I should be dead. Or my life should be really messed up right now. I know that sounds exaggerated but after all the stupid and senseless things I have done starting at eighteen years old, it’s by the hand of God that I’m here and I’ve made it this far in life with the opportunities and the chances I’ve been so graciously given.
A couple of years ago on this day, I got a call that a friend of mine was in the hospital and wasn’t going to make it through the night. A couple of days later, he went to be with the Lord after a hard and violent fight with cancer. He was twenty one years old and I was celebrating twenty two. His passing really challenged and wrecked me that year.
“I wish I would have…”
“I wish I should have…”
“I wish I could have…”
Ran through my mind for days until the memorial service. It was hard to celebrate a day of life while I knew a friend had his ended at too young of an age to a merciless disease. I went out with friends the night of his passing and the whole entire time, I was deeply bothered.
“What are you even doing, Marissa?” I kept thinking. Because that night, I realized that my priorities and interests in life were so far off from things that actually mattered. Wasting the night away in booze and raunchy music was no longer appealing to me. Waking up to drama and a hangover made me feel selfish and despicable as a person. The notion I believed of being young and invincible was tested and failed. The idea I had that these were the prime years to live it up and have reckless kinds of fun was heavily disputed deep within me at twenty two years of age. I was stupid enough to think that I had it all figured out at that time.
Boy was I stupid.
I’m all for having good fun. But I’ve come to learn that if it involves risking your virtue and compromising your morals, then it’s probably not the kind of fun one should be putting their self in. Unfortunately, I’ve been there, done that, and have no desire to go back. I’ve been told many times that I’m wise beyond my years because I air on the side of caution. But the path of learning from your mistakes comes at a price of loneliness and isolation. This burden I choose of prudent living has made it hard for me to make a friend in my generation. If you ask me who my friends are, it is a small social circle that involves my mom, my boyfriend’s mom, my friend’s mom, and my other friend’s mom-all sweet-spirited and virtuous women in their middle ages who have aged delicately with grace and beauty and who I have had the honor of being mentored from and develop friendships with. They share a lot of their wisdom with me that has kept me grounded in these wild years.
Since my friend’s passing, I’ve been through seasons where I had to thoroughly evaluate what I want to stand for, fight for, live for, and be in this life. I’ve come to find out that many surface-level things change such as beauty and appearance and the level of my education and my failed attempts at diets and so on. But it’s the core values that I aim to build my life upon that I never want to waver from. A tradition I’d like to start is sharing a few of them with you on my birthday. I hope I’m not a bore to share life principles, but I want to journal the things I learn each year and record how far I’ve come along. It would be fun to look back on this silly blog of mine and be reminded of who I was and the seasons I’ve walked through to be who I will be in the future.
So, here we go. In my vibrant twenty three years of life, this is what I’ve learned so far.
1. You win with kindness. Always.
This past year, I’ve had to learn to bite my tongue and to let offenses roll off my shoulder like they were nothing. THE hardest thing I’ve had to endure was being in constant way of verbal abuse from people. You’re probably thinking, “What did you do to provoke it?” Trust me; I spent a whole year wondering the exact same thing and this is my conclusion-mean people exist. And when mean people can’t cope with their struggles, they inflect it on those around them in unfair ways. It is wiser to keep your tongue and your spirit kind, always. It will be hard to swallow your urge to fight back with mean words, but don’t be like them. Win them over with kindness and even if you don’t or can’t, you’re the one that walks away with inner peace.
2. Social media ain’t all that. Give yourself a break.
After six years of incorporating it into every hour of my waking life, I went rogue on Instagram a while back *gasp* And I’ve only had one person reach out to me since then to ask why I deleted it. I simply said, “No dramatic reason other than I got bored with it.” For six years, I compared my life to those who socially promoted their self among us with deeply profound messages on yoga and balance and vegan living while taking a hike to talk about the wonders of the world and to properly use #socality but oh gosh, I WAS ONE OF THEM. And I got tired of it, honestly. So I deleted it and wasn’t expecting a big change but I’VE HAD SO MUCH MORE TIME IN MY LIFE. That first day, I noticed I got everything done before noon because I wasn’t tempted to be distracted by what new pictures and captions were trending at the moment (actually, since the past ten minutes I hadn’t refreshed). You guys and gals, little one-inch squared pictures with .99 cent filters are pretty and all, but I beg you-give your eyes a break and find gratification elsewhere like in actual human face-to-face conversation or stimulate your mind in a book or a new hobby. There’s actual real life and adventure out there to experience for you and I promise, it’s much more fun than following someone’s day on social media. JUST DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND TAKE A BREAK FROM IT, IT’S GOOD FOR YOU.
