24 Lessons I Learned In 24 Years

Hey y’all!

Soooooo, today I decided to take a little break from our regularly scheduled Thursday posts, as after all — today is a VERY special day. It’s my 24th birthday!

This year, 2020’s craziness aside — my birthday’s feeling a little extra special. It’s finally my champagne birthday! After 24 whole years, I’m finally the age of the day my birthday falls on. So even though this whole year has been a little weird and different, I’m still pretty excited about what 24 will have to offer.

All things being equal, it’s been a great birthday so far as well. Not only did my best friend book an Air BnB for a small group of my friends to get dressed up at, stay overnight, have some drinks and watch Spirited Away — but my parents drove out here to be able to celebrate my birthday with me! As in, yes, they really drove all the way out from Toronto to Vancouver. So, all in all, even with COVID, 2020 and the general state of the world, I’m actually having a pretty great time.

So, now that I’m a year older (and apparently a year wiser), I wanted to share with you a little wisdom I’ve learned from my experiences in life that will hopefully resonate with you all. I did learn all these the hard way, so hopefully by sharing them I can help at least one of you through a tricky situation in life a little easier than I made it through myself.

  1. It’s great to have a plan, but inevitably things will go wrong — but if you embrace it, your new path may be better than anything you had ever planned out. Nothing in life works out — no matter how much you prepare and plot and try. If my life had worked out exactly as I had planned after high school, it would be completely different now — my big dreams were to move to Los Angeles, attend USC and become a filmmaker. But if that had worked out, I never would have met the friends I did, joined my sorority, or discovered how much I love Vancouver. Nothing worked out the way I thought it would, but honestly?I believe it worked out for the best.
  2. Hard work is important, but so is taking a break. Everyone needs a work/life balance, and everyone needs some time to themselves. You may be functioning just fine now throwing yourself 100% into your work, but it can’t be maintained forever. One day, whether it’s tomorrow or 20 years from now, you’ll burn out and crash. Life is a marathon, not a race — pace yourself.
  3. Show your loved ones how important they are to you as often as you can. Life is unpredictable. You never know when it may be the last time. Telling people you love and care for them is great, but putting in time and effort to show them how much you care goes a much longer way.
  4. Sometimes hobbies are just hobbies. They say if you love something, do it for work and you’ll never work a day in your life. I’ve learned with time, however, that what is more important is rather to choose a JOB you love and let the things you love exist in your life without turning them into work. There are many hobbies in my life that I could perhaps turn into a job if I was so inclined — such as drawing, visual art, or makeup — but having to complete them for work day in and day out would eventually suck the joy out of them for me. I’d much rather choose a job that I love, and maintain my hobbies as just that and return to them AFTER a long day’s work to enjoy them at my leisure.
  5. Everything works best in moderation. Even the best things in life become tiresome or negative without switching things up. Whether it’s hard work, relaxing, socializing, healthy eating, anything really — it’s important to have balance.
  6. People will judge you no matter what — might as well do whatever it is you want. Seriously — it’s a sad truth about life, but others are always going to judge. It really doesn’t matter if you pick a path that conforms to societal norms or not, since people will always have their opinions. If you learn to ignore other’s judgement and let them be, you’ll be able to follow whatever path you want. Might as well go for the one that makes you happy, rather than the one you believe will make others happy.
  7. Be patient with yourself. You’ll get there eventually. Hang in there.
  8. Take time to do things for others. I mean, why not? You would want others to be there for you, so why not show them you’ll be there for them? If nothing else, it’ll help build relationships you can rely on in hard times — but really, isn’t it enough to simply brighten someone else’s day?
  9. Don’t waste time on people who negatively impact your life. This has been a really important lesson for me. Whenever I used to feel wronged by someone, I would dwell on it for ages — it would consume so much of my mental energy, drive me to overthink, cause me stress and damage my mental health. But why? It didn’t do anything to help these situations. Obviously, you can’t rely on this tactic 100% of the time — not everything in life works this way — but if someone in your life only impacts you negatively, just let them go. Remove them from your social media and real-life interactions. It’ll make it a lot easier to move on and not obsess if you no longer see them pop up on your phone every day. It’s hard at first, but try to let go and move on — a few weeks, or perhaps months later, and you won’t even think about them anymore. It’ll only benefit you.
  10. It’s okay to say no. I guess I’m still learning this one myself, but it’s okay to have your boundaries. It isn’t mean or unfair — everyone has them. Learn to enforce yours.
  11. Learn how to stand up for yourself. It can be tough. I’m still learning this one as well, but don’t let people walk all over you. There’s no need to be harsh, but learn to stand your ground and know your worth.
