25 Things in 25 Years

25 Things in 25 Years

When I turned 24 a switch in me flipped. I suddenly felt old. Tomorrow, I’ll be spending my 25th birthday in Chicago at a photography convention. If you’ve never been to a convention, you need to go sign up for one now. Especially if you’re a photographer.

25 years on this Earth teaches you some things. Not a lot, but some. I still have a lot of growing to do, mistakes to make, and laughing to do. But, in light of an insanely long blog post, I want to keep this intro short. Taylor Swift wrote an article a few months ago about turning 30. In that moment this idea was created…. or copied (ha!) My good friend, and occasional second shooter, Symone did something similar on her Instagram which you can check out here.

So, with no further introduction, here are 25 things I’ve learned in a quarter century.

1. Life doesn’t always work like you want it to.

I never thought I’d get pregnant at 20. I thought I would be pregnant at 30. But here I am, 25 with a 4 year old. Some plans just don’t go as planned, and that’s ok. Just keep your goals and dreams always in your vision. And remember, dreams can change.

Right now my main vision is to build my own house. I want the 9 years, 2 acers, chickens (and kids) galore, and white picket fence. In reality, at the moment our budget maybe gets us 1/10th of that… minus the chickens. That’s ok. I don’t know what will happen in the next 25 years, but I know I have big dreams and I’m chasing them.

2. It’s ok to Let Go.

You can’t hold onto every person and every dream that’s ever crossed your path. When I was little I had a huge dream of being the next Taylor Swift. I would write my songs and sing them all over the world. After high school, I let go of that dream to find a new one. As you go forward in life there will be something you just have to leave behind. Repeat after me, just let it go.

3. Everyone Struggles.

Addiction has indirectly affected my entire life. I’ve never touched a drug in my 25 years, but at one point it almost tore apart my family. I’d be at work, in the bathroom crying my eyes out, having to wipe my tears and go on with my day. No one really knows the effect that’s had on me, not even me. 

You never know what someone is struggling with privately. There are some tragic things that happen in the world that break my heart. Everyone has a story and everyone projects their struggles differently to the world. Don’t let anyone try to belittle the way you’re feeling and don’t ever feel too prideful or afraid to ask for help.

4. You Can’t Always Play Nice.

Believe me, I totally believe in the mentality of kill them with kindness. The energy you put into the world is the energy you get back from it. Positivity comes back as positivity.

However, if someone is being hateful to you, you do not have to play nice. Like Taylor swift says, “be like a snake, only strike if you get stepped on.” I have such a problem with being timid, which leads to people walking all over me. In college I had people whom I thought were my friends treat me completely differently after I got pregnant. This is something I’ve shared before, but I have a totally different outlook on it now than I did years ago. I want to share this story, as condensed as I can with you so I can put those feeling to rest.

My first day back Senior year of college I was a new mom and so excited to be back at school. Not only was it my last year, school was a way for me to be a normal 20 year old while not having to change diapers. I sat down in my graphic design class next to someone who I didn’t know too well, but I would have said we were friends. I said hello, she said nothing. She didn’t even look at me, just started up a conversation with the person next to her.

Yes, I was hurt but this person had never shown any interest in being my friend and that was on me. I could tell you this person’s whole family’s names but no way could this person do the same for me. Not too second’s later my friend Jamie sat next to me and gave me a big hug and congratulations. If this season of my life taught me anything, it’s that the people who truly love you will support you through anything. Leave everyone else behind.

Later that year, I had another person I considered my friend say they assumed I wasn’t coming back to school after having my son. Just assume, because society has falsely told him that young moms couldn’t be successful.

In this process I sent 2 of the nastiest emails I’ve probably ever sent to those 2 people. It was such a hard time of my life and I let them have it. I wasn’t vulgar or mean but I called it as I saw it. Being a mom had changed nothing about by school, but because I had gotten pregnant at a young age, it was assumed by those 2 people that it had. Yes, I was embarrassed and incredibly hurt, but in the end I moved on with my life.

This was so long ago, it’s hard to put myself back in that place. Being a new mom comes with no sleep, depression, weight gain, and so many other things. Someone who didn’t care didn’t know that, and probably didn’t care. I was embarrassed, but I’m not anymore. I felt bad and it tore me apart, but I moved on. My reaction was pure, raw, and well warranted. I didn’t owe anyone niceness, and I still don’t. You don’t have to play nice with anyone who isn’t nice to you.

