24 Things I Have Learned in 24 Years

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This is a fairly cliche post that a lot of vloggers and bloggers do around their birthdays, but I’ve honestly been in a bit of a rut and am hoping this will snap me out of it.

I turned 24 last week, and wanted to share some things I’ve learned over the past two and a half decades.

1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about things you don’t know. My normal reaction is to immediately act like I know what someone is talking about, even when I don’t, so I don’t look stupid. Worry less about that and just ask the question – then you actually WILL know what they are talking about.

2. Don’t waste time on people who don’t have you as their first choice. This goes for family, boyfriends/girlfriends, and platonic friendships. There have been relationships in my life that I have given so much to, only to be left with nothing. Focus on those who give back to you as well, you deserve it.

3. Your political and religious beliefs may not align with what your parents/family/friends believe. This has always been a hard one for me to swallow. I am someone who likes to make others happy, hates confrontation, and I don’t agree with my family on basically anything anymore. Learning to let them speak their peace and letting go of any resentment I had towards their opinions was hugely helpful.

4. You truly don’t owe anyone any explanations. I have always felt like I had to explain every choice, belief, and thought I had and made. You literally don’t owe anyone that information, unless it is truly something you want to share. Do what you want, and as long as you aren’t hurting anyone, don’t worry about the judgments of others.

5. Work harder than those around you, but don’t kill yourself for a job that you hate. I have had many jobs that I have hated. While I did of course do my best for those jobs, I also made sure to try and seek out something I would enjoy more. Quitting my last job and entering the freelance writing and social media world changed my life and I couldn’t be happier with the choice. No matter what job you have, make sure you are giving it all you can. It’s not always going to be enjoyable, or even seem worth it, even if you love your job. However, it will make a huge difference in how your boss, coworkers, loved ones, and even you look at yourself.

6. Make times for the tasks you love. I read and write a lot, both for work and for myself. Taking time each day/week/month to yourself for your hobbies is extremely important and will help you make sure they don’t get left behind for good. We have the internet now, there are hundreds of apps that can even help you schedule time for your passions.

7. Travel. Try new foods. Expand your comfort zone. Even if you don’t have a lot of extra money, do small day trips to nearby parks/museums/events/etc. Try a new type of food/drink/activity every once in a while. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut, trying something new can get you out of old habits.

8. Focus less on how you look and more on how you feel. There is nothing wrong with caring how you look, but when it comes to nutrition and diets, you should eat what makes your body happy. Switching to a vegetarian diet with tons of fruits and veggies has made my body and skin feel so much better, and in the end it looks better as well.

9. Nothing will replace the written word. It is infinitely more exciting to receive a handwritten card or letter over an email or social media post. Get in the habit of writing cards/letters, your loved ones will thank you.

10. Learn from people. There is not a relationship or person on this earth you can’t learn something from. While the lesson may not always be pleasant, keep that in mind and try to exercise patience with other human beings.

11. Respect those working for you. I feel like this should be obvious, but from a previous life of working in customer service I know it’s not. Be kind and patient with service workers who are doing their best to help you with a problem. Customer service is the worst line of work I have ever been in, and a little kindness always goes a long way. These people are filling a need, and they should be treated with respect.

12. Don’t be afraid of your emotions. I’m an extremely sensitive, emotional person. Learning that it was OK to express emotions and tears/anger/joy was life-changing.

13. Know your personality. You know the Myers Briggs tests? They can give you such a wealth of knowledge about yourself and how you think and interact with the world. Take the test, it may make aspects of your life infinitely easier.

14. College isn’t the most important thing in the world. While getting a degree is a great thing to aspire to, it is not the end of the world if you don’t follow that path. College gets more expensive all the time, and it’s not a plausible option for everyone. Leaving school and entering the working world was the best option for me, and I don’t regret it for a single second.

15. Learn constantly. We have such an enormous wealth of information at our fingertips with the internet, books, classes, other people, etc. There is really no reason to not always be learning about something. Something as small as trying new recipes every week or reading about a period of history you love is a great way to keep your mind sharp and keep learning.

