25 Lessons by 25 years old – Part Two

13. You can be a functioning mess. It’s not all or nothing. I learned this through the many beautiful messes I know in my life. Not only do they handle their lives like bosses, they also deal with some of the same crap that I do! The thought that I, and my life, was not perfect used to have me flat on the floor, fearful and full of despair. Instead, the beauties I know pull themselves up, knowing their strength, knowing they’re a mess and just moving on.

14.When you solve one problem, another one comes up. It’s like leveling up in life. Every time I overcame a challenge, I for some reason assumed that was it – life should be easier now. But it’s just not the case: life will consistently throw you challenges, progressively harder ones at that. That’s why it’s important to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, because this sh*t ain’t getting any easier.

15.First impressions are not accurate, important or as long-lasting as everyone claims. The ‘first impressions are so important’ line has always confused me. I just don’t agree with it – my first impressions are often SO wrong, and it’s only through getting to know people that you judge them. I mean, people often misjudge and misunderstand me at the beginning and end up with a completely different view of me than what they thought. It’s through repeated, consistent, confirming interactions that people form their opinion of you. Duh.

16.You can’t escape your true nature, but your true nature is far more glorious than you think. Growing up, I always felt like the weirdest, least likable mushroom in a field full of flowers. I tried to hide it, like I said before, and it did not work. I always got told I was too “extroverted, energetic, excitable, exhausting.” But the thing is…some people love mushrooms. And mushrooms can be magical. 😉 Accept your strangeness, but also embrace it. It’s what sets you apart.

17. When apologizing, ask yourself – is this coming from a need to feel reassured or because I truly feel sorry? I have had so many friends have ‘intervention’ type conversations with me about my over-apologizing. They say that they feel uncomfortable with having to constantly reassure me that everything is okay, and that I didn’t do anything wrong. I have such a strong ability to ruminate, to overthink and to just plain express myself that it NEVER occurred to me that my apologizing was exhausting people. I now try to apologize only when I feel I’ve done something truly wrong. It’s not just better for my friends, it’s better for myself. It’s really, really difficult. Like I said before, changes to behavior, especially when rooted in deep self-belief, can take years. At least I’ve gotten to the first step of becoming aware of my issues.

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18.Friends of convenience/surface level bonding vs. true friends. Once, when recounting a difficult situation I was having with a friend, a therapist asked me: “Do you like her?”…I was a bit confused. I said, obviously! However, my therapist was trying to see what exactly I looked for in friendships and how I CHOSE my friendships. It revealed something really nuts: I didn’t have too much in the way of criteria for friendships. I let people walk all over me. I was focused so much on what they thought of me, rather than focusing on what I thought of them. Since then, this discovery has made life a lot simpler. If I don’t enjoy being around someone, if they get me down, if they judge hard, if they give me a feeling of discomfort, I JUST DON’T HANG WITH THEM.Pretty damn simple. Took forever to recognize, though.

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19. Give yourself so much more credit for all the little things. Ugh, this is such a big one. Sometimes I look at my brother, or my friends, or people in my class and I’m just amazed by them. They are such accomplished, well-spoken, kind individuals. I wish it was more normal to tell people randomly how great you think they are (I still do tell people, though.) However, it kills me how people don’t give themselves credit for being A+ planners, amazing with punctuality, helpful as hell, balancing a job and school…I know it’s good to have high standards, but the amount of stress people handle and how well they do is truly remarkable to me. So please, give yourself credit where it’s due.

20. There’s so much more room for redemption and forgiveness in this world. One of my greatest fears is having my past mistakes haunt me, or that I’ll do something people won’t forgive. This paranoia wreaks havoc on my life sometimes, making me feel out of control. What soothes me in my time of distress, however, is realizing that if my mother, if my best friend, if my brother, if my closest aunt can forgive me… then that’s all that matters. I asked my mother yesterday if she’d still accept me if I got famous and had a big scandal come up and destroy my life. My mother looked at me and said, “Oh please, that’s nothing. Yes, I’d accept you no matter what. You’re a good person and that’s what counts. People will always have things to say, both good and bad, and if you’re improving your life then that’s all that matters.” … I was so truly happy and grateful in that moment to have a mother like this. She knows my past, and she’s a tough cookie with high standards, and if she can so easily accept and forgive me, so can I.

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21. Everyone is right in their own way and everyone has a point. In a world where we have figures like Donald Trump actively dividing the country, it can be challenging to see the truth in this, but I truly believe that everyone has a core point of view that comes from a truthful, intelligent perspective—If not in their politics, about something else. For example, I come from a pretty traditional Indian Hindu home. On one hand, I see the point of view of someone who stays clear of alcohol, who does yoga and has strong spiritual practices and is a vegetarian – I really respect those values tremendously. However, I also love drinking beers and eating junk food with my family and see the joy and closeness this ritual brings us. All I’m saying is we’re all right about different things in different ways and we have a lot to learn from each other.

22. It’s better to procrastinate out of laziness rather than fear.  I learned this after reading Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. If you’re avoiding doing things because you don’t feel like it, because you’re tired, or uninspired: fine. Not perfect, but fine. But if it’s because you’re scared, then that’s something that you need to overcome. And fast. I find that I always shy away from creative projects because I’m fearful of so many things – peoples’ judgments, others have already done it before, I’ll be shamed, I might say something wrong… That’s just no way to live. That’s why I’ve kind of neglected this blog and so many other projects.

23. There’s no such things as leagues. Stay away from anyone who rates people. Ugh. Enough said. Whenever I hear someone rank someone by a number, it makes me sick and reminds me of my looks-obsessed teenage years. Embarrassing.

24. Practice gratefulness. Every time I’ve had a beautiful experience occur to me, it’s because I was in a grateful mental space. It’s crazy how this works, but it’s so true. Whenever I despair, I seem to get more things than ever to feel bad about. More sh*t goes wrong, or at least seems that way, and it zaps the energy out of me. However, whenever I practice gratefulness (or even try), that totally changes. Even if it’s a small practice of writing 3 things down every night – even if I actually FEEL grateful or not, the intention behind it always seems to change the course of my life for the better. I say, give it a shot. It’s the magic elixir, as Marie Forleo says, of making things happen.

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25.It is always okay to break up with someone. I mean, ALWAYS. I think yes, we are in a time and place where people don’t sacrifice as much for their romantic relationships. But I’ve seen people stay in crappy relationships so many times that I realize… that’s not such a bad thing. So what if you’ve neglected your relationships to pursue your career, or your art? I don’t think there’s ANYthing wrong with that, unless it doesn’t make you happy, or you’re operating on fear. Also, people come with baggage and all of us have the capacity to hurt each other. It’s okay to opt-out of that in the process of self-actualization.

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