As I get ready to enter the final year of my 20s, I decided to write out what I know now that I didn't know when I entered this delicate decade.
1. If we are smart, we start to realize that not everything in life needs our commentary or opinion. I have less opinions now at 29 than I did at 20, when I entered this precious decade. I personally view that as a sign of growth.
2. All the times people tell you that you can't eat at 29 the way you are eating at 22 without gaining weight? They aren't lying. Your "fast metabolism" ain't so fast after four years of goldfish for breakfast.
3. If you are lucky, your mom and dad will still be around. If you are really lucky, you will find yourself closer to them than ever before. If you are the luckiest of all, they will be the two most precious people in your life.
4. Every year, you will realize more and more that being at a club isn't as fun as you convince yourself it is.
5. Eventually, the most fun nights will be the ones with your loved ones in PJs, or at home with friends and family, a bottle of wine and maybe even their baby.
6. I find myself looking back at all the times I called 29-year-olds "old" and 30+ "ancient," and realize it was my own fear motivating that name-calling. If you are in your early 20s, it will be no time until you are 29, and then you will realize in the grand scheme of things, 29 is still a baby.
7. Your best years are not over. My best years have happened, are happening now and are in the future. Every year brings so many "bests"; hopefully, we all find it impossible to define just one time of our lives as the best.
8. I spent a lot of money traveling. I have zero regrets about it. In fact, the only regret I have is that I didn't keep a journal.
9. Flossing actually does matter. Washing your makeup off before passing out... that can be debated.
10. Your exes are not yours. They do not belong to you. Hating their new girlfriend or your current boyfriend's ex-girlfriend is completely and utterly pointless.
11. I used to think if you forgave someone who cheated on you, you were pathetic and weak. I now see it differently. Forgiveness makes you stronger. Overcoming infidelity can increase your bond, and it cannot. Every situation is different. So before you give advice and spout off at the mouth about how you will murder the person who hurt your friend, try listening.
12. If you really do get better with age, you will find that you have less judgement to give, less comparisons to make and more compassion for every single person you encounter.
13. My siblings mean more to me now than ever before. They genuinely share my triumphs and failures. That kind of support is priceless.
14. As I have realized certain people in my life don't energize me, but enervate me, I find myself walking away from them slowly and without much attention being brought to it. This has been a big lesson.
15. The friends you have had for 15+ years are likely to stay your friends forever. These bonds will come to mean more to you year after year. Their children will be your nieces and nephews. They become your family. Eventually, you come to realize you share more intimate details with your friends than even your significant other... or maybe that is just me?
16. I now find the idea of using a tanning booth to be on par with getting a root canal. All the advice about wearing sunscreen should be heeded and drinking water is more important now than ever before. In fact, I am known to have an irrational fear of being dehydrated.
17. At this point in my life, everyone I know has lost someone they loved. Myself included. Keeping this in mind, I try and treat people a little bit more gently. You really don't ever know what someone is going through.
18. There is no blueprint to life. Some of your friends will get married early, some late and some not at all. Some will make a lot of money and some won't. Some will have five children and some will have none. Some will travel the globe and others may never leave the state. As Nietzsche once wrote, "this is my way, what is your way? THE way does not exist." Try and remember this before you tell your friends how to live their lives. Try not to judge anyone for the way they live their life as well.
19. "How may I serve?" has become my daily walking prayer. "What's in it for me?" sometimes creeps its way in, but I don't judge myself for that. I try not to judge others for it either.
20. I have come to realize that most of the time, people are just doing the best they can. That might not be the best I can or the best I would like them to do, but it's the best they can do. Patience really is a virtue.
21. A relationship, without chemistry, is pointless. If you don't know if your relationship has chemistry or not, it doesn't. I promise you.
22. It has taken me my whole life to realize that I am capable of being kind to the kind, and kind to the unkind, because kindness is MY nature. I heard over and over again growing up "how people treat you is their karma, and how you react is yours." I now react kindly -- at least most of the time.
23. Rudeness does not prove a point. Neither do bitchy attitudes, dirty looks or cursing. An excellent vocabulary proves a point. If you regularly talk about your "haterz" or "all the drama in your life," there is a good chance you are creating both. If you like that sort of thing, carry on.
24. People that are generous when they are poor will be generous when they are wealthy. People who are generous when they are wealthy are people who would be generous when they are poor. That is because generous people have a generous nature. It has nothing to do with money, and everything to do with attitude.
25. I have really come to know that what you put out into the world is what you get back. That being said, my interactions with other women are almost always positive, uplifting, supportive, understanding and full of love. I do not find women to be jealous, catty or difficult to get along with. I don't like it when people say "you know how you women are." No, I don't. I know how I am, and I know that the women in my life are supportive beyond measure. End of story.
26. Health is something I have come to value. I took it for granted before. I still enjoy a good bottle of wine or two (to myself) every now and again, but I no longer enjoy how I feel after stuffing my face or skipping exercise. I never thought I would write that last sentence.
27. I now realize that real love isn't easy or simple, at least not for me. It is made up of laughing so hard you cry, embarrassing dance moves, nit-picking, arguments over who started the argument, kisses on the forehead, forgiveness, intimacy, fights, make-ups, home-cooked meals, vacations, anniversaries, pain, ups, downs and everything in between. But that look, that only the two of you share that says nothing and means everything, can still make you weak in the knees and vulnerable beyond measure. Real love is everything all at once right in the gut over and over again.
28. I know now, as I enter my 29th turn around the sun, my final year in the decade of my 20s, that who I am is someone I love, and there is no shame or fear in admitting that.
29. I know now, that change is inevitable. I have changed a thousand times and yet I have always held on to the essence that is me. I know myself. Now more than ever. I can only imagine how I will feel at 39, 49, 59, 69, 79, 89, 99 and 109. I am so excited for this ride.