Birthday Reflections: 26 Lessons I’ve Learned


Today is my 26th birthday, so the first quarter of my life is officially over. I was talking about getting older with my therapist the other day, and she said, “you’ve lived a lot of life in these first 25 years.” She’s right.

I routinely think about how much I’ve grown and changed since I was younger. I’m sure that I’ll look back on this in a few years (or even less) and think that the version of myself that wrote this is young and naive and has a lot to learn. And those things will be true. But for now, this is as good as it gets.

  1. No one knows what they’re doing. It’s true. Not your parents, not your role models, not your favorite celebrities. We’re all just building the plane as we fly it.
  2. Start now. Start the blog, book the trip, quit your job. You’re never going to feel ready. Just do it.
  3. Ask for help. Seriously.  Don’t be a martyr—you don’t have to suffer in silence.
  4. You never really “get over” things. I hate when people talk about “getting over” things. If something profoundly affected you, you never really get over it. You get through it—and life goes on—but it stays with you and changes you, sometimes in ways you don’t expect. That’s okay.
  5. When someone shows you who they are, believe them. I had to learn this the hard way, and then I had to learn it the hard way a few more times, just to be sure.
  6. There is no substitute for hard work. Stop looking for a shortcut.
  7. If you love someone, tell them. Whether it’s your parents, your partner or your friends, they won’t be here forever. Tell people you love them while you have the chance.
  8. Skincare first, makeup second. It’s better to deal with the pimples than to be really good at hiding them. I mean this both literally and figuratively.
  9. Social media isn’t real. It’s all bullshit and we should pay less attention to it.
  10. Stop doing things you hate. It’s harder than it sounds but so, so worth it. It’s okay to say no, I promise. (Admittedly, I need to take my own advice.)
  11. Prioritize platonic love. As a culture, we don’t talk about platonic love but, realistically, those relationships are likely going to be the longest lasting. Make time for your friends.
  12. Invest in yourself. Go back to school, go to therapy, hire a personal trainer. It’s the best money you’ll ever spend.
  13. Don’t sweat the small stuff. And guess what, most of it is small stuff.
  14. Show up for the people in your life. It’s really easy to be there for people when everything’s going great. But life is messy and bad things happen, even to the best people. Showing up requires intentionality and a willingness to be vulnerable. It can feel uncomfortable and awkward, but do it anyway.
  15. Stop thinking that love is soft. I’m not sure why young people are so cynical about love and romance, but it’s beautiful. I say this as someone who had their heart broken in 2019 and still believes this to be true.
  16. Apologize. If you act like an asshole, own up to it.
  17. Always maintain a healthy amount of skepticism. Someone once told me that nothing in life is black or white—everything is a shade of gray. It’s true.
  18. Learn to enjoy your own company. The longest relationship you’re ever going to have is the one you have with yourself, so you might as well get comfortable with it.
  19. Read more. Like, real books. Not captions or Tweets.
  20. Spend quality time with your family. Most of us take our families for granted—whether they’re our blood families or chosen families. Either way, they’re probably slightly dysfunctional and drive you crazy, but appreciate them while you can.
  21. Listen to understand, not to respond. Pay attention to the person you’re talking to. There are countless books, seminars and podcasts to help you communicate better, but few focus on the importance of being a good listener. Start there.
  22. Always be curious. There’s something so innocent and wholesome about a child’s sense of curiosity and wonder. As we get older, it’s easy to become jaded and cynical—but try to never lose your sense of curiosity. There’s always something more to learn.
  23. Find something to laugh about every day. Nothing is really ever that serious.
  24. Feel your feelings. It sounds so simple, but it isn’t. A lot of us—myself included—avoid our feelings because we’d rather pretend they don’t exist than deal with things that are painful. 
  25. Sometimes you have to move on without closure. I can’t tell you how much I hate this. I know this is something that we learn with age and life experience, but reader, this is one life lesson that I could do without because it fucking sucks.
  26. Life isn’t fair, but it is still good. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, but it is.



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