It’s official. I’m 24. Does this mean I can start calling myself old now and it’s acceptable? No? Okay.
Jokes aside, I’m actually really excited for what this year brings! I know 24 is kind of a throw away year (as was 23), but that doesn’t mean I can’t make it a great year for myself. I feel like we always wait for big moments (whether that means a new birthday, a new start to the calendar year, or the new start to a week) to make the changes we want to see in our lives, but I’m not waiting any longer. 24 is the year I make things happen, even if it’s on a random Wednesday. While I may not even be a quarter century old, I always feel like I’ve been wise beyond my years. I dropped 22 lessons I learned before turning 23, and this year I decided to make it an even 24 tips for my 24 years on Earth. Let’s get started!
(Psst. Sorry this post is a day late. I hope you can forgive me!)
1. Little steps every day lead to big results.
Admittedly, I am horrible at this. I’m one of those people that has a big idea, throws herself into for three or four days at full-speed, and then never does it again. In my head, I know that small actions lead to big changes, but consistency is one of the hardest things to achieve in life. During this next year of my life, I promise to dedicate myself to consistent improvements through small actions every day whether those actions be related to my mental, physical, or emotional health.
2. “A lion doesn’t concern itself with the opinion of sheep.” — George R. R. Martin
Honestly, this sounds a little harsh — but it is beyond true. As humans, one of our fatal flaws is that we care what people think of us. I think it’s okay to be aware of how others perceive you, but there’s no need to agonize over what other people think of you when they don’t even know you. I came to the sudden realization this year that if I don’t respect someone, I shouldn’t care about what they think of me because their opinion of me is irrelevant. Live your life for you and ignore everyone judging your choices. They are only focusing you because they are scared to make moves in their own lives.
3. See beauty in the common things of life.
This line is part of the symphony of Alpha Chi Omega (the sorority I was in in college), and I’ve always believed in the sentiment, but never truly lived it. Life moves by in the blink of an eye, so take time to enjoy the simple things that bring you pleasure, like the scent of a candle or the way the sun flickers through the trees. When you start to take notice of the little things, the big things seem even more exciting.
4. Target is heaven on Earth.
Anyone that shames me for my obsession can leave. I got my Target RedCard this time last year, and I’ve never looked back. I save 5% whenever I shop, and I’ve saved almost $200 this year. (Not sponsored, just obsessed. But Target, if you see this, I’m available.)
5. Your way isn’t the only way.
This has been a tough pill to swallow, but you can’t force anyone to live their life the way you want them to live it. I struggle with this all the time — I’m dead-set that my way is the right way. But it’s not! It’s right for me, but it can be totally wrong for everyone else, and that’s okay. Just because I like to plan and control every aspect of my life does not mean everyone else does. I’m sure a free spirit out there thinks I’m crazy for planning every part of my day out with my calendar app, but that’s the way I live my best life. Everyone does things differently, and there truly is no “best” way to live life. Find your way, and revel in it.
6. You do not need anyone’s permission to live your life the way you see fit.
This is something I’ve really come to understand in these last few months. Your life is yours to live, so you get to make every single decision along the way. You want to eat cereal for dinner? Go for it. Thinking about moving to Italy for a year to study art? You do you girl. Your choices, no matter how big or small, are up to you, and unless they directly affect someone else, you don’t need anyones permission to make those choices. How people react to the way you choose to live your life is a bigger reflection on them than it is on you.
7. Happiness finds you when you stop looking for it.
I had this stunning realization the other day when I was doing yoga that I was happy. For so long, I remember wishing for happiness. And one day, I stopped wishing, and just starting living life, and happiness really came to me. Now don’t get me wrong, happiness is not a destination, it’s a mood, but now that I’m not focused on being happy all the time, I just am. I have more good days than bad, and I am truly just supremely content with my life. Create little routines that help you thrive. Cultivate passions. Surround yourself with good people. And I promise, happiness will come.
8. Be better than you were yesterday.
You don’t have to hit your ultimate goals in one day (see #1), but little changes every day help you reach your best self. Your only competition in this life is the person you were yesterday, so be better than that and you are always being your best self. Stop comparing yourself to your ex’s new girlfriend or your best friend from high school. Comparison is the thief of happiness. So focus on you. Focus on crushing your goals and attaining your dreams, and you’re sure to find the best you you can be.
9. People are not mind reader’s.
Communicate. I’ll say it again for the people in the back. COMMUNICATE! If you don’t tell someone how you’re feeling, they will never know. They may sense that you’re upset, but they don’t know they are the one causing you anguish. Tell people when they hurt you. Let people know when they bring joy to your life. Express how those in your life can better support you. If you don’t use your words, nothing will get better.
