I turned 23 just about two weeks ago and I know I’ve learnt a lot in my life so far. That being said, it seems only fair to share by 23 by 23 with you all–23 life lessons I’ve learnt by 23! I’ve shared lessons from my grandmother and grandfather before, so it’s about time I share some of my own.
1. You’re stronger than you know.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve thought I’d hit my limit, physically and mentally. And yet, my track record for making it through is remarkably good so far.
2. There are actual good people in the world.
The world may seem to burn more each day as of late (you’re welcome for the Hamilton earworm). In the midst of the chaos, you can still find these good people. As Mr. Fred Rogers (and his mother) would say, “Look for the helpers.”
3. Conversely, there are genuinely not-good people in the world.
Unfortunately, this is just as true as my former point. Some people are legitimately not good. I have no doubt that the world isn’t black & white, good and evil. But even in those grey areas, there are people that are primarily bad. Avoid those people as much as possible.
4. It’s okay to have opinions. It’s also okay to change your opinions.
Even if people won’t like you as much because of it.
5. Always take pictures.
Always. My friends constantly tease me for taking as many pictures as I do, but I cherish these hard-copy memories more than nearly any other object in my life. As the unattributed quote goes, “If you want to learn what someone fears losing, watch what they photograph.”
6. Do the thing.
Dance for the hell of it. Get that tattoo. Tell your crush you like them. Go on that trip. Almost without fail, you’ll regret it more if you don’t than if you do.
7. It’s not cool to not like things.
It’s one thing if you genuinely dislike something. But if your only reason to not like something is because too many other people like it? Maybe reconsider.
8. Similarly, when you like something, like it as much as you want.
I’ve come to the conclusion that “guilty pleasures” are ultimately just half of that: pleasures. Let yourself like things. It doesn’t matter if someone else doesn’t agree. What matters is that you like it.
9. If you can defend the defenseless, do it.
This is a huge contributor as to why I’m vegan–animals can’t help themselves, so it’s important to me to do what I can. The same is true of my political opinions.
10. Slow progress is still progress.
This has been a tough pill to swallow many times over, especially with my health issues over the years. The blog (yes, right here!) is another one; I see so many people get so far so quickly and it’s hard not to be envious. But, at the end of the day, I truly am happy for them. I just need to remember to do the same for myself.
11. You might have to be your own advocate sometimes–you can.
I cannot tell you how often this has been true. From medical issues to legal issues and everything in between, I’ve had to stand up for myself. Sometimes it feels like I’m the only one. What’s important is that you keep on standing.
12. The things you want are out there. You just need to figure out how to get to them.
My go-to example for this one is money. I realised this while reading up on manifesting and the law of attraction (woo-woo, sure, but please refer to numbers 7 & 8!). The money I need for things is out there; I just need to find the right combination–jobs, opportunities, what have you–to bring it into my life. It’s like one giant puzzle, and I always have loved puzzles.
13. Take care of yourself, first and foremost.
It’s cliche for a reason: you really cannot pour from an empty cup. You can’t take care of others without taking care of yourself. So, if you truly care about those others, you’ll put yourself first. And, if they care about you, they’ll let you.
14. Choose your battles wisely.
I’m particularly guilty about getting incredibly angry about things. Many don’t affect me personally, but I recognise the injustice nevertheless. It infuriates me. I’ve made the decision to be passionate about the issues I care about. But that doesn’t always mean getting into arguments with a racist relative for the third holiday in a row. Sometimes it means saving the energy.
15. Buy yourself some flowers.
Don’t get me wrong, there are very few instances in which I would turn down flowers given as a gift (any and all applicable suitors, take note–white roses are my favourite). But you can’t always depend on someone getting them for you. Buy yourself the flowers. You deserve it.
16. Some people aren’t meant to be in your life long-term and that’s okay.
Sometimes it’s incredibly improtant, for your own well-being, that they aren’t.
17. Mental health and physical health are both important.
Outrageously so. Try not to prioritise one over the other–balance is key.
18. Asking for help is in no way a sign of weakness.
This is another one I’ve struggled with. Whether it means booking a therapy appointment or asking a loved one for help doing a chore, needing help doesn’t make you any less of a good, capable person.
19. Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
It’s scary. It can be absolutely terrifying. But it can lead to so many good things. Refer to number 6, blast “Defying Gravity,” and take that chance.
20. Water is probably the closest thing to a miracle elixir we’ve got.
Coffee and prosecco are close seconds.
Need more magic elixir in your life? Check out my tips on how to drink more water.
22. Skincare is practically magic, too.
Coincidentally enough, this goes hand-in-hand with staying hydrated. Everything seems a little bit better when I’ve properly moisturised.
22. Art is important.
All types of art. There’s absolutely nothing I like more than learning that someone’s enjoyed something I’ve written (so please, let me know if this is you!). Libraries and museums are two of my favourite places to be–I actually daydream about meandering through the halls of the Met and Tate Modern. It’s political and powerful and aesthetic and awe-inspiring. Art is grossly underappreciated.
23. Read, read, and then read some more.
This one shouldn’t come as a surprise. Books are now, and will always be, one of the single most impactful things in my life.
Have you learnt any of the same lessons, or is there one you’d add? Let us know in the comments!