26 Things I’ve learned in 26 Years of Life

I’m turning 26 in a matter of days. Buckwild.

I know 26 is not actually “old” but it still feels a bit crazy because it really does seem like yesterday I was turning 21. I remember looking at people in their mid-late twenties and thinking they were really adults and established in life. I realize that was a lie. Let us all just go ahead and laugh at that one together for a moment. Sidenote: All you forty year olds out there aren’t fooling me one bit. I know you still think you’re 20…or maybe 25…by now.

The older I’m getting or the faster I’m growing up, the more clear it’s becoming that in some ways life is not at all what it’s cracked up to be. Not in a bad way but more in a sobering reminder that if you are not choosing to enjoy the journey then you really will miss life. Life is not filled with continuous Ah-ha moments and mountaintop experiences, it’s mostly filled with mundane, repetitive, expensive and very facebook unworthy moments.

Life is like a mountain range, there are definitely far more trails, hikes, creeks, rivers, caves, etc than there are mountain peaks. I even made a picture for those visual learners out there.

See there are only three peaks.

My goal for this season is that my lifestyle if reflective on me loving the journey instead of living my life for the mountaintop moments alone. I don’t want to miss out on the “fullness” of my everyday, because I’m simply aiming for one of the few peaks in my life’s journey. By no means do I want to downplay the mountaintop experiences, they are powerful and great sources of drive to keep climbing, but they are not the only time for fulfillment, fun, growth, and purpose.

In honor of making it to 26, I thought I’d make a list of things I’ve learned…am learning…want to learn….or just want to put on my list in my time thus far up my life mountain.

Grab a cup of coffee. Sit back. Enjoy. Laugh. Cry. Do whatever the heck you want. Make your own list.

Here’s Mine:

1) Life is not always fun. Sometimes it is boring. However, if you CHOOSE to be a fun person you can learn to make what feels or appears to be boring to be fulfilling by learning to love your moment for what it is rather than what it is not. No one wants to be around a boring person.

2) Chick-fil-A is not fast food…..to me. I am not a fan of fast food and wouldn’t care the slightest bit of all other fast food chains were erased from the planet. However, my love affair with Chick-fil-A began in my early college years and I have no plans on breaking up anytime soon.

3) Tattoos are really cool. I love my tattoo and I really like people who have tattoo’s. I also love when people say they are getting tattoo’s and other people list their reasons why they shouldn’t. I’m pretty confident by the time my generation is in their 30-40’s it will be a pretty even split of those with/without tattoo’s at the minimum. I’d also rather marry a guy with a cool (key word here is cool) tattoo than one without. Although, that is not a requirement. Sidenote: do not go get a tattoo for the sake of dating me, that is definitely not cool at all.

4) My favorite thing in life is the people in my inner circle. They feel like home to me.

5) Life simultaneously goes by so fast and so slow the older you get. It is the oddest paradigm.

6) There are a lot of dumb people in the world. I’m not trying to be mean, but seriously, it’s astounding to me how many people do not think before they speak, act, react or just breathe.

7) Being healthy is alot of work and is often viewed as a gift to give oneself when in actuality it should be a non-negotiable in our lives. Also, skinny and healthy are not equal substitutes, but I do like being skinny over the alternative any day.

8) If you want to have great friends, then you have to be a GREAT friend. Just because someone is close to you already (or your spouse) doesn’t mean you should ever stop investing in them. People don’t need to know you love them and want to be in their life and appreciate them once, it should be our goal to remind them often. It’s really an honor to do life closely with people. Make it your mission to – Be thoughtful. Be mindful. Be thankful.

9) Common Sense is in fact NOT COMMON AT ALL, so why the heck is it called “common” sense. It should be called RARE sense. Most people do not possess common sense.

10) I hate bathing suits and the person who invented the idea of parading around practically naked in front of all your friends and community. It really is a weird concept if you think about it. Would you sit in your living room on friday night in your bra and underwear with all your friends?

11) The older I get more I love my parents and am thankful they stuck it out in their marriage. Life is really really hard sometimes. I’m so glad they didn’t give up. They are a rarity and proof that you can make it, but it is a choice. They also have set a standard for marriage and committing to a life partner for me. I attribute my current status of “not married” to this and I’m ok with it.

12) Communication often looks like confrontation the older I get. It’s easy to brush things off, move on and tell yourself its doesn’t matter, is worth addressing, etc BUT if you want to do anything LONG term with people you have to be willing to communicate openly, honestly and CONSISTENTLY. Not communicating is communicating. 

13) I am in love with sleep.In college I was able to live a pretty busy and fun life on virtually NO sleep. That is not the case anymore. I need sleep. I want sleep. I LOVE HAVING SLEEP IN MY LIFE. Seriously, how on earth did I survive so long on no sleep?