5. It’s ok to like Taylor Swift.

On my way to Chicago I was reading a photo book. Inside it was a pie chart. One side had Beyone fanes, the other White Stripes fans. They barely touch. Think about it. Someone who likes dark and moody photography isn’t going to book a photographer with a light and airy style.If you like something that’s polarizing, own it! You know what else, LARPing is on my bucket list… and I’m not ashamed. You can like/love whatever/whomever you want and if someone judges you for it… tell them boy bye!

… or to shake it off. I think we can all appreciate both Taylor and B.

6. Surround yourself with people who encourage you to be the best.

Trust me on this one. One of the things I learned about Richard and his family is that they will cover for each other to no end. Maybe it’s instinct or some misunderstood idea of loyalty, but the habit of lying for someone is unhealthy and unrealistic. Empowered people empower others. Don’t kick someone while they’re down.

You shouldn’t be expected to lie for someone at all. You shouldn’t be around someone who encourages you to do bad things because you’ll only enable each other. Surround yourself with people who will try to keep you out of trouble, not ones that will be in trouble with you. If someone brings out the worst in you it’s time to let them go.

7. Marriage is Hard.

I don’t even know where to start with this one. I would like to say that I have marriage figured out, but that’s not true. In fact, neither of us has any clue what we’re doing. 7 years ago, when we met, we were 2 independent, stubborn kids who had 2 different views on the world. Richard was a littler “rough around the edges” is how I described it. I was Sandra Dee and Richard was Danny Zuko.

I think Greece is a good analogy for my marriage. Richard brought out a little edge in me, and I in turn brought out his homeiness (yes I think I made up a word). But we’re still 2 stubborn Leo’s who have 2 different views on my world. It’s also very hard being a romantic and dreaming of your happily ever after, when in reality marriage isn’t riding away in a chariot. 

There’s no handbook on marriage. Each individual couple writes their own… in pencil. After all of the craziness we went through, I know through everything I married my best friend.

8. Motherhood is even Harder.

My son pooped on our doorstep a few weeks ago. Yes, you read that right. What I thought was a mess from the dog was a mess from my own child. And that’s only one of the craziest things that he’s done. 

Any parent will tell you that having a baby is one of the hardest things you’ll do. However, it’s the most rewarding things in this world, that you can only experience what you join the club. Nothing will prepare you (still read the books).

9. It’s ok to start before your Ready.

I don’t remember what podcast I heard this from, but I’m pretty sure this was from a podcast. You can make the most detailed outline for a book but until you actually start writing, you don’t have an actual book.

This can apply so many was into my own life. Creating a family started before I was ready. I wasn’t ready to work for myself but I couldn’t find a job. I’m probably not ready to start a podcast, but that’s still happening. Don’t find any excuse to not start now.

10. There will always be Someone Better Than You.

But there is no better you than you. No one is accountable for your success but yourself. There will always be someone who does something that you do better than you do. I suck at putting Leo to bed at night. I feel awful when other moms tell me how much fun they have during story time. Here I am throwing my toddler in bed then passing out myself.

Don’t let what other people do bug you. I know there are photographers out there who make a lot more money than I do. That doesn’t make me want to quit, it just makes me want to work harder. Let the fact that someone else is good at what they do drive you to be the best you can be. Don’t fall trap to the comparison game to. That mother that reads bedtime stories may feed her kids McDonalds and candy everyday.

11. Laugh at yourself

You will love yourself more. And others will too.

12. Mistakes don’t break you.

We all make mistakes (as I belt out I’m only huummaaannn). It’s what you do after you make a mistake that makes or breaks you. It’s more important that you admit to it so that you can fix it. Don’t get wrapped up in lies and covering it up because that comes back around. 

13. Someone’s Opinion of You is None of your Business.

Yes, this is a Rachel Hollis quote. Her books changed my life and if you haven’t read Girl Wash Your Face yet you need to. Something that I didn’t realize until college is you can’t be friends with everyone. Not everyone on this Earth is going to like you and that’s ok. Just hold on to the people you love and don’t worry about the people who don’t love you.

14. Love your Friends Unconditionally.

Here’s a secret, your friends aren’t perfect. Every single relationship you have or have had in your life is important. Some last, some don’t. Your friendss are people who make mistakes and do some dumb things just like you do. I love my friends unconditionally even when I disagree with a decision they make. You’re not entitled to be in a wedding party, or invited to a gathering just because you’re friends. You’re also in no place to judge, and if you are you need to look back at yourself.

