25 lessons learned in 25 years

25. Your work is what you do, it’s not who you are. Our society puts a major focus on what DO. We spend most of our time at work, but that doesn’t mean it has to define us. Aside from what you DO, find out what you LIKE, what you VALUE, what you WANT. And ask others the same. 

24. Find joy in the little things. Even on the worst of days, there is always something beautiful, miraculous, intriguing, or just comfort. The little moments add up over time, and eventually before the big moments we remember.  

23. Therapy is awesome. Maybe it’s not for everyone. Maybe it’s not for everyone because there’s a stigma that only “broken” people need therapy. I don’t consider myself broken. I consider therapy as a way for me to continuously work on myself so I can be the best person possible for myself and those around me. 

22. Ice cream is still a completely acceptable meal. It is. Always will be. But with that, take care of your body. Eat well most of the time. Don’t diet, don’t feel like you have to be a size two, don’t do workouts you hate. I neglected my body for a good year and a half, never exercising, and surviving on bagels and comfort food. I was tiny, but I felt AWFUL. Fuel your body, exercise in a way that’s fun for you, dress in a way that makes YOU feel confident, but always know ice cream for dinner every once in a while is acceptable and encouraged in my book.

21. It’s OK if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. I don’t. I would guess a lot of people never do. But don’t let that fear keep you from taking risks and trying new things. It may be a small percentage of people who actually LOVE what they do, but whose to say you can’t be in that percentage? 

20. Everyone is going through their own battle. Be compassionate, always. The person who was rude to you this morning for no reason? The co-worker who always seems to be grumpy? The person who said hurtful things over the internet? Kill ’em with kindness. You NEVER know what someone is going through behind closed doors. 

19. A smile goes a long way. Believe me on this one. I try to smile and say hello to everyone I see. It’s a chance to potentially brighten someones day. I live in a large apartment complex and don’t know the name of a single one of my neighbors. I would love to. But in the meantime, I can smile and say hello when I see them instead of ducking my head and going about my day. 

18. Proactive thinking is always better than reactive thinking. This one took me a long time to lean. I’m still working on it. Anticipate what could go wrong throughout your day. Get an email you don’t like? One that makes you super angry. Or your significant other did something to make you mad? Get outside yourself. Give it an hour, or a day, then reevaluate and get back to it, instead of reacting immediately. 

17. Starting your day with 10-30 minutes for yourself can change the whole trajectory of your day. Trust me on this one. Wake up 30 minutes earlier. Meditate. Sit and just drink your coffee without doing anything else. Do whatever is going to ground you and make you feel in control of your day. Oh, and stay off your phone during that time. 

16. You’ll always feel more accomplished reading a book than you will binging Netflix. Maybe you’re not a reader. Maybe skip this one? I love Netflix as much as the next girl, but there are SO MANY books to be read. So many things to learn. Just try it. 

15. Don’t waste your time or energy trying to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you. Thanks for the advice mom, it couldn’t be more true. Why waste your energy chasing someone. You’re a catch. You’re brilliant. And you should be with someone who sees that and wants you for who you are. 

14. Say ‘you’ more than you say ‘I.’ Still working on this one too. But everyone loves talking about themselves, whether they want to admit it or not. You’ll learn a whole lot more about someone by asking about them, being generally interested in how they’re doing, and truly caring, instead of just waiting for your turn to talk about yourself. 

13. Always make time for something you enjoy. Every. Single. Day. I don’t care what it is. Life is short. And why are we here if not to enjoy? (And in my opinion, help others.) Everyone is so busy, there aren’t enough hours in the day. But MAKE TIME for the things that make you feel alive. F

12. It’s OK to be broke at 25. It’s not preferable. But it’s OK. Work on it. Save at least 10% of everything you make when you can. Write down something you want to splurge on and re-visit a few days later. A lot of times, you won’t want it anymore. Just because the people you follow on social media are going on lavish vacations and wearing all the trendiest clothes doesn’t mean you should be there too. If you’re never broke, how are you supposed to appreciate it when you do make it? 

11. Life isn’t meant to be easy. It’s just not. To be fully human means to experience ALL parts of life. Adversity, heartbreak, anger, betrayal, joy, stress, love. The list goes on. If you’re feeling a certain emotion, allow yourself to FEEL it. It will pass, but you can’t experience the good without the bad. 

10. A handwritten note goes a long way. Buy some cards, buy some stamps (they’re obnoxiously expensive), and write a dang letter. Write it to say thank you, write to say hello to your grandma, write to tell your best friend she rocks. It means SO MUCH MORE than a quick text. 

9. Being an adult means making your own decisions, even if others don’t agree with them. I just recently learned this one. I grew up wanting my parents and everyone else around me to approve of EVERYTHING I did. A few weeks ago, I made a decision a family member wasn’t totally on board with. But I KNOW deep in my soul, it is what is right for me. Others don’t have to understand your decisions, or accept them, or approve them. All you can ask is they respect them, or keep their own opinions to themselves. 

8. Find your tribe and love them hard. I keep my circle small, and value my family more than they may ever know. You may have 25 best friends, or 1. It doesn’t matter. Find people who are going to love and accept you at your best and more importantly, at your very worst. Let them know how much you mean to them frequently. 

7. Everyone’s timeline is different. This one took me a long time to figure out. There is no timeline. You don’t have to have your dream job by 25, be engaged by 27, have kids by 30, buy your beach house by 32. Whatever. Do what you want, when you want it. There is no perfect ‘timeline.’ If you can’t get out of that cycle, maybe it’s time to delete social media for a little while and just live your own life. 

6. There is beauty in uncertainty. I’m a planner by nature. I always had a plan; five years, 10 years, the next few months, until I didn’t. I took a risk, and veered off plan. I have NO IDEA what comes next, but there is so much opportunity because I’m not holding myself to one ideal. 

5. Everyone has a different definition for an exceptional life. What’s yours? For some, it’s finding the cure to cancer, for others getting married and having children, and raising a family, for others, it’s to be fully present at all times. For me? It’s to make a difference in some way or another, it’s to help people, to feel like I have a purpose. But it’s also to someday get married and have babies, and travel the world. There’s no right or wrong answer, but it’s something to work to. 

4. Gratitude > Expectations. I begin and end almost every day with a list of things I’m grateful for. Some things are big, some are as simple as “Bennie and I saw a bunch of turtles on our walk.” But being grateful takes up space, and pushes away negative thinking. I’ve been disappointed by high expectations for vacations, holidays, events, concerts, whatever. Instead of having expectations, just be grateful for the experience. It leaves far less room for disappointment.

3. Joy is not circumstantial. It’s as simple as that. You don’t have to have the perfect job, in the perfect city, with the perfect paycheck, and the perfect family to experience joy. You can be broke, and confused, and unsure of everything and still find joy in each day. 

2. It’s OK not to be OK. It really is. Whether you are depressed, anxious, heartbroken, insecure, unhappy, confused, whatever it may be. But….

1. It’s not OK to stay that way. It’s not OK to stay not OK. Because there are SO many options and resources. Therapy, medication, family, friends, organizations, hotlines, fitness coaches, life coaches, time. Whatever it may be. And if none of those are an option to you, know that someone ALWAYS cares. More people than you probably realize, but I for one, always will. 

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