An Open Letter to 2019 Me

Dear 2019 Mara,

Hey girl, it’s Future Mara here. Fill up your hydroflask and get comfy because I can already tell you this one is going to be a doozy.

 

First of all, congratulations on surviving 2018 because we both know how badly it kicked our ass. Whew, I wouldn’t wish our 2018 on our worst enemy (obviously we don’t have one because we barely have time to get enough sleep, do all of our readings for school, maintain a gym schedule, and not burst into tears at the drop of a dime but you get what I mean), it was rough! But you survived it girl so go ahead and give yourself a round of applause for that alone. I’m happy to report that 2019 was better but by no means was it easy. 2019 is going to teach you some lessons that quite frankly are well overdue and ya need to learn em, so that’s great. Love that for you!

 

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The most important thing you’re going to walk away from 2019 being grateful that you learned is that until you take care of your mental health, literally every other thing in your life is not going to go well. Ya semester? You’re gonna struggle. Your health and fitness goals? Well sis how are you gonna thrive in health in fitness if you don’t know how to manage your stress and anxiety? Hmm, riddle me that? You know you’ve wanted to talk to someone since 2016 when you started having all those anxiety/panic attacks so just call who you need to call to set up the appointment. Stop being scared. You’re not going to listen until Fall semester but only because the world literally feels like it’s closing in on you but better late than never. Next time don’t put off what you know you need you need to do, even if it’s scary.

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Another way to lower your stress this year? Mind your damn business and be a little bit more selfish. I know you have always wanted to be the person who prioritizes others and being there for everyone but this just ain’t your season for that sis. As a matter of fact, this just isn’t how you’re going to want to live anymore after this year. Even as I sit here and type this I’m a little bit uncomfortable writing it but you have GOT to be more selfish with your time, especially your down time. Stop showing up for people who have consistently proven that the relationship is mostly one sided. It’s not even about doing things and expecting something in return but true relationships consist of two people who value and respect each other. How can someone value you when they only pop up when it’s convenient for that? Obviously extend grace to people because we never know what they have going on but that doesn’t mean you can keep investing so much in one-sided relationships. Take inventory on the purpose of each relationship in your life and adjust your expectations and behavior accordingly.

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Some people are going to be shitty this year (because that’s human nature) and you will probably do one or two shitty things too, whether or not that is your intention.  Remember to not take things personally but be self-aware enough to know when you fucked up and need to apologize. How people act is usually a reflection of what they have going on but sometimes YOU are the problem and it’s only a problem if you refuse to acknowledge it and do better in the future. You’re growing and becoming more self-aware this year but that’s not going to happen until you learn some lessons.

This year is going to be full of so much greatness! It’s also gonna have some sucky moments but it’s okay…you will overcome them like you always do boo. So just go out there and live your best life!

Sincerely,

Future Mara aka 2020 Mara

 

A Guide To Alcohol-Free Fun For Twentysomethings

The other day I was talking to some of my friends and one of them said something that has been stuck in my mind. She said “I need to find hobbies or things to do that don’t involve alcohol.” Ironically enough, this was after we had spent the day at a bottomless mimosa brunch and we’re getting ready to start pre-gaming to go out, but she had a point. I realized that many millennial and generation Z-ers, myself included, usually socialize when there is something involving alcohol. Well, as I dive further into my health + fitness journey, only socializing with my friends if we are drinking doesn’t really align with my current goals. This inspired me to write this post about activities we can do that don’t involve alcohol.

Host a Breakfast Party

Just think, brunch, without the mimosas (or the overpriced french toast). While, in my humble opinion, mimosas may or may not be the best part of brunch for some, breakfast food is also a star on it’s own. On NYE some friends and I cooked our own brunch (and added mimosas) and then sat down and talked about our goals for the New Year and other things. It was honestly so much better than trying to have conversation at a crowded brunch restaurant trying to see how many you can drink in the two hour limit. Even without the mimosas, I’m sure it would have been fun to have the breakfast without mimosas. Each friend can be assigned a dish (the friends who can’t cook can cut up fruit or something) and then you can enjoy the meal you all helped contribute to. This can also apply to lunch or dinner if breakfast is not your thing.

Get Active

Whether it’s going on a hike, snowboarding, taking a group fitness class, or even a pole dancing class, participating in exercise with your friends can be so fun, especially if it’s activity you or your friends have never participated in before (these make for the best stories). I especially enjoy hiking with other people because you usually don’t have service on mountains and allows your friend group to have great unplugged conversations about everything in life.

