Last year was the birthday where I was due for a midlife crisis. Instead of freaking out, I looked back and thought about what I’ve accomplished during my time here on Earth. This year, as I creep up on the dark side of my 20’s, is the first time I’ve ever felt the feeling of– “ew, I don’t want to be 26.” Ten years ago I was having a ball at my sweet 16, and today, I’m falling asleep before 11pm with Gold Bond foot cream next to my bed (..I wish this was an exaggeration).

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On the bright side, I’ve collected some tidbits of wisdom over the years, so respect your elders & read on…

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  • Don’t be afraid to take the spotlight. Growing up, I was the most introverted little girl you could have ever met. My confidence has grown out of recognizing my strengths, and not being afraid to say, “I’ve got this.” Establish yourself within your field of expertise as a leader, a role model, and a teacher.
  • Ask for help. No one person is the absolute best at anything. As Bill Withers once sang, we all need somebody to lean on. Whether it’s help taking in the trash, or with making a big time decision, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Send thank you notes. Our world has quickly turned digital, which makes getting a thank you card in the mail THAT much more special. Don’t neglect to show appreciation in a meaningful way.
  • Keep an open mind. Nothing ever goes exactly according to plan. If you’re rigid in your mindset, your more likely to break. Keep an open mind and go with the flow, while still paddling in your intended direction.
  • Always give 110%. Whatever you are, be a good one. If you’re an ice cream man, be the best damn ice cream man you could be. It doesn’t matter what you do, do it will all of your heart

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  • There is no occasion that calls for white framed sunglasses. Or anything Ed Hardy.
  • You are more than your circumstances. What you have lived through does not define you. Don’t use your past as an excuse, use it to propel you forward.
  • Drink water. Lots & lots of it. Hydration is no joke, no one wants to feel like a wrung out sponge.
  • Practice being a good listener. This is easier said than done. Listen beyond the words of what others are saying, and try to be in tune with their emotion.
  • Forgive, but don’t forget. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, then I just got got. Don’t carry around the burden of a grudge, just let it go and know better next time.

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  • Value your education. Don’t go to school just to go to school. Sink your teeth into every last lesson, and find ways to make that knowledge applicable to your life.
  • Recognize that everything is a learning opportunity. A negative situation feels a lot less negative when you pick apart what you have learned from it.
  • Don’t let money be your motivation. If your eye is only on the dollar sign, you will miss out on so much more. If you work hard, you can make a living doing what you love– despite what the Negative Nancy’s of the world have to say.
  • You don’t have to please everybody. Not everyone will be in your corner, and that’s okay. It’s impossible to make everybody happy with every decision that you make. Be your best self, and that is enough.
  • Set attainable goals… and then crush them. A dream without a plan is just a wish. Make your goals measurable, that way you can track your progress on the road to greatness.

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  • Any chance you get to travel, take it. There’s so much to be learned from the world and those living in it. It’s the only way to stretch your imagination completely outside of its bounds.
  • Travel solo. It’s not as scary as it seems. In fact, it’s probably the most empowering thing you’ll ever do.
  • Have situational awareness. There are certain sights and sounds that should trigger red flags in your mind like, “don’t walk down that street” or “maybe I should take a cab.” Listen to your inner voice.
  • Talk to strangers. This goes against everything we’ve learned as a child. But, if you don’t talk to strangers, how do you make new friends? Naturally, be aware of how much information you give during a conversation. But don’t be afraid to spark up some chit chat with someone new.
  • Know what you don’t know. And ask questions to those who do. That’s what learning is all about.

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  • Stay cool. Don’t lose your temper, despite how aggravating a circumstance can be.
  • There is value in having hard copies. Don’t lose your printed photographs in this digital world. I still prefer a hard copy of a book over a kindle.
  • Carry a journal with you. When I’m out dining solo, I’d rather be the girl writing in a journal than the one that’s on her phone.
  • Enjoy good food. Don’t feel guilty about every calorie you consume, but also don’t eat processed foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Take pride in the food that you prepare, and put into your body.
  • All of the best activities make you sweat. Find the workout that works best for you. Some people hate running (present company included). That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other ways to get your heart rate up.

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And finally, the 26th most important life lesson I’d like to share with you: live every damn day like you can die tomorrow.. because as morbid as it is, you can. That’s the only thing we’re guaranteed in this life, and yet we act as if we’re invincible. This isn’t an excuse to make frivolous decisions, but a wake up call to remind you to do more than just exist. The world is spinning and none of us are getting any younger, so carpe the hell out of every diem.

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