Here I am many years ago wearing pink pants. It’s hard to say how old I was here because apparently I didn’t grow hair until I was three years old. My older sister is the rad hipster in the purple jumpsuit.
Today is my birthday and I am 24 years old. Last year on my 23rd birthday I shared 23 things I’ve learned by 23, and in keeping with that tradition I want to share 24 things I’ve learned by 24. It’s been a crazy year, and along with learning a ton of new things about myself and about life in general, there are also many valuable life lessons that I left off of last years list. There are also many life lessons from last year that still ring true for me this year, so there might be a few crossovers.But without further ado, here’s the list.
1. Don’t worry about what people are going to think of you.
It’s hard to say what you’re thinking sometimes, especially if you’re the carrier of an unpopular opinion. But over the past year I’ve learned that if you feel really strongly about something, you’ve got to stand up for yourself when someone challenges your beliefs.
2. Do the work.
It’s not going to do itself. Complaining about it won’t make it magically all of the sudden get done. If you don’t like the work you’re doing, then do it anyways but start making your escape plan so that you can do work that you actually like.
3. Be bold.
This is kind of the same as “don’t worry about what people are going to think of you”, but there is something extremely liberating about crossing the line of your comfort zone. Over the past year there’s been a lot of getting out of the comfort zone for me, from working as an event planner’s assistant and trying to become a logistics wizard, to jumping ship from a stable job because it just wasn’t my speed, to taking trapeze lessons and training for a half marathon.
4. Don’t let things psych you out or intimidate you.
Yesterday I gave a presentation to over 100 students from my alma mater, NSCAD University. It was a lot of people and I was nervous. But then I remembered that it wasn’t too long ago that I was in the same position as these students. I just had to get up and talk for a bit. And it became fun and not at all scary. The lead up to everything you ever do is the worst part of it. Just say what you got to say.
5. In a similar vein, don’t let demanding people walk all over you.
Before I came to the job that I have now I was working in a “marketing” role for a real estate company. However, my position was so limited in terms of what I was actually allowed to do, that most of my job was spent trying to show my boss how to print from excel. I distinctly remember him calling me over to his computer asking me to show him how to do something in Excel. I tried a couple things and couldn’t figure it out, so I told him I’d go back to my desk and google it for him. He said, “What do you mean you don’t know this? We hired you because you know this!” I shrugged my shoulders and simply said, “I went to art school. I don’t know everything.” It wasn’t my job to teach a 50 year old man Excel, and I wasn’t going to let him try to make me feel incompetent.
6. Pick your battles.
Knowing when to let go is something that I hope comes with age. I’m still bad at this, and I’ve picked some pretty embarrassing fights as a result of it.
7. Eating gluten free isn’t necessarily healthier.
Gluten free bread has more sugar, more calories, and is often more processed than the regular stuff. If you’re going to go gluten free you might as well give up the grains in general.
8. Yoga is amazing and you can see results in a really short period of time.
I go through spurts of being really into yoga for months and going to classes once a week. Then it sort of slows for a while and my body becomes a stiff and creaky board. Then I start going to yoga again and I’m a rubber band again after 4 weeks. Even just doing a few sun salutations at home works wonders.
9. A hoola hoop is a solid investment for when you’re feeling a little sad.
You can’t be sad when you’re hoola hooping. It’s like how you can’t sneeze without closing your eyes and you can’t lick your elbow. It’s biology.
10. Say yes and figure it out later.
I wrote a whole post on this one time. Since I wrote that post it’s become even more true for me. I’ve been doing a whole lot of seizing the day lately and I would recommend it to everyone. Stay out late on a weeknight, sign up for a random class you wouldn’t normally attend, take a little money out of your savings to enjoy an experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life. As my Dad would say, “you can’t take your money to the grave with you.” Solid advice, Dad.
11. Listening to the bands you loved when you were a teenager and singing along can make you feel really good about how far you’ve come in life.
You’ll get all nostalgic but that Rilo Kiley song won’t actually “speak to you” anymore, and that’s because you’re a real person now and not an over-dramatic sappy-pants.
13. Keep track of your menstrual cycle.
I don’t know how ladies don’t do this already without living in constant fear of pregnancy. Keeping track of my menstrual cycle gave me insights into so many other aspects of my life, it’s simply fascinating. Totally worth doing.
14. Never eat anything bigger than your head.
This is actually a quote from Miss Piggy, and I think it is timeless advice.
15. There is never a “right time” for anything.
The “right time” to change jobs, move to a city, or take a big leap of faith is when you have the guts.
16. Joining a gym is amazing motivation.
There’s all kinds of classes! They have all the machines you could ever imagine! Friendly staff! Free sauna! Sold.
17. Guilt is a really selfish emotion.
It sucks and it happens and we all suffer from guilt at times. But you’re better off doing something about it than wallowing in it.
18. Cookies can turn a bad day into a good day.
Or a good day into a great day.
19. Texting a loved one mid-day can instantly lift your spirits.
It only takes a minute to check in with people, and having someone say, “hey, I’m just thinkin’ ’bout you,” is really heartwarming.
20. Everyone deserves a “No-Reason-Present” once in a while.
Buy your bestie a flower, pick up a keychain for your bf, send your mom a book you think she would love.
21. When someone asks you to keep a secret you should do it.
Unless their safety or the safety of someone else is in danger, just keep the darn secret. It’s a secret for a reason and if you tell it you’ll lose trust that will be extra hard to earn back.
22. Everything you put out into the world will eventually come back to you.
This sounds really new-agey, but it is absolutely undeniable. When I think about where I am today, I am without a doubt that my previous actions and words have lead me here. Your present determines your future.
23. Hold yourself accountable.
I can be quick to point fingers to take the heat off me. This is kind of shitty and a little bit cowardly. It’s hard to let go of your pride sometimes, but admitting you were wrong and holding yourself accountable to the consequences is what makes you a better person in the end.
24. It is nearly impossible to determine where you will be in a year from now.
You can try to plan everything out perfectly, but you will fail. I would have never thought I would discover a love of paddleboard yoga, give up my major food staple of bread (WHAT), join the circus for a while, or have landed the awesome job that I have right now. Every year on my birthday I like to reflect on where I was in life last year and compare it to this year and try to compare the things that I would have predicted happen versus the things that blew my mind this year. Try it for yourself and PREPARE TO BE ASTOUNDED AT YOUR OWN ACHIEVEMENTS AND GLORY.
Stay tuned for next year’s 25 things I learned by 25! And next week I’ll be doing a little update on my 25 by 25 goals list.