23 Things I’ve Learned at 23

Updated: Oct 17

I had a wise man tell me that people will love you for who you are, not somebody else you’re trying to be. A sentence like that makes a girl wonder. Makes anyone wonder, really. Am I confident in who I am? Am I changing for the better? If we aren’t careful we allow the world to transform us into lesser versions of who we’re meant to be. And as someone in the midst of finding her true self again, I’m here to tell you it’s okay to be who you are. Here’s a post designed to help you understand change, overcome fear of the unknown and appreciate the quirks that make you uniquely you.

  1. Always rely on God. Above all else make sure God comes first. Being in constant communication and learning to trust His guidance will save you a lot of heartache. Trust me. In the mornings when you get up and at nights before you go to sleep. When you’re waiting at a stoplight, grabbing that morning coffee, anytime! Cast your doubts, frustrations and worries on God to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Lean on Him in both times of strength and weakness. Spend time in scripture, pray for others, give thanks for everything you have. Let your faith be what guides you and choose to influence the world with love.

  2. Treasure family. Some of us are more fortunate than others, but if you can, remember to cherish your family. These are the real ones who are going to help you when you really need it. I’m talking about monumental events like moving to a new city, starting a new job, getting married. They’ll be there to help you through it all, provide you with the best (most honest) advice, and love you regardless of the choices you make.

  3. Make time for friends. Once you graduate from college it gets harder to make the effort, but I promise you won’t regret making time for friends. When life happens there’s lots of things that can keep you from making awesome memories with them — a job, long-distance, trying to balance new friends & hobbies. No matter what, make the plans anyway.

  4. Welcome change. Sooner or later life’s going to throw you a curveball you weren't expecting. For the good or bad, and whether you want it to or not, it happens. It’s normal for alterations in our lives to pop up and change the way we view the world. It’s these sudden shifts and ambiguities that are bound to throw us out of our comfort zones. My advice to you? Take time to process change. From shifts in perspective, to different priorities, and saying hello to new and better things, we’re in for a life of uncertainty. Chances are you’re probably not going to stay friends with everyone you hang out with at this point in time. You’re probably not going to like the same things you do now in a few years. And you know what? That’s completely okay. Change can be such a beautiful thing, but only if you allow it to happen.

  5. Say goodbye to toxic parts of your life. If it isn’t helping you be a better person to yourself and others, let it go. Toxic friends? Bye. Negative boyfriend/girlfriend? No thanks. Bad habits? Quit. Not everybody is going to like what you do, and not everyone will approve of your choices. You may not get encouragement, especially when you say ‘no’, but greatness will come from doing what’s right. God will smile upon the choices you make by honoring Him, so trust yourself and be bold enough to stand apart from the crowd.

  6. Read more. I know you probably don’t want to, and you might even say you literally don’t have the time to, but you really should. Did you know reading strengthens your brain and can improve memory? Seriously, read something to stimulate your thoughts.

  7. Write more. Whether you’re the best or worst writer ever, try it out. From journaling to blogging, and if you’re feeling ambitious, writing a book! It’s a fantastic outlet for stress, and an even better way to spark creativity.

  8. Live boldly without regrets. This one is kind of basic I know, but it’s one of my favorites. If you don’t live the way you want now you’ll definitely be sorry later on. Take chances. It’s okay to live a little eccentric, stay on the edge and figure things out as you go. It’s fascinating how fear and looming anxiety from the unknown can keep us from reaching our full potential. But you see, life’s an adventure! You just have to be willing to step out and take a risk. Don’t allow your life’s vision and unrealistic expectations to keep you from tapping into new and exciting opportunities. Don’t overshadow something just because it isn’t in your so-called ‘plan’ for the future. It’s self-defeating to listen to thoughts of what could be, or how you could mess up. Instead, think it over and come to a conclusion that gets you ahead long-term. Set yourself free and have faith. It’s all about control, maintaining confidence and showing some self-discipline. Choose to be vibrant, not boring. Allow Jesus to live in you and dazzle the world with the unconventional.

  9. Learn to take constructive criticism. Who likes to learn they were wrong? Who wants to be told they’re something when they feel they’re not? Who enjoys having someone else’s opinion thrown in their face? If you said yes to any of these questions then good for you, but I don’t know anyone in their right mind who sincerely likes criticism no matter how constructive it is. Point is, whether you really do or don’t, it’s important to learn how to take it. Be mature about whatever it is someone thinks you need to work on. Take whatever value you can from the conversation, be proactive, and improve the aspect(s) about yourself if need be.

  10. Consider the source. And while you should be open to positive outside opinions, always keep in mind where the suggestions are coming from. Do you value the person? Do you respect them? Does this person have your best interests at heart? Are they someone worth taking advice from? If the answer is no, then take what they say for what it is and move on. But if the person the criticism is coming from and what they’re saying is worthwhile, then by all means listen.

  11. Love-hate relationships are real. It’s true. You really can dislike something as much as you like it all at the same time. Maybe you know the feeling already, and if you don’t, I’m hoping one day you will.

