What Can You Do?

Wednesday, March 2, 2022 / 8:00 AM

When I turned 25, I asked friends and family to share wisdom for that "quarter life crisis" everyone jokingly told me I was about to enter. I created a Google Form and sent it out to people to tell me what I should know about being in this "new" chapter of my life.  I took some of the responses and wrote them on pieces of paper that decorated my bedroom walls in New York: They were reminders at a time when I was feeling particularly lost and just a little bit sad.

Recently, I came across the Google Form in the depths of my Drive and went through the responses again. There were letters from people I still talk to every day, and letters from people I haven't spoken to in years. The advice is filled with humor and love and kindness – and if there's one thing I've really been blessed to have learned, it's that people are just so inherently kind.

"Let life come to you as much as you strive to live."

"Be kind to strangers!... No matter how often the city feels brutal and rude, I never feel like I'm contributing to it. And that's a great feeling."

"Scream into the pillow but always turn around and rest on it."  

I've been thinking a lot lately about those moments in my life where I was sure I had it all "figured out," or I had agonized about how I would never be certain of who I was or where I wanted to be. It's always been hard for me to recognize when I'm happy because I've lived my whole life under a cloud of anxiety and fear. There was always something waiting around the corner to remind me of who I was and where I belonged (or, rather, didn't belong), and so moments of joy never stood out to me as something to hold on to. 

Every "coming of age" story Hollywood tells us takes place in middle or high school, but I'm about to be 33 and I still feel like I have no idea what I'm doing.

Which is...fine. It's right. It, oddly, makes sense. Because I am comfortable now, more than ever, in admitting when I don't know something – no matter how big or small. By admitting I know nothing, I've learned to become open to everything. 

* * * * *

Finally, a check-in on 10-Years-Ago-Me (that photo to the right is from 2012!): 

  1. I will sleep more. I think I'm sleeping less.
  2. I will walk slower. Unless I'm midtown. By nature of not living in New York anymore, I definitely walk slower. All bets are off once I'm back in the city though.
  3. I will not let social networks define relationships. I've pulled way back on personal social media use (although the pandemic did suck me back in).
  4. I will smile more, despite the annoyances of day to day life. Did this, still doing it (or at least trying to).
  5. I will close my ears to potential negativity. I will not take things so personally. I still take things personally, but less so than I did back then. I've also learned that not all negativity is intended to be a personal attack. I think there are layers to that, and sometimes criticism is warranted and worth learning from.
  6. I will do more of what I say and say less of what I do. I'm working on this, every day. I want to continue to be someone who acts and spends less time telling the world what it is I'm doing. Not all actions need to be broadcast.
  7. I will network (ugh). 23-year-old me would roll her eyes pretty hard. I network all the time, but I do think all the negative associations with "networking" needs to be removed. Networking isn't a bad thing, especially if you can truly build connections that are both personal and useful.
  8. I will focus more on the positive. Always working on this!
  9. I will read more, and I will read slower. I will take time to digest words. Yes, yes, and yes.
  10. I will learn new things and new skills every day. Yes! Learning new things is great.
  11. I will drink from the glass, rather than analyze whether it is empty or full. I've always had a hard time "seizing the day," and so this is a continual work-in-progress. I don't think I'm there yet, and I'm still quite the overthinker. 
  12. I will pick up my phone more often. There are too many spam calls.
  13. I will not impose my thoughts on others, and vice versa. What did I mean by "impose"? Because I have a portable soapbox for the things I care deeply about, and am not afraid to use it.
  14. I will spend less time on the outside looking in. The pandemic has made me forget what I was like in my social interactions before 2020, to be honest.
  15. I will not force myself to be somebody I think I should be. This continues to be my superpower: constantly throwing my authentic self in people's faces.
  16. I will let love be louder than my emotions. I have. I've lost too many loved ones over the last 10 years to let my love for others be kept behind closed doors. 
  17. I will not keep reopening doors that closed themselves for a reason. Phew. Yeah.
  18. I will let go of those who have let go of me, or are in the process of doing so. Yeah x2.
  19. I will not be scared to speak up. YEAH.
  20. I will celebrate others as much as I can. Last year, my resolution word was "encourage," and I do remain committed to it. I continue to be grateful for the privilege to support my friends and community in their work.
  21. I will apologize. I will forgive. I will always forgive. Forgiveness does have its limits, and I recognize that. Forgiving doesn't necessarily mean forgetting, and so drawing the line between those two things has been important.
  22. I will put my dreams into words and I will pursue them harder. I think I'm doing this. I feel like I am – or at least trying to.
  23. I will actually believe in myself. It's a process. We're getting there.

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