Lessons Learned

This week, I’m doing something a little different. I’m not going to be discussing politics. Rather, I’m starting to see a trend with my summers being times of great change for me, so I figured I’d do a little self-reflection. As I’m growing up, I’m learning new things about the world and I figured I’d list what I’ve learned so far. By no means are these guidelines by which you should live your life, but if you read something you like, feel free to amend that lesson to fit your own journey through life. Anyways, let’s get started.

Make time for your family and friends. Life is hard and only ever seems to get harder with new challenges and responsibilities presenting themselves almost daily. At some point, the stress will just be too much for one person to handle alone. That is where your family and friends come in. I can’t tell you how many times I was succumbing to the stresses of my own life, but hanging out with a friend or talking to a family member suddenly made those stresses manageable. I gained a new perspective and solved the problems from solutions born out of friendly and loving guidance. If you make time for your family and friends, they will make time for you. Most things in our lives can be easily taken away, but the camaraderie and love a person shares with their friends and family are bonds that can never be broken, no matter the pressures applied.

Appreciate the little things. Now, I haven’t had too many major life experiences. I’m still in my mid-20s after all. However, the ones I have had so far, I can’t seem to remember. I don’t remember any of the proms I went to. I don’t remember my high school or college graduations. I barely remember how I came to getting my first job or the first week of living on my own. The things I do remember though are almost trivial. I remember waking up mornings after long nights of drinking and stumbling into the kitchen to talk with my roommates about the night’s previous events. I remember sitting at my kitchen table with my friends and discussing current events over a pot of coffee. I remember sharing some memories with my brother and dad over beers at a Winking Lizard in downtown Cleveland. I can tell you the best places to run at the local park and what time the annual Thanksgiving yoga session starts. We spend so much time hyping up the major events that we completely forget to take in the emotion and memories of those events. However, with the little things that happen in our lives, we don’t have that hype getting in the way. We can appreciate the time spent with the friends who accompanied us during those times. We can appreciate the emotions. We can appreciate the laughs and the rants. In those moments, we just appreciate the fact that there’s more to life than the daily grind.

Don’t be afraid to change your life motto. I went on a job interview a couple of weeks ago, and the HR person asked me, “What is your life motto?” I was taken aback for a couple of seconds because I had never really been asked that question. After a few seconds of thinking, I answered, “Don’t be afraid to take a risk.” I never would have said that a year ago. My life philosophy changed last summer and it woke me up to the fact that I needed to start living more positively. I needed to be proactive in doing things that would benefit my own life and the lives of those around me. It was a scary change at first, but I’ve found that I’ve come to embrace it more as my life journey continues. If something happens in your life that goes against what you believe in, don’t be afraid to change your world view. Life constantly changes and we need to adapt in order to set ourselves up to be the very best people that we can be. The change can be intimidating at first, but stick with it, and I think you’ll find a change in your life motto can be a highly rewarding experience.

Everyone’s got a timer. Don’t let it frighten you. Let it motivate you. This lesson’s a little more morbid, but unfortunately, death is just a part of life and one day, we’ll all reach the end of the road. Rather than dwell on that negative end, I try to use it as a tool to get the most out of my life. I know that life is short, so I try to live mine as best as I can. I make sure to take in the things that make me happy. I make sure to share laughs with my friends. I make sure to get plenty of coffee. I make time for writing and am in the process of learning to play the guitar. I never shy away from a brew or two and am still down for a night out on the town that probably won’t be remembered. Those are the things that make me happy so I enjoy them as much as I can. That has helped me the most in the life and when I meet my end, I can look back with a smile on my face.

Look to grow as much as you can. Part of the joy of life is improving ourselves. In fact, I think that may be one of the major factors that has allowed human life to continue to this point. As much as staying in our comfort zones, is well, comfortable, we need to venture outside of our boundaries every once in a while. Once we venture past that boundary marker, we can keep expanding our limits. Eventually, we’ll reach a point where something that made us uncomfortable is now just a second thought. That’s progress and enables you to continue seeking out the best that life has to offer. Sometimes this process can be trying, but once we take the first step, the rest of the journey is a whole lot easier and we’ll usually learn something profound about ourselves in the process.

I’d like to end this piece with the closing line from one of my favorite songs. The song is called “If Only You Were Lonely” and it’s performed by The Replacements. The line goes, “And somewhere there’s a smile with my name on it.” I think I’m finding mine, or maybe I already found it. I hope you find yours too.



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