16. Don’t stick yourself into a tiny box. I always felt that I had to be one specific way when I was growing up. There is no reason you can’t like a multitude of different styles, types of music, hobbies, beliefs, etc. Sticking yourself in a label that doesn’t encompass all of your personality only hurts you.

17. Don’t force yourself into things you don’t want to do. Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try to expand your comfort zone and try new things, but if you know you don’t like something and you’re being pressured into it – don’t feel inclined to do it out of guilt or embarrassment.

18. Spend time with family. This of course does not apply to abusive or estranged family that you can’t/don’t want to be around. However, if you have healthy family that wants to spend time with you, don’t turn down every invitation. They’re getting older just like you are, and someday you may regret not saying yes to their requests.

19. Take the best care of yourself that you can. Over the past year or so, I have finally realized that no one is going to take care of myself the way that I can. Eat good foods, wear clothes that you love and are comfortable, battle unkind thoughts that pop into your mind, spend time with those that make you feel good and loved, and feed your brain and keep it active.

20. Don’t be afraid to take yourself on dates. This kind of goes hand in hand with number 19, take yourself out and enjoy your own company. I’m happily married, but still take time to take myself out shopping or on other outings, I buy myself flowers, and I find it really enjoyable.

21. Be generous. You don’t have to give away all your money or belongings, but be as generous as your mental and physical health allows with your time, your love, and with any extra things you have in your life that you don’t need. If you can, donate old books, clothes, food, or anything else that just sits around your house without use.

22. Exercise. It’s important that your body gets physical activity, but make sure it’s something you like to do anyway, otherwise you will never do it. If you like walking dogs, do that. If you prefer yoga, do that. No matter what your preference, if you choose an exercise that you enjoy anyway, it won’t seem like a chore.

23. Save money as you can. Rather than spending every cent you have, if you have the extra money, save some of it in a separate savings account. You never know what the future holds.

24. Lead by example. The world could always use the talents you have to offer, as well as more kindness and empathy. Be the person you would want as your best friend or mentor, and that will rub off on others.

These are absolutely not lessons I have perfected by any means, but they are ones that I have learned over the past twenty four years. I’d love to hear your thoughts, as well as the life lessons you have learned over the span of your life.

Thanks for reading, more content is coming soon, I promise.

Making Friends After 20

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I have a question for those of you reading this today, especially if you’re over the age of twenty – how do you make new friends?

Do you find it as difficult as I do? If you aren’t in college or a workplace that allows you to cultivate new friendships, how do you seek them out? Do you even attempt to?

After moving five hours away from the vast majority of the people I have known for two decades, I found myself in an interesting dilemma – besides my immediate family, I know no one here. I have no friends besides my spouse, and at almost 24, I haven’t a clue how to make them.

I also realize that because I work about 45-50 hours a week, entirely from home, my chances are even slimmer than someone who works in an office or outside of their own house.

Another uncomfortable truth I realized was that I haven’t made a new friend since I was in high school. Not that this is terribly important, but making a connection with someone new and having it last has not happened for me in 6-8 years. Talk about being rusty.

Through this blog and my YouTube channel, I have found some incredibly people online to interact with. People that have similar views and like to read as much as I do, and sometimes I doubted whether these people existed outside of a few family members. However, these are not people that live near me, that I can invite over or go out and have coffee with.

It’s not that I need dozens of friends. In fact, I’d love to just find one or two people nearby that I can meet up with and talk to once a week or so. I have never been someone to have a multitude of friends in my life, and that is honestly perfect for me. Being extremely introverted makes parties and large gatherings uncomfortable for me, and being an INFP makes me want to have more intimate, smaller interactions with humans.

There are apps now that allow to find groups and meetups around you to meet people that like the same things as you. I think I am going to try that out and see what I think. However, I still wanted to ask those of you with similar experiences, what do you do when seeking out new companionship? Any and all advice is welcome.

Thank you so much for reading, it means the world to me.

 

An Enormous, Heartfelt Thank You

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Every day I get on here I am simply amazed at the outpouring of people who dedicate time to reading, commenting, liking, and conversing with me on this blog and my new YouTube channel as well.

