22 years have passed since I started running around the globe. 22 years have passed since I fell in love with sunshine. 22 years have passed since I was given a shot at something I am very much not fit for. Life. 22 years of failing, winning, failing better, getting up and crawling with stardust at the end of my tongue. 22 years of looking for answers and realizing rules change every day. 22 years means 8036 days. Infinity of possibilities, swimming in sunshine pools, wasting youth on trivialities. C’est la vie, French people say with confidence, but is there a fear under their nonchalance? I love life with such a passion that it turned into a threesome with anxiety. I furnish and unfurnish my mind all the time. Nothing is ever constant. I smile, I laugh, and I cry, and crawl, and scream, and that’s the way I love life. I am 22 and I furnish my mind every day. Move me in. Move me out. In. Out. In. Out. I exhale and inhale life like nicotine. I have no addictions to make me interesting. No cigarettes in my mouth, no spilled wine on the floor, no. My addiction is life. I hold onto it with everything I have, even when it hurts. I am hungry for life, yet afraid to grasp it with both hands. I empty myself like a wine glass, and I look for answers, but none are to be found. I am 22 in human years, but barely 2 in star years. I still have a lot of growing up to do.
I have no fixed answers, but I learn every single day. Years ago, well before I abandoned this little blog, I used to write about things time taught me. Little lessons, just a few of them, for each year of my life. Let me continue the tradition. Let me tell you what I learned. Sharing is caring, they say. Let me share. Let me spill the tea while coffee is yet to be served.
22 things I learned during 22 years on the planet Earth
If you don’t furnish your mind, you will end up empty-headed
Nobody will work on your mind for you. It is your responsibility to decorate your mind, water it, and let it bloom. It’s your responsibility to take yourself to parks, cinemas, theatres, bookstores, and cafes. It’s your own responsibility to fill yourself with meaning and find your purpose. If you don’t furnish your mind with new ideas, people and places, don’t act surprised when you feel empty. You put nothing there in the first place. That’s the lesson, which was very hard to swallow. I didn’t go out a lot, I didn’t read too many books, I didn’t take care of myself and spent time procrastinating, and yet I complained that I felt so empty inside. Well, I emptied myself every day but failed to fill myself with meaning. What did I expect? Maybe a miracle. Eventually, I understood my mistakes and started to refill myself again. Such a simple thing, yet it made all the difference.
If you don’t ask, the answer is always no
Fear makes your throat go numb, and you would rather run a marathon than ask a simple question. Asking feels impossible, I know. I have been there. I have felt that. I have asked. Did it feel like running into a giant tiger? It did. Did it pay off? Yes. Sometimes they said yes, sometimes they said no, but statistics are still in favor of asking. Not asking means 100% chance of a “no”.
Other people can’t fix you
Raise your hand if you have ever wanted somebody to make you feel good. Raise your hand if you ever wanted somebody to ease your anxiety. Raise your hand if they couldn’t. Raise your hand if it’d made you angry even if you’d known it shouldn’t. I am raising my hand higher with each new question. Your inner peace is your own responsibility. Don’t expect others to fix you. They can’t. You are the one appointed to the task.
Blaming others doesn’t fix problems
Again, your life is your own responsibility. Looking for solutions works better than looking for people to blame.
It is okay to cry
Sometimes life sucks. Sometimes nothing is okay. Sometimes, sometimes lasts for days. It is okay to cry. Superman probably cried too behind the scenes. Everybody has their own kryptonite.
It is okay to be vulnerable
Opening up to other people isn’t against your survival instincts. It is okay to be vulnerable. We are not Ironmen, and we crack up like nuts at times. I wanted to be strong, so I never opened to anybody and bottled it all up, until I exploded within myself. I still struggle to talk about monsters, which creep under my bed. When I finally do, they start to drop dead, one by one. My friends know the best anti-monsters tricks, and now I understand it’s okay to be vulnerable.
It is okay to say no
When everybody wants a piece of you, it’s okay to say no. If you spend hours pleasing and helping everybody, you have no time to help yourself. It was a frustrating lesson to learn, but each day I am mastering the art of saying “no”. Surprisingly, it helps me to say “yes” to everything I love.
It is okay to take a break
Taking breaks helps your mind reset. When I take breaks, I can be more productive, and that’s everything I want.
Good memories mean more than good shoes
I decided my body doesn’t need too many sparkling dresses, but my mind needs more memories, so I go to the cinema, drink coffee in beautiful cafes, and travel to places I know only from maps, instead of buying things I don’t need. The high of buying new objects wears off soon, but memories you make stay with you.
