I’m not always easy, in fact I am a difficult pain in the ass. But it is who I am and something I am completely at peace with being. I see things in black and white sometimes. Not because I am a hard-ass and just want things my way, but because it is my coping mechanism for dealing with stressful situations that require an answer or a direction. Some people can’t deal with my straightforward personality because it requires maturity on their part to be able to accept that I won’t lie to them for the sake of their feelings or because they would rather be told they are right when they are in fact really really wrong. I just can’t stand there with a silly smile on my face and watch without trying to help, I will throw myself into the fire every time. That is a part of who I am, a small part.
In fact there are so many parts of who I am that I often feel like getting to know the real me is too complex for anyone to really get to know. Why should they? I have some really frustrating character flaws! But I am worth loving, worth the effort, and worth all of the good that comes along as well.
My brother is an awesome guy. He’s got this loving thankful heart that just melts me. But he is me 20 years ago, trying to figure out why relationships aren’t working, why he lets little things ruin the way he sees his life, and who he really is. I get it, I was there at the same age trying to answer those questions myself. I think it’s a common age to start seeing your life ahead of you and trying to figure out what the summary of your book is going to read and who the main characters are going to be.
So what advice can I give him and anyone else who is looking at their lives and trying to figure out how to turn it around?
You Will Make Mistakes.
I made a lot of mistakes when I was first starting even feel my eyes out. I still think of some of those mistakes and feel regret squeezing my eyes tightly closed as if that will make the memory go away. It doesn’t, it just hurts my face a little. Mistakes are part of growing up, part of learning what not to do. Making mistakes while you are young and actually learning from those mistakes are helpful as long as you realize them and work to correct them.
I had a lot of problems learning how to manage money when I was first starting out. I didn’t have a lot coming in and I had too many bills and no idea of how to manage everything. Sometimes I just panicked and did stupid things to make me feel better about not having enough. I really needed someone that had some good advice to sit me down, look at all of my bills and help me navigate my way through. I didn’t have access to all of the valuable tips back then to learn on my own how to save money and make the best of very little and I didn’t have a mentor to get me on the right foot. So I had to make a lot of mistakes trying to actually figure out on my own how to get it right. There were times when I had to say no to new toys for my kids and yes to offers for help as they came along. Those were the difficult steps I had to take in order to fight my way out of debt. As a 20 something, debt is the easiest hole you can dig for yourself and the hardest to get out of.
Learning how to manage money was and is one of the biggest challenges of growing up. Money isn’t happiness, but lack of it can certainly mean an increase in stress.
Learning how to manage your time is right up there with money. It’s not easy trying to figure out how to spend time with your friends/family/relationships and keep up with work. Add in trying to keep your house clean and go to college and you have a full plate.
Some Days Are Exhausting But Worth The Effort.
One of my sons said yesterday that he was really stressed trying to figure out how he was supposed to work 5-6 days a week so he can make money for his bills while thinking about his sick girlfriend, figuring out what he needed to do for his next semester at college, being available for his brothers and sister, keep up with the house, walk the dog, get to the grocery store, keep up with his car repairs, and still try to find some time for himself and maybe sleep a little. The only answer I could come up with was multitasking, asking for help, and pushing through it. I wanted to give him a better answer, but the truth is that you just have to keep peddling through the rain and know that you will get where you need to go only if you don’t stop.
My husband is a master at keeping everything going. He’s one of those people who is always multitasking, but the tradeoff is that sometimes I think he doesn’t get too emotionally involved in most things he does. He can manage to work 50 hours a week, raise 5 kids, be a part of the lives of his friends and family, volunteer his time with various groups, and still manage to remember to bring me home chocolate when I am having a meltdown about not knowing how to get everything done in a day. Unlike me, he chooses which things get his full emotions and which things he can work on without it. That is the lesson I skipped in life school and one that I hope our kids will learn from him.