I have had some personal stuff come up over the last few weeks, making it very hard to convince myself to write and film as much as I have in the past. Mental health is something I have had to work tirelessly towards and it’s harder at certain times than others.

So I just wanted to say, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. The fact that even one person gets on here and reads anything that I have to say has been incredible, let alone the many, many readers I talk to throughout the week.

I am doing my best to stay on top of everything and to keep writing as I take care of myself as well as moving my family a few states north over the next month. If a post or video falls through the cracks, as they have over the past week, I am sorry. Thank you again, for reading.

Rewarding Yourself

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This week isn’t really going to be a lengthy post, I just wanted to give you guys a brief life update and some thoughts on being nice to yourself.

Over the past week I got a full time writing job.

In case you don’t know me personally, this is pretty much all I want out of life. I love to write, and getting paid for it is the dream.

Something I struggle with and strive to be better at is patting myself on the back when something good happens. It’s SO easy to punish myself when I mess up, or something goes wrong in my life, but not when I succeed.

Why is that so hard?

Part of me feels that I just don’t deserve it. Another part of me thinks that if something decent happens, it has to be dumb luck. While I know in my part that neither of those things are true, it’s a hard mental block to pass over. This year is about love, acceptance, and forgiveness of myself, so it’s something I am determined to overcome.

Any advice that any of you have is welcome for this.

I worked hard, I went through a lot to get this job, and I got it. Yay! As part of my resolution to love myself better this year, I am finding a way  to celebrate.

Not quite sure how yet, but positive recognition is important and it’s something I will be giving myself.

How do you reward yourself when something good happens? Is it difficult for you as well? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

A Letter to Girls That are Younger Than Me

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I recently wrote a letter to women that were older than me. It was a fun, almost therapeutic experience for me, and I wanted to continue the idea with a letter to girls that were younger than me.

To Girls and Woman That are Younger Than Me: 

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I know there are millions of things flying through your mind at any given moment, so I appreciate the time. 

To those of you under the age of ten, how are you feeling? Life is probably still relatively simple at this point. You wear sundresses, spend your afternoons playing outside with the frogs and the flowers, and eat whatever you want. Don’t forget these habits later in life. There will come a time where you will feel that you need to watch your eating habits and stop playing outside so much. 

Don’t mind those scuffed knees and rosy cheeks. They are signs of bliss. Spend as much time outdoors as you can. Try to show kindness in any form you can to those around you, and avoid those that don’t do the same. 

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You will probably be told by adults that a boy who is mean to you actually likes you. Avoid those boys like the plague. A young man who thinks that showing affection with abuse is not worth your time, even at your young age. 

Don’t be afraid to speak loudly, take up space, and to say no. You have those options. You will need this later in life as well. If something doesn’t feel right, question it and tell a trusted adult. You deserve to feel comfortable – just because you are a child doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be listened to when something is wrong.

To those of you between the ages of ten and twenty, I am sorry. This is most likely not the best time for you. You are dealing with everything from periods and pimples to dating and trying to figure out the rest of your life. 

Don’t forget the advice for the younger girls a few paragraphs ago. It applies to you too. Boys that are mean to get your attention are not worth a second of your time. Find a boy who looks at you like he’s just hit a home run or he’s seeing the ocean for the first time, not one who teases you and pulls your hair. 

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Your body is changing a lot, and constantly. Your weight will fluctuate, your skin and hair will probably be oily, and you’ll grow upright like a weed. I know it’s an impossible task, but try to love yourself through these changes. Keep eating all of your meals, make sure to get enough carbs/calories/vitamins. Wash your face often, use deodorant, and spend time exercising outside. The sunshine and activity will do wonders for your mental and physical health. Try and focus on how you feel, and not so much on how you look. 

You will probably start dating and come across some awful, awful people. Don’t settle for someone who doesn’t listen, appreciate, and respect you. No one has the right to make you feel inferior, or to make you do something you don’t want to do. There’s nothing wrong with waiting for something better. I wish I had. 

