a lady i met a few times back in college writes a fabulous blog called where my heart resides. today, she read asked her readers, "what the greatest lesson you have learned in your twenties?" i pondered it for a moment - perhaps not as long as i should have, but then again, if i pondered it as long as i should have, it might have taken all day! - and came up with this:
i have learned so much in my twenties that it is hard to pin down the greatest lesson...but i think i can narrow it down to two lessons that have been vital to my happiness. the first lesson came earliest in my twenties, leaving its mark on my senior year of college. it is the value of ongoing self-analysis, of introspection. without it, i could not learn who i am. i could not know what i truly want, from a lifetime, from a relationship, from a job, from a person, from a single day. introspection may not teach me these things all at once, but the more aware i am of who i am, the easier it is to figure these things out as they come. decisions may not always be easy to make, but when i truly know myself, the right decision for me is clearer. when i am hurting, if i will not look into myself to discover why, i may never be able to understand what caused the pain, or know the ways to help heal myself. knowing myself well also helps me understand my reactions to and actions toward other people, which is crucial to establishing and maintaining healthy, happy relationships.
the second lesson came later, and took much longer to become clear. even now, it is something i have to work at, to balance with my natural tendencies. it is learning to stand up for myself in relationships with others. not being a bully to others, but making sure that i am treated with the respect and care i deserve. i spent too much time and too many tears on people who did not give me the same respect i gave them. who took without giving back, who drained without replenishing. how you allow others to treat you carries into every part of your life, affects everything you do. but as i learn to accept no less than the level of respect that i give to others, i find that i am left surrounded by people who are good for me, as i am good for them. people who return the joy and support i share with them. people who give back more than they ever take. people who make life a joy to be living.