I recently had a birthday. I turned 23. I wouldn't dream of ever making it seem as if 23 is old or any indication of wisdom or accomplishment. However, I did turn 23, and I was raised by people who have a special talent for celebrating even the smallest of life's victories, so I find no shame in saying I am pretty jazzed to be 23.
I wanted this post to come the night before my birthday or even the night after, but it just wasn't ready. Not yet.
I was blessed, by some very special friends, with the sweetest surprise party. Then, I spent a few days with my girlfriends in Austin drinking too much tequila, wearing pretty outfits and ingesting as much queso as possible. Now that I am back into the swing of things and have overcome the post-vacation-back-to-work slump...I'm ready. Ready to share what I consider to be the 23 most crucial nuggets of wisdom I've gathered in the last 23 years. Things that I try to wrap myself in daily and walk tall in.
I fail at them sometimes, but they're ideas I will pray for and relentlessly try to pursue for as long as I've got time because I believe them with all I've got. So, here they are.
1. It's not about you.
A strange way to start. I know. But I think this one is the most important thing I learned in year 23. It's not about me. It's never been about me. It's a weird concept in a world that is so very wrapped up in making it about us, broadcasting every bit of our lives in perfectly edited Instagram boxes and chasing after every feeling, thought and emotion we have as if they are the end-all be-all truth. Just, no.
I have a joke with a close friend of mine where we laughingly tell each other "it's not about you" whenever we're complaining about something. It's in love and fun, but I've been really convicted in the past few months that it's absolutely true.
We are here on purpose, y'all. We have purpose and a future. There is a plan for our lives. And they're beautiful. And we will be blessed in so many ways. We are called to be full of peace, joy and love. In fact, scripture says the Lord wants us to enjoy our lives and the benefits of His presence and blessings. However, I think we have to be very careful to not get wrapped up in the idea that we're here to glorify ourselves and get too wrapped up in our own lives.
We get a lot of cool stuff while we're here, but we were ultimately created to serve, love on others and build God's kingdom.
Notice the overwhelming sense of warmth that comes when you genuinely pour into others. Notice how lonely and isolated your heart can feel when you've spent an excess of time worrying about your own issues, convincing yourself you have it worse than everyone else and concerning yourself only with your own life.
Selfishness and pride are easy traps to fall into, but I really learned this year how toxic, hurtful and unproductive they are.
Love people better than they love you. Serve people who you know wouldn't serve you.
Do good. Forgive every single ounce of negativity that comes your way.
It will not be easy. You won't always get it right.
Do it any way. Do it again.
Watch the blessings and peace multiply.
2. You have to be a good friend to have good friends.
My mom always told me that I will meet a lot of people in this life, and very few of them will be my close friends. I didn't always get it. I've been through seasons of having lots of "friends" and knowing lots of people.
As I've gotten older, I've learned those things are not the same. If there are people in your life who you can truly, genuinely call your best friends...if you even have one...that is invaluable. Completely invaluable.
Someone in your life who claps for you when you're winning, held you and cried with you after a tough loss, who will laugh hysterically with you when nothing is funny and (most importantly) will stand by you when you're in a season of being harder to love is precious. Someone who does not make you feel hard to love is rare.
If you have those, again...even just one, that is so important. Hold them close. Don't let them go. More importantly, return the favor.
Pray for your friends. Speak life over them. Tell them they can when they are convinced they can't, and then walk through it with them. Tell them the truth. Don't judge. Be consistent. Be intentional.
You will meet lots of people in this life, but very few of them will be your close friends.
When you find them, love them well.
3. Feed your spirit.
Get fluent in the Word of God. Get comfortable talking to Him. Make worship your love language.
Bible verses and quotes about your faith don't just make for cute social media posts.
When your faith is tested (and know that it will be), what you've soaked in during your good times will be what comes to you first.
You lack nothing when it comes to standing strong through the storms of this life, but you cannot afford to forget where your help comes from.
Instagram likes will not pull you out of spiritual warfare, a valley or a dark season.
Remind yourself daily of your identity in Christ and the source of your joy.
4. Celebrate your life. Every. Single. Day.
You get one. Just one. Why would you not?
