I have been reflecting a lot lately, as my thirtieth birthday quickly approaches. It is hard to believe that it has been almost a decade since I graduated university and began my journey into adulthood. My twenties were filled with countless blessings, and just as many lessons. I learned a lot of valuable takeaways that I am grateful to bring into this new chapter of my life, and happy to share with you, for whatever my existential ramblings may be worth.
1. We must love. You know the saying, “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” right? I know, we often dismiss cliches, but maybe it’s a truth so profound we can discuss it only with aphorisms. Yes, we must love, even if it breaks our hearts—love is the foundation of everything in my life.
2. But love isn’t enough. Although we must love, love is not enough: love is a verb in which you have to take action on. Expressing love comes in all forms, and learning the ways in which those you love like to receive it is one of the most important lessons I learned in my friendships and romantic relationships. I recommend reading, “The 5 Languages of Love” to better understand how to show you care and how you prefer to receive love. By reading this book, I learned that I speak two different love languages.
3. Not everyone is going to like you. You aren’t going to please everyone all of the time. All you can do is your best. If they don’t like you, screw them and move on.
4. Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make us perfect. No one is perfect, and accepting that you are not will only make people like you more. Authenticity is so attractive.
5. Be grateful. You have to consciously decide to be grateful for the abundance in your life. Write down 5 things you are grateful every morning. For me, that usually looks like: my health, my family, my dog, my best friend, and my career.
6. Confidence is sexy. Be your own cheerleader. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?
7. Learn how to say “no”. The habit of people pleasing is debilitating. When you decide, “this does not warrant my immediate attention, this is counterproductive, or this does not serve me,” you embrace your intuition and save a lot of time.
8. Growth is key. Strive to be a better version of yourself every day. Constantly aim to grow.
9. If you’ve got to force it, leave it alone. Relationships, friendships, ponytails…just leave it.
10. Write it down. The average person thinks 48 thoughts per minute. Some are good, some are bad, some are fleeting. Write the important thoughts down, because your ideas are valuable and you do not want to lose a good one in the scurry of unimportant ones.
11. The sum of little things matter more than the big things. People overestimate what they can do in a short amount of time, but underestimate what they can do in a long amount of time. Breakthroughs don’t happen in one explosive moment, and success doesn’t happen overnight. They happen over time by small, repeated efforts. Start small and do a little bit every day – the end result will surprise you.
12. Family is everything. The biggest gift in my life is my family. I have learned that no matter what, family will have your back and be in your corner. The best thing my parents gave me was a healthy relationship to look up to, and a sister to be my lifelong best friend.
13. Travel as often as you can. Alone, with friends, with family. Travel is by far the most valuable experience I’ve had in my twenties. I learned more about the world traveling than I did in school. I have a constant, insatiable desire to travel and try to do so as often as I can. I try to visit a new place every time I travel, and have now checked off over 50 countries on my list.
14. Practice being present. When you practice something regularly, you become good at it. It becomes more a mode of being rather than a task on your to-do list. When you practice this, being present will start to come naturally. There is nothing more respectful than to give someone your undivided attention. Leave your phone in your purse or your pocket during a meal, and really just listen to what the other person is saying.
15. Quality over quantity. It’s okay to edit the people in your life. You don’t need to have 50 friends at your birthday party. If you can count your true good friends on one hand, you are blessed. If someone no longer serves you, let them go (with love).
16. Time cures heartbreak. Nothing else. “Give time time.”
17. If you are a girl, be a girl’s girl. Don’t be caddy. Don’t talk sh*t. Don’t compete. Don’t fight over guys. And certainly don’t go out with your friend’s exes. There are enough fish in the sea, and your friends are most likely going to be there longer than that hot guy will be.
18. Your health is your wealth. Take care of yourself. Don’t crash diet. Don’t be lazy. Get out of the house, exercise, sweat, and eat well. But do not deprive yourself of the things you love. It’s okay to have that ice cream cone. Everything in moderation.
19. Be impeccable with your word. Do not let yourself get caught up in hearsay or gossip. Speak with integrity and say only what you mean.
20. There is no shame in not knowing the answer. The most intelligent and successful people I know ask a lot of questions.
21. Create goals for yourself. Write them down and hold yourself accountable.
22. Ask the universe for what you want. I read the book “The Law of Attraction” in college and started to experiment with manifestation. I promise you, it works. What you put out in the universe, the universe gives back. This applies not only to positive thoughts, but also negative ones, so choose your thoughts wisely.
23. Read. Turn off the TV once in a while and pick up a book. Not only does it expand your mind, it increases your vocabulary and breadth of knowledge. You become more interesting at dinner parties because you have more to talk about than the last season of whatever is the hottest show at the moment.
24. Forgive people. You don’t have to keep them in your life, but forgive them, as holding onto that anger only hurts you, not them.
25. The only constant in life is change. Don’t be afraid of change; it is inevitable.
26. Your perception is your reality. Everything you see, hear or experience in any way at all is specific to you. You create a universe by perceiving it, so everything in the universe you perceive is specific to you.
27. Don’t take anything personally. This lesson was a particularly hard one for me to learn, but what I took away is that nothing others do is because of you – what others say and do is a projection of their own reality.
28. Be kind. It’s free and it’s easy. It can even lift your spirits. If you’re feeling down, doing something nice for someone else actually makes you happier. Smiling at a stranger is proven to increase your happiness as well as the passerby’s.
29. Manage your anxieties. Anxiety is a very new, modern malaise. It used to be stress that made people sick, now the new norm is anxiety. Acknowledge what makes you anxious and work on finding a solution to remedy that needless fear and feeling. I have had to overcome some anxiety myself, and once I rid myself of that internal burden, not only felt better mentally but also extraordinarily better physically.
30. Don’t take life too seriously. After all, this isn’t a dress rehearsal, this is it. Don’t take life or yourself too seriously. Have fun, smile, laugh, and remember the fountain of youth is SPF and eye cream (and maybe some Botox).