious choice about what kind of person you want to be with. You have to decide to try something different.  You have to decide to stop wasting time on boys who never text you back and choose the man who sees the entire world when he looks at you. Love is a choice – and it’s a choice we have to make over and over and over again.

2. There’s no such thing as being ready when you lose a parent to cancer.

When you hear the word cancer, the next thought that pops in your mind is death. It’s continually in the back of your mind – through every oncology visit, through every biopsy, CAT scan, through every chemo treatment. It doesn’t matter that you’ve seen the progressive decline, the death of a parent will destroy you despite how much “preparation” you believe you did. Losing a parent shakes up everything normal about your world, and it’s a long process to get things back to normal.

3. There is a difference between fighting and arguing (and you’ll need to do both).

You’ll need to fight with relationships who prepare you for the real thing. You’ll need to fight to be number one – over family, and friends, and work. You’ll need to fight to be a contender for affection, for love, for attention. You’ll need to fight to be heard.

And then you’ll move into a mature relationship and you’ll see how silly and immature all your “fighting” was. Your mature relationship will argue – infrequently. You’ll argue to not get your point across, but rather to be heard. You’ll both argue when you’re feeling hurt, when your expectations have been missed. You’ll argue to find resolution – and it’s necessary.

4. You’ll change your mind about kids. And then you’ll change your mind back.

You’ll want them, but then you’ll also want to take a spontaneous trip to Iceland because you found a Groupon for cheap. You’ll smile and feel warm inside when you hold your best friend’s newborn, and then feel scared when you miss your period two months later. You’ll feel obligated to start a family because you’re in your late twenties and everyone else is doing it. You’ll want roots and wings at the exact same time and you’ll go back and forth a lot before you know it’s really time to do so. You’ll think that having kids will tie you down, and right now you’re scared to admit that you don’t want to be tied down in the slightest.

5. Family doesn’t always mean whose blood, but rather, who has stuck beside you.

The same last name doesn’t mean that they’re deserving of that title. It’s okay to tell people that you’re disappointed in them. It’s okay to tell people that they weren’t there for you during a time you needed them. It’s okay to tell someone you’re done with them, or to be honest with them and try to make improvements. Just because someone is a mom, brother, dad, aunt, uncle, cousin, sister by blood, doesn’t mean you owe them anything. Family is about those who support you, who encourage you, who keep you grounded, who love you and who make an effort to be a part of your everyday life – not when it’s solely convenient for them. It’s okay for you to make your own selection.

6. Ask for what you want – the worst thing that can happen is they say ‘no.’

Ask for that promotion. Ask for that freelance writing gig. Ask to be a part of something you ordinarily don’t think you’d be able to. If life has taught me anything, it’s that people will tell you ‘yes’ more often than you’d believe. The only difference between where you are now and where you want to be is mustering up the courage to ask for the opportunity. As my mother used to say, the worst they can tell you is ‘no.’ [t-cmark]