1. People will disappoint you. Even those who you thought could never do you wrong. Your ride or die. Your person. They will break your heart and they will let you down. The real question is – is the relationship with this person worth you letting go and forgiving them?
2. Mental health is no joke. It took me a long time to fully come to terms with this. I spent my entire twenties in denial of the toll that my poor mental health was taking on me. It wasn’t until I had a full-on mental break this past year that I could even begin to grasp that I was not ‘OKAY’. Reach out, ask for help. And if necessary – take that damn pill because you’ll feel better once you do.
3. There is no substitute for travel. The feeling of finding yourself in someplace new. Immersing yourself in an environment that is different from your day-to-day. There is so much value in that. Travel as far and as often as you possibly can. Get out of your comfort zone. You’ll thank me once you do.
4. Shop local. You’ll learn so much more about a place by going to smaller independent businesses than visiting the same old chain you can find in any city.
5. Running really isn’t so bad. Okay, that might be a stretch. I still kind of hate running. Except, I really kind of love it. As a teenager and into my twenties I would have rather died that voluntarily run any length of time or distance. Now, I can say I’ve completed dozens of 5ks and a half-marathon. Sure, running hurts, and it’s hard to breathe, and you get hot and sweaty but there is so much joy and satisfaction in the moment that you run over that finish line. Plus, the swag is always kind of cool.
6. Neither is yoga. There is nothing better than a damn good yoga session to stretch out your ever-aging, creaking and crackling body.
7. Watching your parents age will absolutely break your heart. I’m not sure how to describe it, but seeing my parents change with their age hits my heart in a way that is far worse than any heartbreak I’ve ever had. I know I’m incredibly lucky to have my parents still as I age up yet another year. I am entirely grateful to the universe for giving me the years I’ve had with them, and any more I am fortunate to get. However, watching them grow older will never get easier.
8. There will probably always be the one love that hurts. That is, if you are anything like me. It doesn’t matter how many years go by, how amazing and loving my partner is, or how happy and content I am in my life – there always seems to be that one past love that still fucks me over. That’s part of life. It was real, and it was good – until it wasn’t, and damn it hurt. Perhaps it still does. You can walk away from those relationships, and you can move on, but there will likely always be even a small part of you that simply can’t get over it.
9. It’s so important to embrace the things you love. I struggled with this for years. Only publicly admitting to loving things that seemed ‘cool’ to everyone else. Essentially, diminishing things that make me happy. Fuck it. I grew up loving Hanson and will still fight you over them to this day. I have a master’s degree – I love classic literature and can discuss leadership theories, in detail, with you any day, but I still have One Direction and Justin Bieber on my playlists because their songs are catchy as hell. I also collect X-Files trading cards. What of it? Not everyone is going to love everything you do and that is okay.
10. It’s important to collect experiences, not things. I’m only just now getting into the thick of this one. I’ve always been one to have a whole lot of stuff. My family has always spoiled me and if there was ever anything I wanted – I got it. Which sounds awesome in theory, but here I am as a grown adult, and I have more stuff than I can possibly ever use. So, I’m letting it all go. When I look back at my life? The things I value most are not the items that have been cluttering my spaces but rather the memories I have of the places I’ve been and the experiences I’ve had. Get rid of the stuff you don’t need. I promise it feels amazing.
11. Don’t hoard stuff but USE the stuff you have. ENJOY YOUR STUFF. I’m not saying abuse it or take it for granted. But you should actually get use from it. If not, you need to get rid of it.
12. Take your vacation time. Don’t be a slave to your job. Unplug and walk away. The work will still be there when you get back.
13. Alcohol is overrated. Yeah, I said it. I can already hear 20-year-old me rolling her eyes. It’s true, though. My entire life has been impacted by alcohol in one way or another – be it directly or indirectly. Sure, it’s fun for a while, and I admit I had a lot of fun in my drinking years. However, at some point, you realize that the negative impacts of the alcohol far outweigh the good times. I’ve struggled with my sobriety myself, so I am not saying this from any sort of pedestal or high horse. I’m saying this from experience. Drinking ruins both your health and your relationships. It’s simply not worth it.
14. Sleep is underrated. I can remember as a teenager being so excited to pull all-nighters and even as my twenties ticked away I would pride myself in being able to work three jobs and attend school full time – living on only two-three hours of sleep a night. Now, I hate if I get less than eight-nine and I LOVE a good nap. Sleep is one of the many keys to health and happiness and if you aren’t getting enough of it you will eventually crash and burn. Get your sleep. Your skin will look better, your hair and eyes will look better, and your sanity will be intact. Trust me on this.