  12. Decide what exactly you want in life, and what you’re willing to sacrifice for it. Nowadays, it often feels like your job is the most important thing in life — like we have to give up everything else in pursuit of our career. But is that really what you want? If it is — more power to you. But what do you really want in life? Is it endless luxury items, or just a few nice things and to be comfortable? I’ve started to realize there’s no way I could ever be happy in a job that requires absolutely all of my time and energy — I’d rather have time for family and friends, hobbies and leisure than to have more money for material items. Of course, everyone is different — but consider what you want and if it is worth the sacrifices you’re currently making.
  13. Being kind is powerful. Kindness is often seen as weakness, but I disagree — I believe it’s a strength. It isn’t always easy to be kind. It’s a lot easier to lash out when you’ve been wronged, or be cruel when experiencing jealousy (and more, I could go on and on and on). However, reacting with kindness — however hard it may be — will make the situation easier for you, benefit you in the long term, and hopefully will inspire others to do the same. It’s not always easy, but if we were all a little kinder to each other the world would be better for it.
  14. Take time to appreciate beauty in the world. Romanticize your life — there is beauty in the little things. The sunsets, the walk between your house and work, in nature, the city streets, wherever it is you find it. Enjoy it.
  15. Be proud of your accomplishments. Even if they don’t feel big, it’s still an accomplishment. Maybe you don’t have to show it off to the world, maybe you simply accomplished getting out of bed, eating a meal and having a shower — you still did it. Be proud of that.
  16. Your mental health comes first. Sometimes it feels wrong to prioritize your mental well-being — in our culture of constant productivity taking time for yourself and creating boundaries counterproductive to our goals. However, you can’t function at your best if you aren’t feeling your best. It’s better to give it your all and take breaks appropriately, rather than to give it 50% all the time. Take care of yourself.
  17. No relationship is worth sacrificing your happiness. While no friendship, family bond or romantic relationship is smooth sailing 24/7, in general, your relationships should benefit your life positively. It can be hard to accept, but if you have people in your life who bring you down, whether intentionally or not, it’s for the best to loosen ties with them and let them go if they are not capable of change. It’s important to give second chances, but do not let that go on forever and let others walk all over you — it will only cause you harm.
  18. Good things don’t just fall into your lap — you have to work for them. While success in life is based upon a certain amount of luck, if you sit around constantly waiting for a sign, or an opportunity, or whatever it is you’re hoping for, you’re pretty unlikely to find it. You have a much better chance if you put yourself out there and go looking for what you want — or better yet, create it for yourself.
  19. Being uncomfortable is a key part of growth. One thing that’s always been tough for me to accept in life is that you won’t grow if you don’t put yourself through some uncomfortable stuff. It can be tough putting yourself out there and taking risks, but ultimately all the greatest things in my life can from times that I put myself through some discomfort and tried something new. Just because you’re nervous to try something doesn’t mean you should shy away from it — in fact, it probably means you should go for it.
  20. Learning doesn’t stop when you finish with school — be curious about the world around you. We are always growing. If you decide one day to stop learning and taking in information about the world around you, you’ll only limit your worldview and become stuck in the past.
  21. Be a force for positivity. Everyone always says how the world is a cruel and unkind place — but if you act as a force for positivity and inspire others to do the same, eventually the world will be a better place.
  22. Take time to find things you appreciate and love about yourself. Take time to take stock of your accomplishments, talents, skills and personality traits and aspects of your appearance that you love. Think about them often. Learn to see the positive in yourself, rather than focusing on your flaws.
  23. There’s no need to conform or fit a certain mold. I know everyone has told us all it’s okay to “be different” ever since we were young, and I’m sure many of you have taken that to heart by now. But I find with social media nowadays, there’s a huge trend with finding your niche and following it’s particular rules — ie. minimalist, e-girl, grunge, VSCO girl, etc. — it’s okay to choose one of these vibes and go for it, but don’t forget you can do your own thing! It’s okay to take inspiration from others, but by all means branch and do whatever you want with your life, style, and platform.
  24. Find what makes you happy in life — in values, friends, work and hobbies — and just go for it. I think this one says it all.

This post ended up being way longer than I intended it to be, so I’ll keep the wrap up short and sweet — thank you all so much for sticking with me over the last year. It’s been a crazy rollercoaster and the hardest years of my life, but I’ve learned so much about myself and life through it all. While I haven’t been great (or even kind of terrible) at blogging regularly these past few months, it feels great to still have all of your support. Thank you so much, and here’s to 24 being a better year!

Xo,

Meredith

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