Drinking or drugs may seem really cool, but they aren’t. You will feel like awful the next day and get into trouble with your parents or the police. There will be plenty of mornings to wake up hungover as an adult, why do it now? But if you do, don’t be afraid to ask a trusted adult to pick you up and get you out of the situation. They may still be angry but they will appreciate that you didn’t get in the car and drive drunk. 

One more piece of advice that cannot be overstated- school is not overrated. Do your best. Whether you go to college or not, you will thank yourself later.

Most importantly, don’t grow up too fast. You are going to be an adult for the rest of your life, and you’ll only be the age that you are once. Try and savor things like your family members, free time, and not having to pay bills yet. This time will go by so fast, you’ll wonder why you were in such a hurry. 

Thank you for reading, it means so much to me! Happy Sunday.

Being Honest About Struggling

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I’m making this post because I couldn’t bring myself to type up and complete my Weekly Favorites yesterday. It may seem unimportant, but to me it seemed to be masking a bigger issue.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you may know that I suffer from some mental health issues. It’s a part of my life that I am working very hard on, and constantly. Different medicines, schedules, diets- these past few years have been full of trial and error.

It’s not a perfect system, but years of hard work have paid off. I get enough sunshine and exercise to make my days better. I take a combination of medicine that does it’s job. Some days are wonderful, and some are not.

The past month or so has been more bad than good. The combined stress of moving to a different state in a month, working 3 different jobs, keeping up with creative projects, etc. have really taken their toll. I have been gaining weight, losing sleep, and dealing with a variety of moods. Because of this, I just haven’t been able to read enough for this week’s favorites post.

My first inclination was to just ignore the lack of a post all together. It doesn’t really matter right? This blog isn’t being read by thousands of people and my book posts are probably not the most popular ones, and yet I want to share this with you all.

If I am going to talk openly about mental health, then I have to talk openly about all of it. I can’t romanticize it and I can’t hide any of it- even the ugly parts. Gaining weight rapidly because I overeat when I’m stressed or upset is shameful to me, something I would never want to openly admit, but it shouldn’t be. If we are going to make any progress with the awful stigmas that surround mental illness, we have to be open. We have to be honest and willing to share our thoughts and feelings.

So here it is. Working hard on your mental health and taking medications is not an instant cure or easy in the least. There are days where I can’t convince myself to go outside or to bathe or even to make breakfast. Sometimes I wake up with anxiety so intense I have to practice breathing exercises to calm down. Mental illness is hard, horrible, and can even seem disgusting.

I am okay with these issues. I remind myself that I am not giving up, I attempt to be kind to myself, and I go to bed knowing and hoping that things will get better. They always do.

I have to love myself. Not so others will, but because others do.

Forgive my personal detour in the middle of the week, I just wanted to be completely honest about what is going on. My weekly favorites will return next week, and hopefully a happier, easier time will as well.

A Letter to Women That are Older Than Me

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Hello,

In August I will officially consider myself to be out of the Early Twenties stage of my life, and into The Mid Twenties. For those of you who have a few more years’ of experience than myself, I have a few concerns- I ask these questions because I always imagined I would have more figured out when I hit this age.

Do you still wake up at night with an intense feeling of loneliness mixed with anxiety about what the rest of your life looks like? I’m not sure whether it’s my age, my mind, or my choices in life- but I can’t shake the feeling that I am alone and that I should be doing more.

When you wake up at night, is there ever regret?

Have you planned out the rest of your life in a productive way? Or is it all just a blur? The rest of my life reminds of leaning my head against the window in a car going 70 miles per hour.

Those of you who made big life decisions early, are they still what you want?

Do people still talk down to you, and are you still made to feel smaller than you are? I worry that will never end either.

Last but not least, do you find it any easier to love yourself?

Thank you,

Someone who is still afraid to grow up.

What are your biggest fears about growing older? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Spring Cleaning

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As the weather in Virginia gets more and more spring-like, I’m getting ready to overhaul my life physically, spiritually and emotionally. I don’t know a lot of people who actually participate in ‘Spring cleaning,’ but it’s one of my favorite parts of the year. Similar to New Year’s, it gives me a reason and motivation to completely start over.

