I’ve taken a long hiatus from writing, and honestly, it was so needed. I spent too much time getting all in my head about shares, and likes, and follows. I spent too much time staring at the screen, trying to write a bestselling blog. And I couldn’t. I over thought it, and soon writing became a chore and a frustration, instead of a means of relaxation and freedom for me. But, I’m back to the writing board. Real. Vulnerable. And, a little bit wiser.
My 24th birthday is coming up on Monday, and I’m excited and hopeful to see what age 24 holds for me. As it gets closer though, I can’t help but reflect on my life. I’ve changed, and grown so much. Most importantly, I’ve learned many invaluable lessons that I will forever carry with me.
- Never pass up a chance to spend time with your family. Whether that means going to family parties, weddings, reunions, or simple family dinners, go and do them. Life is short and one day, you’ll be glad you went. As we grow up and become more independent, it becomes harder to unite with everyone. We might even go through a phase where we think that we’re too old, or too busy for those events. Know right now, that’s wrong. You’re never too old, too independent, too good enough or too busy to gather with your family. The memories will one day become permanent treasures.
2. Always listen to, love and respect your parents. As much as we try to find and make our own paths our lives, remember that your parents – especially your mom – know you the best. You might think you know it all, you might think you have the world all figured out, but you don’t. Your parents are always there to guide you, love you, advise you, and help you, no matter how old you are. Sure, you may butt heads from time to time, and that’s normal, but never forget that chances are, they’ve been there and done that. They only want what’s best for you. They want you to learn from them. Stop being stubborn, lower your guard, and listen.
3. Call your grandparents. Spend as much time as you can with them. Their wisdom, advice, guidance, and stories are priceless and sacred. Grandparents are oh so special. Their hair may be silver, but their hearts are pure gold. And once they are gone, those moments, those memories, are things that you will cherish with every beat of your heart.
4. Learn the art of self-love, self-compassion, and self-care. Loving yourself isn’t selfish. It’s necessary and important for your physical and mental health. Do at least one thing for yourself every day that makes you happy or makes you relax. Look into the mirror and love the person you see. Don’t just tell yourself that you’re beautiful and strong, B E L I E V E IT! You’ll be glad you did.
5. Mistakes are the best teachers, so pay attention to them wisely. There’s a lesson learned in every mistake, so don’t think of them as failures. Think of them as stepping-stones that are building you up and leading you to success.
6. Dwelling on the past is useless, so when it calls, let it go to voicemail. The past has nothing new to say. Stop thinking about what could’ve, should’ve, would’ve been. If it was meant to be, it would’ve happened. Treat the past as a balloon. It’s time to let it go.
7. Watching your words is critical. The tongue really is a powerful weapon, and yes, words can hurt. Thinking before you speak can save you a lot of trouble, heartache, and anger. It’s true that you’ll catch more flies with honey, than with vinegar.
8. Friendships that are bound by social media aren’t really true friendships. Instead, they’re just virtual reality. When you need a girls night out, someone to talk to, hang out with, and celebrate with, remember, nothing beats human interaction.
9. Your cell phone and social media should never be your best friend or replace your best friend. In reality, social media is toxic and often holds unrealistic expectations. We tend to compare ourselves and our lives with what we see online, when really, that girl who you’re so jealous of, those perfect “posts” that she has, are just a minuscule part of life. I’ve learned this the hard way, but life is not meant to be lived on social media. Dirty laundry isn’t meant to be placed on social media. I’m incredibly guilty of all of that, but finally, I’m learning the importance of social media detox.
10. Jealousy is an ugly emotion and it’s not worth wasting an ounce of energy on. It can be extremely consuming and it is sooooo mentally unhealthy. Nobody’s life is perfect, no matter how it’s portrayed. So, just breathe and wish them well, and move on with YOUR life, and yours alone.
