Next week I turn the magical 28, which got me thinking about all of the wonderful moments I’ve had and lessons I’ve learned over the past (almost) 30 years. From being raised in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming, to living the past eight years between Miami and NYC, I have been blessed to live a very colorful life.
So, as I look back, here are the 27 greatest lessons I’ve learned on my way to 28:
27. Life isn’t fair → and that helps you and hurts you.
My parents’ friends gave them a book on lessons to teach teenagers and the #1 lesson was ‘Life isn’t fair’. It’s so true, isn’t it? A lot of the time, though, we fail to realize that life not being fair also works to our benefit. Many times we don’t deserve the break we get, or we get more than someone else for absolutely no reason. It’s important to look at both sides of ‘fair’.
26. You absolutely have to do the things you are afraid to in order to grow.
I have been scared to death to do so many things that ended being incredible blessings in my life. I was two seconds away from having my grandparents pick me up on my layover in Chicago on my way to moving to NYC, and I am so happy that I pushed through the fear and had an amazing experience living in the city.
25. You can love someone with every ounce of your being, but that does not mean you are meant to spend the rest of your life with them.
I was madly in love with my college boyfriend, so much to the point that I held onto memories of him for two years after we broke up. We both decided to get back together a couple of years later, and it was in that moment that I realized no matter how much I loved him, we just could not coexist. We were too different, on very different paths.
24. It’s a good thing to have a pit in your stomach sometimes. It means you are growing.
In my early twenties, especially, I had numerous pit-in-my-stomach moments. Turned out these pits were just preludes to moments that changed my life in the best way.
23. Your belief in yourself is everything.
This is especially true when you get out in the real world and no longer have the safety of your family and friends to fall back on. People will try to tear you down, and it’s your job, and yours alone, to keep yourself built up. This belief in yourself will allow you to do things you never even dreamed possible.
22. There will come a time when you need to care for your heros and caregivers → your parents.
One of the toughest moments of my life was seeing my mom go through cancer treatment. Suddenly my fierce hero that was always my rock was sick, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it except love her through it. It’s a cruel thing to see your parents suffer, and it’s our responsibility to help them through whatever obstacles they endure because they helped us through everything.
21. The words you say actually last a long, long time.
I am a very verbal person. My friends used to joke with me in high school that if you received an email from Marji, it was not a good sign. I would sit down at my computer late at night and write absolutely everything that was on my heart, and then press send. While a lot of these emails were therapeutic and moved relationships to a better place, some of them left lasting scars on people. People remember what you say, and words can sometimes take a whole hell of a lot longer to heal than physical wounds.
20. You impact more lives than you could ever imagine.
You impact more lives than you could ever imagine. As time goes on, you realize just how many lives you impact along the way. I cannot not tell you how many people have reached out to me about something that I thought was insignificant, such as a smile or a ‘how are you’, that changed their day. I’ve even had people reach out to me to tell me that my perseverance through my immune disorder growing up gave them strength to overcome their own struggles.
19. The long nights are worth it.
Going to college in Miami completely redefined ‘late night’ for me. Some nights, we did not get to sleep until 10AM the next day! I can positively say that I don’t regret one of those late nights. Every night led to new friends, new adventures and some of the most inspired writing I’ve ever written.
18. Your flaws are what make you successful.
Everything I was teased for in junior high has ended up being a blessing in my adulthood. I was ‘too smart’, ‘too much of a prude’, ‘too much into my writing’. Well, all of those things ended up landing me amazing jobs and helped prepare me for the brutal bullying of the real world.
17. Your family is your greatest asset.
In my life, it is absolutely true that blood is thicker than water. No matter how mad I get at my family, or how mad they get at me, we are ALWAYS there for each other. Never lose sight of the people who have been there for you from the very beginning.
16. Reflection is necessary.
I have to spend time reflecting throughout the week, or I lose sight of where I am going. I dedicate time to writing in a journal at least once a week. It’s interesting to see what emotions and stories bubble up as I let myself freely write. Suddenly, I realize that something has been bothering me that I had no idea what still on my mind, or I realize that I’m doing a lot better than I thought at getting closer to a goal.
15. Someone is going to love you that you don’t love back.
This is one of the hardest lessons because you so much want to love that person back, but sometimes you don’t choose who you love. It’s important to be honest with yourself and not just say you love someone because you don’t want to hurt their feelings or you love the way they love you. Be honest and transparent so you both can find mutual love.