My husband works really hard. Yet no matter how many hours he has put in for everything else he takes on, he has never ever said he doesn't have time for me or our family. I have never heard him ever turn down the chance to take a walk if someone needs to talk about their day. He just gets up and grabs his shoes. And sometimes he had to stay up later and listen to me vent about how wrong he is. But he still gets up in the morning and makes sure he gets to work to take care of his family.
You won't start off with all of those skills. But you will work hard at it and you will learn how to manage your time better, manage your needs better, multitask, and one day someone will look at you and ask how you do it as well.
You Won’t Be Alone Unless You Want To Be.
And what about love and not being alone forever?
Well that’s the area that I had to learn the hard way and one I kept notes about. The thing I have actually figured out from lots of life research is that you don’t have much control on when love comes around. You can go out with a lot of people. You can put yourself out on the dating websites. You can shout out to the world that you are single and ready to settle down. But you have no control on WHEN you will find that special relationship.
The only thing you can actually control is working on the person YOU will be when that time comes. We all have plenty of things to work on, things we need to move on from, and areas where we need to be free to grow. You will meet a lot of people on your way through life and each one of them gives us a chance to practice working on those skills we need to become the person that we want to be. Only when we truly love ourselves and can look into the mirror and not see the mistakes of our childhood, our past, or doubts about our future, will we actually be capable of accepting the opportunity of having a successful romantic relationship.
When you have a lot of weeds in your garden you are only going to attract people who are alright with weeds… people who are attracted to drama and problems. You can't expect that you will be ready to take care of full life and a relationship when you are fighting the demons in your head and you are defeating yourself.
Only you will know when you are truly ready for the next big change in your life that comes with a relationship. Sometimes you just need to learn how to love being alone before you can move forward.
Help Someone. Even If You Think You Have Nothing To Give.
We all have something to share. Maybe it is just holding the door open for one more person, asking someone if they need a hand, or listening when a friend needs to vent. Help someone every day. Get into a habit of being friendly to other people, talking to them instead of always looking into your phone to avoid eye contact, and be a part of where you are.
Recently I joined a Facebook group that is just for sharing. Every day we look at our homes and try to find something to share with others. Today I found a key rack we won’t use anymore. Yesterday I found a dog chew toy my dog didn’t like. You take a picture and you offer it up to someone else for free. I love this concept of sharing.
When you help someone else, that experience is your joy and becomes part of who YOU are. You become a loving, kind, generous person not held back.
Yes, there are greedy mean people out there who always have their hands out. They are the ones complaining that life isn’t fair. They always want what someone else has. Yup, they suck and that’s okay. Because you have a choice in this life of who you can help and who you can’t. You don’t have to be taken advantage of, you simply just walk away and find someone else that isn’t like that. I was having a terrible day a few months ago. I was feeling bad about a guilt trip a lowlife was trying to drag me into. And I got an odd text from a friend asking for help changing a diaper. Huh… weird. I was having a pity party and someone else needed help doing something as simple as a diaper change? Curious I hopped into my car and raced over to find my friend with a newborn and a 2 year old with a bad case of diaper rash in need of some help trying to get the diaper cream on while the crying toddler squirmed. My friend just needed someone to give her an extra hand and a listening ear. It’s one of my favorite moments in our friendship. I left there feeling so happy that I had been able to help with something so simple that I completely forgot about everything else. Helping her helped me find peace.
Never stop learning.
The last thing I am going to say is easy. We are always learning, we don’t just suddenly wake up and know everything. We make mistakes, we make new friends, break-up with relationships, burn our hands on the stove, forget to do something and have to make up for it later, and on and on. But we are only defeated when we stop learning.
The ones who have lost the battle are the ones who sit at home in front of their TV and do nothing. Get up, get dressed, like it or not pretend that you have the best life you could ever ask for. Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t deserve a great life, just live one. At whatever stage you are in life, start living as if THIS is your moment. I went through a lot of crap. I had to deal with a lot of bad days. And I earned this life that I am so lucky to have. But I had to learn to accept it, learn to be proud of who I am, and learn that no matter where I came from I have a choice in who I am going to be.