Sometimes you learn the greatest lessons from your family. My sister and I have been teaching each other things for over 25 years. Over a quarter century, I’ve learnt a lot from her. Here are the top ten nuggets of awesome that she’s dropped:
1. People tell the truth more often than you think.
You just have to listen. When given a choice between honesty and dishonesty, the default thing to do is usually tell the truth. It’s in our human nature. It’s coded into our social DNA through years of conditioning. And even when people are lying, the easiest lie contains elements of the truth. Listen closely and don’t be afraid to trust.
2. It’s alright to have a bad day.
Don’t feel guilty about it. It happens to everyone. Just accept that the day is going to be shit and you just have to get through it. If you’re able to, cut the day short. Head home from work and close yourself off from the world. Take a nap. Watch a movie. Read gossip websites. Tomorrow will be better.
3. It’s good to dream.
Ever since Christmas, my sister has a dream to own a farm. With chickens. And some goats. And maybe even a cow named Isabelle. Is she anywhere near acheiving that? Probably not. But she’s working towards it every day. And having the dream allows her to find happiness in the everyday things. For example, she had to take out the compost. But figured that instead of a chore, it was training for when she owned a farm. The result? Instant happiness.
4. You can change your dreams.
This builds on point #3. It’s okay to change direction in life. Approximately six months ago, my sister’s dream was to go into space. She even started a savings account to put away a couple bucks a week so that in a decade or so she could afford to buy a ticket. Now she wants to own a farm. Both make her happy. There’s nothing wrong with changing directions once the circumstances change and you discover something else.
5. Life experience is better than work experience.
Lots of people take summers to “build” their resumes. We try to gain work experience as interns surfing the internet and filing papers in an office. But you never learn from that. You learn from traveling. From trying new things. From meeting new people. From expanding your network. When people are interviewing you they’re looking for stories, not lines on a resume. They’re looking for social intelligence, passion and adventure. In my last five interviews, I’ve talked about how much I loved beer. I told stories from when I went to Oktoberfest in Munich. And each time I got an offer.
6. Take your time to find your path.
Some people know what they want to do with their life in high school. Some people figure it out in college. Most people start down a path, find out that it’s not for them and then course correct. There is no timetable for you to find what’s right for you. There’s no correct timeline mandated by society. There’s no deadline. Everyone gets there eventually. Some people just need a little bit more time to find their path.
7. It’s more important to be happy than to listen to people’s expectations.
People like to judge. They like to compare. They like to measure you against their expectations. They like to tell you what you should be doing with your life as if they know best. And that can get into your head. It can make you doubt yourself. My sister has the uncanny ability to pick herself up and let those expectations wash over her like a rainstorm. It sucks for a couple of minutes, but then you towel off and get on living life the way that you like it.
8. Fashion is wearing what you like.
Whatever you like. Not labels. Not what matches. Not what’s on Gossip Girl (or whatever the kids are watching nowadays). It’s about finding a personal expression and wearing what makes you happy. If that’s a big sparkly bow that looks like you have a disco ball strapped to your chest, rock on. Fashion is for yourself, not for others.
9. Sometimes you need a muse.
A couple of months ago, my sister decided that she wanted to practice writing. So she started a blog. But then she found that she wasn’t inspired. She needed a muse to spark her creativity and put her in a writer’s mindset. She figured that this “muse” would be a pipe. A smoking pipe. Not to smoke. Just to chew on and to look cool. And to inspire her to write.
10. Poop jokes are funny, even in the most serious of situations.
What? They are.
The great thing about having siblings that they can teach you so much. They teach you about people, about interactions, about love and about the world. They give you the opportunity to learn every day as you’re growing up. And we’re all still growing up.