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Worrying Gets You Nowhere: 27 Lessons I've Learned At 27 Years Young

Today is my 27th birthday. Coincidentally, it's also the anniversary of three years of sobriety. It's tough, especially when you're in your 20s, but I've learned a lot.

So much so, I thought I'd come up with 27 things I've learned on my journey in life and sobriety up until this point.

Without further ado…

1. You can't sit around and wait for your goals to happen.

If you have a dream, you're the only one who can see it come to fruition. In other words, don't wait for the call, make the call.


2. You'll find love when you least expect it.

It's typically around the time you stop looking for it in the first place. If you're going through a breakup, know that it wasn't meant to be. Your ONE is out there, you just haven't found him or her yet.

When you do, you'll be glad you went through that last breakup because it'll really show you exactly what you were looking for all along.


3. You'll find out who your real friends are when times get tough.

Some people will say they've got your back, but will suddenly disappear without a trace. The real friends are the ones standing next to you when the dust settles. Keep those people around for life.


4. The older you get, the more you enjoy staying in and relaxing after a long day of pencil pushing.

Nothing beats pizza and binge-watching “Orange is the New Black” instead of going to a crowded bar where someone will inevitably spill Fireball shots on you.


5. Worrying gets you nowhere.

There's no such thing as an end-of-the-world situation (aside from a nuclear war erupting or an asteroid colliding with Earth… but that's nothing Bruce Willis and an Aerosmith soundtrack can't stop).

Some occurrences are within your control and some are not. Worrying will never change the outcome of your situation.

What's meant to be will be; in a week, is that thing you've been worrying about REALLY going to matter?


6. Don't ever let anyone walk all over you or treat you like you're less than.

No one on this planet is beneath anyone. If someone treats you badly, remove that person from your life in a heartbeat.

These people aren't worth your time or your tears; cut them off, block them or tell them where to go (answer: hell).


7. You are your own worst enemy, and your self-deprecating “I'm not good enough” thoughts are poison to your productivity.

If you believe you suck, then you're right, you suck. If you believe you're talented, you're right again.

You're better than you think you are.

Also, half the things you think other people are saying about you are actually just what you're thinking about yourself.


8. Don't talk behind people's backs; only cowards do that.

If you have something to say or something you don't like, be an adult and tell someone to his or her face.

Also, don't be a passive aggressive chicken, clucking out your complaints through social media.


9. Be wary of whom you trust.

Better yet, whom you think you trust.

A lot of people in this world like to listen, jot down mental notes and then use your words against you later.

Think twice about with whom you share your deepest, darkest secrets.

There's always an event that could occur that will cause those private floodgates to open.


10. Never wait until tomorrow.

The next thing you know, tomorrow becomes next week, next month and then next year.

The next thing you know, you're dead and someone else is planning your funeral tomorrow. Live as if there is no tomorrow and you'll succeed today.


11. Stay humble.

No matter how successful you are, there will always be someone out there nipping at your heels; the second you get cocky or comfortable, life will sneak up and knock you on your ass.


12. Happiness is not something that is at the end of the rainbow or at the finish line of a goal.

It's something that can happen right now in this moment.

Appreciate what you have vs. what you have not.

By actively seeking out things to be grateful for on a daily basis, you will live a happier life.


13. Remove negative people from your life.

These people will suck the life out of the plants in the room through their perpetual cycle of petty jealousy and bitterness.

If you're a complainer, identify that.

Don't blame others for your inability to get to where you need to be.

It's the sitting around whining or listening to people whining about others that's stopping you from progressing.


14. Be reliable.

Be a person who is known for your word and be someone people can count on.

Don't be flighty or someone who cancels at the last minute. If you say you're going to do something or be somewhere, then do it.


15. If you weren't invited to the party, start your own party.

Just because someone said no to something you want doesn't mean it'll never happen.

It might be an indication to try again or pursue your own endeavor. If you want it badly enough, you'll find a way.

In other words, if someone closes the door, climb through the window. If that doesn't work, build your own damn house.


16. Don't do things because you want to prove other people wrong.

That gives them all the power and, inevitably, the credit for your success.

You originally started on your path because you wanted to accomplish a goal for yourself, not because someone else said you couldn't do it in the first place.


17. Don't brag.

You don't need to tell everyone about your accomplishments or nonchalantly drop your recent life wins in elevator conversations because, quite frankly, not everyone gives a damn.

It screams, “I'm insecure and I'm trying to impress you for validation to make myself feel better!” Do things for you, not for the validation of others.


18. Failure is an opportunity to learn.

We fall so we can learn from our mistakes, become better and try again.

Eventually, you'll figure it out. You just can't give up before you get there. Some of the greatest triumphs have come from the greatest tragedies.


19. Give to others.

Helping others and giving back to your community is how you'll find the most joy in life.

There are people out there who need help and you have the ability to help them, whether it is through time, money or resources.

Everybody has the ability to donate clothes, volunteer or give spare change to those in need. Saying otherwise is bullsh*t.


20. If you disagree with something or don't like what's going on around you, speak up.

It only occurs because you allow it to. Don't keep it in.

Otherwise, you'll hold those negative feelings in like dirty dishes that'll one day come spilling out of the sink all at once. At that time, the damage will be too much of a mess to clean up.


21. Own up to your mistakes.

If you know you did something wrong, be an adult and apologize. If you're in the wrong then make the amends to make the situation right.


22. Have no regrets.

The decisions you have made in your life were meant to happen.

Good or bad, they happened, and they've contributed to who you are today. You can learn a lesson from every event that has ever happened to you. Everything happens for a reason.


23. Don't let money dictate your actions.

Money is great and it helps us survive in this country, but it can also destroy families, groups (bands, teams, etc.) and organizations.

Sure, get paid for what you do, but don't let the “business” side of things destroy your original passion. “Pay me more or I won't play” is the start of a downfall.


24. Be a gentleman.

If you're on the train and a woman or elderly person boards, give up your damn seat. Also, catch people if they start falling; that happens too.

It'll be even funnier when you fall down with them.


25. Going off that last one, don't ever put your bag on a seat where someone could sit.

If you do this, you're honestly a piece of garbage and should be banned from the train or bus with your face on display for all to see. Too much?


26. Live in the moment.

You can't change the past and you can't predict the future. Doing so is a waste of time.

Spending your time worrying and daydreaming takes away from the life that's going by right in front of your face.


27. Be you.

Don't let society, the media or people in your life tell you who you should be.

Your physical, mental and spiritual beliefs are yours and you're free to do what you please.

You're unique, gifted and beautiful. You have something no one else has. Don't change who you are for anyone.

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Ryan Nallen

Contributor

Ryan Nallen is a Chicago-based actor, writer, and improv comedian. He is a graduate of iO Chicago, Second City and the Annoyance Theaters and has a degree in Communication from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.
Ryan Nallen is a Chicago-based actor, writer, and improv comedian. He is a graduate of iO Chicago, Second City and the Annoyance Theaters and has a degree in Communication from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.

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