10. It gets better.
Trust me. It will get worse sometimes too, but it always gets better.
11. You can’t do everything.
I’ve been trying to deny this one for years, but I’ve finally (maybe) come to accept that if you want to be stellar at something, you can’t do everything. Olympic athletes become Olympic athletes by doing one thing, and doing that one thing very well. I’ve always tried to do everything, because there is so much in life to do, but if I want to be great at something, if I want to stand out in a crowd for something, I need to dedicate a significant amount of time to that passion. You can’t do everything, but you can do something.
12. Don’t just talk the talk.
You’ve got to walk the walk. It’s easy to throw words around, make promises you can’t keep. But when you follow through on the vows you make to yourself and others, people notice. Surprise yourself. Surprise everyone around you. And stick to what you say.
13. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for the choices you make.
This kind of goes hand in hand with #5, but if you make a choice, you don’t need to explain it to anyone. It’s your choice, and it affects your life and yours alone (unless of course it is affecting someone else’s life, then you may owe them an explanation, but not your random coworker, Karen doesn’t need to know why you are going to Bali for a week).
14. Pinterest quote boards really can change your life.
Ever felt down in the dumps and scrolled through a quote board? No? Well, you should try it. It’s cheesy, and magical, and inspiring, and probably exactly what you need to pick yourself up.
15. No one is entitled to know anything about your life.
This one really hit me when I took a break from social media this past year. I think because of social media, we feel like we know more about other people’s lives than we really do. We know social media is a curated image online that we create ourselves, but still, we fall into the trap of thinking we know everything going on in someone’s life, when we really only know what they decide to show us. Sometimes, I feel like I have to share on social media. Like people have to know I went to the zoo. But the truth is, they don’t. And neither my experiences nor their experiences are impacted by what I choose to share on social media or not share on social media. Therefore, no one is entitled to know anything about my life. They don’t need to know if I got a new job, or if I’m dating someone, or if I bought more books than I could carry at the bookstore. They just don’t need to know.
16. The pain of one person is not dampened by the pain of another.
Everyone is fighting a battle, and just because you might be fighting World War III doesn’t mean someone’s Civil War isn’t just as difficult.
17. Do stuff you’re not ready for.
You never know what you’re capable of until you try. This past year I pushed myself in every sense imaginable. I threw myself into situations where I didn’t know anyone else in the room, and I had to make friends. I signed up to chair an event when I had never planned anything bigger than a birthday party before. I cut carbs out of my diet. CARBS. If I can cut carbs out of my diet, I truly can do anything. And you can, too. So, do things that scare you. Do things you don’t think you’re ready for. You’re bound to learn something new about yourself.
18. You’re not going to have it all figured out, and that’s okay.
I have to remind myself of this everyday. I’m 24. It’s okay to be lost. It’s okay to not know what I want to do with the rest of my life. It’s okay. Take it one step at a time.
19. People can change.
It’s hard. Not everyone can do it. But people change. They do it everyday. You just have to be willing to see those changes.
20. You’re never too old for a young adult novel or children’s book.
I read The Chronicles of Narnia at the ripe age of 21, and I learned things I never knew I needed to learn. I picked up The Phantom Tollbooth last year because it’s one of my friends favorites, and it left me turning page after page wanting more. You can always read books that “aren’t meant for your age,” don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
It’s such a simple thing. Something we do every day without even realizing, but when you take the time to really focus on your breath, it helps you feel grounded and secure. I started meditating about six months ago, and it’s already changed my life in small, yet meaningful, ways. From managing my anxiety to grounding me during stressful situations, meditation has helped me through a lot. I highly recommend it to anyone that struggles with falling asleep, anxiety, or depression. Honestly, I recommend it to everyone, because you never know what it can do for you.
22. Treat yourself.
You only live once.
23.You are who you spend time with, so make sure to surround yourself with people who lift you up.
Finding friends in the real world is hard, and anyone that tells you differently is a magician. Unless you’re really, really lucky, you’re probably going to feel very alone at some points in your life, so it’s important to find friends who help you feel a little less alone. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Who challenge you to be your best self. Who support you no matter what horrible choices you make time and time again. Find people who will be your cheerleaders and your editors. You don’t have to have a hundred friends, but promise to surround yourself with good people who help you feel like the best you you can be.
24. We are all trying to be our best selves in this world.
So be a little more kind. Be a little more patient. Be a little more loving, and you might see all the beauty there is in those around you.
Happy year around the sun to me. I hope you learned a little something, because I know I did. Here’s to 24 teaching me some more important lessons in life.