Happy birthday to me!

It’s hard to believe I am in my mid-thirties.

It feels like just yesterday that I was learning to drive a car, studying for midterm exams, or even getting married! Yet here were are at the end of the most memorable year any of us have probably ever experienced, on my birthday, with a global pandemic raging around us, and everyone trying to find a “new normal” in life while simply surviving. Aside from all of that, though, this year has also been memorable for me in other ways: my baby turned three, we sold our first home and bought a new one, I quit my job with NO back-up plan because I was miserable, and I decided that I was tired of suffering imposter syndrome. So, I’m determined that this will be the year I gain my confidence back.

That last one is super scary for me, but also incredibly exciting! When I was younger, I truly felt like there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do and I was already ready to take on the world. Somewhere in my late twenties, however, I lost all that mojo and I’ve had a really hard time feeling like I was worthy of anything. But this year, my 36th year, I’m reclaiming my confidence. And to help me do that, I’m looking at all the life lessons I’ve learned up to this point. Some of these I’ve known and followed for a while but some of them took me a little longer to learn. It’s not that I hadn’t heard them before, but rather that I didn’t know that they applied to me, too.

So, here are 36 life lessons I’ve learned so far:

  1. Always listen to your intuition. That gut feeling will probably save your life.
  2. Drink water. It’s great for your skin and your body.
  3. Start moisturizing long before you think you need to. And don’t forget the SPF.
  4. Don’t compare yourself to others. I admit that this is one of the hardest pieces of advice for me to follow but when I am able to let go and revel in my own place in life, I’m so much happier.
  5. In that same vein, there’s almost always multiple ways to accomplish your goals. There’s the traditional way and if that works for you, then great! But that isn’t the only way to do things, so don’t ever be afraid to think outside of the box.
  6. Don’t deprive yourself. I truly believe that everything is fine in moderation and that if you deprive yourself of things all the time, you’ll get caught up in them and have a more difficult time succeeding in your goals.
  7. Take care of yourself, especially if you’re a mom or a caregiver to others. You always hear about how you can’t pour from an empty glass and it wasn’t until recently that I discovered just how true this is. So make sure you’re sleeping well and eating right, and then you can give your best to those you care for.
  8. You can learn something from everyone, even if it’s how NOT to do/be/act. And then make sure you’re emulating the good ones.
  9. It’s really important to stop every once in a while to appreciate the little things in life. “Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy” – Guillaume Apollinaire.
  10. Always say please and thank you. Being kind/polite is one of the best things you can be.
  11. Never burn those bridges, no matter how badly you may want to. I’ve definitely been there. I know that feeling of wanting to burn a bridge so badly that I’ve got the lighted match in my hand and I’m two seconds from dropping it but then realize I’m in absolutely no position to burn anything because every connection is precious, regardless of how I’ve been treated, so I just stand there in bitter resentment with burnt fingers. You never know when you might really need that network and they turn out to act in your favor.
  12. I truly believe less stuff will make you happier. Less mess to clean, less to worry about, etc. I still dream of a living a life of minimalism and I’m slowly working my way to a more minimal mindset.
  13. Actions really do speak louder than words.
  14. It’s okay to cut people out of your life if they’re always bringing (or trying to bring) you down. I think the key to this is accepting people for who they are and then deciding if they are bringing the right kind of energy to your life.
  15. It’s okay to be someone who knows a little about a lot and has a lot of interests. A few years ago, I discovered the concept of being  multipotentialite which is someone with many interests and creative pursuits. The word stems from the word multipotentiality–a psychological and educational term used to describe people who display aptitudes across multiple disciplines. I’ve never felt like I had a true professional calling, and I truly believe this is why.
  16. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
  17. Take the pictures and the videos. You’ll never regret having a record of those cherished memories, and some day they may be all you have. When my beloved dog, Chico, passed away in 2016 I spent hours crying and taking in all of the photos and videos I had of him because it was truly all that I had left of him. Now, I take so many pictures and much longer videos of my loved ones because I know how truly valuable they are.
  18. Reconnect with nature. It’s the reason we’re all here and keeps us going. Even if you aren’t an “outdoors” person, learn to care for a houseplant or just watch a spider spin its web and appreciate that everything here has a purpose and we, as humans, are not above that.
  19. Slow down and enjoy the things you’ve been meaning to enjoy. Make time for the thing you keep putting off and then follow through with it.
  20. Parenting has been the greatest joy and the hardest task I’ve ever experienced. It illuminates the flaws you didn’t realize you were passing on, but also highlights your beauty and strength as you mold your children into good human beings. I love watching Sebastian learn and grow, and the fact that parenting is helping me learn and grow, as well.
  21. Pick your battles. It really doesn’t matter if your husband folds the towels differently than you do (true story in our house). What matters is that he’s doing his part and folding the laundry so that you don’t have to!
  22. Old people have lived long, full lives and there’s so much to learn from them. It’s important to take time to honor them, listen to them, and just spend time with them. I hate the thought of our elder folks feeling lonely just because we get caught up in our own lives and forget about those who came before us. Pick up the phone and call your grandparent. It will probably make their day.
  23. I think it’s okay to go to bed angry as long as you talk it out first thing in the morning. It gives you a chance to cool down, process, and work it out.
  24. Keep learning. Be curious about everything and learn stuff. You don’t have to be an expert, but you should keep an open mind, try new things, and always read.
  25. You don’t have to (and shouldn’t try to) please everyone. Just do your best and those who matter will appreciate it.
  26. Embrace the things that you like, even if others think you’re weird for it. As I get older, I’m realizing there’s no need to hide my love for certain things just because other people aren’t that into them. For example, I LOVE Halloween and I’m not afraid to show it, and now my friends and acquaintances tag me in Halloween memes on FB and I love it.
  27. Parks and Recreation is the best show in the world followed very closely by Schitt’s Creek. Let Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson be your moral guides while allowing David and Alexis to help you express your authentic self.
  28. You don’t own anyone an explanation. No is a full sentence.
  29. Health and wellness are very personal journeys, and there’s no one way to do it. What is important, though, is that you move your body, eat food that is good for you, drink water, rest, and get some sun. Very healthy people can still get sick so it’s important to take care of yourself. But no matter what you should still wash your hands!
  30. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Being able to laugh at yourself is one of the best ways to move through life and stay happy.
  31. We are treated in life the way we allow others to treat us. That means people will give you whatever crap or love that you’ll allow them to give. Loving and valuing yourself teaches others to do the same.
  32. People deserve a second chance, but probably not much more than that.
  33. True friendships may come later in life, but they’ll always continue to grow.
  34. It’s never wrong to do the right thing. I’m sure this is some deep quote from Mark Twain or someone, but it’s also a cute little song in the movie Spookley and the Christmas Kittens.
  35.  You have to be scared before you can be brave. I tell Sebastian this all to time and think it’s only fair to follow the same advice.
  36. It has taken a long time to become the person I want to be, and I’m still not there yet. But the key is to never give up on becoming that person.