In honor of birthdays, I’m making a list of life lessons I’ve learned at 24. Please note that this is a note-to-self, as with most etc posts on the blog. Hopefully I’ll keep these in mind at 25 and beyond.
1. When in doubt, take a step back and ask yourself “why”. Don’t resort to momentary retreats (cookies, crack, one-night stands, etc) and decide the “how” of life later. It’s the “why” of things that matters.
2. DON’T compare yourself to others. Every soul ever walked on earth is a separate, individual entity and therefore different. So it’s pointless to compare one soul with another. It’s like comparing a bouquet of fruits and a bouquet of pigs – totally different existence, totally different purpose.
3. DO compare to others to get motivated to improve yourself. How do you compare with the people who have similar goals as you? It’s always a great idea to know where you stand in your circle/pool – not to be better than some other person, but to push yourself to the next level. Remember: You are your own yardstick of success.
4. Limit social media time. Did you know that all that time you spent scrolling through your Instagram feed in the toilet could’ve been spent on a million other things? You could’ve been the one feeding others with inspiring thoughts, moments, and snapshots of your authentic and inspiring life. Realize that all you see are highlight reels of people’s lives – not the entire film. Nobody uploads the negatives, so don’t think their lives are perfect just yet when you can’t see past those filters and photoshopped images.
5. That said, everybody‘s hurting right now. Just because that friend of yours is a generous smiler doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t have a problem in the world.
6. Likewise, people who judge you before they know you (or even spoken a word with you) are better off ignored. But remember, that doesn’t give you the license to be unkind.
7. Sip tea. Tea cures everything. Add extra trashy novels to your liking.
8. Stay original. It’s one thing to copy celebrity style and/or regard Carrie Bradshaw as life inspiration – it’s another thing to aspire becoming a carbon copy of someone else. When you do, you will always be one step behind.
9. Think of shopping as an investment portfolio, so it’s almost always wiser go with the classics. Yes, there’s strappy heels, cutout skorts, and neon Valentino shoes that everybody seems to own these days, but simplicity never goes out of style. So does black.
10. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Warren Buffett’s advice doesn’t just apply in the financial context. When you’re invested in one guy, it’ll be harder for you to move on if he ends up with some other girl.
11. Wait (for a bit). It can be a good thing. Just because the world seems to spin faster by the minute doesn’t mean you have to follow the world in that sense. Just don’t wait for a guy for 10 years to decide whether he likes you or not – no girl should give away that much control over their own life decisions to someone else, especially to jerks who don’t give as much crap about you. For more, read Wait: The Art and Science of Delay by Frank Partnoy.
12. You don’t owe anyone an apology for being yourself. Stop apologizing for wearing heels when others are wearing flip-flops, or apologizing for being polite with your boss and colleagues, for having enough with your meal because you’re full, for sharing your engagement story on your blog, for being happy with yourself, your sexuality, your life … the more you ramble on about how sorry you are for being insensitive to others, the more you insulate yourself from your aspirations. #unapologetic #sorrynotsorry #nobodycares
13. Accept compliments. Lady, don’t you dare laugh it off and forget about it later. It’s like you’re flipping the table when someone’s left you a gift on top of it. Next time someone gives you a compliment, no matter how simple, look at that person in the eye and say “thank you”. You’re welcome.
14. Work it out. The treadmill is not a fat-burning machine. It’s a sweaty way to release stress, achieve mental clarity, push past your fears and shake things off like Taylor Swift. P.S. Don’t let these guys intimidate you.
15. Keep a journal. Yes, friends and family are great accountability partners. They encourage you to achieve your goals because they love you and care about you. However, you’ll see that a year later, it’s your journal that’s brutally, unflinchingly, matter-of-fact honest with you. And that’s a good thing.
16 Eat real foods and limit ones that come in a package. It bears no repeating to say this, but you really are what you eat – so don’t be fast, cheap, easy, or fake.
17. Make the best of what you have. Most of our standards have increased in conjunction with society’s increasing expectations of the ideal woman. You want a big-time career, a beautiful family, a star-studded circle, and a closet decked with Manolos. Well guess what. Even if you’ve got them all, you still won’t be happy.
18. It’s okay not to have it all together. No one has it all. In fact, those who seem like they do on the surface usually go on living their lives carrying a big and hollow hole inside. They might as well go on searching what’s missing in their lives till they tire themselves out, and you don’t want that. Look at what’s already on your plate, and you’ll realize that you have more than enough. The surface is just the tip of the iceberg.
19. Happiness is simply when you’re not making yourself un-happy. If you’ve got a roof over your head, plenty of food on the table, and people who’ll be there for you in times of need, you’re far better off than at least a couple million other lives in this world. 14% of the world’s population lives in Africa, and about 1 in 8 people in the continent lives next to nothing every day.1.
20. Get back up right away when you fall. If you must, crawl. Cry all you want and pour your heart out all over your journal if it makes the hurt go away ASAP. But you’ve got to bounce back up once you’re done weeping. Getting up, dressing up, and showing up no matter how you feel is the only way to get yourself forward in life.
21. Stop the self-pity. If you can’t help it, set an actual schedule for sitting down and worrying. I’m serious. There are other things to attend to and people to care for. Don’t feel sorry for yourself at a time when things oughta get done. #coldhardtruth
22. Better yet, replace those “poor me” hours with a prayer. Confide in God when you feel even the slightest bit of self-doubt. Talk to him like he’s your BFF, because he is. There’s no one else who can give you as much confidence as you need to go on other than your Creator.
23. You’ll always have something to learn. Doesn’t matter if you’re 24 or 94. The paradox is that the more you know about the world, the more you realize you don’t know sh*t.
24. And finally, no one on their deathbed says they wished they could work more. Dying people will always say they regret spending more time on people, places, and things they took for granted. So stop beating yourself up, and take every day as it comes. Schedule more hours in your day living fuller and loving harder: Do more of what makes you happy, free up time for unexpected trips and adventures, and be more available for the people you love.
- Hunger Notes: 2015 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics [↩]