I believe in the power of intergenerational communication and that there is a well of wisdom we can tap from those who have come before us. Therefore, I interviewed a handful of people aged 50 and older (some close to me and some total strangers) and asked them a single question…
What is one piece of knowledge you wish you had known at 22 years old?
Here’s what they said:
- “I wish I had known that my 30s were going to be my favorite decade. I feared them so much when I was in my 20s.” – nail technician, 56
- “I should’ve loved and appreciated my 22-year-old body more.” -grandparent, 76
- “I wish I had known that failure is better than regret. I spent so much time worrying about failing that I didn’t try many things in life. Only now am I learning to play violin and taking singing lessons.” – pastor, 63
- “Persistence and personality go a long way. Those are what got me my first journalism job — not what was on my resume.” – journalist, 60
- “I wish I’d known that your ability to love and have compassion for others is only measured by your ability to love and have compassion for yourself.” – yoga teacher, 51
- “I wish I had been more grateful for what I already had rather than constantly looking ahead to what was next. Gratitude is key for happiness.” – retired teacher, 62
- “I wish I had learned early on that conflict between people arises out of unmet needs. If those unmet needs can be unearthed and addressed, we can find our way to mutually nourishing relationships and peace.” – office administrator, 58
Watch the TED talk here.
Here’s a short summary of the TED talk by Meg Jay. Contrary to popular belief, your 20s are not a throwaway decade. In this provocative talk, Jay says that just because marriage, work and kids are happening later in life, doesn’t mean you can’t start planning now. She gives 3 pieces of advice for how twentysomethings can re-claim adulthood in the defining decade of their lives.
Last Monday, Portland had the privilege of welcoming back native Oregonian, Nicholas Kristof, for a speaking event at Reed College. If you haven’t read Kristof’s book, Half the Sky, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.
At the Reed event, he discussed how he began his journey of writing about women around the world, and how sharing their stories has transformed his life. And he wants us to do the same. Kristof believes that we cannot afford to ignore the inequality of women any longer and write it off as ‘cultural.’ Research has proven that women live longer than men, and yet population statistics show that presently there are more men than women living in the world. Kristof explained this phenomena as ‘lethal discrimination,’ with millions of women and girls dying — solely based on the fact that they are female.
After reading a book like Half the Sky, it makes you want to take action against these brutalities against women, while at the same time grapple with where to even start on such a complex global issue. Any of us born in the U.S. really won the lottery ticket of life. Not because we live in a perfect country, but because we grew up in a state of advantage. I never thought twice about what I could or could not do as a female, and already that is a huge advantage over many other women in the world.
But thinking about all the injustices against women worldwide becomes overwhelming, which is when many of us believe that we can’t make a difference as an individual here in Portland, Oregon. The first steps are just researching and realizing. Research other countries and learn about the rights of women there, and then realize the privileges we have as women in the United States. Kristof shared that the most important thing we can do is keep our eyes and ears open. Even if we cannot donate or volunteer in another country, keep the conversation going at home. Most likely we will come across someone who has never heard of breast ironing or doesn’t know much about female genital mutilation. Talk to them. Be the voice of the women who don’t have one and (as Nicholas Kristof has done) share their stories.
When a time comes when we know we won’t be the same
Which path will we choose to go down?
Should we continue being comfortable,
Or should we plunge into the unknown?
With the possibility of never coming back
Back to the comfortable, stable routine.
A journal entry from a year ago.
One of the things I look forward to most when opening up a packet of Good Earth tea is reading the quotes on their tags. They are short, simple, and hit you right in the heart. One of the quotes I received a year ago and continually ponder is,
“The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with oneself.”
What does it mean to be lonely?
We tend to view the 20s and 30s as the time when you do whatever you can to not be in a state of loneliness. We go drinking at bars in hopes of grabbing a number, we tentatively sign up for OkCupid to meet new people, and we go on endless dates in search of the “right person.” Though these endeavors can lead to lasting relationships or friendships, more often they lead to exhaustion and empty wallets. There is so much emphasis on being in a relationship, that many of us have forgotten about the person who we will be with for the rest of our lives: ourself.
With all that life throws at us, being in a relationship does not automatically mean we will never experience loneliness again. People get divorced, become widow(er)s, or feel alone even in a life partnership or marriage. Therefore, why do we stress so much about ensuring that we are not alone when so much of our life is spent doing exactly that? Would it be better to learn to be comfortable and enjoy spending time alone? After all, if we don’t even want to hang out with ourselves, then why would anybody else want to?
Every day I keep finding myself in a state of transit: whether it be thinking about the transitions about to take place in my life or literally sitting on public transit on my way to school. And it is from here — these states of transit — that my blog will be formed.