A birthday is always a good time to sit back and reflect on your life during the past year. A lot can change during this time. It’s important that we account for this, take inventory of what’s come and gone, and determine where there’s been growth.
There’s no doubt you’ve grown in some way since your last birthday. You have most definitely changed. Maybe you’ve accomplished a big goal or embarked on an entirely new adventure. Maybe you were challenged. Maybe you’ve overcome. All of this should be celebrated! These are the moments that make us who we are.
We should always be evaluating our situation, our mindset, and our takeaway from all that we’ve experienced in a year’s time. It’s easy to forget little moments of triumph. It’s important that we stop, at some point, and reflect. By giving yourself the opportunity to look back on the mountains you’ve climbed this year, you are acknowledging and reinforcing that you are, in fact, growing. You will begin to realize how capable you truly are.
I turn 26 this week and as I sat down to reflect on all that has changed since my last birthday, I realized there was so much I’ve learned. I’m more myself than I’ve ever been. Part of that is due to growing older and wiser, but the other big part was deciding that my daydreams shouldn’t be daydreams anymore. It was time to bring them to life and that’s exactly what I did. To sum it up, I realized that you find yourself when you take risks and allow yourself to do what you absolutely love to do.
The importance of following a dream was my biggest takeaway this year but there was so much more that came a long with that. Here are 10 other pieces of wisdom that I’ve gained along the way. For the 20-somethings out there approaching 26 or waving goodbye to your early twenties, I hope these 10 things inspire you and challenge you.
- PLANS CHANGE – I don’t mean the plan to get brunch with your bestie… I mean the plans for your life. How many of us developed a timeline at a very young age (married by 21, first kid by 22, second by 23, doctor by 25, millionaire mogul by 27)? Ha! What a joke looking back, right? Sure, we thought it would happen just like that…by now…but it didn’t. Not quite like that. Or maybe what you thought was your dream career wasn’t your dream career after all. Maybe you had to go back to the drawing board. Maybe you went through a devastating breakup. Life is always changing. There will be seasons of discomfort. You will be uncomfortable at times but remember life moves fast. If doors are closing, learn to dance in the hallway. If things aren’t how you want them right now, they’ll change. Be flexible. Embrace these moments. They’re teaching you something.
- YOUR HAPPINESS DEPENDS ON YOU – You and only you control your happiness. Never place that responsibility on someone else. Your happiness is important, and it can be derived from the people you love, but remember that they do not control it. You do.
- THERE IS NO MORE SETTLING – Demand quality in all things. Respect yourself and require this from others. Your standards should be set by now and they should never, ever be compromised. If you have a list of qualities you’d like in a husband or a boyfriend, stick to them. He will find his way to you. In 10 years, you’ll be glad you stuck to that list. This goes for your career, friendships, and lipstick too.
- IT’S NOT YOUR JOB TO LIKE ME, IT’S MINE – That’s right! You could be the sweetest, loveliest, juiciest peach there ever was and there will be someone who doesn’t like peaches. Not everyone is going to be a fan of you or what you’re doing. Maybe it’s because of jealousy, insecurities or just preference but that’s really none of your business. Do you like you? Are you happy with who you’ve become? If the answer is yes, keep moving forward and stay true to yourself.
- WHEN IT’S TIME TO LET GO – Whatever is harmful, depleting, toxic, abusive, degrading, negative, coercive, dangerous, manipulative, foul, or demeaning – let it go. It’s time. Have the strength. Cut these things and people from your life and never look back. They will destroy you.
- HOW AND WHEN TO SAY “NO” – By 26, this word should easily flow from your mouth (and without guilt). I don’t mean go around burning bridges, but you know yourself better than anyone. You know your limits. If it’s not right for you, if it takes more from you than you’re willing to give, if it makes you uncomfortable, if you aren’t interested then the word you’re looking for is “no”. You owe nobody an excuse after this word either.
- YOUR WORTH – We all have our lows and we forget who we are more often than we’d like to admit. The littlest things can tear us right down to the ground. Social media has a way of doing that too. Here is what you should know: you are here for a reason, you have a purpose, you are beautiful, you are unique, and no matter what anybody tells you – you are worth so much.
- ALONE TIME IS IMPORTANT – Whether you are married, in a relationship, or single, taking time for yourself is important. This is your time to find yourself, regroup, focus, and relax. For some of you, this alone time is going for a run (yes, a Target run counts too) without your significant other. For others, alone time might be an entire year. Maybe you have decided to give the dating scene a break to focus on your goals (I did!). Whatever this means for you, take this time.
- PRACTICING MINDFULNESS IS IMPORTANT – Have you ever been around someone that never enjoys the moment? They’re always looking ahead or racing their way through life. Maybe this is you. Stop that! No matter what you’re doing, who you’re with, or where you are, BE THERE. Be in that moment. Take it in. How does it make you feel? Take inventory of what’s around you. Life is so much more beautiful when this becomes a habit.
- A BELIEF IN SOMETHING – I struggle with this every single day. I have a lot of questions. I get angry, but of all that I’ve seen in this life, I know without a doubt that there’s someone…something bigger than me in control. I have to have faith that one day all of this will make sense. For now, this brings me peace.