Channel Your Inner Artist (or crafter)

One of the things I missed about being in undergrad with my sorority sisters is the many arts and crafts nights we had whenever recruitment or some other equally important event was around the corner. A good way to hang out with your friends sans alcohol is letting your creative juices flow. Whether it be a vision board party, paint night, or whatever else, arts and crafts bring people together. If it’s one of the holidays you can also incorporate that into your night in with friends. Halloween? Carve or paint (my personal fave of the two options) pumpkins. Celebrate Christmas? Have a Gingerbread house decorating contest.

Go Volunteer

Giving back to your community is a great way to build friendships and feel good about yourself. Instead of having a hangover, you will feel happy that you helped a greater cause. Some ideas are soup kitchens, pet shelters, or even helping set up a 5K. Google community service opportunities in your city for more fun ideas.

I’m sure there are many other things you can do with your friends and without alcohol. My friends personally love to go out to eat together but I wasn’t going to list that because it’s probably the most common thing friends do besides going out to drink. Go out (or stay in) with your friends and get started on these activities. I’m sure you’ll have a blast!

Is there something you do with your friends that doesn’t involve alcohol that I didn’t list here? Let me know in the comments! I’m always open for more activities to do.

What Being Featured On A Podcast Taught Me As A Creative

Back in April, I wrote a post titled “4 Podcasts You Need To Listen To Right Now.” Last month, I had the pleasure of being featured on one of the podcasts I wrote about, The PlotTwist Podcast, hosted by my good friend Daniel Coronado. Honestly I enjoyed it so much! On the episode Daniel mentions it briefly, but I have always wanted to have a podcast and was just waiting for the “right time” to learn how to start one. By the right time I meant when I had enough knowledge about podcasting, editing audio, and whatever else it entails and preferably once I got more accustomed to law school. However, after being featured on The PlotTwist Podcast I realized that this is podcasting is something I want to make a reality sooner rather than later.

The right moment doesn’t really exist as a creative. Sometimes you just have to learn from the mistakes of taking action. Some of my biggest lessons in blogging have been through trial and error and I’m sure podcasting will be the same way. One thing I know for sure is I’m done waiting for the “right time” or until I’m “ready.” As Lemon Snicket says, “if we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.”

Click here to listen to my feature on The PlotTwist Podcast on Soundcloud!

What’s one thing you’ve been putting off and waiting for the right time? Let me know in the comments and then go out and do it!

25 Things I’ve Learned in 25 Years

This weekend I turned 21, I mean 25 years old. Wow. If you had told me this is where I’d be at in life at 25 I wouldn’t have believed you but HERE I AM. While my life has been pretty good so far, I have had a lot of low moments too. I decided that for my 25th birthday I was going to share 25 things I’ve learned in these 25 years of life. Most of these lessons came from my earlier 20s. Some of them you may have read on lists similar to this but I’m going to give a little insight on to why these lessons are important to me.

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1. Focus on who shows up for you, not who doesn’t: It’s so easy to focus on who didn’t go to your birthday party, or that really cool speaking event you told your friends about 10 times, or whatever else but honestly the quality of my life improved so much when I just focused on being thankful towards those who did show up instead of pissed at those who didn’t. You never know what people have going on.

 

2. You aren’t the center of the universe: Yes, I know this seems so painfully obvious but I will be the first to admit that I am guilty of thinking things that important to me are important to everybody. This isn’t true. Honestly with the exception of your parents (not even always), your close friends, your lover(s), and a few others, most people don’t give a fuck about you. Once you realize this, life is a little easier.

 

3. Do whatever the fuck you want to do while you’re young (safely): One thing I wish I had did before I had to come to the “REAL” world is have more fun. Granted, I had a lot of fun in undergrad but I know I would have had more if I told myself yes for more things than parties. I should have taken a two week trip backpacking through some random place haha. Not to say I can’t do these things now but it’s harder when you have loans to pay off and stuff. So yeah, if there is something you really want to do, DO IT. (except smoke crack, pls don’t do that.)

 

4. Don’t doubt your greatness: If I had a dollar for every thing I didn’t do/apply for because I didn’t think I was capable of doing it, I could retire and live a lavish life full of travel and mojitos. Okay I might be exaggerating but I could buy something nice. Honestly, I’m still learning to embrace rejection and not feeling inadequate.

 

5. Therapy is not just for “crazy people”, it’s for everyone: One thing I want to do this year is find a therapist. Now that I know I will be living in Vegas permanently, I want to get a therapist who meets my qualifications here. Often in minorities communities seeing a therapist is for “crazy people” but there is only so much “venting” your friends can take from you. Sometimes, you need to see a professional.