You don't get to choose everything. You don't even get to choose most things, but you get to pick your actions.
Smile when a situation would typically call for and eye roll. Make yourself breakfast, and eat it slowly. Don't just get dressed; make it a dance party (I do this daily). Wear the bright lipstick. Eat something you like.
At the very least, remind yourself that you're special, you matter and it's no accident that you are embarking on the day ahead of you.
5. Remain unbothered.
Don't let people stress you out. Don't let people offend you (working diligently on this one). Don't let people make you feel anxious, insecure or inadequate. They don't deserve that power. They really do not. The people who deserve large amounts of your time and thoughts and energy don't do those things.
There is a difference between showing love to someone and allowing them to negatively impact your space.
6. Remain kind.
Once you've identified someone who's hurt you, said something offensive, been rude, etc. (this won't take long), be kind anyway. It will take less energy for you to let someone's transgressions roll off and smile and keep it movin' than to huff and puff and say negative things and react. Trust me.
The Bible talks about being selective about the company we keep. It mentions being selective about what we subject ourselves too. It acknowledges that people will hurt and persecute us. However, it never ever gave us the right to mean. Jesus went through horrendous physical hurt, character defamation and betrayal. He was never unkind. Not once. We've never had the right to not be kind.
7. Stop gossiping.
If I could underline, circle, highlight and retweet this over my current season of life, I would do it 782 times. I am a recovering gossip, and I will be the first to admit that it's hard. People are a lot, and there seems to be so much to react to ALL the time. But, here's the thing, at no point in the time in the history of forever, was anyone ever made better or more whole because of a nasty thing said about them behind their back. Like, not once. (I'm not a historian, but I am pretty sure).
Gossip, venting, shade...whatever. It's not cute. It's not interesting. It doesn't help anyone. Therefore, it's a waste of time.
8. Use your extra time from not gossiping to read more books.
Reading books is cute. It's interesting. It'll make you more eloquent, knowledgable and better at writing. Not to mention, "what are you reading?" makes for good conversation. Read books.
9. Do one of those crazy, health cleanse things that you're certain you just can't do.
I know it seems insane, but y'all...this donut-loving, Hot Cheeto pursuing, Coca-Cola craving fool has fallen madly in love with make cauliflower rice, collecting Paleo cookbooks and sharing Whole30 recipes. Other than dropping dress and pant sizes, sleeping better and learning to cook...doing Whole30 pushed me to impress myself. There's something magical about doing something you're pretty certain you "can't" do.
10. Mind your own business.
Your own business is enough for your plate to handle. I promise. What people are saying about you behind your back, how others live their lives, who dates who and who doesn't like who all have nothing to do with you.
Leave it alone, and watch how much easier you breathe and better you feel.
11. You can make a difference when you're young.
I skipped the second grade, so I've always been just a bit younger than everyone I was in school with. I graduated from college just a few months after turning 21, and started my first job 15 days later. I'm 23 and two years into my career. I lead a small group of women from my church who are older than I am and have lived much more life than I have. I sit on a board of directors for an organization that serves people who are dealing with some really tough things in my community.
I say all of those things because I want you to know they're things that, at some point, terrified me. They're things I, at some point, told myself I wasn't smart, mature or wise enough to do. They're things I flat out just knew I wasn't capable of. They're things the Lord pushed me to anyway.
They're things that have blessed my life immensely. Speaking to large church congregations, leading newscasts, praying for people about divorce, addiction and healing. I have been absolutely humbled to my core in the past year at all the ways the Lord has made me brighter, better and more able than I am on my own.
Do not let anyone tell you that you cannot be who you want to be. Do not let anyone tell you what your timeline has to be or that you have to be older or wiser to bless people, make a difference or change your community for the better. That is a lie.
Go where you are called, and trust that He will bridge any gaps that exist.
12. Know when to apologize.
You are not perfect. You will never be perfect. We fail each other. When you are wrong, apologize. When you hurt someone, apologize.
I think most people respect humility and honesty. Even if they don't, it's strong to apologize when you're wrong. Defending wrongdoing for the sake of being "right" is dumb and hurtful and unnecessary.
