And I'd like to take a minute, just sit right there, I'll tell you how I learned about life in just 30 short days.
1. Life hates any plan that you design for yourself and will happily and enthusiastically destroy any part of it that it doesn't like
If you had told me a year ago that in 2013, I would be attending my rival university, living in downtown Salt Lake with someone I barely knew, and be trying to figure out a relationship with a missionary, I would have laughed myself into a coma. And then woke up and punched you in the face. I seriously can't tell you how polar opposite my life was last year. I was attending BYU, dating a guy I had been with for two years, living in a comfortable little dorm room with freshman as naive and terrified as I was, and expecting life to stay that way for a few years. But as we all witness and experience, everything can change in a matter of seconds. Roadblocks pop up, people disappear, new people appear, your lens of the world around you changes, and pretty soon you're taking a much different path then you anticipated. Life has been sweet and gentle enough (cough) to inform me that I'm an idiot and that I'm in much less control then I want to be. But that's part of your learning process. Learning flexibility, patience, and endurance. Learning how to cope, how to work independently, how to manage challenges that might arise. Learning who is important and what the big picture is. Learning how to be a functional individual in a world where rationality and common decency are quite rare. Learning how to be YOU and accepting that YOU have a place in the universe. I hope I get something right about the path I plan for myself but I'm glad to be learning.
Another thing I've learned about life is that there is no wrong plan, there is simply good, better, and best. It wasn't wrong of me to go to BYU even if I'm not there now. It wasn't wrong of me not to serve a mission, even if it's what was expected of me. There are no wrong paths because they are all paths of learning. They are all paths of shaping your character and they are all paths that lead to a better you in the future. Even though life forces you to backtrack, stumble, question, hesitate, and wander, there are no wrong answers to where you choose to go.
2. Setting goals goes a long way
As I've just said above, life has a tendency to shove your plans back in your face. But I've found that setting goals has been a good way to fight back against that opposition. Or maybe just make me feel better about it. Ok, maybe it's just so that I feel more accomplished. BUT, it helps :) It's pretty hard to progress if you don't have an idea of where you want to progress to. Make goals for your education, make goals for aspects of your character you want to change, make goals for your physical and social well-being. Or maybe all three. Never settle for travelling along on a plateau, always try to climb to new heights.
3. Life is not meant to be lived in comfort zones
In just this month alone, I've had more unique and new experiences then I ever did in the last year. I've been to three concerts, several dance parties, sat in the home section at a football game cheering on the rival team, used public transportation to get pretty much everywhere, shopped in a Walmart with a parking garage, attempted to go to a frat party ;), lived in a house with girls several years older than me, and the list goes on and on. And this year is turning out to be an AMAZING one! Honestly, I've been so much happier doing the unexpected and just taking life by the horns. Life isn't meant to be watched from the sidelines, it's meant to be played. Take opportunities that you wouldn't have taken otherwise. And if opportunities aren't coming, seek them out yourself.
4. Things are never the way they appear
A month ago, I was beyond excited to be moving into cute little house in the Avenues in Salt Lake. Like constant singing, random dancing, big cheesy smile excited. But it only two weeks for Andrea and I to realize that our castle in the city was more like a prison in hell. The kitchen faucet broke and currently sprays water all over the kitchen when you turn it on. Box Elder bugs crawled in from every crack in the wall and I would have to vacuum dozens of them up every other night in the bedroom. During the first big rainstorm, the ceiling in the living room leaked and soaked the couch. The bathroom sink is clogged most of the time and the toilet takes about 5 minutes to recover after you flush it. Half the outlets in the house stopped working. The utilities company was kind enough to inform us that there is a major water leak in the house somewhere, most likely in the vacant room. My landlord goes out of his way to make sure he ignores us when we call to complain. My other roommate steals my food and dishes, walks around the house wearing next to nothing, leaves a mess wherever she goes, sends me a text to tell me something when I'm in the same room as her, and is the most uncooperative person I've ever had the misfortune to meet. When I moved in a month ago, I never would have guessed that in a matter of days Andrea and I would be apartment hunting and be ready to move out after less than 3 weeks of living there. Yet here we are. Always hope for the best and expect the worst. Life has a tendency to surprise you in the most unwelcome and inconvenient ways but sometimes it can be a welcome surprise. Either way, be optimistically cautious.
5. Things don't happen when you sit and wish, they happen through action.
My whole entire experience in Salt Lake so far can be summed up by the word action. Moving in, starting school, realizing I was in trouble where I was living, job hunting, apartment hunting, signing new contracts, finding replacements, testing my patience, fighting with the landlord, setting myself to have my heart broken, trying to have some fun amongst the craziness. ACTION. And believe me, life wouldn't get done without all that action. Sitting and hoping my first week didn't work at all. Even though there have been plenty of times where I've screwed up this month with everything going on, the only thing I regret are the times that I stood by without trying to fix my situation. If you want something to change, YOU have to do it. Fate isn't going to do it for you anymore, other people won't do it for you, the only person that can make you progress in life is you. And believe me, you are more capable of making change then you could ever expect. Everyone is.
Now that you've pondered my sage advice or delusional ramblings (whichever, neither answers are wrong!), please enjoy this delightful music video.