10 things I learned at 26

Every time I’m at a red light, I tend to stare off into space for a hot second until the light changes color. I was running errands the other day and as I approached an intersection, the light turned red. I pushed down on the brakes, adjusted the heater and turned up the volume on the stereo. And then I looked up. It’s been pretty cold out lately with ominous fog blanketing the January sky. While that day’s weather wasn’t any different, when I looked up, the sun had made a cameo and patches of clouds moved across the cerulean backdrop. I’m talking “Toy Story” clouds — those too-perfect-to-be-true, fluffy kind of clouds. They were the kind of clouds that made you feel like you could reach up to and grab a piece like cotton candy.

As we get older, I think it’s common for us to go through each day — our routines, to-do lists, responsibilities — without really living. Without really looking up. We get so “busy” with the every day and things we “need” to accomplish that we often forget to slow down. To look around. To look up at the clouds. To live. I’m by no means an expert on life (trust me), but I think we can agree that taking the time to appreciate the little things around us is good for the soul.

Tomorrow, Jan. 27, is my golden birthday so I thought I’d share some things I learned in my 26th year here on Earth. Without further adieu, here are 10 things I’m taking away from the past 365 days:

1. take time to appreciate the little things

I touched on this earlier, but it’s worth repeating. There are so many things to be thankful for each and every day and if we take the time to bask in all their glory, I guarantee our outlook on life and overall happiness will soar. It’s easy to take the things we’re used to having in our lives (ahem, the laptop I’m typing on, the glasses I’m seeing through, the heater running in this cold weather) for granted. So let’s acknowledge everything surrounding us — big or small — and give thanks for their place in our lives.

 
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2. invest in people who invest in you

AMEN. This one hit me in the gut the past couple years. As a 6w5, I’m loyal to a fault, so this is one lesson I keep learning year after year. I often hang onto friendships more than I probably should, but know this: Friends are those who stick by you in good times AND bad. They support all of your endeavors. They take the time to check in with you and ask YOU how you’re doing. They invest in you.

3. take care of yourself

Maybe you workout every day. Maybe you’re vegan or vegetarian. But outside of food and exercise, there are other areas where we can improve our health. For starters, h-two-o! I tend to go in spurts when I drink water — sometimes I’m a fish, other days I realize I’ve only had a few cups of coffee. Whoops. Drinking water does wonders for you skin and overall health! Also, growing up, I always thought senior citizens were the only ones to take vitamins and supplements. FALSE. I did a lot more research on natural supplements and products than I ever have this past year. Thirdly, did you know how many toxins we’re exposed to before we even step out the door for the day!? I’m talking hair products, candles, cleaning products, shampoo, toothpaste, phew. Be mindful of the products you’re using and surrounding yourself with. Download the Think Dirty or EWG app and start scanning your everyday products. So many products I used to use were filled with chemicals! Ew. (P.S. follow my non-toxic/wellness journey over here). Taking care of our health and bodies should be a top priority!

 
 

4. get the warranty

Ok, getting a little more surface-level here, but I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been thankful I purchased a warranty on electronics. I’ve saved a gajillion dollars (not a dollar fewer) because of warranties! Maybe you have a different perspective on this one, but man oh man has it saved my behind (and wallet).

5. you get what you put in

“Nothing worth having comes easy.” I hate this saying, haha, but it’s true! Especially when it comes to your schooling and career. I started this little online presence and my essential oil/wellness business as a 26 year old. I’ve never had more fun doing “work,” in my life, but I also feel like I’ve never worked harder. If you want something, you have to work for it!

6. adulting is no joke

El oh el but I’m not kidding. I still don’t feel like an adult, but the closer I inch to 30, the more I think I’m kidding myself, haha. I don’t think “adulting” really hit me until my mid-20s. Our parents actually pay rent, insurance, electricity, car registration, taxes, oil changes?! They don’t just pay themselves!? I definitely had bills growing up and through my twenties, but #life happens and I think you become more and more aware of everything the older you get. I have two younger brothers and I’m always telling them to enjoy their high school and college years because it goes by too quickly. Life is hard. And beautiful. But also, hard.

 
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7. “comparison is the thief of joy”

I read this quote on Pinterest several months ago and it’s stuck with me ever since. Comparing ourselves to others has become even easier thanks to social media, but that doesn’t mean we should succumb to it. We have different journeys than our friends. Just because they got a promotion, got engaged, had a baby … it doesn’t mean those things won’t happen for us — it’s just not our time yet. Comparing our lives to someone else’s can get toxic and make us feel unappreciative for everything in our own life. Unplug, my friends. Unplug. Delete that app for a while. And find the joy in YOUR everyday!

8. everything doesn’t have to be perfect in order to be happy

This is probably the biggest lesson I learned this year. After graduating college, I moved to Southern California to what I considered a dream job in a dream city. It was not and it was not. I lived and worked there for 3 years and those 3 years were the hardest of my life. On paper, I was doing well. I had a job, I lived a city anyone would dream of living in … but I was so incredibly unhappy. While part of it might have been homesickness, most of it was just emptiness. Now that I’ve been back home and everything is certainly not perfect or crystal clear, I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time. And somehow, my heart isn’t so empty. It’s happy. Even among the mess.

9. you’re never too old to need your mommy

I AM A MAMA’S GIRL. Ok, now that that’s out of the way, I am here to tell you that moms are the best. Maybe I’m biased because I have the best mom on the planet who doubles as my best friend (sorry, everyone), but let me tell you — you will never be too old to go to your mom when you need her. You’ll always need your mommy. Even when you’re 50+ years old. (I think. I haven’t gotten that old yet).

10. breathe

Life is hard enough as it is, so take the time to breathe every now and then. (Technically 24/7 in order to live, but you feel me). Relax, read a book, get a massage, take a nap, binge watch on Netflix, take a bath, eat an entire pizza. Life is hard and rough and messy and complicated, but you sweet friends, are stronger. So just breathe.