23 Lessons I Learned In 23 Years

Flickr / Michael Tapp
Flickr / Michael Tapp

Seeing as I recently turned 23, it felt only natural to share a list of 23 lessons that I’ve learned over the past 23 years of life.

1. Be yourself.

Love yourself. Fall in love with yourself, your quirks, your guilty pleasures. Embrace them. People will either like you or they won’t; don’t worry about it. If you love yourself, others will take note.

2. Surround yourself with people who will help bring out the best in you, and you the best in them.

Life is too short to deal with negativity from your friend circle. Surround yourself with cool cats who appreciate you and your likes, people who won’t judge you or make you feel guilty. Hang out with folks who you can relax with, and they’ll be able to open up to you—it’ll feel natural and effortless. Enjoy that.

3. Life is a bitch.

Use precaution and go forth. I wish I could say that life is peachy keen, jelly bean, but I’d be mistaken. Life is hard. No one said it wouldn’t be. But the rumors are true: If you remain positive and put things in perspective, you’ll survive. Good luck.

4. Collect moments, not things.

I’m all about the moments. Realize that you are living — right now. Don’t worry too much about tomorrow, or five years from now, live for today. Enjoy the little things in life, it’ll make all the difference.

5. Decide what to be and go be it.

Yes, The Avett Brothers may have sung this, but I believe it. Be passionate in all that you do. Don’t let others tell you that you can’t accomplish your goals. Work for what you want, be confident in your choices.

6. Music is there for you no matter what.

Music is my religion. Maybe yours is people, or sports, or something else. Find out what it is that truly makes you happy and helps you feel understood. Music is there for me, it helps to be the soundtrack for my life every day.

7. People will come and go from your life.

It’s natural. You will lose people in your life. Whether it’s from a passing, or just a falling-out, it’ll happen. You’ll mourn the loss, you’ll miss them, but you’ll move on. Remember the good times you were able to share with them, try not to hang onto any ill feelings about them.

8. Dating, much like most things in life, makes zero sense.

There’s no formula for love, or life, for that matter. Dating applications can only help so much. Embrace the idea of getting to know someone. Their likes, dislikes, their family, real aspects of them. It may work out, it may not. Recognize when you have a real connection with someone, and try to hold onto that.

9. Writing helps soothe the soul.

Even if you’re not a writer, sometimes it just takes getting the words out on paper to help you through something. Write a letter to your ex about how you feel, you don’t have to give it to them. Journal about that family issue, it’ll help to relieve the stress. Jot something down on a napkin just to get it out. For me, blogging and journaling help me release built-up emotion. Get it out, you’ll feel better.

10. Fashion fades, style remains.

Wear what you want. Who cares what the latest fashion trends are. Wear what you feel good in. Pull pieces from your grandmothers wardrobe, piece them with your own finds, it’ll be different, it’ll be your own. If you want to wear that hat, or that jacket, or that skirt — go for it! Everyone has their own style, showcase it.

11. Communication is key.

No matter the relationship—professional, platonic, romantic—communication is necessary. Emails, texts, Snapchats, those are great, but don’t forget about the simplicity and pure communication of a face-to-face conversation. Express how you’re feeling and let people know when you’re confused; it’ll help the relationship.

12. Time flies when you don’t give a shit.

Take each day as a new opportunity. Don’t stress too much. Don’t overplan. Go with the flow, chill out and take a deep breath. You’ll feel more relaxed and have time for yourself and your interests.

13. Feelings occur, shit happens, I’ll be fine.

All feelings are valid. This is something I’ve more recently adopted into my mantras. No matter how you’re feeling, it is valid. Do not let someone tell you otherwise. You may fall for someone, they may fall for someone else, you’ll be crushed, but you’ll move on. Feelings don’t always fade overnight. This one can be a harder lesson to learn.

14. C’est la vie…or something like that.

Seize the day. Have fun. Chill out. Sing at the top of your lungs. Dance in public. Talk to that cutie at the bar. If you really like those shoes, buy them. Binge watch Netflix. Do what you want.

15. Never change yourself for someone else.

Embrace your individuality. Do not adapt yourself to fit the stereotype of what you think society wants you to be. We’re all different. When in a relationship, remain true to yourself. Do not pretend to like something because you think they’ll like you more. Don’t starve yourself for someone else. If you want to change, do it on your own terms, for your own betterment. Do not let a romantic partner change you — remember your friends, family, career, goals, hobbies, etc.

