First off, let me start by saying I cannot believe I’m writing a blog post about being twenty-eight. Where has the time gone? My birthday was in June, but I’m always late to a party, so it’s only appropriate that I share my twenty-eight life lessons I’ve learned with you a few months after my actual birthday.
Over the past twenty-eight years, I’ve wasted a lot of time stressing, worrying and trying to please the world around me. It’s only recently that I’ve learned what matters to me in life, how to let go of the little things and how important it is to embrace my true self. Don’t let me fool you, I still am learning everyday, but I wanted to share what I’ve learned along the way.
I’d love to hear what you would add to this list!
1. When You Think You’ve Found Yourself, You Haven’t
At every stage in life, I’ve thought I had my shit figured out. I “knew who I was” at age 14, 18, 21 and 23. But the funny thing is, I was a completely different person every time. Society gives us this weird feeling that we have to have our lives together by a certain age. What does that even mean? There’s no such thing as having your life “together”. Spend your entire life finding your true self and enjoy every freaking minute of it.
2. There’s No Such Thing As Too Much Traveling
Take every opportunity you have in life to travel. This doesn’t have to consist of a ton of time and money – take weekend trips and talk to the locals! Traveling allows you to explore new people, places and cultures in a way that you’d never otherwise be able to. You’ll come across ideas that you love, food that you never would’ve tried otherwise and experiences that you can share for years to come. I’ve left my heart in so many places – places that I never thought I would. And through travel, I’ve learned to appreciate the diversity of views and opinions around the world, which have helped influence and shape my own.
3. You Should Move Away From Home At Least Once
When I graduated college, I landed my dream job in my hometown and the thought of ever leaving was a foreign concept. But life happened and I had to move to the other side of the country. You know what happened? I learned to become independent, I made lifelong friends that I never knew I needed and I found a second home that I loved with my whole heart. Home will always be there waiting for you. For me, leaving my hometown was was the best decision I ever made.
4. You Won’t Keep the Same Friends Forever & That’s Okay
When I was young, my dad would tell me that “a true friend is someone that you can call any time of day to ask for money and they wouldn’t ask why”. He said “if at the end of your life, you need an entire hand to count that number of people, you’ve done good in life”. Five good friends!? I always laughed at that when I was younger. I counted them on my fingers and my toes then! But what I didn’t realize at that age was just because someone was your “friend” didn’t mean that they would be there for you through all of your ups and downs. Not everyone is your best friend. And that’s okay.
5. Be Yourself. No, Really. Be Freaking Weird.
I know this is easier said than done, but the second I decided to stop “going along with the crowd”, I found my true happiness. It took about 24 years, but I learned that through voicing my own opinions and interests, I was able to form deep connections with the people around me. And ultimately build relationships that made life more fulfilling. By being completely and truly yourself, you’ll automatically help others feel comfortable with being their self.
6. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
Boy, do I wish I could go back and tell little Angela to laugh off all of her “worries” as a teenager. The problems that you encounter as you get older make everything else seem so small. Laugh off the small issues while you can! That customer that got angry because you accidentally gave them sweet tea instead of unsweet tea does not matter in the grand scheme of things. Don’t stress it.
7. Take Life One Day At A Time
Feeling overwhelmed is no fun! Where are all of my other anxiety ridden babes at? A rule of thumb that I try live by: focus on what’s right in front of you. Don’t worry about what “might happen”, instead focus on what is happening right now. Only worry about what you can control.
8. Be Selfish
Yes – be so freaking selfish. I mean this. There’s no-one else looking out for you the way that you can. You have one life. Make sure you’re happy first. If you’re fulfilled, you will radiate your happiness to everyone else and organically make everyone else around you happier. Be so incredibly in love with yourself that no-one’s presence or absence will affect your being.
9. But, Be Kind
I’m going to go with the famous quote here to sum this one up “people won’t remember what you did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel”. That’s all I have to say about that.
10. Never Let Yourself Get Too Comfortable
If you’re comfortable, you’re not challenging yourself. It’s okay to take a break every once in a while, but don’t sit for too long. This goes for relationships, jobs, school, etc. There’s always more to learn and more to improve on. You’ll never truly see your full potential if you settle.
11. Soak Up The Little Moments
That moment when you walk through your door and your dog is jumping up at you with excitement – embrace that. The beautiful sunset and flowers that are all around us – appreciate them. The smile that your mom has when you go to visit – soak it up. These moments won’t last forever. Take a step back from all of life’s busy moments to appreciate what’s right in front of you.
12. Take More Videos
I believe in being present first and foremost, but I also believe that videos are priceless. Being able to hear laughter, see smiles and feel emotions from past moments is incredible. Life happens fast. You’ll be so grateful for that footage one day.
