26 things i've learned in 26 years

26. It's a small world after all. Even in a big city like Chicago, I find more often then not that both social + professional circles are actually quite small. build a reputation that you're proud of.

25. Be thankful for the people in your life. You wouldn't be where you are or who you are without them. Life's a whole lot easier with a good support system.

24. This is the point where you should stop doing things to fit in. If you can't be happy with yourself as you are then you're going to have one long, sad life ahead of you. 

23. Don't settle. Whether it's a not-so-great job or a boy that could probably be treating you a little better,  trust your gut on this one - if it doesn't feel right it probably isn't. You deserve the best.

22. Keep figuring out ways to learn more. Last year I took a terrarium making class + loved it. This year I went to a seminar on the meaning of life + was inspired. I hope next year brings many more opportunities for mental stimulation.

21. Establish your own exceptions. Maybe I should have saved a bit of money over the years by having a roommate, but isn't the freedom of being able to walk around all day in your underwear worth it? You get the picture...

20. Develop your own style. Know your body + know what suits it. If you're unsure, pay someone to tell you. Then, have fun with it. I should know who you are from looking at 5 pieces in your closet.

19. Learn how to navigate yourself. There's not always going to be someone there to hold your hand. And just think of all the opportunities you'll miss just because you have a fear of doing things on your own. You'll be surprised how much you learn about yourself.

18. Stop being a spoiled brat + be thankful for all that your parents have done. I would be no where without my parents. Year after year they have done nothing but love + support me. Chances are, you're in the same boat. Don't forget to call + remind them that you appreciate them.
17. Be a role model. Whether you know it or not, someone probably looks up to you. Your behavior can shape someone else's life, so make sure you're making a positive difference.

16. Stop being a picky eater. People don't like going out with picky eaters + they sure don't like cooking for them. While I can understand one or two off limit ingredients, there's more to life than the top tier of the food pyramid.

15. Write things down + take photos. You're going to appreciate it years from now. Your family will appreciate it even more.
14. Have at least 3 recipes that you can absolutely nail. Not everyone is going to be a great cook, but you should at least have that handful of recipes that don't cause you to freak out every time you get invited to a potluck feast. I'm hoping my handful grows a bit over the next year.

13. Gossiping is no longer cute or acceptable. Just because you were once popular for this trait as a child doesn't mean it's going to stick with you through life. If anything, it will only make others like you less.
12. Don't drop loads of money on the newest trend. Trends are trends for a reason - they don't last. Invest in those classics + go the cheap route on the "hottest" new things.

11. Show a bit of compassion to others that need it. This isn't always the case, but it's usually pretty easy to spot someone that could use a friend or a little bit of encouragement. Going out of the way to say a few nice things or have a short conversation can really make a big impact on someone + it's such a simple thing to do.

10. Now is the time to be selfish. At this point in my life I really don't have many responsibilities other than needing to do well with my career. That leaves an ample amount of extra time to do the things I love, to travel, to pamper myself.

9. Let others form their own opinions. I'm all for being passionate about specific causes or politics, but please don't shove your opinions down my throat. We have brains for a reason + most of us are pretty capable of using them intelligently. Please let me decide what is right for myself.

8. I am an idiot for killing my skin all of those years in tanning beds.If you're vain like me + haven't yet learned this lesson, please know that spray tanning has come a long way since those orange tint jobs. There's absolutely no need to fry yourself in a bed when you can get a nice spray down every couple of weeks.

7. A healthy body means a healthy mind. Each year the correlation between the two seems to grow stronger + stronger. If you're not exercising or eating right you're going to feel like crap, both physically + mentally.

6. Have a hobby. Better yet, have a few. As lame as this sounds, being known as the music junkie by my peers makes me feel really great about myself. Being that "expert" at a specific thing can really improve self esteem + it's an easy way to form bonds with new people.
5. Pay off your debts. I'm really embarrassed to admit this, but I was incredibly reckless with my money (or the money I didn't have) when I was 23 + 24. I kept thinking that more was just on the horizon + I also probably spent more than I needed to to try to fit in with certain types of people. It was stupid, but a lesson. I will never let myself get that careless again. It's such a huge burden that weighs over you for so long.

4. Sleeping in past noon is no longer acceptable. A cruel reality, but true. Sleep is important though, so just cut down on the number of all night ragers.

3. You have to work at friendships, especially as you get older. I'm really pretty awful at this one, especially with so many good friends living in different cities. I've never really been much of a phone person which makes this process that much harder for me. Sometimes all it takes is just little things to show that a person has a special place in your life.

2. Mind your f'ing manners. Maybe it's all of the years I spent as a waitress, but it honestly blows my mind how rude people can be to those working in the customer service industry. Be appreciative of their help. Not only are you making an ass out of yourself, but you're also embarrassing the people you are with.
1. Be prepared to laugh at yourself. You're human, mistakes will happen. The best recovery is a good giggle + others will appreciate you all the more for it.

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