What I Know at 26

Summertime in Phoenix is capable of turning our insides out. It’s the heat and the flavors of its heavy July air.  It’s seeing the sky as a bruise, purple tinged with a sour yellow sunset. Summer’s got gall. It cuts you in line at the DMV. It resents your promotion. It spits in your french fries. If you’re not careful, it delivers bitterness of spirit.

But there is also never a more promising season than summer. Because just when you think you can’t handle another gust of hot wind or seatbelt buckle burn, it rains. It sprinkles softly, stealthily sneaking up to your front door in the middle of the night. If you’re lucky, it taps on your window or wakes you up with lightening. If you’re really lucky, you’ll have someone who won’t let you miss it.

Monsoon season clouds and then clears my judgement, providing fresh perspective on where I’ve been and where I’m going. Twenty-six snuck up on me awfully fast. People who don’t know me and meet me for the first time usually think I’m younger and shorter than I am, but I blame both of those on my tendency towards flat shoes (which I’m working on, by the way. It’s a personal goal of mine to invest in more heels). I myself am bad at guessing people’s ages. Age is time, and time is a healing force at best, a burden at worst, and always a process I’ve never cared for.

As I slowly and quickly race and drag my feet towards 30, this is what I know about myself and Earth so far:

You have to break some eggs to make an omelette.

In order to get well, you have to hold very still.

I know how to get results.

I know how to tell someone an unpleasant truth and still keep their dignity intact. Some people crave brutality, but I cannot give it. I am honest, but I’m honest with affection and compassion and a practiced ability to quickly identify the brightest spots in others. I genuinely believe in kindness still, which I think is rare in adults.

Wait until the morning to decide if you want that bridge to burn.

You have to let go in order to receive.

Book lovers never go to bed alone.

You will never regret pushing yourself. It toughens you and strengthens your resolve. On the flip side, people who have been enabled or cannot take responsibility for their own actions do not deserve respect.

Don’t apologize for something that’s not your fault. (Just because I’ve learned this truth does not mean I don’t struggle with this one.)

Amazingly enough, speaking is frequently optional.

You win some; you lose some.

Know the body you’ve got. It’s limitations, it’s tendencies, it’s potential.

I don’t need people to reassure me that they like me. I won’t lie that my feelings, while not naive to a sledgehammer, waver in the winds of disapproval. However, I don’t need to be liked to be efficient at who I am.

People don’t change. There, I said it. I’m made of the same exact mud I was when I was 6, 10, 14, 18, 22, and yesterday, and so are you. People don’t change at their cores. We can come into our own, we can achieve goals, we can switch directions, grow, regress, evolve, and multiply — but we don’t morph into new beings. We will have the same tendencies, the same weak points. We will repeat history. This is a blessing and a curse. I am all of the best of me, and I am all of the worst, and no matter how badly I want it or severely I fear it, I cannot be anyone else.

That said, I’m aware of my best and worst qualities. I’ve had them my whole life. I’m overly guarded (walk with my eyes on the ground), overly analytical (I know what you really meant), overly nostalgic (paired with the curse of a photographic memory), and just plain mean when I’m wounded (though you’ll have to cut deep). But the fact of the matter is that I’ve always been smart and I’ve always been kind and I’ve always had a moral compass, and while that may be boring in knitting, baking, book-club sort of way, it’s also noble and stable and pure. People don’t change. 

“I love your dress!” and “Did you cut your hair?” are not real compliments.

“You’re ugly” isn’t a real insult.

No, you shouldn’t have to ask. But if you don’t, it’ll never get done.

The best smiles are loud and melodious and reveal teeth.

The only way to be is soulful, realistic, and humorous.

I know how to love completely and put everything on the line.

I’ve learned how to drop everything and run.

Precious energy is wasted on gossip and judgement.

No matter how good or bad the situation is, it will not be like that forever.

No matter what type of relationship it is, it is impossible to hold hands, share secrets, cry on shoulders, and laugh together without falling in some sort of love. Live accordingly.

Human beings can be beautiful in their limitations.

I am not defined by what I didn’t know or didn’t do.

“This time last year, everything was different” usually applies.

Just because you don’t talk to someone doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking of you.

No matter how often you revisit the past, there really isn’t anything new to see.

Don’t think you know the last page so well that you stop reading the first.  


I’m sure there are more than one summer day can lift to the surface. But as for right now, it’s overcast, and I’m getting tired just being near a window.

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