Living in Northern California for the last 5 years, I have missed out on so many things. I have missed my cousin get married. I have missed my brother receive a huge award. I have missed countless Christmas/Thanksgiving/birthday parties. I have missed out. But I can’t change that. And more importantly, I wouldn’t want to. Missing out on those things makes me appreciate them so much more now. Missing out then taught me what is truly valuable now. Here are some of the things I learned:
Independence is Everything.
Well, at least for me. And, I know what you might be thinking, “Tess, you live with your parents, you are not independent.” While technically you are right, you’ve got me all wrong. I moved out one month after I turned 18 and I moved across the state, not right up the street, so I only saw my parents about 4 times a year.
After living in the dorms for one year, I found myself an apartment and signed my first lease. I got an internship and a job, and cooked my meals and paid my rent. By the time I was 20, I was done with college and was fully supporting myself. I pay for everything, even my cell phone bill. (I point this out only because I was recently asked this by a friend’s mom. However, with full disclosure, I don’t pay for my health insurance, which I fully intend to enjoy until I turn 26!).
I have lived with friends, strangers, a boyfriend, and completely alone. Not having mom and dad right down the hallway taught me how to be independent. My parents are amazingly smart and helpful, and not having them in the other room to ask for help when I needed it forced me to learn things for myself. I learned to travel alone, to set up utilities, and to install a washer and dryer. I learned how negotiate my salary when offered a new job, how to buy a new car, and what a pain it is to call Comcast. I learned what a credit score is and a 401(k) and a Roth IRA and when to cash out a savings bond.
I am not saying I did these things completely on my own, believe me, my parents were often on the receiving end of a phone call, but nobody did these things for me. One amazing moment in my life was when a lizard came into my house. I FaceTimed my dad and brother pleading – in between screams – with advice on how to get it out. My reaction was something like this video.
Like all kids, I needed guidance, but no one held my hand. Being away from my parents allowed me the freedom to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. Two big examples of this was adopting a cat when I was 19 and moving in with my boyfriend of only 4 months at 20. Both things my parents were fervently against, but Clea is such a joy in my life and a 4-month foundation turned into a 3 year long relationship. I am the person I am today because I had the freedom to explore life on my own and the good sense to ask for help when I needed it. Living on my own and away from my family for 5 years taught me so much, and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to move away, but I do feel like I missed out.
Inconvenience Shouldn’t Be a Factor
I missed out on a lot of things because it was inconvenient. Whether timing was too tight, money was too light, or it was too long of a flight, things just always seem to get in the way. Because I was a full time student, my time off was limited to breaks (one week for Spring and Winter, 3 months for Summer, and an extra two days for Thanksgiving). However working in retail added its own harsh spin on time off requests. I was earning 2 weeks of vacation a year with Target, but seemed always unable to use it as school breaks often coincided with holidays, aka, the busiest time of the year for retail. Missing Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years became normal. And, honestly, it was tolerable because I signed up for it when I accepted Target’s offer. I became passive and put up no fight to get time off to see my family for the holidays. Lucky for me, that accepting mentality changed.
In June of 2014 my brother was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal in Washington D.C. Yes, a Congressional Gold Medal and I missed it. I. MISSED. IT. I know, who does that? I missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for my brother, for my family. I missed a vacation to a new state and a chance to see my nation’s capital. And I missed it because I could not get 4 days off from work in June. My boss at the time told me I could have 3 days off, but not 4. I let her convince me that one extra day was too much to ask for. I let her convince me that my work at Target was so valuable the store could not survive one extra day without me. I let my boss dictate my life. I gave her ultimate control over me, and because of that I missed something huge. And I will never forgive myself for that.
I cannot change the past, but I can learn from it. And what I have learned is that inconvenience shouldn’t be a factor, or at least not the main one. It was inconvenient for my boss to have me gone for 4 days. But this moment wasn’t about my boss, it was about my brother, and I let her being inconvenienced get in the way of that. I promised myself that I would never again miss the big things, the once-in-a-lifetime things.
I will be putting this new rule to the test this weekend. I was invited to a close friend’s baby shower for her first child. It is in San Francisco, a 6-hour drive each way for a 4-hour baby shower. So you could say that it is slightly inconvenient. Am I going to let that stop me and miss out one this amazing moment for my friend? No way! I feel so #blessed to be invited to her baby shower and this might be her only child! Inconvenience is no factor here. I no longer will miss the big things.
Click here to learn more about the Congressional Gold Medal and how to earn it!
Make Up for it
Aside from my brother’s award and cousin’s wedding, the majority of the things I missed were little things. Family parties, outings with my parents, and time with old friends are some examples that come to mind. Since moving home I have committed to myself that I will do my best to make up for lost time. Visiting my extended family, grabbing drinks with old friends, and having dinner with my parents are my top priorities. These are the things that I took for granted before and have learned to cherish now.
As I have mentioned before, I spend time with my cousin and her babies weekly. I wasn’t nearby when her first child was born, and now that her second is here, I can’t get enough of them. I was also able to enjoy Thanksgiving with my family at home for the first time in four years. My mom and I woke up early and went on a 6+ mile hike at 7am! If that isn’t trying to make up for missed time, then I don’t know what is!
Well, there you have it! Some of the things I have learned through this journey and am working on!
How would you make up for lost time? Let me know.