It’s my birthday! Yay!
As of this morning, I’ve been a person for thirty-three years. I’ve done a few things. Seen some stuff. Made a few people of my own. Acquired enough grey hairs, thank you very much. And while I’m assuming I’ve got plenty of years ahead of me to mess things up, I like to think I’m not doing too bad at this “being a person” thing.
Because I legitimately think these are things worth sharing and because I will undoubtedly need to be reminded of them in the near future, here’s some advice from thirty-three-year-old Jen:
You only regret the naps you don’t take.
I know that’s not usually how the saying goes, but I’m a mom. I’m a TIRED mom. If I see an opportunity for sleep and don’t seize it? I can only blame my exhaustion on myself.
The same thing applies to helping a stranger in need, trying something new, and eating the last slice of cake. I rarely regret taking action; I’ve often regretted doing nothing.
Assume positive intent.
People are mostly good. As we’ve seen far too often recently, they do a lot of really terrible things, but on the whole I truly believe people are mostly good. When I assume everyone is, like me, just trying to do the best they can, I’m a lot slower to judge, quicker to empathize, and more liberal with the love.
Everyone gets to choose.
They don’t always choose what I think they should choose, but it’s not my job to choose for them. Because…
It’s okay to let them be wrong.
Sometimes people of all ages act like stubborn three-year-olds: they think what they think and can’t see why they’re wrong and no amount of persuasion will change their minds and they don’t care anyway. I hate to let people be wrong and make mistakes, but I have to remember they get to choose. Mostly it’ll work out all right. (Please see this principle in action in these photos, for which I let Margot choose her own outfit. Ha!)
It’s also okay to stand your ground.
People are more important than things.
Even when they’re being ridiculous, I cannot think of a single reason to hurt to another human being. Not money. Not power. Not jealousy. Not any differences of appearance, opinion, ability, belief, or life choices, real or perceived. Each human life is far more valuable than any possession I could ever buy, make, or wish for. (It’s just hard to remember that when the girls get sunscreen on my blue couch…)
Nobody is thinking about you as much as you are thinking about yourself.
Most of the time nobody even notices the things any of us is self-conscious about. Partly because they’re just not that noticeable, but largely because everyone else is too busy being self-conscious about their own crap to be worried about yours. I promise nobody judges you as harshly as you judge you. Give yourself a break.
It’s not a competition.
I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again: other people’s awesomeness in no way diminishes yours. No single person has a monopoly on beauty or success or fame or dollars or love or talent or any of it. If you live your life in competition with others, you will never win. There will always be someone whose life seems better than yours. Which leads me to…
Gratitude changes everything.
It’s easy to focus on what I lack, what I want, what I think I need. But when I recognize how much I have, literally everything changes. I love people more. I am happier at home. I want to work harder, be better, give back. Stop expecting so much. Look at what is right in front of you. Appreciate what is already yours. Say thank you.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Jen’s Birthday today! Be happy, be grateful, and get yourself some cake and ice cream, because you deserve a treat, dangit. Hugs all around!
All photos by Kylie Pond Photography.