Leaving 23: Lessons from My 23 Years
Tomorrow, I’ll turn 24. I’ll officially be in my “mid-20s” (does that mean I’m allowed to have a quarter-life crisis?). I’ve learned so much in my first 23 years of life and I’ve found myself reflecting a lot lately on lessons that have stuck with me. I don’t typically write “reflective” blog posts, but one of my goals for the next year in my life is to try new things! Without further ado, here are some of the life lessons that have stayed with me throughout my 23 years.
Treat other’s the way you want to be treated
My Dad absolutely stressed the “Golden Rule” when I was growing up. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the “Golden Rule”, it basically means treating others the same way you want to be treated. When Dad would drop me off at school in the mornings, he’d always remind me to do something kind for someone else and give a “Golden Rule Report” at family dinner that night. By practicing the Golden Rule, and (often begrudgingly) giving dad my “Golden Rule Reports”, I learned the importance of kindness. You never know how a small act of kindness can change a person’s day and being kind doesn’t cost you a thing. By incorporating a little bit of kindness towards others into my days, I’ve found that it makes me generally have a more positive outlook.
Don’t do things that make you uncomfortable
Being kind doesn’t mean you have to do everything anyone else requests of you. If you don’t want to do something – don’t do it. If your friends want to go out and you feel like staying in, stay in. Don’t “ghost” on them, though; a simple “I love y’all but I’m really not up for doing anything today” text can go a long way. If someone tries to talk you into doing something that you don’t want to do, tell them that you don’t want to do it; maybe even suggest an alternate activity to do. If they try to push you anyways, consider removing yourself from future situations where they’re around, even if that means losing them as a friend. Never stop speaking up for yourself.
Find your tribe
My friends are some of the best things about my life. While I have a lot of people I consider friends, I only have a few people who truly get me. These are the people I consider my “besties”, my “ride or dies”, and my “tribe”. These the friends that I know I can depend on no matter what. They are the people who love me unconditionally. They’re my support system. Once you’ve established a solid support system with friendships, the world seems like a better place to live in.
Sometimes, you have to make your own opportunities
This is something that took me 23 years to figure out. When I was in high school and even parts of college, I was told that if I worked hard, opportunities for success would come to me. It wasn’t until the end of undergrad and throughout grad school that I learned that you sometimes have to make opportunities happen for yourself. This means reaching out to companies/people and learning to deal with tons of rejection. Through reaching out, I was hoping to further my own goals and ended up with some amazing opportunities. The opportunities that I have made happen on my own have been some of the best things to happen to me, both professionally and personally!
Dogs really are our best friends
I had always heard that dogs are man’s best friend, but shrugged the idea off, thinking humans would always win out when it comes to friendship. Then, I got my little fluffball, Indiana Jones. Within a week of Indy coming home, I threw aside any “oh humans are better” notions and came to terms with the fact that my little pup is my best friend. Indy has made my life better in so many ways. He comforts me when I’m beyond stressed, lays around with me when I’m sick, and makes me happy by always being the carefree little pup that he is. Having Indy in my life has firmly convinced me that everyone needs a dog.
Do what makes you happy
I used to be terrible about doing what I thought was expected of me, rather than doing what I actually wanted to do. That all changed a few years ago when I decided to start putting my happiness first. This meant throwing out a “practical” career path and going to grad school for archaeology. Grad school wasn’t as fulfilling as I had hoped, so I started rediscovering my love of traveling and trying to make it more of a priority. It sounds like a simple plan in writing, but was harder to execute in reality. I had to find a way to balance school and traveling and learn how to be happy by myself. After I changing my priorities around, I became so much happier and haven’t looked back since.
23 was a year full of transitions for me and I am beyond excited to see what 24 has in store. What have you learned over the years that’s stuck out to you? It can be something you’ve kept in your thoughts for years or something you discovered recently. Let me know in the comments below!