1. Not taking the time to get to know the people you encounter on your everyday routine, and therefore remaining strangers with the barista, the cashier, the bus driver, and the neighbor who could otherwise become bright spots in your life (or even good friends).
2. Being cheap when it comes to tipping, or friends, or your own personal experiences — even when you don’t need to — just because you are used to pinching every penny.
3. Telling yourself that traveling is too hard, too expensive, or too logistically difficult, without actually doing the serious research that might find really cheap tickets or having the talk with your boss that might get you a little extra time off.
4. Dismissing the idea of couch surfing or car sharing, which could be the key to being able to travel.
5. Constantly judging yourself based on how your friends are doing in their personal lives, and feeling really insecure every time they announce some new achievement on social media, because it feels like it puts you even further behind the pack.
6. Basing your definition of personal success largely on how much money you make at any given time.
7. Ignoring the unconditional love that people who treat you well — whether a partner, family, or good friends — because you’re too caught up in getting the approval of people who ignore you.
8. Constantly going back to the empty well of people who will never really be proud of you, looking for a congratulations or an affirmation that you know will never come.
9. Trying to live up to the expectations of your parents, even if it makes no sense for your life or leaves you feeling completely unfulfilled. (This includes freaking out when they come to visit, attempting to make everything look unnaturally perfect, because all you can do is look around at all of the things they won’t approve of or will criticize you about.)
10. Focusing entirely on the things you don’t have, instead of reminding yourself of the things you have — even something as simple as your health, a place to live, and food to eat.
11. When it comes to fashion, always looking at things in terms of what you “can” or “can’t” pull off because of what your body looks like, instead of just wearing the things that you enjoy and which make you feel good.
12. Buying things a size smaller because you are always in the process of trying to whittle yourself down, and don’t feel like you deserve to look nice in certain things unless your body looks a certain way. (Though I admit that the lighting in a lot of dressing rooms can be blamed for the sudden crises of self-image.)
13. Spending a period of time tormenting yourself that is equal to or greater than the time you spend enjoying some fattening food, because you somehow feel like guilting yourself about it will negate the calories or prevent you from making the same “mistake” again.
14. For women, looking at other women as inherent competition, instead of accepting that the two of you can exist mutually and even enhance one another’s strong points if you choice to embrace one another.
15. Being too afraid to ask for the things you really want in your job, because you feel like you’re not good enough to deserve it and you should just be mindlessly grateful of whatever situation you’re in.
16. Not applying to certain jobs because you are sure you’ll never be able to get it. (When you know on some level that the only way to be sure you won’t get something is to never actually go for it.)
17. Being too proud to ask for advice from friends around you who have achieved certain professional goals, because you feel like they will pity you for being behind them while still being their age.
18. Spending your time in the mirror picking out the flaws you see in your face or body, and all the things you wish you could change.
19. Fearing every birthday, because you imagine that it’s only going to highlight all of the things you don’t have yet, instead of just taking it as an opportunity to celebrate with friends and family and start planning for all the things you want to achieve in the next year.
20. Not appreciating holidays — or even letting them stress you out — when they are often the only times you get to spend quality time with a lot of people you love.
21. Not calling your family members back when they reach out to you, or taking it for granted when they send you cards/gifts/newspaper clippings that they think you would appreciate. (I’m sorry mémère, I love your little care packages, and I don’t say it enough!!)
22. Letting yourself forget that things aren’t going to last forever — even the parts of our lives that seem eternal, like an apartment or a neighborhood or a group of friends — and that the best time to appreciate how wonderful things are is every time you get a chance to enjoy them. There is no reason to wait until the goodbye party to let yourself feel the full force of how great your situation is.
23. Not saying “I love you” because you always imagine there will be another chance.