During late February/early March, I like to clean my house. And I mean clean my house. Washing everything, bleaching everything, airing out the back rooms, washing dog beds, etc. I go through my computer/phone/tablet and clean out old files and pictures, clean out my fridge, and re-pot most of my indoor plants.

On top of physically cleaning everything, I like to make sure I myself am ‘clean.’ I schedule a doctor’s appointment to make sure everything is in check, including my mental health. I go through my skin care routine and make sure that I’m doing everything as efficiently as possible. My exercise schedule gets set up (I am guilty of abandoning the best intentions in this field.)

As for spiritually, I haven’t done much in that field in a few years. I don’t know that I want to. I enjoy going to religious ceremonies of all different kinds, but I’m not stuck to any particular one. I do enjoy meditating, and I will probably plan to do more of that this year.

What do you do to ‘spring clean?’ 

Coming Back Down

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My goal for this week was to do a regular blog post over the weekend, and then a favorites post today, however neither of those things are happening.

I spent the past five days at my parent’s house in Ohio. It was a much-needed break from reality and my everyday life, and I couldn’t make myself stick to any sort of habit.

I did do a lot of reading this week, between audio books and my normal reading- but wasn’t able to finish anything that I liked enough to do a favorites post. By next week I will have some things finished that will be worthy of blogging.

As for a regular blog post, I made it a point to barely touch my computer all weekend. The break was so good for my mental health, and I only wish it had lasted a little longer.

Instead of sticking to a writing schedule and strict work schedule, I spent time with my parents and siblings, played more with the dogs, read more, ate whatever I wanted, and slept in. Time was less important, and every second was well spent.

I drank without worrying about waking up the next morning, I didn’t time myself for anything, I slept until waking up naturally, and I ate what I wanted without thinking about it. It was surreal.

I think it would be helpful to make it a point to give myself this kind of break at least once a month. It’s so easy to get lost in your career/chores/schedule/etc. that you can completely forget who you are and why you’re doing what you’re doing.

So I am adding that to my New Year’s resolutions. At least once a month I will take a day unplugged from technology, eating and sleeping when I want, and taking care of myself.

What do you do to recharge mentally? Share it with me in the comments- I need some inspiration!

Let the Sunshine In

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Earlier this week I found myself burrowed under several dog hair-coated blankets, surrounded by the flickering of a few bakery-scented candles, typing furiously at my laptop with anger bubbling at the edge of my mind like a wave about to crash. My twelve hour work day had just begun a few hours prior, and I couldn’t focus or conjure up a single positive thought.

The managers of my rental house had been neglecting to fix our heat or our water, which were broken for over a week. Bronchitis had taken hold of my body for about three weeks, refusing to allow me any rest. I’d been working 60 hour weeks even through all the holidays, and I couldn’t catch a single break.

An hour later I forced myself out of my cramped, cozy workplace in order to take my dogs outside for a walk. My body physically recoiled from the 10-degree weather as we bustled out the door and onto the icy sidewalk but the sun hit my face and my anger melted away.

I often underestimate the wonders of Vitamin C. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a real thing, and often makes my regular mental health issues so much worse. As much as I dislike bright light, and would prefer an overcast, rainy afternoon any day, the sun truly does a lot of good for me.

Even if you don’t have time for a long walk or an extended period of time outside, going out for just a few minutes, or opening your curtains and blinds to let the light in can help. It’s really easy to get swallowed into the darkness that winter brings- make sure that you’re doing all you can to fight it.

For those of you really, really struggling, here are some easy things you can do in under five minutes to help.

-Open a window in the room you’re currently occupying. If it’s too cold for that, just open the curtains or blinds and let the sun in. 

-Sit on your porch for a few minutes. 

-If you have a mailbox that isn’t attached to your house, walk to and from it. 

-There’s a beautiful invention called a therapy light box that you can purchase. If you sit in front of it, you are provided with the same effect as sunshine. 

-Eat food with a high amount of Vitamin D or take Vitamin D supplements.

Stay safe and happy this winter season my friends.

 

How do you deal with S.A.D?