I’m turning 27 this week. As odd as it may seem, I’ve waited all my life to turn exactly this number, my favorite one.
The past few decades did not go how I thought it would. I lost more loves than I could’ve imagined. Quit schools that I realized weren’t for me. Got diagnosed with more mental health disorders than I can believe. Moved through jobs that were poles apart from each other.
But I also made a bunch of friends who’ve stuck around through all of it. Created home in a city from scratch. Wrote my heart out through all of it. Become truer to myself than ever before.
As I move forward, I have nothing but hope and light to give and my wildest dreams to accomplish. Here are 27 of the greatest lessons I’m carrying along with me from this part of my journey:
1. I’m an introvert and that’s alright. It isn’t a flaw and I don’t have to change it.
2. I’m allowed to exist in any body and be beautiful. I don’t need anyone’s permission to feel that way.
3. I am not my mind. My mind is an incredible place that is sometimes extremely painful. But I exist apart from it.
4. I don’t have to like or be around anyone I don’t want to, no matter what we’ve shared or how we are related.
5. It’s important to tend to my body and mind daily—upkeep over cure.
6. Hold people gently—forevers are a series of nows.
7. Three things that can always make life better are meditation, laughter, and dance.
8. I decide how to tell my story, and the narrative I choose is the one that matters most.
9. I decide what I like about myself. Others may or may not see it, but it doesn’t take away from my gifts, qualities, and abilities.
10. Family won’t always see the real me. Sometimes they see the worst version of me. That isn’t who I am.
11. Just because someone has known me longer doesn’t mean they don’t know me better. Just because they see me often doesn’t mean they’re closer to me.
12. Read people by their actions, not their words.
13. Read myself by my actions, not my intentions, fears, or insecurities.
14. Organized religion isn’t for everybody, and that’s okay.
15. Faith is the most powerful force in our human capacity. Love is a close contender.
16. Habits don’t always form in 21 days. It takes between 90 to 180 days for me. Stick with things that matter.
17. No matter what, write letters. There’s no replacement for it.
18. I get to feel all my emotions, knowing that none define me.
19. Practice asking the “Would you say that to your best friend?” question. It isn’t a cliche, it’s a way of life led by radical kindness.
20. Also practice saying “This isn’t about me” often.
21. I have to ask for what I want and tell people what I need. No one is a mind reader.
22. I can’t heal anyone else. All I can do is sit by them and hold space to allow them to heal.
23. Trusting in someone who has fallen is the surest way to empower them to get back up.
24. A little kindness can sometimes save a life.
25. I don’t need anyone’s approval or understanding to be who I am.
26. A friendship is the foundation of a good relationship.
27. Always show up where I’m at. What matters most in this life is that I show up to love myself and my people fiercely and tenderly.