 

6. Avoiding being vulnerable will do more harm to you than it will protect you: This kind of ties into my fear of rejection as well. While I don’t believe I missed out on anyone I was destined to spend my life with, I know many of my past relationships were damaged by me being afraid to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness.

 

7. Being judgmental of others doesn’t make you any better than them: This is a straight-forward lesson. Don’t judge others.

 8. Sometimes the way people act towards you is usually about them, not you: This is a relatively new lesson I’ve learned about others and about myself. This simply put in the quote “Hurt people hurt people.” Usually if somebody is unwarrantedly rude towards you, they have some other shit going on.

9. Letting yourself feel your emotions is important: There is a growing culture of “good vibes only” and while I do believe it is important to focus on the positive, you still have to let yourself feel the not so good feelings when they arise. They key is to not dwell on them.

10. Tell people how you feel about them: If you’ve ever had somebody randomly acknowledge you and all you do out of nowhere then you know how good that makes you feel. Do that for others. Also, if someone did something to upset you, let them know. Harboring those feelings will just lead to resentment and frustration.

11. Don’t loan people money you can’t afford to never get back: No matter HOW much you trust someone or how little bit of the amount, DO NOT lend people money if you NEED them to pay you back for your finances to be okay. You never know if people will be able to pay you back so just don’t lend it if you can’t afford to never see it again.

12. Find a workout you love to do and never stop doing it: In our younger years it is really important we focus on living a healthy lifestyle to try and avoid consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle in our older years. Exercising releases endorphins and those make you feel good. You will be more motivated to consistently workout if you love the workout you’re doing.

13. Call your grandparents often: When my grandfather passed away last year one thing I could be at peace with was that I talked to him regularly. I can’t say I called him every day and sometimes a week or so would go by but I can say when he died I didn’t have a guilty conscience about not talking to him enough. I was the last person who spoke to him on the phone the night he passed.

14. Make sure you call your friends just to see how they are doing not to talk about yourself: Don’t be the self-centered friend who only calls people to vent about their problems. It’s annoying and people will eventually get over your one-sided friendships. Call (not text because sometimes that shit takes too long) your friends and see how they are. Check in with them. You’d be surprised what people are holding in until somebody asks “how are you?”

15. Always return phone calls and reply to your e-mails: It’s the professional thing to do. You want to build these habits before you enter the actual work force where an e-mail that isn’t responded to can lead to being reprimanded.

16. Sometimes all you need for a better mood is a good night’s sleep: “I’ll sleep when I die” is tired (no pun intended.) Get some damn rest. You would be surprised how much more pleasant your days are when you getting enough sleep. If only somebody had told me this in undergrad (or if I had listened).

17. Unless people ask you for your advice don’t give it to them: Honestly, save your breath. People are going to do what they want to and sometimes unsolicited advice can be annoying. If people don’t ask, don’t tell them what you think they should do. I still struggle with this one.

18. It’s okay to remove yourself from one-sided relationships: I used to be the person that felt I needed to be there for everybody but when I evaluated tough times in my life I could count on two hands who was there for me. Focus your energy on those relationships, not people who always take.

19. Go to the doctor at least once a year for a check-up: DO THIS, no explanation needed. You gotta stay on top of your health, even if you hate the doctor’s office like me.

20. Be mindful of what you say and do in front of children, they are always watching: I hear the craziest things when at work (as a substitute teacher and day camp counselor). You would be surprised how much kids soak up from adults and repeat.

21. Perfection doesn’t exist, just try your best: Don’t beat yourself up about not being perfect, literally NOBODY is. It’s okay. (Mostly a note to self).
22. Don’t get caught up on planning something and the small insignificant details, make a choice and focus on execution: As a creative this is one of the most important things I’ve learned. Nobody gives a shit if you use font one or font two, just pick one and move along.

23. Procrastination is self-sabotage, cut the shit and get it done: Calling all undergrads, grad students, and creatives: Don’t procrastinate. If you “work well under pressure” think how great something could have been if you gave it the time it deserved.

24. People can love you even if you don’t love yourself but you won’t be able to accept their love: I’m sure I’ve had many people who loved me or at least cared about me deeply that I couldn’t handle at the time because I hadn’t learned how to love myself and think I was worthy of it, thus pushing them away and making it a self-fulfilling prophecy.
25. Love yourself: Self-love is important. Love yourself, flaws and all and forgive yourself for anything you need forgiveness for.
I hope you enjoyed reading the things I’ve learned about myself and others in my 25 years on planet Earth. If you related to any of these or found it helpful, please share it on your social media!

Is there a lesson you think every twentysomething should know that I left out? I’m always open to learning more. Share it in the comments!