16. The really great moments are when the world winks in your direction.

You may be thinking the universe is against you, and just like that, something really great will happen. Maybe you go down a pant size, maybe that job opportunity finally arrived, maybe that cute barista gave you a free drink, whatever it may be — enjoy it. Life will serve you some hard times, be aware of the tokens of awesomeness that come your way too!

17. Be honest.

Say what’s on your mind. A very recent thing for me. I’m all about the honesty. I went 22 years being nice, not saying everything that was on my mind, not admitting my feelings for someone — then, one day, something changed — I decided to be real. I will now go up to the cute guy in the corner and tell him that I like his style, because, why not I will text you randomly telling you my appreciation for you as a friend. I will let you know how I feel about your new boo. I will also know when to keep my mouth shut, as to not hurt any one’s feelings or as to not get myself into too much trouble. There is a fine balance here.

18. Embrace your natural beauty.

I have big, wavy, frizzy hair. It took years for me to embrace that. I wanted short, straight hair. Now, my hair is how people find me in a crowd, and I’m okay with that. It doesn’t matter if you’re 4’11”, or 6’2″, you’re a babe. It doesn’t matter if you’re a size 2 or a size 22, you’re a babe. Embrace your look, master your look, love your look. Freckles, glasses, large feet — whatever it may be, you make that shit look good!

19. Originality is breathtaking.

Know who you are. Have your own ideas. Do not copy off of someone else to get attention. Like what you like, don’t like what you don’t. Posses a passion, share that passion with others, it’ll make people swoon. Be original in thought, style, hobbies, etc. Don’t cater to the idea of what you think others will think is “cool.” Individuality is cool.

20. Family is there for you, no matter what.

At the end of the day, you know it’s alright to veg out on the couch in your sweats with your family. They may get on your nerves from time to time. They may not be the coolest of cools, but they’re your family. Extensions of who you are and where you came from. Learn to embrace that. They’ve got your back no matter what. Plus, they’ll be there with the ice cream when you need to wallow. (Gilmore Girls, anyone)

21. Coffee, much like pizza, is good no matter what the hour.

I love pizza. Always have, always will. It’s been one of my main food groups for as long as I can remember. I’m always prepared to eat pizza, without a doubt. Coffee, on the other hand, became an acquired taste. I always loved the smell, and when I got older, I was comforted by coffee shops. I don’t care if it’s 7:00a.m., 3:30p.m., or 4:00a.m. I can drink coffee whenever. The warmness soothes my soul, and helps me feel happy. Call me weird, I don’t care. Sometimes I’ll opt for the soy chai, but there’s something so perfect about going to a diner at 3 in the morning, reflecting on the night out with your friends, and drinking copious amounts of coffee.

22. Take a step back.

Recharge. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, or somewhere in between. I find myself needing to recharge more and more these days. I love networking, being around people, and just socializing. But there are days or just brief moments where I need time to chill out, recharge, and be quiet for a bit. Give yourself some time to yourself, then get back to your day. This could be in the morning, when you need your coffee and newspaper. Or this could be a night where you go off the grid, and just need some time to yourself. It’s important to not burn yourself out. Whether it’s with a project at work, a relationship, or socializing. Take a moment to step back. Relax. Refresh. Recharge.

23. No one knows what the hell they’re doing.

We’re human. In today’s day and age, it’s easy to hop onto social media and see the endless amounts of posts about new jobs, engagements, etc. Do not compare yourself to others. Your successes are just as important as other people’s successes. Remember that. We’re all human, we all make mistakes. Who cares if your old pal moved to Europe and you’re in your hometown. That’s great for them, but aren’t you happy too Everyone is trying to figure out their next move, everyone puts on their pants one leg at a time. We’re all confused when it comes to life. Fake it ’til you make it, if you have to. Just remember that you are the creator of your legacy. You make your own choices. Yes, there will be some bumps in the road on the journey of life, but that’s expected. If you ask others about where they’ll be in 5 years, more than likely, they’ll also pause and not know. Go with it. Take it day by day. …

I’m no expert on life, trust me, but I’ve learned a thing or two, especially since post-grad. All we can do is put a smile on and go with the flow. Some lessons have to be taught again, some get adapted, but for the most part it’s all about becoming your best self and enjoying your life. As I always say: Live it, love it, caress it. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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