26 Things I’ve Learned In 26 Years

February 25th 2021

Taking the time to reflect on one of the most transformative years of my life~

Hi! Welcome to my annual birthday post, just 6 months late. This is the 5th installment of me recounting my lessons for the previous year on my birthday to offer myself a fresh clean slate to enter a new year of life and hopefully offer some wisdom or advice to someone looking to learn something along with me. This year has probably been one of the most transformative years I have had but I also feel like that every year, which is probably good, right? So, without further introduction, here are 26 things I learned in 26 years:

  1. Sometimes life takes you in a different direction than you had planned- After ending a relationship in June of last year, I was sort of at a loss as to where I should go from there. I had expected things in that previous relationship to go very differently than how things ended up, but I am glad they ended the way they did. I am currently in a place of stronger mental health, independence, happiness, and acceptance of myself and the way things are. I did not expect to be where I am, but my willingness to let go of the plans I made for myself has helped me gain friends, a new love, and a lot of great experiences.
  2. Hindsight is a gift, not a curse- I used to have this problem with hindsight where I felt like it was taunting me for my mistakes. But now I realize that hindsight is a gift because it allows me to recognize patterns and prevent history from repeating itself. Realizing how poorly I was treated in my previous relationship has caused me to catch problems in myself and in others more quickly and encourages me to work to improve them instead of turning a blind eye. Hindsight only taunts you if you repeat your mistakes instead of learning.
  3. Spontaneity can be really great- In this past year, I have had a lot of fun on a whim. Picking up and going on walks after work, trying out new restaurants or hikes on the weekend. Or just letting my boyfriend take the reins and bringing me to new places to explore. I usually suck at being spontaneous but I am starting to realize that sometimes the best experiences come to you unplanned.
  4. Learning about new cultures is really fun and rewarding- My boyfriend is a Chinese American, born and raised in China until he was 15, he has been in American for about 12 years now. However, I feel like there are so many fun and interesting things I can learn from him about his culture. I celebrated Lunar New Year with his family, have tried different types of foods I wouldn’t have normally tried on my own, and have asked questions in my quest to not only learn but help my boyfriend feel more connected to his culture.
  5. Therapy is an awesome investment- Last year I mentioned that there is nothing wrong about admitting you need help with your mental health and I really took that to the next level last year but finally getting myself a therapist. I spent years convincing myself that I wasn’t in “bad enough shape” to need a therapist but the difference in how I see the world and handle my problems is night and day. I wouldn’t say I am perfect or cured of my mental health issues, by any means, but therapy has done a lot to keep my head level and my expectations of myself monitored so I don’t drive myself nuts. I am such a strong advocate for therapy now and honestly think that everyone should give it a try, even for a little while.
  6. Home is not just a place but the people you spend your time with- I have learned that home isn’t defined by where I lay my head but instead, who surrounds me. That is why Long Island will always be a home to me because I am surrounded by love when I am there, but North Carolina is also my home because I have the love of family, my partner, and my new friends as well. That is a gift.
  7. Falling out of something for a bit doesn’t mean you failed or no longer identify with it- I have had this weird fear of what falling out of my yoga practice has meant for my love for yoga. I had this strange feeling that if I dive back in full force, I will look like a poser which is really dumb. I fell out of blogging but didn’t lose my passion for writing and I fell out of yoga but I am still just as passionate about the practice and would love to motivate myself to get back in. I didn’t fail, I just took a break for my mental health.
  8. Caring about politics is actually pretty important- I wrote about this in my new years post as well, but I want to reiterate that politics are important to pay attention to, even a little and even if you’re not old enough to vote. If you are too young to vote, know that you are inheriting the problems that exist now when it is your time to vote so be aware of what is going on and use your voice to influence others who are capable of making changes. The world needs our help, so even if you do not like politics and want to stay out of the conflict, at least allow yourself to be educated enough to make your own decisions when the time comes.
  9. Life happens in seasons- I have noticed that life happens in phases, sort of. I remember chunks of time where I would talk to specific friends daily or call people on the regular or have routines that last like a couple of months and really define that season of my life. Some seasons of life are defined by daily hot baths, YouTube tarot readings, and cooking a lot of minute rice. Other seasons revolved around brewery music bingo nights, binges of Netflix shows, and a lot of exploring new places. I look back on these seasons and am shocked at how seamlessly have shifted from one normal to another.
  10. COVID has changed how life is going to be from now on- I am really sick of the statements “when COVID is over” or “when things go back to normal” because I feel like neither statement understands the gravity of the past year of life. I have opted for “when the world calms down a little bit” because I feel like things will never go back to the way they used to be. I think masks are going to stick around for a while now but more in the way they have in Asian countries like China or Japan where they are worn as a courtesy to keep people safe and are not mandated. I also think things like concerts and going to amusement parks are really going to be different until we can either completely eradicate COVID or manage it to the level that it is no more severe or threatening than the flu.
  11. I really want to get into fashion and interior design- I look at stylish people and people with fabulous homes a lot in my day to day life thanks to my work with influencers and had this realization that I can be doing the same things as them if I dedicate the time and energy to doing so! I really want to branch out with how I dress and get better at styling my space over the next year and hopefully I will have something to show for it.
  12. Body image plays a large role in my mental health- My confidence and self-esteem are really contingent about how I personally feel about my body. I find that when I am dressed in a way that makes me feel body confident, I am way happier, outgoing, and more eager to make friends and experience new things than when I am feeling like a chonky blob. I think that, right now, I need to modify my mindset and workout a bit more in order to get where I want to be with my body positivity. I think that being in quarantine and unable to make it to a yoga studio has really done a lot to set me back physically, plus having COVID didn’t help much either, but I know I can get back.
