Today, I’m 28. Holy smokes, did that come up quick! I swear I still feel 20. Sometimes, I’m pretty sure I’m still stuck at 10 years old with how much I adore my parents, still hang on my sister’s cheeks because they always smell like vanilla. The way I call her “sissy” and still call my mom when I’m feeling sick. Leaning on my dad for any and every question that seems a bit too complicated for me. Still yearning for his tight hugs after a long day. Alas, I’m 28. On my own, and have been for about six years. and although I consistently have their guidance, my independence is something I’m most proud of. Having lived on my own in a tiny studio apartment back in Colorado, starting my very own small business from the ground, up. Figuring out what works within my morals and values, and what doesn’t. Who fits into that mold, who doesn’t. And truly learning what my personality is all about.
I figured with today being my birthday, I would compile a list of 28 lessons that I’ve learned, and that have become the most valuable to me up to this point. I’m sure its bound to change, as this year will hold new challenges and exciting things (here’s hoping). But for now, these made the cut.
1. Take the high road // I’m a firm believer in biting your tongue, but if you can’t do that, an apology will do. Even if you aren’t fully in the wrong. Just take the high road, be kind, and sleep like a baby at night.
2. Choose your friends wisely // Stray away from people who make you come 90% of the way, and only meet you 10%. It’s exhausting, confusing, and life is just too short to maintain friendships that are selfish.
3. Say no // Don’t be afraid to say this word. I’ve always been such a people-pleaser, really my entire life. But this year has been such a good practice with the word “no”. I blame it on owning a business and having to really manage my time well, but it feels good to just do what you need to do, for you.
4. Leave nothing unsaid // If you love someone, tell them. If you’re upset with someone, tell them. Mature conversations are something of the past, and it makes me sad. Too much passive aggressiveness in this world.. and we need not fear confrontation, if its centered around love. Just be honest and open. Always.
5. Speak easy // Say what you mean, and mean what you say. And always approach things with a soft angle. You never know what you’re dealing with, or better yet, what someone else is dealing with.
6. Keep coloring // Don’t let your creativity leave you, just because you’re getting older. Buy a coloring book. Use Paint on your computer and create a silly picture. Doodle on your notepad when you should be coming up with to-do lists. Just keep creating.
7. It’s the little things // Don’t underestimate the power of a small note left to a mirror, the fridge, the computer, etc.
8. Call your grandparents // You are their entire world. How special is that?
9. Trust that it will work out // Before assuming the worst, go ahead and hope for the best. Hope is a lovely thing. And it’s free.
10. Stop comparing yourself // It’s a) extremely time consuming, b) a waste of energy and c) disappointing – always. You spend so much time observing someone else’s life that will never be yours. Your energy is directed towards a project that is impossible, because the end result will always be the same – you are who you are, and that’s a seriously beautiful thing. If you don’t accept this lesson, you will be disappointed. Time and time again. You can be no one else. You are your keeper. Embrace it.
11. Work out // I mean, seriously. As you get older, the endorphins are totally welcomed. Life gets harder (I will not lie to you!) and having an outlet such as running, weight lifting, yoga (god send).. these things will ultimately save you, and make you feel hotter with age. Bonus.
12. Let them love you // The moment you stop questioning someones love, and open your arms to it, your life will change forever. Ask no questions. Just be loved.
13. Stand firm // If you believe in something, ten fold, make no apologies for it. No one in this world can take away your beliefs, but be kind. Not everyone will agree with you, and that’s okay. Simply agree to disagree (my parent’s mantra) and be open to opinions. They are what make us all unique.
(sidenote: if someone else’s opinions affect you or your life directly, i.e. homophobia is intolerable for me – make no apologies for making lifestyle decisions to possibly not surround yourself with that person anymore. Positive energy is key to a happy life y’all.)
