32 Things I’ve Learned in Austin

I was not happy to move back to Austin.

This is the city where I grew up, and when it came time for college I launched off like a rocket, whizzing back and forth across the country, pretty much set on the idea that I wouldn’t ever come back home. But life decided that it didn’t care whether I wanted to move on, so here I landed, six years later.

I officially lived in Austin for about 7 months, and in that time I worked 4 jobs, took 3 vacations, had 2 months of mono, and spent many hours working toward my 101 goals and spending time with family and friends. It was a sort of pause, a pivot, in between bouts of “real life,” and I had a lot of time to think. Here are some of the most important lessons I learned in my time back in Austin:

  1. It’s true what they say- you can’t come home again.
  2. There are important differences between a taco and a burrito.
  3. Where you are absolutely affects your way of life. It’s worth seeing other places to understand how your own place shapes you.
  4. Friendship is not defined by the amount of time between conversations.
  5. Perspective: any problem can look huge or small, depending on what you put next to it.
  6. Sometimes the right answer is that there is no answer.
  7. That said, when you can’t find the answer, you get to make up your own.
  8. There is no universal rule for when it’s the right time to date, to get married, get a job, or anything else. The right time is when you’re ready.
  9. Treat your life like more than a list of boxes that need to be checked.
  10. It’s okay to have strong feelings; feeling them makes life more vibrant.
  11. Life doesn’t move on for you. Sometimes you’ve got to make the push.
  12. We have no idea what will happen next, so all we can do now is make ourselves and each other happy.
  13. Everybody has some fear that runs their lives. Knowing what that fear is can really help you to understand someone.
  14. There is a special kind of bonding that happens over a bowl of chips and queso.
  15. Everyone has different priorities. Yours are not more right that someone else’s.
  16. Any two people can form a connection. Differences and commonalities are only as important as we make them.
  17. It’s much harder than it might seem to simply do what makes you happy.
  18. No matter how rarely you might talk, there is nothing in the world like old friends who knew you- and your parents- way back when.
  19. You are in control of how your mistakes change you.
  20. The people with whom we surround ourselves define who we are.
  21. Giving advice- and love- to others is a lot easier than giving it to yourself.
  22. Asking for help is so, so hard, but people are often much more willing to help than we give them credit for.
  23. Following your heart is easier said than done.
  24. Fear is sneaky and it likes to disguise itself as logic or sense.
  25. Sometimes you just have to hunker down and wait for the storm to pass.
  26. We do not have control over anyone but ourselves.
  27. People are too complex to be defined. Never fancy yourself an expert on any person, including yourself.
  28. Bad weather really brings people together.
  29. A good long walk works wonders on a tough day.
  30. The art of conversation is real, and it takes work to be good at it.
  31. It’s not arrogant or selfish to be proud of yourself or to want support from others.
  32. We are all lost without human connection.

Austin helped me to redefine what it means to have goals in life, to understand ourselves, and to be worthwhile friends. My biggest take away? We can’t put anything in boxes. There’s no rule for anything we do in life, whether we’re talking people, relationships, food, or anything else; there will always be an exception, it will always depend. The most important thing we can do in this life in which all we can expect is the unexpected is to invest in ourselves and in each other, and to brace ourselves for whatever might come.

So, I owe an enormous thank you to one of the greatest cities in America, to the place that- like it or not- will always have been my home. Here’s to keeping these lessons in our minds and hearts. And here’s to the next adventure.

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