13. Know when not to apologize.
Do not apologize for your voice. Do not apologize for standing firm in what you believe. Do not apologize for taking up space. There is a difference between snapping back with a rude comment in a petty argument and voicing an opinion about what you believe in.
Do not apologize for shining.
Do not apologize for chasing your dreams.
Do not apologize for growing.
Do not apologize for flourishing.
Do not apologize for your success.
Know that there will be people who make you feel the need to apologize for things like that. Try to limit your time with those people.
14. Decide who you're going to be, and be that.
Before you even head out the door in the morning, decide how you're going to treat people. Decide how you will carry yourself. Decide how you will speak...to yourself and others. Decide.
When plans change, people act a fool and everything goes left- remind yourself that you already made a decision about the part you CAN control.
15. Know when to take a break.
I like rap music and The Real Housewives. I like wine and pasta. However, I don't need to constantly ingest those things. I like grabbing drinks and lunch and brunch and being social, but sometimes my body needs extra sleep. Sometimes, my soul needs to spend the night snuggled in bed with a book.
There are people you love who don't need to be around you all the time. There are times when you need to stop working, whether that be for a vacation or a staycation.
Give yourself a break.
16. Know when to go to Happy Hour
Sometimes a cocktail with your girlfriends and laughter is the best medicine. Seriously.
17. Wear clothes that you love.
Unless you live in a nudist colony, you have to wear clothes. If you're going to spend the money and do it, you may as well make it cute. Don't waste your life wearing things that don't fit you well, don't make you feel good and honestly just don't reflect who you are.
Add the faux fur, rock the bold lip and pop in the blingy earrings. Tuck the shirt, cuff the pants and slick the ponytail back.
You get one life. Treat it like a runway, and look how much more fun you have. Life is better when you're shining. I promise.
18. Find comfort in small things.
Because seasons come and go, and being able to smile about things like sunshine, hot coffee and small victories is so important. I think comfort in the small things is another way of saying "joy". Pure, non-negotiable joy. The kind no one can suck out of you, shut out or come against.
When you have that kind of joy, you won't lose. Ever.
19. Tell yourself you're pretty because you are.
YAS. YAS. YAS.
You are hot. Sexy, beautiful, cute....all that. You were those things before someone told you that you are. You will continue to be those things on the days when no one takes the time to remind you.
Walk in that. Hold your head high in that. Looks aren't everything. Not even close. However, they're yours and you deserve to love the crap of out of them.
You're allowed to tell yourself you're fine af, and mean it. Like, really mean it,
20. Feel your feelings. Move forward anyway.
Your feelings matter, but they are not reliable. They change depending on the weather, the way others speak to you and what you had for lunch that day.
You will feel fear. You will feel anger. You will feel like quitting. However, you can DECIDE to move forward. You can DECIDE to forgive. You can DECIDE to keep pushing.
You are complex and wonderfully made. You have free will, and you are not a slave to the random feelings that come over you. Feel your feelings, but don't let them consume you.
21. Being busy is not a badge of honor.
It is not. God created the world, and set aside a day for rest. He created us with a need for rest.
Depleted resources are not helpful or life-giving.
Rest. Take time. Refuel.
22. Give hugs, be a cheerleader.
The world doesn't need more of much, but it needs more of this. Clap for people when they win, even if you know they wouldn't do the same for you. Push people forward. Tell them they can.
It costs you nothing to pour confidence into someone else's journey.
You will go through valleys. You will find yourself in the trenches. Life will not always go the way you want it to. You cannot give up. If you remember nothing else, know that you must continue.
You must take the deep breathe, close your eyes, say the prayer, clench your fists and stand back up. Stand up and keep going.
Remember, it is not about you. You were created for a reason. You have a purpose. Maybe you are here to be a healer, an encourager or a teacher. Maybe you are here to tell the story that changes mindsets. Maybe your story will be the one that gives someone else the courage to rise.
Whatever it is, know you have a purpose. And it isn't just about you.The world needs you. Stand up. Keep going. Rise.
Even when the world doesn't want you to. Especially when the world doesn't want you to.
With Love & Glitter,