15. Sometimes everything does need to fall apart before it can come together. I know, I know. The whole point of growing up and becoming an adult is so that we all look like we have our shit together. Life is all one big competition with everyone else. Here is the thing though, we cannot possibly get our shit together until we can take inventory of what that even looks like. Sometimes that means it has to fall apart first. This can either happen naturally, or by forces outside of your own person – or, if you are anything like me – you hit the ‘destruct’ button yourself and watch it all come crumbling down. It sucks. It hurts. And it’s often confusing as hell. But here is the cool thing – it’s in the middle of all the wreckage that you finally find the clarity to determine what it is that you want, what it is that you stand for, and how you want your future to look.
16. You cannot live your life for other people. Again, this is one that I’m just now starting to understand fully. I spent years dedicating my time and energy to doing and saying things that were meant to make other people happy. I worked to behave in a way that would ensure my parents were happy with the direction my life was taking. I worked to please my employers and my friends. I worked SO HARD to please every single other person in my life – often at the expense of my own happiness or well-being.
17. Not everyone will like you. In fact, some will downright hate you for no reason. That’s okay; it doesn’t matter.
18. Your body knows what it needs, but you must listen. Look, the struggle is real on this one. I love salty foods. But I’m at the point in my life where if I even look at a potato chip or bag of popcorn and I swell up to something resembling that over-sized walking pillow in Big Hero. I feel better when I drink a gallon of water a day. I know that yoga helps me tremendously with my back pain. Running a few miles a day gives me more energy than a cup of coffee ever does.
Do I always listen to the things I know are best for me? No, but I’m at least at a point in my life where I know when my body is telling me it needs something or that I need to knock it off with whatever bullshit behavior I’m putting it through right now.
19. Eat the damn donut. Or cupcake, or candy bar. Whatever it is that you are craving. Just eat it, accept it and move on.
20. It doesn’t do any good to compare yourself to others. The only competition you have is yourself. Be better than you were yesterday.
21. It always kind of feels like high school. You’ll find yourself in a staff meeting 10 years after you’ve graduated from college and you’ll be shocked at the similarities between the bickering in your professional life and the catty-ness of high school. There are the mean girls, the cliques and those that still think they own the room because they peaked decades earlier. IT IS ALL ALWAYS JUST LIKE HIGH SCHOOL.
22. Except, it’s not exactly like high school. The number of fucks you give dramatically drops sometime after graduation and continues to diminish as you continue your professional career. The drama may often seem the same, but your attitude is not. It does get better.
23. If you’re not happy – change it. Move to a new city. Quit your job. Go back to school. You are never too old, and if you want it bad enough, you’ll make it happen.
24. Sometimes your adult problems can be solved by binge-watching old episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. Or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Or House. Or whatever television show floats your boat. I’m not saying this is the answer to all problems and generally don’t recommend allowing yourself to melt into your sofa with no intention of pulling yourself out. However, sometimes disconnecting from the world and losing yourself in the imaginary drama-filled world of our favorite show can do your mental health a world of good.
25. Hide the people on Facebook that irritate you. That girl from high school who has completely different political views, and is generally a terrible person? She doesn’t need to be on your feed every day. Let them go.
26. In fact, just avoid social media altogether. Social media, in general, is terrible for our stress levels and our self-esteem. Make sure you take breaks.
27. Writing is good for your soul. You don’t have to be a great novelist, hell you don’t have to be any good at all – but writing has some serious therapeutic properties. Research even backs it. It helps clear your mind, sort out our feelings and sometimes just helps you address issues that you otherwise cannot or will not out loud. So, pick up a journal and write. Even if it is total nonsense.
28. Read more books. It will help with your writing, your vocabulary, and your general knowledge of the world.
29. Being nice is better than being a bitch. I know that to some this seems like a no-brainer. But coming from someone that used to revel in her bitchiness and loved that she had a generally awful attitude – niceness isn’t always easy for everyone. Sometimes we get stuck in painful points in our lives, and we express ourselves in less than desirable ways. I’m not saying it’s always your fault and I’m not saying it’s right – but I am saying that you can do something about it. Give up the negativity. Let go of the things that make you so angry. Be nice to people. It will make you feel infinitely better than any sassy comeback or bitchy comment ever will. Promise.
30. If you can’t say anything nice, just shut up. STOP SHAMING OTHER PEOPLE. New parents, people struggling at the gym, the person wearing something you don’t particularly like – stop giving them shit for trying. Just because someone is new at something or cannot do something as well as you, that doesn’t give you the right to be a dick.
31. Own up when you are wrong. If you are an asshole, or you’ve done something wrong just admit it. Admit it, genuinely apologize and don’t do it again.
32. Buy the good shoes. Seriously, stop being cheap. You spend most of your waking life walking around on your feet If you are going to spend money, you might as well invest in the good quality, comfortable shoes.
33. Give back. Volunteer your time, give your money, knit scarves for the homeless. Whatever giving back looks like for you – just do something for someone else.