3. Take care of yourself.
There’s this idea that if you’re younger than 40, taking a day off shouldn’t be a thing. While I understand that one shouldn’t live a life of procrastination and laziness, one should also not overwhelm their self to the point of a mental breakdown. Know and stick to your limits with your responsibilities and this includes your job and your relationships and what you carry in your agenda from day to day. Get up, go outside, and be active. Stretch it out, eat your fruits and veggies, create a morning routine, learn what vitamin and minerals you need to replenish in your body, get enough sleep, and take a shower every day. Don’t push your capacity any further than what it has to be. If you suffer from depression or anxiety or any other stress-related diagnosis, then give yourself the mercy to step back and consider how you need to rearrange things in your life to make sure that you are taken care and can be as healthy as can be. Your future self will thank you.
4. Nurture friendships that are meaningful to you.
I know we get busy but it’s vital to make time to keep meaningful relationships healthy whether it be visiting your mom once a month, meeting up with a friend for coffee once a week, scheduling a girl talk or a phone call with your sister before you head to bed-whatever works for you, make time to nourish the friendships you want to keep in your life. And it’s okay if it’s one or two, just make time for your person! It’s important to have a friend on hand that listens to understand and speaks a language that ministers to your soul. When you find that person, keep them close and take care of that relationship.
5. Yes, there is a God and He loves you.
I don’t care how into the principles of Gandhi you are. I don’t care how disappointed in Christianity you are. I don’t care how hurt by the church you are. I don’t care how much of a lost cause you think you are. I don’t care the excuses you have that you think you can’t be loved. Actually, I would care if we were to ever sit down and have a conversation, I would listen to you with open arms, heart, and ears. But you need to know something-there is a God who loves you. And He loves you so much that He thought about you and created you for greatly profound purposes, whether you know it or not. So don’t live life ashamed of yourself and your past. Don’t live it believing you are so far gone from His heart. Don’t put people above or compare them to Him cause then you’ll be reeeally disappointed when you find out real quickly that they ain’t like Jesus. And don’t live life comfortably thinking that you were made to settle in mediocrity. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mama, or had an unplanned pregnancy, or whether you didn’t think you’d be this far behind in your educational pursuits, or whether you ended that long-term relationship when you believed that he was the one, or whether you have daddy issues, and you’re doubting and not believing and don’t feel it or you don’t want to then this is for you-yes girl, there is a God and He loves you. And I hope one day, you’ll experience that and all its hope and goodness for yourself.
6. It’s totally worth it to dream big.
I know we get too caught up in financial restrictions and obligations that keep us bound to our workplace and home. But y’all-don’t ever lose your ability to dream big. Adulthood happens but don’t be a victim of it robbing you from your goals and desires. My boyfriend just started his career at a great company and I remind him all the time, “Don’t ever forget to dream big, no matter where it takes you. You were meant to live those big dreams.” I never want him to get so caught up in meager worries that it ends up robbing him of his ability to go after his goals and dreams. Whether you’re 24 or 58, it’s worth it to dream big and to go for them. Don’t regret at the end of your life that you didn’t take those risks. Even if you fail at them, it will always be worth it.
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May 29th is a bittersweet day of a reminder to me and always will be. My friend gave me an important message when he went to Heaven and I hope he knew how much he impacted my life during the short time that I knew and talked to him. This date is a cherished reminder to me to appreciate the life I’ve been given and to live it with everything I got.
It’s by the grace and the redemption of God that I’m still here. And I never want to take it for granted. I’m still learning and though I agree that my life is still just starting, it’s been a rocky start so far but I wouldn’t change the stories I have collected for anything. Christine Caine once said, “Nothing about my birth-or yours-was random or accidental. I was born for this time-and so were you. We were each chosen for a particular, cosmically important task that can be done by no one else.”
Ah, I love that lady. And I close out with this-live it out and live it big. Every day.