  12. Value your values. No matter what, stay true to who you are and what you believe in! Simple as that.

  13. Stay single for as long as you possibly can. If you’re young and single, I highly recommend staying that way. Being single is amazing in so many different ways. It’s the time you become your own best friend, learn to respect yourself, and appreciate all the quirks that make you YOU. This is the time to make special memories that will forever be known as your ‘single years’. You’re free to make whatever choices you want. You can go hit on that guy/girl if you want to, no strings attached. You’re clear to take off on that adventure you’ve been dying to go on without consulting anyone else. Long story short, with singleness comes excitement and spirit. One day you’ll adore those single years, so live them well while you still can.

  14. Embrace relationships. You didn’t think I was against being in a relationship did you? Being in a relationship and being single are two completely different things — each with their own sets of pros and cons. Sure, staying single is awesome (and you should totally enjoy the freedom for as long as you can), but being in a relationship can change your whole world. It’s a time of growth and development, the stage you realize it’s not all about you. It’s wonderful, really it is. New perspectives, new experiences, new feelings. It’s almost unexplainable to describe the emotions you have when you’re in love. I won’t go into detail, but what I’m trying to say is that it’s wonderful to let someone else into your life on such a personal level. Maybe you’re in a relationship right now, and if you are, congrats! But if you’re not yet, please let that special person into your life whenever they come along.

  15. Take risks in your career. There’s nothing wrong with not being content and aiming for the stars, so continue to make choices for yourself regardless of what anyone advises you against. People will hate on you not only for succeeding, but for wanting to succeed in the first place. Realize that you can’t control them or their thoughts. Obviously you have to be smart about it, have a plan, and an end objective. But don’t let all of that stop you from taking risks to get wherever you want to be. Debating whether to quit your current job? Definitely lay out all your options. Thinking of switching industries? Do it. Wanting to become an entrepreneur? I’m with you 1000%. Life’s too short to limit yourself and your creative potential. You’re a professional and you rock, so why not take the risks?

  16. Allow yourself ample time to grieve. This is one I wish I would have taken to heart. It’s impacted my life more than I’d like to admit, and I really hope you get something from this so you can learn to handle things better than I ever could. It is so so so important to grieve. I mean it. Don’t bottle your feelings up inside and wait for them to explode. Talk it out, journal if need be, or go for a hike. Feel like crying? CRY. And once you’re done crying it out, cry again. It’s good to let the tears roll every once in a while — yeah guys included. You have to learn to press the restart button, but grieving comes first. So, whatever it is that makes you feel okay, make sure you do it.

  17. Travel. Do it young and do it often. Traveling is an invaluable aspect of life that everyone should get to experience. It’s not something someone else can explain for you, it’s a part of life you need to live on your own.

  18. Don’t say, just do. A lot of us like to talk a big game, but words mean nothing without action. If you say you’re going to do something then follow through. And better yet, skip the chatter and just do it — no words necessary.

  19. Love yourself first. One of the most important aspects I’ve learned over the past year is to love myself first. Do exactly what you want and make yourself a priority. And while it’s equally important to love others and to be giving, it’s okay to be selfish sometimes. Give yourself a mask night if you’re feeling it, go on that trip you deserve, take a shopping day just because. Make choices in your best interests and don’t apologize for them. And in addition to staying true to who you are, make time for you and you alone. Be at peace, relax, and enjoy the beautiful life you’ve been given.

  20. Stay humble. No need for ego here; try to always remain humble. Even if you’ve reached a great point in life and have become super successful, remember where you came from. This means you can’t be afraid to ask for help. If you don’t know something then ask. Recognize you aren’t entitled to anything or anyone, and you deserve only what you’ve worked to achieve. Life isn’t yours to control and it doesn’t always play out how you want it to. Be open to learning from others and realize that it’s time to grow up. You’re not perfect. No matter how badly you want to be, or how seriously you think you are, you’re not. So be thankful, have grace, and show humility.

  21. Don’t Play the Game. Dating is a mind game of constant indecisiveness and effort. Maybe you like wasting time, but if you’re anything like me, then you most certainly do not. In the dating scene make sure you're independent in your decision making and firm in your values. Be open and honest with whomever you’re interested in, but don’t plan your life around them until things get serious. Trust me, if they’re serious they’ll make it happen. You shouldn’t be waiting around for someone that’s just looking to boost their own self-esteem.

  22. Be patient. Whether it’s waiting for important results to come through, waiting for your order, or waiting for the light to change, practice patience in everything you do. This skill is respectable, but also essential in everyday life. Taking time to process can help you get your thoughts in order and allow for better self-control.

  23. It’s ALL about priorities. People will do whatever they want to do. Recognize where you’re at in someone else’s priority list, but also make sure you know where they stand in yours. This means you have to make choices with yourself in mind. Easier said than done, but I promise once you learn to recognize something for what it truly is your life becomes that much easier.

  24. Not everyone likes you. And it’s OKAY. Don’t worry about if people like you, or if you’re good enough for somebody else. Sometimes you need to grow up, toughen up, and realize you know exactly who you are. It’s not something up for debate, and it’s not something anyone else can take from you. Don’t try to be someone else and remember that imitation is mediocre.

Own who you want to be, not who others think you should be. Use your talents — don’t waste them. Be proud to be original. Enjoy life to its fullest and accept the beautiful imperfections that come with being you.

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