14. People leave sooner than you expect, so you have to cherish every moment.
A sixth grade substitute teacher once told my class that one of us would die before we made it through junior high. He was right. My best friend committed suicide when we were 15. The pain didn’t end there-- I’ve lost my sister and numerous friends (four just this year!). This life is temporary, and the sooner you realize that, the sooner you will not take any relationships for granted.
13. Growing up in the middle of nowhere has its benefits.
I loathed growing up in Wyoming when I was a child, but now that I am an adult, it is one of the greatest blessings. I learned so many morals and values in a small town that I believe would have been more difficult to learn and hold onto in a city environment. I also now have the most beautiful place to visit every time I go home.
12. You can always go home. Home is not a place, but in your heart.
I went from living in a small town, to living in Miami, to living in NYC. I have taken every opportunity to explore where I want to live, and what I want to do. On top of that, my parents split up when I was in college and now live in two separate states. Suffice it to say, placing home as a physical place is a bit difficult. As soon as I was in college, I quickly learned that home is more about what is in my heart and who I am in God, then it is about a physical place.
11. One of the most beautiful lessons of growth is when someone destroys your heart.
My main chakra is my heart, so when my heart is hurt my entire body feels destroyed. I still remember my first heartbreak as though it was yesterday, but I also am able to reflect now on how it broke me into a million pieces that I was able to put back together to make even a better version of myself. Heartbreak often exposes our true selves and allows us to reset. It can be a very beautiful, therapeutic thing.
10. You have to receive God’s love before you can receive anyone else’s.
This is something my mom has instilled in me since I was a child. Unless you feel God’s love in your entire being, and know that you are loved perfectly through grace, you will face difficulty in loving others and yourself.
9. A smile and genuine interest in others will get you further than anything.
My mom also instilled in me as a young child that grace and kindness are two of the most important things in life. It is amazing how far a little kindness can go in a tough situation, or how a smile can completely change the tone of a conversation.
8. Persistence and work ethic outwin talent.
I wanted a job at a research firm in NYC more than anything when I graduated from college. The CEO graciously let me know, though, that the job I was eyeing required at least an MBA. I took an internship at a firm in NYC, and continued to stay in touch with the CEO of the research firm for several months. I updated him on my projects, what I’d been learning, and how interested I still was in working for his firm. He finally called me one day, just as my internship was ending, and said that he found a solution: I could be his assistant half the time, and the other half of the time he would train me to be a project manager. Persistence.
7. You have less control than you think, but that makes life more beautiful than you could ever imagine.
As a Type A personality, it is incredibly difficult for me to let go of control. However, in the moments I have, God has given me something so much greater than what I originally wanted. Sometimes you have to sit back and let God drive.
[bctt tweet="Let God drive. "]
6. Trusting your gut is one of the greatest things you will ever do.
Since I was tiny, my mom has always stopped me when I’ve begun to worry about making a decision about something, and asked me what my gut was telling me. In my later years, we have both come to realize that this ‘gut’ reaction that often times makes the decision for you is actually the Holy Spirit, God, telling you what you need to do.
5. Not all friends are meant to last forever.
People grow apart, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you, or something wrong with them. It just means that you took different roads, and now have less in common. Say adieu and go out there and meet new friends that are on the same path as you. It’s okay to let go sometimes to make room for the new.
4. Your mission is critical, so dedicate time to figuring it out.
This is a lesson that has become more important as time goes on. If you don’t know what your purpose is, you can quickly forget why you are doing what you are doing. I’ve spent a lot of time digging to see what I want to do with my life, and have taken the risk to try out different things. When I’m aware of what I want to be doing with my life, I’m able to stay inspired and move towards fulfilling my mission.
3. Daily meditation and yoga can change your life.
When I moved to NYC, I realized immediately that I needed something in my life that distracted me from the hustle and bustle of the city. I bought a yoga mat and researched meditations online, and dedicated at least an hour everyday to calming my mind. It absolutely did wonders in my life from keeping me more level-headed to keeping me more healthy physically, too!
2. Mom’s advice is always golden.
As you can already tell by this list, my mom has given me a ton of valuable advice throughout my life. Sometimes, it’s advice that I definitely don’t want to hear but she is the bravest person to tell it to me. Most of the time, that advice I didn’t want to hear was spot on. I now put a lot of weight on what she tells me, because she says it from a place of experience.
1. When you put God first, everything else divinely falls into place.
The moment I put less effort on my relationship with God, I can feel my world falling apart, and confusion overtaking my mind. By staying focused on God as #1, I am able to make more thought-through decisions and panic less because I trust where God is taking me in life.
Hopefully one of these 27 lessons is helpful for you as you move forward in your own life. I’m excited to see what lessons the next 27 years teach!
- Marji J. Sherman