Love is not always sparkly and comfortable
I blamed fairy tales and romantic comedies for my inaccurate image of love as a beautiful adventure with a happy ending, but at the end of a day, I am the one responsible for my own perceptions. From experience and observation, I realized love is walking through the storms, and it hurts. All comparisons with roses started to make sense. Just like roses, love has thorns ready to leave you bleeding.
Honesty is the best policy
If you are honest, you don’t need to pretend or keep records of your lies. It saves you time, makes you all the right friends and keeps bullshit out of your way.
People leave – don’t hold it against them
It’s okay to change your mind. People leave because they change. How can they promise you forever? Their present versions can’t promise you the future, because it’s not within their grasp yet. Their future versions may not want to give you forever. People leave, but it doesn’t mean they never cared. Maybe their feelings changed, but it doesn’t mean they were insincere. Many people, who were in my life 5 years ago became just distant strangers. For a brief moment, they were, however, part of my world, and I would rather remember all great adventures we had. New seas and new people will come along the way. This adventure goes on and on and on.
Everything is in the timing
I want everything served right now, but some things come delayed, and very often for all right reasons. Sometimes what we want is not what we need at a given moment, and everything is in the timing. Had I moved to my dream city after graduating from high school, I wouldn’t have traveled as much as I did, and I wouldn’t have grown into myself the way I did. First I needed to fall so I learned how to fly. Everything was in the timing.
To fail is to learn
Failing is neither comfortable, nor easy, nor pleasant. It is, however, necessary. With each mistake we make, we become a little wiser. It’s okay to make mistakes provided that we learn from our failures.
Traveling heals the mind
Strolling down the French beaches, eating churros in Barcelona and dancing late at night in Irish pubs helped me to heal my broken mind more than anything else did. The sudden exposure to new cultures makes us change our perspective. I learned to enjoy a moment, however bad everything seems, in Ireland. The Irish know a lot about the struggle, but they choose to listen to music, drink their beers and talk to both friends and strangers. They seize the moments, while they still can. I aspire to let myself grow, despite storms, just like Ireland and the Irish. It always rains in Ireland, and from the rain, Ireland has the most beautiful shades of green. Future is emerald.
Seaside evenings and happiness are closely related
Sea can take your pain away, and wash it away. Nothing brought me as much peace as daily strolls down the beach. Both in Ireland and France, the sea was my best friend, and I sincerely hope it is a friendship for life.
Everybody has something to teach you
From elderly ladies, you met in hostels in Cork to little girls, who you babysit in the evenings, everybody has something to teach you. To spread kindness, to be more empathetic, to try Nutella in a new way, to make the coolest slime… there is so much to learn from everybody you meet.
Ginger is the real superhero
Before I befriended ginger, I used to be sick every month or so. Colds and sore throats were everything I dreaded, yet anticipated when the fall started. Lemon and ginger then knocked to my doors, and since then colds seem to – not to jinx it! – stay away from me. Say yes to ginger (and lemon!), and you will understand they are powerful allies to have.
You can find friends in the strangest places
Hostels, pubs, parks, airports, internet forums – you never know when you might make a good friend. Be careful enough to stay safe, yet open enough to explore human connection without restrictions and prejudices.
Age is just a number
You can befriend anybody, and anybody can befriend you. Age is just a number if people understand each other. Age is just a number if you want to learn to dance. To love again. To swim. To make flower crowns. To cook. To live. Age is just an excuse not to do what you fear, but what you fear is what you need. You’re too old to always let fear control you, no matter how old you are.
Irish pubs redefine awesomeness
If you have never been to the Irish pub, try to go sometime. Yes, people get drunk there, but the point is to socialize and relax. Drinking is just an addition, so the atmosphere is wonderful. I’m not the life of the party, yet Irish pubs stole my heart.
Hope is the best friend to have
The best is yet to come. However bad the situation is, tomorrow is a new day. Eventually, it will get better. Hope is the best friend to have because there is comfort in it. Always hope for the best and prepare for the worst, and you will be good to go.
I can’t tell you how to live a beautiful life, because that’s something I yet to figure out. What I can tell you, however, is that all the good things are sparked by action. If you never get up to change your life, your life will never change. Furnish your mind with new ideas, people, places, memories and make yourself into a home you can be comfortable returning to. That way you will always have something to hold onto. My mind isn’t homely yet, but there is more than an empty chair there. Decorating has started. Now I will let the plants grow. Oxygen is never out of style, not in the world, which suffocates people a little bit too much. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I will keep mine crossed for you.
Furnish your mind and bloom!