14. Travel down memory lane // Keep your innocence and perspective alive by looking through old photographs and watching old home movies, if you have them. How special to have memories like that, right? I’m overflowing with them, since my parents were absolutely amazing with their Canon film camera and honker of a video camera back in the day ;) It reminds me just how crazy loved I was (and still am) by my sisters, parents, grandparents, etc.
^ With my sister, Britt. ^
15. Never stop making new friends // Some of my favorite people in my life are people that I met in my adult life. You’ve come together at a time when it’s most difficult to form new relationships, and that is no small thing.
16. Eliminate fear // I’m still working on this, but I’m getting better. Fear is a crutch. Just repeat that to yourself. “Fear is a crutch. Fear is a crutch. Fear is a crutch.”
17. Practice yoga and meditation // Sounds hokey, doesn’t it? But this has been such a game changer for me. Learning how to breathe properly, how to align my body correctly, be in tune with my deepest inner self. It’s the best medicine and has dramatically helped me deal with grief throughout my life.
18. Follow your gut // This one has never steered me wrong. My favorite moment is when I lived in Denver and was on the city bus, and just had a terrible feeling about someone that was riding alongside me. I’m talking my stomach was turning, mind was racing, my gut was telling me to get off of the bus. So I did. In the middle of no where, so far from home. I’m still not sure if anything dramatic happened on that ride (I sure hope not), but my mind was at rest. I felt concrete in my decision to remove myself… and I’m pretty sure I called my mom to make sure she knew “I done good.”
19. Listen to music throughout the day // This is a good one! Something so simple.. a voice, a cord, a beat.. can lift even the gloomiest of days. If you’re up for dancing, I highly encourage an impromptu dance party too. Even if it’s just you, and you alone.
20. Just show up // If you make plans, especially with friends, do your best to show up. Friendships need mending, effort and lots of quality time. Plans change and things arise, of course, but don’t make it a habit to be the one that flakes. Be solid. You’ll get those same kind of friendships in return.
21. Money isn’t everything, but it helps // Sure, money doesn’t provide ultimate happiness, but it can provide amazing experiences, feelings of security, and serenity. Start saving early, and always plan for the future and “rainy days” – you’ll thank yourself later, should it ever start pouring.
22. Being kind is more important than being right // You’ve heard this before, I’m sure. and it’s so true. This is why I don’t believe in arguing. Sure, a good healthy disagreement here and there is good for a relationship, and maybe even your soul, but to be kind rather than proving a point just to be right, is much more fulfilling. Remember this.
23. Save your pennies // I know I just talked about saving money, but this is different. Throw your coins in a little mason jar or dish, and after about 6 months or so, collect the goods! Throw it in your savings account, or take yourself out to a lovely dinner. Whatever you do, its an effortless way to have some extra spending. Kind of like finding a $10 bill in your coat jacket, no?
24. Treat yo’self // Channeling Tom from Parks and Recreation, this is some of the best advice that I’ve always stood by. Take a hot bubble bath at 1pm, turn off your phone and dive into magazines, go get a massage, paint your nails a strange color, go get a professional shampoo and blow dry, buy concert tickets even if you should’ve put some money aside for your gas bill. Just, treat yo’self – but do it wisely.
25. Write down your friend’s and family member’s birthdays // Don’t be that person that forgets. Birthdays are special (wink, wink – no, just kidding) and it’s reassuring to know that one day out of the year, someone celebrates you.
26. Snail mail isn’t dead // Send mail. Like, real mail that includes a stamp and a lick of the envelope. Showing your penmanship is proven to make people around the globe feel closer to you. Take the extra 10 minutes to do this, instead of sending a boring old email.
27. Burn the candles // Don’t wait for a special occasion. The special occasion is that we’re up and breathing, today.
28. All that truly matters is that you love // At the end of every day, if you have love, you have it all.
A special thank you to my gorgeous parents (no, really. How is that for wedding images in the ’70s?! I’m super impressed) for not only thinking of myself as a good idea, but for following through, and giving me the most amazing-crazy-good life I could have ever dreamed of. I owe you guys my life… literally ;)0