Yesterday, I celebrated my 22nd birthday. I’ve been a part of this world for twenty two years. In my 21st year of life, I got married to the man of my dreams, graduated college and landed my dream job. I’m not even sure how 22 is supposed to compete with that!! For my birthday, Adam woke me up with a brand new Apple Watch (I’ve basically been begging for one for months). AKA #myhero, I went to work (but I wasn’t even mad), I went to lunch with Adam and later we went to Red Lobster for dinner. It was a full and beautiful birthday. I am beyond blessed. I have collected 22 Lessons in 22 Years in the hopes that they will help you along too.
22 Lessons in 22 Years
LESSON 1: SMILE MORE.
One thing I’ve learned in the last 22 years is that we could all stand to smile a little more. I have a SERIOUS case of RBF, so I tend to give smiles to strangers few and far between. This last year, I’ve been focusing on smiling to people more. I tried to live by the idea that I have no idea what people are going through, and maybe what helps them get through the day is your smile and “have a nice day” at the checkout counter.
LESSON 2: LESS IS MORE.
This is true for a lot of things. In particular, I’m talking about the amount of time you spend looking at a screen (I say this as I’m working on the computer with my family around — it’s a work in progress). Life is better when you actually look at it. If that means I miss a few “instagram” worthy pictures, I guess so be it.
LESSON 3: QUALITY OVER QUANTITY.
This can go for a lot of things, but mainly friends. I don’t have too many close friends but the ones I do? Absolutely amazing and beautiful people. I count myself extremely lucky.
LESSON 4: STOP BEING A TO C.
My husband lovingly calls me “AC” because I tend to skip over “B”. I go from one thing to the next without noticing what is in the middle. I’m learning to take time to smell the roses and notice the things in between. Like the chair I constantly run into while trying to get from one side of the room to the other.
LESSON 5: WHEN IN DOUBT, EAT THE CAKE POP.
Or, idk. The whole cake. Life is too short to skip on the things you like.
LESSON 6: BE MORE KIND THAN NECESSARY.
I see a lot of nasty Facebook posts and comments all the time. It hurts my heart. I thought a lot about this one. I decided that as long as I am around, I will be more kind than I need to be. Offer more grace than I need to. Forgive more than I need to. If everyone did that, the world would be a better place.
LESSON 7: READ A GOOD BOOK EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE.
I just finished reading my first book for fun for over a year. My crazy school schedule really had me run ragged, and I barely had any downtime between school work and blogging. Right after I graduated, I started a new book and it felt incredibly relaxing to just read for pleasure.
LESSON 8: YOU ONLY GET ONE FAMILY.
They are your only family. Even when they drive you insane. Even when they push every button you have. They’re yours. Forever.
LESSON 9: DON’T COMPLAIN ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN’T CHANGE.
I’ve been working on this. Sometimes I get a little bit whiny about things I don’t like. My husband finally opened my eyes — it doesn’t make sense to complain and complain about things you don’t have control over. Either find a way to fix it or move on.
LESSON 10: EAT A CARROT EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE.
But really, just take care of your body. If you are going to eat that whole cake, at least go jogging afterward. Don’t treat your body like a trashcan.
LESSON 11: BE CONSTANTLY CURIOUS.
Ask questions. Always. Don’t accept things as they are if you think they can be changed. Don’t blindly follow the crowd.
LESSON 12: BE CONFIDENT.
If theres one thing I’ve learned in the last 22 years, it’s that you need to ALWAYS be confident. Forget what anyone else says. You do you. Wear blue lipstick. Chop off all your hair. Rock those overalls. Go in and GRAB the dream job. Take that A+ in your class. YOU GOT THIS GIRL. Be the #girlboss you wanted to be when you grew up.
LESSON 13: FAMILY DOESN’T ALWAYS MEAN BLOOD.
Sometimes your family is the person who’s stuck by you for the last 7 years unconditionally. Family is more than blood.
LESSON 14: DON’T CONFORM.
Just because someone tells you what they think you should do, doesn’t mean you have to do it. Many teachers told me I should switch my major, find a job that would be less strenuous and prepare to be a mom. While I am excited about being a mom one day, I am thoroughly enjoying this time in my life. I plan on doing what is right FOR ME and my husband before what’s right for anyone else.
LESSON 15: TRAVEL.
This is something I plan on doing more. I didn’t leave the country for the first time until I went to Mexico on my honeymoon. I would love to see more of the world while we are still young and newly married.
LESSON 16: STOP TRYING TO PLEASE EVERYONE.
It can’t be done. Do what you feel comfortable doing and roll with it. Let everyone else feel as they may. Does it make YOU happy? As long as it isn’t hurting anyone, don’t worry about it.
LESSON 17: CALL YOUR MOTHER.
Right now. Pick up the phone. Tell her you love her and apologize for years of teenage angst. She does actually know best.
LESSON 18: STOP FORCING RELATIONSHIPS.
When I finally stopped. Stopped trying to make something fit that CLEARLY isn’t. When I met my husband, there were no games. No trying to be something we weren’t. It was a perfect match.
LESSON 19: MARRY YOUR BEST FRIEND.
And while we are on relationships…do this. If you do nothing else. Marry the person you love the most in the entire world. Marry your best friend. A and I talk and laugh and everything we do is magic. I had no idea love like this existed before him. I won’t get too sappy here — but everyone has potential for love like this. DON’T SETTLE.
LESSON 20: LEARN ABOUT THE WORLD.
Don’t keep your face buried in your own culture. Learn about everyone else. The world is a colorful, loud and beautiful place. Learn all about it. It will teach you tolerance and love and acceptance.
LESSON 21: DON’T CHASE PEOPLE.
If there isn’t mutual effort to keep a relationship alive, ditch it. That is a two way street.
LESSON 22: IT’S OK TO BE A LITTLE BIT SELFISH.
This is the last one because I think it is really important. It’s good to put other first sometimes, but mental health is important and that means taking care of you first. You can’t take care of everyone else if you are falling apart. Go get that once a month manicure girl, you deserve it.
There you have it, kids. 22 Lessons in 22 Years. The moral of the story is, do your own thing, be nice to everyone and take time for you. Life is too short to be unhappy.
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