girl wearing jeans and navy shoes

With my 24th birthday fast approaching, I thought I’d write 24 important lessons I have learned this year.

It has been a very big year of growth and change for me, from moving out of home then back again, to having my first ever boyfriend, to traveling the world for four months alone, to trying to figuring out what it is I want to do with my life, to name a few! Here it goes:

1. Distance can help heal family wounds. Moving out of home due to how toxic my family life was and completely cutting them out of my life was one of the best and hardest decisions I have ever had to make. It took nine months for me to heal and allow them back into my life, but my relationship with my family, particularly my mother, has never been better. Time can heal wounds, yes, but so can distance.

2. No relationship is as important as the one with yourself. Family may come and go, friends may come and go and men may come and go, but you are going to be in a relationship with yourself forever. Learn to love yourself, be comfortable with yourself and enjoy your own company.

3. Be vulnerable. Being in a relationship for the first time in my life taught me that love cannot come without risk. It may seem like you have everything to lose when you put yourself in that position, but when you love, you win.

4. The best thing you can be in this world is kind. Traveling all around Asia, I have seen poverty that has broken me inside, even within my family overseas. Everyone is just trying the best that they can, and we cannot possibly know the depth of their struggle. So, be kind, be kind, be kind. Always choose to be kind.

5. Courage doesn’t mean the absence of fear, but doing it in spite of it. New challenges are scary. Unknowns are scary. The future is scary. But true courage is facing it and jumping into the unknown even if the fear inside of you is screaming for comfort.

6. Always love what you do. At my last job, I didn’t enjoy what I did and became increasingly depressed and bitter. It got to the point where I was asked to leave my job because of it. God gently said, ‘Enough,’ and I left to travel the world within a few weeks of quitting my job. If you don’t love what you do, what’s the point in what you do?

7. You don’t need a lot of friends, only ones that truly love, support & understand you. Life is complicated and constantly changing, and you need a solid circle of friends to ride it out with. So, don’t just choose the good ones, choose the best ones.

8. No matter how prepared you are, life is not in your control. What gives life its beauty and mystery is that we never know what’s around the corner. It’s important to have a sense of direction, but it’s also equally important to be adaptable to change.

9. Drink more green tea. It’s nothing but good for you, full of antioxidants and nutrients that help lower your risk of cancer and aid in weight loss. I also notice a glow and healthiness in my skin the more regularly I drink this super tea.

10. Traveling is one of the most enriching, mind-expanding experiences you will ever have. I have fallen in love with it so much that I have decided that I want to do it for the rest of my life. Do it often, and do it well. No more excuses!

11. Seasons never rush. You shouldn’t rush your seasons, either. Trying to speed up the process of learning and growth will only stunt and disadvantage you in the long run. Be patient and learn to accept and find beauty in every season you are in. It is there to strengthen your character.

12. Find your bliss, and pursue it with all you’ve got. Even if it means walking a path very few have walked on before. Even if it means no one understands you. Even if it means feeling lonely and scared and tired. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
girl with two skateboards

13. Your body is the closest thing to your temple on earth. Take care of it. I never measure my food by how many calories it has, but how good I feel after eating it. Eat, exercise and take care of your body like you love it, and it will love you back in return.

14. Take more risks. I want to be known as ballsy with my choices in love, in my career and in my life. Life is not meant to be lived feeling constantly comfortable and secure. Get out of your comfort zone and use the feeling of fear to drive you into new and exciting chapters in your life.

15. Your intuition is a gift. Use it. Listen to the voice inside of you, no matter how small or still, because it is your higher self protecting and looking out for you. There is no reason or rhyme to the gut feeling you have inside of you, but all you have to do is learn to trust it.

16. “Never allow loneliness to drive you into the arms of someone you don’t belong with.”

17. Don’t take life so seriously. Have fun with yourself. Sometimes you need to throw caution to the wind and say, “Why the hell not?” Allow yourself indulgence, allow yourself pleasure, allow yourself permission to smile and laugh without fear of what other people think. Enjoy your life!

18. Want it? Ask for it. If you don’t, the answer will always be no and the door will always be closed. I used to be so afraid of asking for what I want, but I want to remind you that you are important and so are your needs and wants. You are allowed to take up space. You are allowed to be here.

19. Buy experiences, not things. The possessions you have will eventually be thrown out, but the experiences you have will be carried with you forever. Don’t be rich in materialism. Be rich in life.

20. There is little more important than learning to be present. I highly recommend reading the book, ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle. It changed my life. It taught me in astounding clarity that living in the past will depress you and thinking about the future will stress you. The key to true happiness is living within the present moment, so be where you are right now, with all you are right now.

21. Walk with your head a little higher, your back a little straighter. Exude confidence, and your mind will follow.

22. God is not a dictator. There will be a season when He will take a step back and let you call the shots. He wants you to make your own decisions, with thoughtfulness and wisdom. He wants you to take responsibility for your life and accept the consequences. He wants you to trust yourself.

23. Learn to sit with your feelings. I believe that a sign of emotional intelligence and maturity is accepting every feeling in your body, particularly the ones that don’t make you feel so good. When sadness, anger or loneliness comes, don’t brush it under the carpet or distract yourself from it with a more ‘positive’ feeling. Let it be. Sit with it. Welcome it. All things will pass.

24. Always do what makes you come alive. Whatever your past year has brought, whatever your next year will bring, never fail to honor your heart and do what makes you feel happy and alive.

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 First Image via Then Let It Be
Second image via A Certain Kind of Woman