14) Laughter is one of the most healing experiences and is my favorite thing to do with friends. Do you think your friends are funny? I do. I also think collectively we are even funnier.

15) Always always always celebrate other people and their big life moments and even the small victories in the journey to their own mountaintop moments. Sometimes celebrating other peoples big life moments means you have to acknowledge yours hasn’t arrived. That’s ok. That’s life. Don’t let that stop you from celebrating them though. You’ll be amazed at the gift that comes out of celebrating the people you love!

16) Your perspective will make or break your life- in every single area. It should be a continuous goal to reevaluate and make sure it lines up with what Gods says about you and his promises for your life.

17) God’s love- his unconditional, unmerited, overwhelming, overflowing, never ending, love for you is the most life altering realities you will have. Once you know how much God loves you you can’t be the same. You will love yourself and others differently.

18) There is no such thing as the “american dream”. You will never feel as though you arrive because we were not created to feel contentment or success when we “arrive” at life moments. We were created to know peace, love, joy, success, adventure and more when we are in relationship with Jesus and living his adventure for our lives. It’s why life moments can be disappointing. You graduate from college? It was awesome, right? We all know it was just another day. However, when you lead someone to Jesus or see a God dream become a reality…that is not just another day. College degrees, mortgages, 2 kids and a dog do not effect eternity. They might (and most likely) will be a part of our journey but we will be disappointed if we think they ARE the mountain top moments we are reaching for.

19) Don’t judge someone by their life that’s on display. It’s an unfair and very inaccurate portrayal of their full life. They also do not have the obligation to invite you into their personal or boring moments that are not broadcasted on their public social networks. If you look at someone else’s life and make judgements or comparisons based on what you see from a distance you will disappointed because you are comparing a percentage of their life (prob the best moments) to your life as a whole. And honestly, it’s just silly. Do you put your whole life on public broadcast? Probably not. Neither is the rest of the world so stop comparing your life and go live it.

20) Be genuine. No one is interested in who you think you should be. Be who you ARE. That is more relatable and you’ll probably have more friends too.

21) Life is really hard sometimes.  When you choose to really be in people’s lives it hurts alot sometimes. I have no idea how people live life without Jesus. Not. One. Clue. Life with Jesus is really sweeter each day.

22) I like the girl I am today ALOT more than the girl I was a few years ago. I hope I say that when I’m 30

23) It’s ok to not know what you’re doing for the rest of your life. That is the dumbest question I’ve also ever heard. NO ONE knows what they are doing for the rest of their life. I also think those of us in our mid-twenties should start asking all the 40+ people what they will be doing with the rest of their lives. You really just need to be confident in what you’re doing today. Be great at today. God will work out tomorrow.

24) The fact that I am 26 and not married is not because something is wrong with me. I do not need to be more friendly, attractive, available, or any other long list of to-do’s random married people like to provide to solve the “problem”. Being single is not a “problem”. It’s just a status, momentarily. So please hold your pity comments “Awww you’re single? Well you’re so beautiful you’ll get married soon.” to yourself. Jesus has done a beautiful job of orchestrating the details of my life on his own and I have no interest in rushing the most important decision in my life.

25) Mind readers DO NOT EXIST. Being honest about your expectations of those in your inner circle doesn’t diminish their efforts to be the best friend/partner to you. If you want them to call you, tell them. If they don’t know, don’t be frustrated when they don’t deliver. If they do know and do call you, don’t accredit it to them just doing what you asked, see it as them learning to love and care for you the way you receive it best. People want to love us and be in our life effectively, but if we are not honest and clear about what that means to US we cannot blame them for not “meeting our expectations”. Side note- People cannot be to us what we were created to only find in Jesus. Some of our expectations might need some adjusting.

26) Be Forgetful. This has been a monumental life lesson. When life happens and your disappointed or you have conflict –  address it and forget it. Do NOT  carry your past into your present or future. There is a level of wisdom in learning from the past and by no means am I condoning staying in unhealthy relationships, but on a day to day basis, become a champ at forgetting. Exhibit the level of grace to others that Jesus has shown to you. Love them how you want to be loved. When life happens and let’s be honest it will, don’t hold onto hard seasons. Be thankful for today. If you are too busy being frustrated about what has been or what isn’t anymore, you will miss today’s gift.

My life is not perfect. It’s messy. Sometimes disappointing. Occasionally frustrating. Pretty exciting at times. Sometimes more public than I’d prefer. And overall, pretty rocking.

I love my life and I’m humbled and thankful at where I am, who I am, and who I get to do this life stuff with. I’ve got ALOT to learn and experience waiting for me in my future on this earth and an eternity of bliss beyond that! Jesus has abundantly blessed my life in every way possible. The greatest and easiest decision I’ve ever made was to let him be Lord of my life. He makes getting older appealing. Here’s to another great year reflective of his goodness, faithfulness, blessing, and adventure!

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