11. Exercise and healthy eating is KEY to living a happy life! Our bodies really are like temples, and should be treated as such. By not taking care of them now, only destroys them for the future. (but, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good piece of pizza, slice of cake, etc. ;))
12. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and surprisingly, they are all tied together! When your physical health isn’t up to par, your mental health isn’t either. Did you know that poor diet and lack of exercise can lead to an increase in anxiety and depression? Do something every day that your body and brain will thank you for.
13. Never be ashamed of your story because you never know who it will inspire. Never try to erase the past, erase your flaws, or erase any chapter in your book of life. Every single moment has made you who you are today. Every victory, success, pain, and hurt has contributed to the wonderful being that is you.
14. Protect your heart, for everything you do flows from it. This proverb couldn’t be any more true. Your heart is a vital, precious organ, and it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Give as much as you can, but never allow yourself to be used. You will get hurt. Your heart will hurt. Never let that hurt consume you, or make you hard. Never let your experiences, your past, or anything, make you and your heart bitter. Be cautious, be careful, but never be cold.
15. A positive attitude makes a difference. It sounds so cliché, but it’s true. Every day we have the choice to be miserable or to choose happy. It’s not always easy to choose happy, especially in this fallen world, and there will be days where you’ll have to work harder to see the light. But, trust me, it’s there. There’s always something positive that happens in each day. Make a habit of looking for the good.
16. Travel. There’s a big, beautiful world out there just waiting for you to experience it. Go. Do it. Travel alone, take a friend, take your family – just travel! Want to go to Italy? Go! Want to take a cruise? Go! Meet new cultures, try new foods, take lots of pictures. What are you waiting for? You’re young, vibrant, and free. Don’t worry about the money – you can’t put a price tag on experiences or memories.
17. Cut out toxic people or toxic things in your life. Some people, no matter how much you love them, simply aren’t healthy for you. They constantly criticize you, judge you, and put you down. Often the problem isn’t with you, the problem is within themselves, but for your own sanity, you have to cut the ties. Some habits, no matter how much you’re used to them, aren’t healthy for you either. Let them go. Start over. It’s going to be hard, but the best thing for you.
18. Like everyone, but trust no one. Sometimes the people who you never thought would hurt you, do. People who you think are your friends, people who you think won’t betray you, unfortunately will. You have to have better judgement of who you can/should and who you can’t/shouldn’t tell things to. Unfortunately, this lesson is often learned the hard way.
19. Do what makes you happy. Life is too short to stay stuck in a career path that isn’t meant for you. Think about what makes you passionate, what lights up your eyes, what sets your soul on fire, and do it. It’s never too late. Don’t make the mistake of staying some place you don’t belong. Don’t settle for an easy, comfortable life just because it pays well, or has job security. You have to do what’s best for you, and if others don’t understand it, that’s their problem, not yours.
20. Making kindness as part of your religion is one of the most liberating, heartwarming things you could do for yourself, and for others. In a world that lacks compassion, care, and understanding, be the person that stops to listen to others, that lends a helping hand, that extends your heart to those in need. Be different. And be proud of it.
21. Don’t be afraid to say no. If there’s a situation that you are uncomfortable with, don’t stay in it. Period. If your gut is telling you something is wrong, listen to it, and don’t follow the bad feeling. Saying no is not wrong. It’s all part of growing up and knowing what we want.
22. Never let anyone tell you who you are, or dictate your morals and principles. If someone has a problem with who you are or what you believe, the problem isn’t with you. Challenge the stigmas. Never stop being who you are. Don’t believe the negative things that people may say or think about you. You are your own unique brand of awesome. Remind yourself of that every day.
23. If you love or care about someone, just tell them. Don’t question it. Don’t apologize. Apologizing for who you are, what you feel, and how you feel does an injustice to you and your heart. If someone inspires you, has made an impact on you, why keep it to yourself?
24. Lastly, letting Faith be your guide is a much easier way to live. Choose faith over fear. There’s always going to be fear present in anything you do, but the important thing is to never let that fear consume you. If you do, you’ll never experience anything different in life and that’s no way to live. Put your faith and hope in God, knowing that He has you in the palm of His hand.