  13. I need to get better with my finances- While I am making more money than I had expected to be at this point in my life, I think that it has gone to my head a bit sometimes. I spend a little recklessly, especially when it comes to food, and I need to cool it. One of my goals is to buy a house in the next couple of years so getting my finances managed now and saving what I earn will be huge in taking that step!
  14. The content I watch online has a big impact on my personal motivation- I have been watching a lot of YouTube during the pandemic while working from home and what I have been watching has really been changing around a shifting a ton with the passage of time. Recently I have been watching the vlog of Hannah Meloche as she moves to Hawaii for a bit and that has really struck a chord with me and made me feel a bit more motivated to find ways to explore new places for a while. I have also watch a lot of self-help and personal growth content and tarot that have made me want to get my life together. And watching Mia Maples house flipping videos has made me want to get into home interiors and design.
  15. In the absence of routine, creating your own new routines really helps- Since I don’t “go” to work anymore, I have had to create my own routines to give myself some sort of structure throughout the day anymore. For example, when I am in my own apartment, I wake up at 7:15, get to work for 7:30, eat breakfast around 9/9:30, take lunch between 12 and 1 and sign off at 4. Keeping a structured work day has helped me maintain a work/life balance even when I am living where I work. Also, doing things on specific days like grocery shopping or talking to friends has helped me feel like days still have meaning even with the pandemic.
  16. There are no deadlines for when you have to accomplish things in life- If you’re 24 and still work at your job from high school because you haven’t finished your degree yet, don’t worry you’re on your right path. If you’re 35 and aren’t married yet, you’re fine too. If you’re 23 and have 2 kids already, you are also okay. Everyone lives different lives and progresses at different rates. You don’t have to be done when people say you should be and you’re allowed to hit milestones early if you’re ready!
  17. As you get older, your real friends will have you back even if you don’t talk to them daily- One of my close friends for 22 years and I rarely speak. We will talk non-stop for a few days straight then dip off and just keep up streaks on Snapchat for a bit then do it again in a month or two. She is not any less of my friend because of it. Real friends are willing to communicate with you daily or every few weeks and it makes no difference in the quality of the relationship.
  18. Gas-lighting is very real and very toxic- Having experienced true gas-lighting for the first time in my life within the past year and a half, I can honestly say that it is so incredible toxic to your mental health. It is hard to see and sometimes you don’t want to admit that that is happening but being aware of how you’re being gas-lit is super vital in breaking the cycle and reclaiming your sanity and confidence.
  19. Before looking for the next thing, remember the days you dreamed of being where you are now- I am working on this now in therapy because I am someone who is really big into constant growth, but sometimes I forget to stop and smell the roses or enjoy the view from the top. I never seem to feel satisfied in where I am and I am always looking for the next thing to accomplish and that causes me some major stress.
  20. You don’t owe anyone an explanation about how you spend your free time- I work a ton and the amount I work is increasing hence why this post is almost 6 months late. Given this, time off is limited and when given the opportunity to take a few days (1 have taken 4 full days and 2 half days off this year), I feel like I need to explain myself to people which I am realizing now isn’t right. I work for my ability to take off (though it is difficult and infrequent) and no one else should feel they are entitled to that time but me.
  21. Big changes require big action- Whether you’re looking to change your career path or start a new hobby or lose weight or learn a new skill, change comes with action. I’ve learned that inaction is just as damaging, if not more, than failure because failure can be learned from while inaction teaches you nothing. If you’re trying to change, do it even if you fail along the way.
  22. You are responsible for supporting your friends but now for the actions they choose to take- I have a friend who asks me for advice a lot and I always give it to her. As her friend, I want to express what I feel would be the best course of action to effectively handle her situation. However, she often acts impulsively and goes against my advice and things occasionally go wrong. I have learned that, as a friend, it is great for me to offer support and advice but I cannot own the failures of my friends if they choose to go against my advice but I can support them continuously all the same.
  23. Company culture and a work-life balance are vital for preventing burnout- I am currently in a situation where company culture and a lack of balance between work and personal life have really caused me a lot of conflict. Between mental health issues and severe creative burnout, I am beginning to realize that personal satisfaction and passion are just as important, if not more, than a check.
  24. Sometimes closure comes when you no longer need it- After my break up last year I begged for closure in the beginning. I hoped one day I’d receive that call or message validating what I already knew about the important of the role I played in my relationship and that losing me was a real loss. Well that day came and I realized I didn’t care anymore. The closure felt nice but what felt nicer was knowing I was so far beyond it that it didn’t matter.
  25. Don’t carry the weight of people who aren’t willing to help themselves- I have learned this time and time again in the past year in different forms. However, the main point is that partners, friends, family, etc., who aren’t doing anything to propel their own lives forward are not your responsibility. You can love them and support them but their unwillingness to help themselves should not prevent you from moving forward nor should you take ownership of other people’s complicated journies.
  26. You’re never too old or too stuck to make a change- I think I want to get out of social media as a career within the next few years and that is okay and it will work out however it is meant to. I had it in my head that I made my bed there and was forced to lay in it, but now I realize that reinventing myself is possible. I just need direction.

FINALLY! I started this post the week of my Birthday on February 25th and now we are about to start July and I am finishing it. I am going to say that I was waiting for the last 7 lessons to marinate instead of saying that I almost died from stress these past six months.

But here’s to another year, more big changes, growth to come, exciting adventures to be had, and more to experience!

Jess~

Published by

jessofearth

Jess, 25, yogi, believer in things, book worm, shy, aspiring human of Earth. I like to spend my time on a yoga mat, typing away with my thoughts, or taking pictures of anything and everything. Stop on by for everything from self-care to book reviews to fashion posts and more!

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