"Where in the heck is the cap to this thing?!"
These were the words I cried out in the gas station parking lot as I stood in a suit and heels, holding a massive jug of windshield wiper fluid with snow piling on top of my head. I had just run out of wiper fluid during a snowstorm on my way home from work, and managed to grandma-crawl my Mazda to a gas station off the highway. I ran in to the station looking crazed, with makeup smeared all over my face. My hands had gone numb and due to a couple spills, I had nearly wiped out on the blacktop. I then realized I left the jug's lid inside of the hood, and proceeded to get grease all over my hands and face trying to fish it out. At one point, someone walked by me looking genuinely concerned. Yes, stranger, I clearly have my life together.
If there's anything I've learned from the absurd sequence of events that make up my life, it's that life is beautifully imperfect. We are meant to laugh at ourselves.
As human beings, we like to unfairly compare ourselves to each other, creating ideas about those around us that are downright ridiculous. We actually think that some people are perfect, and that we aren't. Everyone has their messes. Everyone has a few past decisions they probably shouldn't have made, people they probably shouldn't have dated and shots of tequila they probably shouldn't have taken.
Not everything can be organized and neat, and it shouldn't be. Doing something stupid doesn't make you stupid. Losing a little control doesn't mean you've lost. Not having it all together doesn't mean you never will. It means you're human, and the second you realize that, you can begin the most incredible of love affairs -- the one with your own life.
Here are 28 steps to embracing that love affair:
1. Stop thinking that you have to have all the answers, or know exactly what direction you are headed. You don't. You just have to know what's in your heart, and follow it.
2. Eliminate the concept of embarrassment from your life. What is there to be embarrassed about? Who cares what anyone else thinks?
3. Say what you want to say. Do what you want to do. Love who you want to love. Be who you want to be.
4. Accept your past mistakes and let go of regret. Forgive yourself.
5. Be ambitious and motivated to achieve what you want to achieve, not what others want for you.
6. Stop comparing yourself to other people. You're supposed to be different.
7. Understand that no one is perfect. You will very rarely be able to understand someone you judge as perfect. You don't know what lies beneath the surface of those you envy.
8. Laugh at yourself.
9. Expect the unexpected.
10. Don't be ashamed to display confidence. Let people know what makes you proud of yourself.
11. Reflect on the lessons you've learned, and not the mistakes you've made that inspired them.
12. Accept disappointment.
13. Rejoice in the exciting uncertainty of the future. Nothing is set in stone, and it shouldn't be.
14. Stop making excuses that prevent you from being happy.
15. Choose to see the best in others.
16. Choose to see the best in yourself.
17. Be silly. Embrace fun. Let life happen, and smile at it.
18. Never fear seeming vulnerable or weak.
19. Look at what you've gained, rather than what you've lost.
20. Engage your emotions. Let yourself feel freely, even if it hurts. You can't love your life if you don't allow yourself to be captivated by the beauty of being alive.
21. Share your secrets. You don't need to hide your past from others. You shouldn't be ashamed. We all have made mistakes, and people should love you for the person you have worked so tirelessly to become.
22. Stop calling yourself broken and flawed. Stop making excuses for why you don't deserve love or happiness. Stop limiting yourself because of your imperfections. You can be your own worst enemy if you allow it.
23. Understand how impermanent life can be.
24. Understand your crappy job can be temporary and changeable.
25. Understand your broken heart can heal.
26. Understand your feuds can be reconciled.
27. Understand your wrongs can be forgiven.
28. Understand your life is truly a lover. It is only as perfect as you choose to see it as. When you love someone deeply, you look at everything they do with remarkably forgiving, understanding and positive vision. You see through their worries and insecurities. You tell them everything is going to be OK, and wrap them in your arms. You see the good in them. You believe in them. If you fall in love with your own life, it's the same thing.
You can see the beauty in the perfectly painted, messy masterpiece of your life.