Damn, I am closer to 30 than I am 20.
I have been thinking about the last year of my life a lot. My 27th year has been my most difficult and incredibly challenging year thus far. It has broken me down more times than I can count, more times than I’d like to admit, and more times than I deserved. I, however, have had the opportunity to learn so much about myself and those around me—the people who I’d come to meet and befriend and even those who came just in passing. I am not going to make out as though I have figured it all out, that I have mastered the life I lead, that I have all the answers. I’m not going to say, “Everything is now better,” because it’s not.
I do, however, want to share all that I have learned thus far with those around me in hopes that it will help expand your awareness and growth as it has helped me. We all struggle on a daily basis, and I truly want people to feel as though they are not alone, that they too can master and learn from this glorious thing we call life regardless how chaotic it may be at times.
So here are the 27 life lessons I’ve gained by 27.
1. Healing must be intentional. You have to decide that it’s what you want to do and actually do it.
2. Self-care, self-worth, and self-love are not selfish. You need to learn to put your own needs above anyone else’s. You need to learn to put yourself first, as it’s essential for your well-being.
3. You need to love yourself before anyone else can, for everything that you are and everything you’re yet to become.
4. You need to be unconcerned with who people think you are and just be your true authentic self.
5. Vulnerability is not weakness—it’s actually the complete opposite. Being vulnerable allows you to create deep, meaningful connections.
6. Looking for external validation will leave you feeling empty and disappointed.
7. It is never too late to start something new. Start a new hobby, change career paths, and meet new people.
8. It is okay to say no without having to explain your reasons.
9. Abandon everything you have outgrown, no matter how difficult.
10. Take as many pictures as you’d like, regardless of who is watching or what people may think.
11. Daily affirmations are important. You need to be your biggest support system and remind yourself just how worthy you are.
12. Stop comparing. Be so confident in yourself that you do not belittle or judge others.
13. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you have to allow them back in your life or that you have to share your personal moments with them.
14. It’s okay to start over. Whether it’s a relationship or career, you are not starting from the bottom. You really are starting from experience.
15. You need to be able to point the finger at yourself and understand that you can be the toxic person in a situation.
16. Seeking help from a professional or even a friend is not weakness. Sometimes you can’t do things alone. Asking for help is necessary; it’s needed to move forward.
17. Never be ashamed by how deeply you feel.
18. Be consistent with how you treat those around you. Never leave them second guessing or unsure.
19. You cannot avoid heartbreak or disappointment. You can, however, choose to have an appropriate emotional response and move on.
20. There is no expiration date when reinventing yourself. It involves steps forward followed by steps backward.
21. The quality of your friendships is far greater than the quantity of your friendships.
22. When you’re stressed, take a step back, inhale, and laugh.
23. We grow through it all, the good and the bad. Trust your resilience, no matter how dark things may seem. Trust me, I know that the darkness can last days, weeks, and months. You are stronger than you think. Embrace it!
24. Allow yourself to say yes to new experiences, because this will open many new doors for you.
25. Your past does not define you. Do not let people use your past to invalidate your current mindset.
26. Change requires a new version of yourself. Contemplate, speculate, and rehearse who you are going to be, then be it.
27. It is our own perception and not the experience itself that causes us the most pain.
These are a few things that I have learned and try to reflect on as often as I can. Regardless of how difficult this year has been, I am proud of where I come from, and I’m truly excited for what’s to come. I know a year from now things will be different. Things will be better, as it all begins and ends in my mind. Only what I give power to has power over me.