My new friend (and super-talented photographer), Victoria, took these photos on a cozy Saturday. I’ll always look at them and remember this time– being 26. To recognize turning a year older, I made an effort to write 26 things I’ve learned so far in my life.
1- You can’t please everyone. // If you spend too much time “filtering” or “editing” your life to win someone’s approval, you’re losing part of yourself.
2- Cooking doesn’t have to be terrible. // To me, cooking is a chore — but, after discovering my Crock Pot (and then re-discovering it, after a brief hiatus when Jack Pearson died), I’m making progress.
3- Clean out your drawers. // There is nothing sweeter than deciding you no longer need that birthday card from 2012, or that ticket from a movie you saw with a boy who ghosted you afterward.
4- Rejection is necessary. // I’ve been turned down, let down, and any other “down” you can think of, but I wouldn’t change it, because my skin is thicker and my heart is tougher.
5- Candles make any room better. // My personal favorite is the Volcano candle from Anthropologie, but I’m pretty sure that’s true of any millennial woman.
6- Your opinion of people can change. // Just because you once viewed someone as being irreplaceable in your life, doesn’t mean you’re stuck with that. Outgrowing someone means you’ve grown.
7- Print your photos. // I’m thankful I was raised by a mother who had a camera surgically-attached to her hand. Print out your photos! Your future memories will thank you for it.
8- Green thumbs are the best color. // I like the fun (struggle) of keeping my plants alive. Most of them have thrived, but there have been some casualties.
9- Water is underrated. // I’m getting to the point where I prefer water over any other drink. I think the aforementioned plants would agree.
10- Send more snail mail. // I’m a letter-writer and there’s something so fun about opening your mail box, instead of opening a text.
11- Life isn’t a race. // There is no “correct” age to get married, to buy a house, to have kids, or to do none of those things. Questions like, “Oh, you’re turning 30? HOW ARE YOUR EGGS?” are a bit aggressive.
12- Faith is a journey. // I am a Christian and that has meant different things to me at different stages in life. I’m figuring out what it means to me now.
13- Mushrooms are terrible. // They just are. I don’t care how many people try to convince me.
14- Risks are a good thing. // I will never regret putting myself out there, even if it doesn’t work out.
15- Leave your eyebrows alone. // I wish I could tell my younger self to stop plucking those things.
16- Don’t look at your phone. // I make an effort to leave my phone out of sight when I’m spending time with someone. I want to remember what my friend was feeling, not what a stranger was posting.
17- Bangs are a love-hate style. // I’ve been told I “pull off” bangs well, but what people don’t see is me screaming at my hair to JUST STAY STILL.
18- It’s okay to say no. // Ever go out on a Friday night and about five minutes in, you’re already wishing you were on the couch for a Netflix marathon?
19- Some people don’t deserve you. // I don’t think that’s arrogant or selfish to say. If someone doesn’t see your worth, set ’em loose.
20- Know your worth. // With that being said, don’t settle for less than you deserve… even if that means being alone for a while.
21- Shake it off. // I’ve been caught in the background of plenty of wedding videos, flailing my arms around like an idiot. Dance anyway.
22- Don’t wish your time away. // I’ve looked past important moments because I’ve been waiting for the “next thing.” My 20’s have shown me that every single experience shapes you!
23- Serendipity is my favorite word. // Also, a really cute movie. I love what it means — a happy little accident.
24- Self-love doesn’t happen overnight. // I know it’s cliché, but loving your body really is hard. I struggle with it every day. Everyone has insecurities.
25- We don’t deserve dogs. // Sometimes I’m overly-emotional about how much I love them, and I go on a video-watching spree, and then I’m crying on the floor while a puppy learns how to fold socks.
26- “We’ll all float on, alright.” // Learn what matters and what doesn’t. I try to ask myself, “Will this matter in a year?” If the answer is no, then I allow myself some time to worry, stress, and over-analyze (all the things that come naturally to me), and then I let it go.