13. Open Up To Your Friends
I spent years keeping everything to myself. I never talked about my “boy problems” or issues in my personal life to my friends. I guess it partially had to do with the fact that I needed to feel perfect. I started opening up about my life a few years ago and I’ve been closer to my friends now than ever before. Don’t be afraid to open up to the people closest to you. You’ll probably find that you’re going through the same things.
14. Be Patient With Your Family
When you’re young, you think you’ll live forever. But as you get older, you realize that time flies. Appreciate time spent with your family: ask your grandparents about their past, have your mom teach you her favorite recipe, go visit your niece or nephew while they’re young. These moments are everything.
15. Dogs Are The Best
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in 28 years of life, it’s that dogs are the ultimate best friend. Dogs are example of unconditional love and loyalty. And they’re really freaking cute!
16. A Simple Smile Can Change Someone’s Life
Smiling is the one language in the world that’s universal. And the best part – it’s free and contagious. Smile at everyone. You never know who’s having a bad day. You also never know if someone feels alone and needs simple eye contact to stop a bad thought from becoming reality. Take a half second to freaking smile. And mean it.
17. Jealousy Roots From Unhappiness
Be happy with yourself and you’ll never feel jealous again. Do you ever find yourself feeling jealous when your friend succeeds? I have. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad friend, it means that you’re unhappy about something in your own life. Change it.
18. Money Is Great, But It’s Not Everything
I’ve experienced both sides of the spectrum. I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck & I’ve also travelled luxuriously. The fact is: experiences are experiences. It’s the people you’re with that make every experience memorable. I can deeply remember sitting on the floor in my first house eating Chinese off of paper plates just as fondly as I remember nights in Paris drinking bottles of Dom Perignon at six in the morning. To be honest, I probably remember the latter much less. For obvious reasons. Don’t incur debt if you don’t have to.
20. Soak Up The Sun
Sunshine can cure everything. You think I’m kidding? Try it. Wake up in the morning and open your windows. Let the sun in. Your spirits rise and you’ll be motivated for the rest of the day. Sunshine is so powerful and has a natural way of boosting your serotonin to make you feel more optimistic.
21. Don’t Leave Arguments Unresolved
You’re going to argue a lot in your lifetime – whether it be with your parents, your siblings or your spouse. I’ve made a rule that I never let an argument go unsettled. Tomorrow is never guaranteed, so never wait to resolve an issue. Talk it out and take ownership where it’s needed. Always be the bigger person.
22. Take Care Of Your Body
You only have one body, so take care of it! Learn to cook fresh meals (I’m telling this to myself), workout regularly, drink plenty of water, take your vitamins, floss your teeth and wear sunscreen. You can’t reverse the damage you do to your body. Treat your body like you would your most prized possession every single day.
23. Be Open To New Ideas
The worst thing you can do for the world is be one-sided. It’s important to have your own beliefs, but always keep an open mind and be willing to listen to other opinions. You may hear facts that you never knew or you’ll be able to share new information to others. Diversity is what makes the world an amazing place.
24. Older People Are Not Always Right
Our teachers, parents and leaders have a lot to teach us and we wouldn’t be here without them, but as a younger generation, we have a lot to teach them as well. It’s okay to not always agree. Stay true to your morals, ethics and beliefs and have the courage to do what you think is right.
25. Be Passionate About Something World-Changing
The world is a crazy place and we’re the only ones that can constantly better it. Whether it’s saving our planet, promoting women’s rights or simply spreading kindness – do something that affects our world in a positive way. If we all did this, we could make a huge difference in no time.
26. Horrible Life Experiences Really Do Shape You
I’ve been through a lot in my 28 years: I’ve had my heart broken, I’ve been a heart breaker, I’ve had friends that have betrayed me and family that haven’t quite been there. But, in the end, I wouldn’t change a thing. When you’re in the thick of it, it seems like you’re drowning and life will never be the same. You’re right. It won’t. It’ll be better. Eventually. Because you’ll be better and stronger for it. I promise! Feel what you need to feel and move on.
27. Recognize That You’re Beautiful
Above all – you are beautiful. Our bodies are not the same and that’s what makes us so amazing. The world would be extremely boring if we all looked identical! For years, I hated my stretch marks, my cellulite and my small boobs. At 28, I’ve finally become comfortable and confident in my own skin. If I could save you all of those years of questioning and embarrassment, I would. Embrace your body. There are others out there who strive to look like you! Rock it, gorgeous!
28. Love With Everything You Have
You’re going to deal with many heartaches in your lifetime – breakups, family drama, deaths, betrayal. Don’t ever let that stop you from loving unconditionally later down the road. Each person teaches you something about yourself. Love everyone to your fullest and you’ll never have any regrets.
Have something to add to this list? I’d love to hear it! Leave a comment below with some of your life lessons.