With 3 decades of life and experience under my belt now, it’s a time to look back and reflect, and to look ahead and hope.
I’ve gone through several large life changes, including moving across the country from Ohio to Colorado for a PhD program, leaving said PhD program after 2 years of soul searching and deciding it wasn’t for me, making a leap to a new and exciting career field, hiking 6 “fourteeners“, moving across the country again to Connecticut for the hubs job, moving up from $14/hour to 50K+ per year in salary, getting engaged, getting married, buying a house from 1000 miles away, and moving YET AGAIN to my dream state of North Carolina.
Gosh, that’s a long list.
It’s weird to see it all put together like that. But honestly, that is sort of how I always imagined my life would play out. As a kid, I was known as “the gypsy” because I loved going new places. I loved visiting my grandparents, my aunt, and traveling. I loved sleep overs and flea markets and vacations. When I sat still, I sat the hell still and read books for 8 hours. But when I wanted to move, I was gone.
There are many things in my life that I definitely do not regret.
I’m glad I moved around so much, lived in over 30 different houses and apartments, met many many people, tried different courses and careers, and had tons of great experiences. I’m thankful my parents taught me a lot about money, to pay yourself first, and to be on guard against predatory credit card lending (I did get a few free t-shirts, for sure, but I never carried a balance).
At the same time, there are many things I regret too. Like not opening a Roth IRA the second I was legally allowed to, going on several expensive vacations that could have been put towards paying off loans faster, and not negotiating any of my salaries.
People love to give advice, but like Baz Luhrman said:“Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth”.
So without further ado, here is some of my past, wiped off and ugly parts painted over, hopefully for your education and amusement:
- Life is all about progress, not perfection
- This too shall pass
- Change can be scary but it is so worth it
- You’ll regret the risks you don’t take more than the ones you do
- “Marry your best friend” isn’t trite, it’s true
- Relationships are everything
- You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. (Unless we’re talking about fruit flies. They LOVE apple cider vinegar)
- Any # of dollars is more than zero dollars in investments
- Flattery will get you everywhere
- Balance in all things, including balance
- GET MOVING, start a regular exercise plan ASAP
- Your mom knows what’s up: eat your damn veggies
- That which isn’t tracked and measured cannot be improved
- Don’t fear failure, or feel the fear and do it anyway
- Make the world around you a better place than you found it
- Someone always has it better, someone always has it worse
- NEGOTIATE YOUR SALARY, BROS, and don’t be afraid to job hop
- Sometimes it’s okay to be selfish
- If at first you don’t succeed… try, try again
- Life is a marathon, not a sprint
These may seem superficial, or useless to you. You will hear tons of advice, most of it well-meaning. Your job is to accept and put into practice those things which make sense and improve your life, while weeding out and filing away those things which do not serve you.
I do know that I wish someone had told me in my 20s that I was doing a lot of things right by cooking at home almost all the time, having a budget and meal planning, not giving a damn what others thought and not spending tons of money on beauty products, and avoiding going out partying to the bars (it is way cheaper to have a potluck or drink a bottle of wine at home with friends!).
I wish someone had shown me how easy it is to set up a retirement account and start putting money into it, even tiny amounts. I totally did force my younger sister to open a brokerage account, even though she can only put away $25/month right now. It’s more than zero! And she will have more than me saved by the time she is 30. And I wish I had actually bought a house sooner, so I could have rental properties in 3 different states! And perhaps have been a bit smarter about my daily commute…
I cannot tell you how to live your life, nor would I want to. I never listen to anyone who tries to tell me how to live mine. Adulting is hella hard, but the rewards are worth it. Every stage of life has its own challenges and its own beauty. All I can tell you is that this life we live is one crazy ride, hang on tight and regardless of how bad or how good it gets, each day is indeed a gift.