Life According To Me
1. Have a heart. Compassion counts for a lot in a world of cruel, soulless automatons. While being successful often means you have to put yourself first, you can still give back to other people; it takes time and its a difficult balance but its possible, and its a good aim. The old mantra of “treat people how you would like to be treated” doesn’t really cover all the bases - sometimes we’ve been so mistreated we don’t even know how we’d like to be treated. Worse yet, we sometimes don’t see the value in compassion, thinking it’s coddling another person or being soft or enabling someone. Really, Being Compassionate is about Being Humane— treating people justly with dignity and consideration for their feelings. Because sometimes, you really just don’t know what’s going on in someone else’s life or in their head. In the end, being compassionate can help you out: people walk away from you without a bad word to say; people remember and try to repay you with some small kindness. Perhaps best yet is that you can walk away from each day knowing that you weren’t contributing to the problems of humanity; you might have eased them.
2. Be you. Know yourself. Most people spend their time trying to fit in and waste energy that could best be spent otherwise. Each of us is different, seriously. When you try to fit in, you’re fighting against your very nature. You cannot possibly be confident or comfortable when you’re denying your own nature. It sounds ridiculous to say, “Embrace yourself,” but in essence, that’s the idea. You’re you and no one can ever take that away. You can try to cover you up in cookie-cutter haircuts and dime-a-dozen clothes and popular catch phrases, but those things will never define you. When you stop trying to cover up who you are, it radiates out and permeates everything you do. While some people may call you weird or lame, its only because they don’t know how to categorize what they see, and they see individuality. But stigmas aside, the great thing about individuality is that it is always remembered. You leave a legacy behind you when you act as yourself. It’s hard to be yourself, and thus be different; you stick out and its uncomfortable. But being you and no one else means you’re being true to yourself and all that entails. That’s a large part of integrity, which is something we should all strive for, no matter how inconvenient. Being and knowing yourself also makes you a much more confident person and enables you to try new things. And in the end, you’re infinitely happier that you’re not trying futilely to be something you aren’t. The people who matter will recognize and appreciate your efforts at authenticity.
3. Be bold and take chances. Not only is life too short to pretend to be something you’re not, it’s too short to blend in. Too often the goal in our life is safety, and while that’s comfortable, it doesn’t breed anything remotely original or memorable. When you constantly try to be safe, you usually shun other opportunities that could enrich your life. It’s scary to try new things. Terrifying. Its uncomfortable and it makes you feel small. But you have the opportunity to learn, to change, and to grow that you don’t get from being safe. Take a chance. You never know what it could bring. It could turn out poorly, but at least you tried something new. At least you lived life instead of being afraid of it. Fear makes you narrow-minded, and that should be avoided at all cost. In many cases, its better to regret doing something than to regret not doing something - one implies a life fully lived. From taking chances, you gain a newfound respect for yourself and confidence that you can handle anything. And the truth is, no matter how secure you are, life can and will shake you out of it. It’s best to be able to change with the changes. The only thing that stays the same is that everything changes. So get out there and do things differently, so that you are in control of some of the changes. We can’t control what life brings to us, but we can control what we bring to our lives. And what we should seek is new experiences, new viewpoints, and new people to make us more tolerant, intelligent, and diverse people.
4. Love no matter what. And show it, too. No matter how stupid you might look, show it. Let people know that you care. Say the mushy, silly things you feel when you feel them. True, a person might die tomorrow without ever knowing how you really felt. The opportunity could pass you by to let people know. Love isn’t rare; it’s abundant. It is all around us and we must embrace it. Denying love is denying humanity, is refusing the most precious gift in life. Plus, it feels good to love. It feels good to be loved. It really matters. Letting yourself feel love is hard sometimes, and expressing it is even harder. But not doing it makes you a hollow person. Being cold and distant is a terrible way to live. Coldness and distance are traits common in assholes. Instead, leave a legacy of love. It’s not always possible to leave everyone in the room beaming from your presence, but if it happens from time to time, you’re doing something right. Show support, give affection and don’t let your heart grow cold. It takes a lot of will and it takes a lot of time, but it’s worth it. It’s worth the effort to let the people you care about feel loved. Don’t keep it in. Don’t spend life with your feelings on the inside. Let the good ones out. Perhaps it’s true— the love you make is equal to the love you take.
5. Be young at heart. Nothing kills the spirit faster than growing up. While maturing and changing is inevitable, being An Adult is not. Being An Adult means getting old, losing sight of what’s pleasurable, and getting grumpy. You cannot be an adult and still be a driven, responsible person. You can still have a family and a career and not be an adult. You can avoid the coldness and drudgery of Adulthood by simply never becoming one. Never lose that sense of fun and wonder at the world. The world is a funny, strange place that has many hidden joys that can elicit awe in you if you just keep your eyes open. Being An Adult means living with blinders, and that’s not exactly a fulfilling life. However, do not confuse being young at heart with being childish. Be responsible, be driven, and don’t let others down, but don’t lose your soul while you do it. Have fun, always. Find the interesting and unusual in all situations. Look at the world through the eyes of a child and see all the charming nuances. Kids have the right idea, it’s just that life beats it out of them. Don’t let life and society ruin you. Seek knowledge, seek love, seek life. Don’t let the social conventions confine you. Being a grumpy, dull, unhappy person can happen at 22 or 52, and it’s never pretty. That’s not the person you want to be. Having fun will serve both you and the ones you care about well. It relieves stress, helps you connect with others, and leaves your heart light.
—By Lauren Osborn, Vagina Prose+Poetry Editor