This time last year, I was preparing for my big move to South Florida. I signed a lease in three days, packed up two suitcases, and booked a one way ticket to PBI. Looking back, I can physically feel what I felt at that moment and it overwhelms and excites me every time I think about it. If I could bottle that feeling, I would. In some ways it feels surreal to say I’ve been a Floridian for a full year, and in other ways, it feels like the most natural part of me, like it’s where I’ve been and belong forever.
Not to mention, November is a month that has always been significant to me for many reasons. It’s my birthday month (November 15th) and in true Scorpio fashion, it’s a month that reminds me of who I am and makes me feel deeply on every level – bringing to light truth, gratitude, and confidence. So it’s no coincidence that I picked up my keys last year on my birthday and the first holiday I celebrated in South Florida was none other than the holiday of gratitude: Thanksgiving.
Our 20’s are years that are celebrated, talked about, and glorified – and for good reason – but our 20’s are also the years that shape our future, require a lot of focus and hard work, and we experience bittersweet moments and heartbreak in terms of relationships and friendships, amongst other things. At almost 24 years young, I’ve learned a lot this year.. about myself, life, relationships, work, and I thought what a perfect way to close this year, and welcome the next one with where I’m at and what I’ve learned so far.
23 Things I Learned at 23
Above all else, we can always be reminded of kindness and act kinder in our day to day lives. It really is true that you never know what someone is going through and you never know how meaningful just being kind to someone could be. Not everyone is going to like you, and you’re not going to like everyone either, but being kind and respectful to everyone is incredibly important and needed.
2. We are more alike than we think
Regardless of status, age, politics, culture, opinions, etc. we really are more similar than we realize. The way I’ve come to make sense of it all is that everyone’s perspective on life is due to what is most critical and meaningful to them, but if you strip it all away, we are all human beings that are going through and figuring out life at the same time as one another. At the end of the day, we all want and need the same things and there is always something to connect us.
3. True colors (Cue Cyndi Lauper)
The truth always comes out. Have faith in speaking and siding with the truth, it will never let you down.
4. Everyone needs therapy.
There’s a popular quote in yoga that teaches, “When you don’t want to practice is when you need to.” That’s how I look at therapy too. The more you bash it, reject it, preach against it, or are even turned off by it, is when you should go. Every single person has demons and are broken in ways. And even if you are doing well, it’s been a crazy few years, and it’s more than ok to go anyways and have a mental health check in.
5. Live in the moment and be prepared to pivot
As a natural planner and a very organized person, I’ve had a bit of a wakeup call in the past year. It’s not so easy to plan anymore and although at first that gave me A LOT of anxiety, it has now allowed me to be more present and live day by day. It’s also given me some of the wisdom to be able to pivot if I need to – the truth is, life is just never going to go the way we plan. I find myself to be more free and happy when I focus just on one moment and day at a time.. and save the planning for the important stuff.
6. Being alone and being lonely are two different things
Two things are true: you can be alone and not be lonely, and on the contrary, you can be in a crowd of people and feel lonely. I’ve realized that being alone and feeling lonely are two different things. For everyone this can mean different things. For example, this year, I’ve experienced living with a boyfriend for the first time and although I’ve become much more dependent on him than I expected, I still value my “me time” and alone time, as does he. We are able to use that time productively and recognize that loneliness has nothing to do with being alone or not.
7. Do things for YOU
Everyone should do things for themselves that make them feel good. I’m someone who is a natural caretaker and sometimes I feel like I’m doing a lot for others, and I’ve had to reprioritize myself in the past few months. Doing things for ourselves resets us and balances our lives. For me, it can mean saying no to going out and doing a face mask and my nails, or it can mean reading by the pool or going to bed early. No matter how big or small, it’s incredibly important to do kind things for yourself.
8. “Cleanliness is close to Godliness”
Good hygiene and a clean home. Super simple, super important.
9. Routine is incredibly important
Ever since starting work a year ago, I recognize how crucial a good and healthy routine is. Whether it’s reaching a solid eight hours of sleep every night or eating well and being active consistently, implementing a healthy routine in your life will do nothing but bring benefits.
10. Vitamin D and a beach drive will fix most things
Everyone has things that stresses them out, and everyone has things that relieve that stress. For me, as silly as it sounds, some of the simplest things that make me feel better are getting some sun, going for a drive with some good music, and going to Trader Joe’s or Michael’s. Figure out what those simple, joyous things are for you and it’ll save you a lot of tears and stress.
11. I-95 does get easier as time goes by
As someone with a 40 minute commute (one way), I-95 scared me when I moved down to Florida. I was used to country roads – not whatever this six-lane highway is. But sure enough, one year in, I’ve pretty much mastered 95 AND gotten to know a lot of the South Florida area which always helps when you move somewhere new.
12. Don’t live for the weekend
This is HUGE. I constantly hear about people wishing for Friday or the weekend and honestly, it kinda bothers me. Not that it’s wrong – I do too in plenty of ways, BUT this past year taught me to do things you love every day. Don’t wait for just two days of the week to do things you like. Try to incorporate them every day throughout the week and you’ll find yourself A LOT happier.
13. Email lingo
I admit it – I’m the overly nice emailer who always includes smiley faces and exclamation points, and ever since starting a big girl job, I’ve had to take it down a notch.
Believe it or not, I grew up incredibly shy, in a really strict household, and I have never been the type that stands up for myself or picks a fight. This year, I’ve really learned the importance of setting boundaries with people and things that do not serve me or bring me peace and happiness. It doesn’t mean you’re “cancelling” someone or even don’t love someone, it just means you’re protecting yourself and teaching people how you want and expect to be treated.
15. Don’t feel guilty for doing well and being happy
Some of the best, but hardest advice to swallow that I received in the past year is to soak in every happy moment and revel in my current state of life. It was the best advice because it made me feel grateful that I am seen and heard for my successes and happiness. However, it can be pretty hard to be selfish since it’s been a difficult few years for the world, but if you are happy and doing well, you should not feel guilty about that. If anything, we could use more happiness and light right now!
16. You can’t change people
I’ve always been someone who genuinely wishes I could change the world and people for the better, offering endless advice and help to whoever would listen. Until I really understood you can never change people, you can only inspire. By changing and bettering yourself, you will inspire people along the way to do the same.
17. Good coworkers are just as important as good friends
Work is somewhere we spend at least 30-40 hours a week at and it’s so important to have even one positive relationship with a coworker that makes work fun and enjoyable. Luckily, I’ve been blessed with the best (Hi K + B). 🙂
18. The importance of peace
Peace is just as important as happiness – if not more so. As we grow older, it isn’t just happiness we should all strive for, it’s peace. Oftentimes, happiness is fleeting and can only last for certain moments of the day. Peace of mind and peace in our hearts is forever.
19. Moisturize moisturize moisturize
Not just your face.. but your neck, chest, hands, feet.. you get the point.
20. Self care is not a waste of time
Period. Refer to #7 if you need to.
I’m a naturally forgiving person, but along with #14 of setting boundaries, I’ve had to stand up for myself and realize that simply put, not everything is forgivable. You don’t have to forgive everyone\everything, but you should accept them\the situation in order to move forward and have peace.
22. Ask for help and support when you need it
There’s no shame in having questions, and needing help and support. I believe that most people are good and willing to help.