Life can be confusing
Let’s face it…life has it’s moments.
Some are easy to see while others seem to just show up out of nowhere.
There are going to be times when we wish for a “mulligan” and others times we want to distance ourselves as much as we can.
Like you, I have learned much in my life.
Some good, some not do good.
Part of me wishes someone would have given me a list of things I needed to learn — maybe I would have been on the lookout for them or I would have learned them quicker.
Either way, my life has brought me here.
In my years of living, these are the absolutes life will show us all.
1. We participate in the outcome – we don’t decide it.
Too many times, we want to do something only if we know how it will turn out. We won’t take chances because there is a risk of failure — forgetting that any chance of success also gets dismissed without the attempt. We can only decide our level of our participation — are we going to half-ass it or jump in with both feet? Are we going to take baby steps or get through it as fast as we can? Are we going to hold back what we really think and feel or are we going to let our authentic self be seen and heard? Only after the outcome is determined do you re-evaluate what happened and how we might have influenced a different outcome. We may say the wrong thing at the right time, but we will never know it if we are always afraid to say anything. Because those words we say may very well be the most important thing someone hears.
2. We can control only two things – our attitude and our effort
Growing up, I didn’t like the lack of control. No matter how hard I tried to make things happen in my favor, I needed to accept that there were too many variables that I could not control. (This is where knowing about #1 would have been a little helpful.) No matter the situation, I still have a choice to make. I can decide how I think about things — I can be angry and bitter or I can be accepting and understanding. I can see things only from my point of view or I can be open to seeing something from another perspective. In addition, I can decide how much I want to work at something — there is a difference between attempting something once and repeatedly trying something multiple times. Ultimately, even doing nothing is still doing something. Know this — it is our mindset that always dictates the action that follows. Never the other way around.
3. We all have opportunities to influence
Too often, we believe we need to have the fame and celebrity status of Taylor Swift, LeBron James, and any of the Kardashian family members in order to make a difference. People get stuck on the number of “likes, retweets, and follows” that they miss the biggest lesson of them all…influence is not available only to the many, it is available to the few. Every day, people like you and me have chances to make an impact in a single life. It doesn’t need to come with a news story or go viral to matter. Simple words and actions are all it takes and those moments are there and gone every day. Be intentional with how you interact with others.
4. We are never “ready” like we want to be
Have an important event coming up? A speech, a wedding proposal, or job interview? What about a being in the batter’s box when there are 2 outs, the count is full, and the winning run is on third base? First day on the job? Are you really ready? Whenever we are doing something new or different, we are bound to have a couple of emotions running through our minds and bodies all at the same time — we are a little nervous and a little excited. We’ve all been there. We might feel a little doubtful and fear may come to visit. When I was doing my first tandem skydive, I will never forget the instructor asking me, “Are you ready?” as we moved closer to the open door of this tiny plane at 10,000 feet above the ground. Because sometimes, whether you are ready or not, sometimes you just have to go. (And pray the guy you are strapped to opens the parachute when he is supposed to…)
5. We all must become humble in times of growth
When there are moments of learning, we must admit that we don’t know everything. For some, that can be extremely difficult. These people live in an “ego” filled world and they have a hard time accepting we all grow in life. We will learn from reflection as well as experiences that didn’t quite go the way we would have liked. We don’t know what we don’t know. It’s okay to admit it. No 4th grader is expected to know 11th grade math, yet once we becomes adults, our expectations of ourselves changes. Let us not judge, shame or ridicule what we still have yet to learn. For it is never the pace that determines our growth, it is our yearning for knowledge.
6. We will experience rejection, disappointment, and loss
We don’t make the cheer squad or the varsity basketball team. We worked just as hard as anyone else, right? Sometimes, our best is just not good enough. It doesn’t mean we aren’t good enough. We are going to be told, “No” more than once in a variety of situations — the bank doesn’t approve your house loan (no matter how much you love that house), friends walk away without a real explanation as to why, and the college of your dreams doesn’t believe you are “the kind of student they are looking for on their campus.” UGH. Utter heartbreak. Speaking of an aching heart, ever had to bury someone you love? Whether by accident, disease, or another means, death will come to us all. Even to the ones we love most. In each of these scenarios, we must remember that these are the lows of life and remind us why the highs matter too.
7. Everyone will have an opinion of us
No matter who we are, people will always have an opinion of us. Some of that information will be observed and experienced first hand while other parts may be conveyed through gossip and fabricated story telling. In other words, someone’s perception of who that person is becomes the truth, right? Just as there will people who don’t like us for who we are, there are just as many people who love us for who we are. Too often, we focus too much on trying to convince the people who don’t like us already to find something good about us. WHY? The people that like you for you don’t need convincing — they get it. Just be you and let the people move in and out as they choose. As one friend said to me recently, “It’s their loss.” Remember this, the ONLY opinion that matters is the one you have of yourself.
8. We all matter to someone
Whether our life is long or short, we will be remembered by others. We may not need do something historic or transcendent to hold space in someone’s heart. Once you have taken hold of someone’s heart, you really just can’t let go. Regardless of time or distance, you carry them with you. Maybe you see a symbol that reminds you of them. Maybe you heart their name across a crowded room or a song in your car. To have lived is the greatest privilege we could ever ask for and knowing that no wherever we go, that someone matters to us just as we matter to someone else.
9. We are not perfect
Believe it or not, we just aren’t. We are bound to make mistakes and will leave things left undone. I always wanted to “do it all” never really knowing what that meant. Now, terms like “YOLO” (You Only Live Once) and “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out) show up to remind us that we only have this one life to live. Social media allows us to use filters and crop the images we capture to appear “perfect” on our accounts for the world to see. Let’s own our mistakes — giving grace where it is due and accepting it when it is offered. Grudges and bitterness do not make us better people. Our regrets may be a short list or a long one — ultimately, we decide what opportunities we need to take when (and if) they show up again and which ones we just let go.
10. Change is inevitable as it is constant
I didn’t always like change. I craved predictability as much as I longed for harmony. In some ways, I still do. Maybe that is why my friends consider me to to be reliable and constant. Change can happen at any moment — with or without our consent or approval. Nothing stays the same forever. Most of us will never spend our entire lives in the same house doing the same thing for our entire lives. Just as change is evident when a new baby comes into the house, it is evident when the last baby leaves the house too. Never forget that change is only different. It may feel bad, but it may be that way in reality. Give this new thing a chance — you may like it.
Life is the sum of our experiences
Regardless of where those experiences have taken us or what they have shown us, we must embrace them all.
Sometimes, we might feel that “Lady Luck” is on our side while other times, we think she missed the memo.
Miracles may show up in the most unexpected places and simple prayers may go unanswered.
We may not understand everything that happens in life, but we must learn to accept it.
Knowing these truths about life might not make our days easier, but maybe they will help us navigate our days a little better.
Michelle A. Homme 2019