What your friends are there for is being there for you.  When you need someone to talk to or have fun with. You may not have talked for a few months but when you see them again you pick up like no time has past. Cherish and protect your best friends.

15. Don’t live in Fear.

The world can be a scary place. I told this story on my Instagram, but recently someone told me that there could be a solar flare tomorrow and Earth could go poof. I freaked out. In truth, when you google the chances of a solar flare hitting Earth, there was actually a solar flare in 2012. And guess what, we’re still here. They’re actually kinda common.

I’ve always struggled with anxiety, and for me that manifests in paranoia. Not paranoia in an extreme case like someone’s out to get me, but just the stupidest things. When I was little I thought aliens were going to abduct me. I was afraid to go to sleep when I was about 10 because I heard tapping on my window and thought someone was trying to break in. Then,  after a few days of this, I finally looked outside and it turns out it was moths.

I can’t worry about things I can’t control. I just have to remind myself of that every once in a while.

16. Sex Shouldn’t be Taboo

This is so off brand for me so I’ll make this short and sweet. Don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed for having sex. Your body is yours, and no one else can decide what you do with it as long as your safe.

17. No one can speak up for you but you.

Some voices speak louder than others. Most voices are louder than mine. That doesn’t mean what I have to say isn’t important. But no one can speak up for me.

I think that’s why a lot of people, including myself, have a soft spot for children and animals. They can’t speak up for themselves so others need to for them. You, reading this, can speak for yourself.

18. The truth will always put you ahead.

Don’t be a liar. This needs no explanation.

19. Everything is as fragile as an eggshell.

Treat things you don’t want to break like it will. Your life, your marriage, everything. Health, money, relationships are all very fragile and come and go throughout your life. Treat it like that. Anything and everything can be taken from you at any moment. Appreciate it, and realize that we’re blessed in so many ways.

Here’s perspective. 1.1 Billion people on this Earth don’t have electricity. When the sun goes down, they don’t have light. Many of these people have never looked in a mirror. You have more power in your hands right now than most people have in their lives. 1.8 billion people don’t have access to an adequate water supply. Our privilege is fragile. Cherish everything you take for granted.

20. Trust in your skills.

As Dr. Seuss says, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” I’ve been to so many photography talks and each one is different. The biggest take away is, you are unique, but your art is what sells you. If your art sucks you have nothing to sell.

Your brand is built on your skill set. Master it, remember you’re always a student, and steer your way behind it’s wheel … if that makes sense.

21. Happiness is a choice.

It’s ok to cry and it’s important to let yourself get down and have vulnerable moments. Equally as important is for you to choose to get back on your feet. I see so many people, photographers specifically, make excuses why they can’t do X Y or Z. The truth is, if you want to be happy, take the steps you need to to get there. Even if that includes seeking professional help or buying another puppy.

22. Things will Always come Back Around

100% if there’s anything I want you to read in this mess of a blog this is it. Everything is temporary. Life can get really hard sometimes. It’s also beautiful and amazing. So when it hurts, know that the pain is temporary and healing will soon begin. When it’s amazing, absorb every second, because it will soon fade as well. And know that every season of life will greet you with a new set of challenges that you will be able to overcome.

23. Marry Your Best Friend.

There is no perfect person in the world. I’ve always dreamed Prince Charming coming to sweep me off my feet. In actuality, I’m way too awkward to marry a prince and I suck at being a girly girl.

I love my husband. He’s not Prince Charming, but I still find him super sexy and he likes me even though I’m not Megan Fox. We laugh together. He knows things about me no one else knows. He is, without a doubt, my best friend.

24. Never be afraid to be yourself.

I had a boyfriend in highschool who told me to stop dancing in the hallway. My 15 year old self was embarrassed and stopped. My 25 year old self would just dance harder. Being me is what makes me awesome. I know I can be awkward and weird, but I’ve come to the point in my life that I’m not apologizing. It’s ok to not be what you think is perfect.

Instead of allowing myself to be told not to dance, I found someone who will dance with me. Don’t let anyone dull the shine of your sparkle.

25. Travel

It will make you appreciate your home and appreciate the world. You will see and experience things you will never do otherwise. It will open up your network and make you understand that this world is huge yet very small.

August 6, 2019

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