Tuesday, May 14, 2013

An Open Letter to Myself

Happiness.  One simple word and yet for many, we undergo such a long and twisting journey to find it.  Last year I turned 30 on a magnificent Cayman Island beach with my beautiful cousin by my side, and as we sat and watched the sunset and the waves crash with a fruity beverage in our hands I can tell you we found happiness.  Who wouldn't right. Lol. I wrote last year that I was looking forward to the next stage of life and saying goodbye to my twenties.  I still do feel very young, that is until I hang out with a  20 year old then I realize I’m definitely 30. Haha. But nonetheless, I am so much more as a person now than I have ever been before.  I’ve grown in my faith over the last few years and each year I feel God gives me a new and wonderful gift for my birthday.  Over the past 12 months it is very apparent that what God handed me on that beach for my 30th birthday was the gift of clarity. 

With that being said I have realized some things to date in my almost 31 years of life that I wish, oh I wish I could tell 18-year old me.  Not that she’d listen, but back then if I could have received a letter from the future there are a few things that may have helped.  I know that can’t happen, but I wanted to write this blog in hopes that maybe someone might stumble across it one day and benefit from the things I learned the hard way. So here we go….

1.       Don’t underestimate the value of your education. Pay attention in school.  Do the work. Take it seriously.  I dismissed college.  I made good grades without doing much work, but in all actuality I wish I had worked harder.  I must have left hundred's of opportunities on the table because I was simply more concerned with shopping, eating, intramurals and parties.  Education is so important and it is something that no one can ever take from you.

2.       Plan for your future.  68% of women will be single at some point in their life and 50% of women will be single mothers.  Plan ahead.  ALWAYS make sure that you can take care of yourself.  You may never need to, but always make sure you are able to. NEVER depend solely on family, your husband or anyone.  Be responsible for YOU.

3.       Drink less.  Work out more.  Many will be shocked this is coming out of my mouth. Lol.  It’s true I was no stranger to a party, however, I now truly believe that 20 year olds are ½ superhuman.  The things you can do and the things you take for granted at 20 are unbelievable.  Your health and your body are so important as you get older.  Lifting weights and cardio are lifelines.  Take care of your body and eat right because when health fades it fades for good. 

4.       Death is real and you are not immortal.  This kind of goes along with #3, but it’s not until you begin to see people your age die that this really begins to hit home.  God truly watches over the young because when I realize how aimlessly I went through life and when I recall some of the decisions I made never once fearing death….I get chills. 

5.       Live Simply.  Make a list of your wants and needs.  Draw a line in the sand and set up a budget.  Stick to it.  If you can’t get “those shoes” or “that car” who cares.  Realize the difference between having the money for things and truly being able to AFFORD it.  It’s quite different. If you have shoes or handbags that cost over $300 but you don’t have health insurance or a retirement account then I think it’s time to re-evaluate priorities. The handbag won’t be there when you are 65 and tired of working.  I think I truly began to realize this when my daughter was born which brings me to the next thought.

6.       Don’t rush life.  Kids and marriage used to be for 20 something’s but slow down.  It’s a new world.  Hold off until closer to 30 and truly know the person you marry. Rushing in to things is the greatest cause of divorce and single parent households. I see it every day in my profession.  You deserve more and your future kids deserve more. There’s so much to do as a young person and so much life to live before you settle down.  Kids are wonderful.  I truly believe they are why we are put on Earth.  My daughter is beat behind my heart, but I was too young when I had her.  It wasn’t fair to her.  Along with that is when you get married, STAY MARRIED.  Absent abuse or infidelity, DIVORCE should not be an option.  You committed so stay committed.  My friend sent me an article recently that talked about learning to love the person you are with.  Marriage is a partnership for life and just like in business there are ups and downs.  There might be years you do not like who you are with, but work on it.  If both parties give 100% and never stop trying it will work. No one is perfect.  How many of our grandparents got divorced? Exactly. 

7.       Sh*t Happens.  Bad things are going to happen, sometimes really bad things, but NOTHING is impossible to overcome. Nothing.  Freak out for a sec, cry, scream whatever…then begin to move on.  You are not the first person to go through this and there will be help. Figure out the steps back to happiness and no matter how long the road looks take the first step. Don’t forget to breathe…it’s gonna be just fine.  

8.       Family is forever.  Remember that your family will get on your nerves, make you cry, tell you the things you don’t want to hear, tell you things that are flat out rude BUT they are there forever.  Deal with it.  Fix it.  Pray about it.  When your life falls apart and it will fall apart, they will be there.

9.       Karma is real.  I can’t explain it and won’t try, but there comes a point when you begin to stop cutting corners, take care of business and do the right thing life just starts working out.  Be kind to people.  Your ability to get along with almost anyone will take you so far.  Common courtesies are important.

10.  Respect Yourself. Lastly…know and understand that the world is a harsh place and that it is  full of unfair presumptions and judgments.  The BEST way to make people shut up is to make yourself too fabulous for them to look down on.  The looks I got at 22 when I was an unemployed, unwed, single mother of a biracial child…..Think “they” would dare give me those looks now.  This 31 year old unselfemployed, unwed, single mother of a biracial child has made it look amazing.  Keep your own standards high and if people don't live up to them then that relationship has run it's course and they have to go.  That will be hard But you must stick to it. 

I love sharing these thoughts and welcome any that you may have learned in life.  This makes me very curious as to what 60-year old me would tell 31 year old me today... Can't wait to find out.
                                                                                                               Forever Learning,
                                                                                                               Dani Marie