My lovely husband wrote a sweet post on my birthday, and I wanted to stem from that.
Now that I have been around for 30 years, I feel like there are a few things I have learned worth sharing…
Even when you live in one of the best places on Earth (Seattle/the Pacific Northwest), it is a good idea to travel and live somewhere else for awhile. Many people who know us at least a little have asked WHY we moved from Seattle to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. At the time, it felt like one of the biggest decisions in my life. In retrospect, it doesn’t seem quite as big, especially when we are getting ready to make that long of a move again. I felt it was important to get out of the bubble of Seattle I was in. I had never lived more than about 10 miles away from where I grew up. As amazing as Seattle is, it hadn’t given me the ability to understand what life was like somewhere else, or to experience first hand a less liberal culture. I never wanted to be someone who couldn’t understand someone else or their perspective because I had always lived in a liberal city.
I think I have learned some valuable lessons living here. I’ve learned that racism still exists, homophobia is more evident in some places, younger people tend to be more accepting, and some older people will pleasantly surprise you with their acceptance. I have also learned that I have the ability to rise to new challenges. I was given an amazing opportunity to lead a group of 10 individuals in running a store that sells Apple products and provides training and tech support/repairs. When I left Seattle I was still using a desktop Windows PC and my only Apple product was an iPhone 3G. Since that time I have been a technical support agent for Apple over the phone while working at home and have upgraded to an iPhone 4S and a Macbook Air (shortly before my Windows PC died… talk about serendipity). I have learned many things in this role that have helped me both personally and professionally.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks. It is stressful to go through life worrying that everyone is staring at you and thinking you’re weird/crazy/ugly/dumb/insert negative adjective here. I think this self-conscious attitude begins, at least for females, around the pre-teen years and can continue forever if it isn’t learned that it’s ok to be a little weird/crazy/ugly/dumb. Nobody can please everyone and usually the biggest critics are the ones that worry the most or are afraid of something. So, let your freak flag fly (at least every once in awhile), because an interesting person that’s weird/crazy/ugly/dumb is just more fun to be and be around than a boring person who is just trying to be the same as everyone else.
It is more important to listen to others and let them know that you accept and understand their point of view than it is to be right. This is something that is a basic tenet of customer service, and one that I have realized is also very applicable to relationships with other people. I like to be right. I might even dare to say that most people like to be right. Most of the time though, a disagreement is only such because two people can’t agree to understand and accept the other person’s perspective. Don’t try this on an internet flame war though – you will not only be wrong (regardless of what you say), but you will further lose your faith in humanity.
I have certainly learned much more than this over the past 30 years, but I am grateful for all the people in my life who have enabled me to learn and grow.