Lessons in life - Wise words from a Gen Xer
I know this is supposed to be more of a style blog but your attitude and how you carry your emotions say as much about your style as your shoes do.
I can truly say that I have done some amazing things in my short, less than 40 years, on this earth. I've had incredible experiences and a few of them that would probably sound too far fetched for some people to believe. For instance, on my 21st birthday I had a friend call me as I left work and asked if I could meet her at the airport by 5. I pulled into the airport having no clue what was going on. We boarded a private plane and flew from Virginia to South Carolina, and she took me out to dinner. DINNER. Afterwards, we hopped back on the plane and headed home. I was in my own bed by 11pm and woke up the next morning and headed to work like normal. I mean, how freakin' cool is that!?
I've also done a few things that were probably not so smart. That's life. Thankfully, pretty much all of it was done before social media. #ThankYouJesus
However, all of those opportunities and mistakes have made me the woman that I am today and somewhere out there is a young girl trying to find her way. If that is you, looking for "older sister" advice on life, then I am going to share some of the moments and lessons that have made the most impact on me. The rest I should probably save for a memoir later down the road... that I submit... anonymously. 😬
1) You MUST understand your finances:
No matter the situation I faced, having the knowledge of credit scores, savings, 401k's, etc., has kept me from financial trouble. During college, on top of attending classes, I worked a full-time job and a part-time job to support myself and remain fully independent. In today's world where everything is digital, most people only know what their account balance is because their app tells them each day. I'm grateful that both my grandmother and step-father (both small business owners) planted this seed early on for me. The things that I still wanted to learn, I read in Suzie Orman and Dave Ramsey books. Keeping your money in order will never be something that you regret.
When I wanted to learn about the business side of bookkeeping, I became a bookkeeper. I trained under a lady named Mary Beth, who was close to retirement. Even though she was fluent in Quickbooks software and used it, she always had a paper copy to reconcile with. After I quit bookkeeping, I entered several other jobs where that skill had become my meal ticket. I was able to take on larger roles within those companies, all because I had the knowledge and experience to handle it. Learning how to write a check and balance a checkbook might seem old school, but most businesses still operate this way. Having that basic knowledge of handling and managing money on paper, is more relevant than you might think.
2) Know your strengths but be fully aware of your weaknesses:
This might seem like common sense, but do you really lean into your strengths while also scaling back on your weaknesses? I'm not saying that you shouldn't try to work on your weaknesses. What I am saying is don't set yourself up for failure if you can avoid it. Perfect example, I am not a good public speaker. It does not come naturally to me, at all. If I have a script and I've practiced then I can generally hold my own and get through it without accidentally dropping an f-bomb. But if you ask me to make a speech out of the blue, with no notes or time to prepare? Ha! You'll be in for one very entertaining speech as I start off on topic but then ramble onto how I like socks. Years ago at my best friends wedding, her mother asked me to say something about the bride. So there I stood, in front of over a hundred people and told all of the guests how the bride had *the worst* taste in men. In my defense, I was trying to say "different" taste in men and somehow circle back to how her and I always picked opposite types and so forth... whatever... it doesn't matter now. The point is, even after taking a public speaking class, be assured that you shouldn't ask me to make a last minute toast. If you did, I would politely decline. It just isn't something I'm good at. So rather than recreating the "speech disaster of '04", I'll sit quietly and mind my own business. On a side note, I'd like to mention how the groom did in fact turn out to be an asshole and they divorced shortly after. So at the end of the day....
3) Never complain, never explain, don't overshare:
I think most of us can be found guilty of doing this on occasion. Especially when you are among friends or good colleagues. We are all human, and it's human nature to get overwhelmed and just plain tired. With growing types of social media platforms, it's now easier than ever to complain about your personal life out in the open. But the reality is, certain situations are personal and are supposed to stay private. You're never going to be taken seriously if you let everyone know how wasted you got at a Christmas party or that you have bad credit. Zip it, lock it, and put it in your pocket. Not only will you look like a fool to your friends and coworkers but also jeopardize any future jobs that you might be applying for. Even if your social media is private, it is "better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt" as Abraham Lincoln so nicely put it. Keep your social media happy and upbeat OR be like me and don't have a personal social media at all. But I know that's totally abnormal so just keep it tasteful, mmmmk?
4) The old rules still apply: Don't speak about politics or religion:
Ooooooo, did I really just say that? I know, I know. With our world divided and the economy down the toilet, it's hard not to go off on a tangent. I get it, I do. But there is a time and a place for both, and your work holiday party, friend's bridal shower, or cousins gender reveal isn't one of those places. Sure, sometimes I've been at events where I'm holding a personal conversation with someone, and it's obvious we think the same way. Therefore I may chit chat some and carry on the conversation. However, it can be a slippery slope, and you'll need to be conscious of your surroundings. Be ready to polity divert the topic if either the person starts down an unforeseen path or other people start to get close enough that they could join in on the conversation. Honestly, it is a skilled trait to politely disengage, and if you aren't sure how to do that, then it's best to just remain anonymous in your beliefs. I do understand the passion that comes behind some of these feelings, but there is a difference between taking up for yourself and being the one to start an argument. You should know the difference too.
5) Don't be clingy:
This goes for both friends and partners. I'm not sure how this was instilled in me or why I have always been this way, but I can tell you stories of how I was the most distant girlfriend a guy was ever going to have. I can remember coming home one night after work and my roommate was crying because her boyfriend hadn't called her, and I'd be crying cause mine wouldn't stop. One time a boyfriend called me to ask if I wanted to grab dinner Friday and then asked me if I had realized that we hadn't talked in over two weeks. "Really? Two weeks? Are you sure?"
But the honest answer was no, I hadn't noticed. Whoops! When it comes to dating and hanging out, don't forget about your friends or your big presentation due at work. The best thing you can be is yourself, and yourself is also a friend and an employee. Maybe don't wait two weeks to go on another date like me, or do, whatever. Just make sure that you aren't wrapped up in someone else when YOU have your own amazing life going on. The right person will get that, support it, and leave you be when you have to take some time to yourself. I was maybe a little too focused on other things and I did get better at paying more attention. Until he told me that he thought leather came from tires.
6) Don't ignore red flags:
Don't worry, we have all done it. We start talking to a cute guy and then all of a sudden we become so colorblind that we start assuring ourselves that him chewing with his mouth open is a cute thing. Or maybe the fact that his "bad marriage" is ending, and he's going to leave her just as soon as "this and that" are done. Oh, come on! RED FLAG. Girl, get a Starbucks and a massage, and block his number. Seriously. When the movie He's Just Not That Into You came out, it was like a breath of fresh air. Finally, a movie with some actual advice that I had been giving for years! If you haven't seen the movie then I highly recommend it, especially if you find yourself being the girl that couldn't see a red flag if it whipped her in the face (no judging, I've certainly dated a jerk or two). The beginning of the movie is the most important lesson. Gigi, one of the main characters, talks about how we are told as little girls that if a boy comes up to you and picks on you, pushes you down at the playground or calls you a name, it's because he likes you. We are programmed at young age to believe this! Maybe he pushed you down at the playground because he's an asshole. But nonetheless, young girls are being led into life thinking that every guy who is mean to them is doing it out of love. So naturally, those are the men that women tend to fall for instead of the really nice guy who actually does something sweet for her... then they assume that he must be a phony. Don't be that girl. My rule of thumb is, if you're ever in doubt and unsure if you have ignored some warning signs, then go ask your girlfriends. They could care less who you date, they just want you to be happy and they will happily tell you if he's a keeper or not. Or they can just wait until your wedding day and announce it to the whole crowd.