All the 1984 babies are turning the big 3-0 this year, myself included. With less than a couple of weeks left in my 20's, it leads me to reflect on experiences that have shaped who I am. My 20's were an important time in my life, as it has layed the ground work as I enter into my 30's. Here are 20 realizations that I've learned in my last decade in life:
1. Taking Chances That Scare You Are Worth It.
There are quite a few times in my life that I've been offered a chance to do something new, or had an opportunity to take a large risk. DO IT. Whether it was moving across the country to the Midwest where I knew no one, or taking a breath and facing my fear of being under water while scuba diving in Malta, every single scary experience that I have had has made me stronger and has helped me experience life on a level most do not. Those are the moments that push you in the direction of the life you've always imagined.
The picture below was a post card given to me by a close friend, and this is her vision of my life. NO LEFT OR U TURNS. I choose to learn from the past, live in the present, and am not scared about what the future holds. Or at least I try not to be scared. Easier said than done, right?
2. Trust Your Gut, Even When Your Brain Says Otherwise.
Open your eyes to the beauty of the world. Travel with curiosity and an understanding that every person you meet is there to teach you something about life.
9. Pay Things Forward.
Nothing is a more humbling experience than giving back and doing something good for your community. I definitely believe in karma and that we should put positivity out in the universe, because the time will come when our lives won't be so smooth and we will need a little help. Kindness is contagious, and the moment that you experience good will from someone else, I encourage you to pay that forward to the next person you meet. There are a multitude of ways in which you can do this, and every effort made is better than no effort at all.
10. Surround Yourself With People That Make You Feel Good.
As the saying goes, you become the company you keep. Although I like meeting new people, I ultimately like a close knit group of friends versus a large group of fair weather friends. I know that at any given moment, the people that I have in my life will stop what they are doing and support whatever I'm going through. One of the best text messages that I have ever received from a close friend proves that friends can become family: "You have courage and fight for what you want. You just need to be patient, trust the process, and the universe will point you in the right direction...the key with you is that once you know where you want to go you will be unstoppable!!" Every person deserves this relationship, and remember that it is not enough to receive, you must also give in return.
11. Embrace Your Crazy.
This may sound really weird, but in high school and most of college I felt like I didn't have "personality". This is one of the main reasons why I was so shy growing up. Today, I just realized that I was trying to conform to what society wanted (AKA "cookie cutter"), and that is not who I was or who I would ever be. In my 20's I've learned that I'm funny, can make anyone smile, and I am definitely not afraid of what others think of me. I am goofy, I am not afraid to meet strangers and connect with who they are, and I have definitely embraced my "crazy". When you are honest with who you truly are, you are definitely taking a step in the right direction.
12. Don't Be Afraid To End Relationships That Drain You.
Have you ever had a relationship, whether a friend or significant other, that has literally drained everything out of you? I have, and with every ounce of me wanting to get along and be friends with everyone, I realized how toxic this sort of relationship can be. Someone who brings out the worst qualities in you and it literally feels like a "job" to spend time with them is not worth it. As you get older you will become less tolerant and decide you are worthy of having relationships that bring out the best in you. You will then not be afraid to end those relationships that are toxic. Once you rid yourself of this "friendship", it will feel as though a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.
13. Get To Know Your Parents, Because They Won't Be Around Forever.
As teenagers, parents were our worst nightmare and the bearers of bad news. But as we grow older we realize that we are more like our parents than we think, and ultimately in one way or another, we will inherit some (if not all) of their qualities. Sometimes listening to their stories will show you that they are human, and they might be able to offer you insight into your own life and your own struggles. As I get older I realize that I want to take care of them like they have done for me, and losing them is one of my biggest fears in life. This definitely doesn't only apply to parents, but could be anyone that has played a significant part in your life. Make sure to spend every moment you can with them, because not every day is promised to us.
The people in my life I would be willing to do anything for.
14. Learn That How People Treat You Reflects That Person, Not You.
This took me a very, very long time to realize. Every person is entitled to their opinion, and they are free to act as they wish. But every hurtful comment and sarcastic remark reflect the person that those words are coming out of. Those words represent their insecurities and they are temporarily reflected onto the person they target. A few real life tips I've experienced: Lipstick does not make you professional, working hard does. When someone doubts your ability to do something, it might represent their internal fear and personal failures- don't listen to that doubt. Keep swimming. Appreciate others ignorance, and pray that they might find an ounce of beauty that this world exudes. Remember to also follow that practice as well, as your actions will influence how others feel.
15. Encourage Others.
I had always loved teaching, whether it was making my little sister play "summer school" when we were younger, or getting so excited to be a "trainer" in my current career. I live to help others experience knowledge, and one thing that I have always done is pushed people to follow their dreams. Nothing is impossible, and we ultimately have to accept that failure will be apart of this life. Every person deserves to be told that they are worth it, but nothing compares to having someone encourage you through this long road of life. I get many emails/LinkedIn messages asking me for career advice and interviews and I will never deny them. I know what it's like to be afraid and lost, and if I can alleviate that anxiety even for just a moment, my life is worth living.
16. Be Inquisitive, And Ask Questions.
Life is intriguing, as are the people and processes that crosses our paths daily. I have learned that asking questions is the only way to gain knowledge. Sometimes information is not given to you or you may process things differently. Throughout every single job I had in my 20's, I've tried to create efficiencies that would help me work better, faster, and smarter. If I had a questions about "why" something was happening, I never took the "it was always done this way" answer. Every time I learn something new, I treat it as a learning experience and envision that I would ultimately teach it to someone else. Anticipating those questions that I would be asked pushes me to think outside the box. The world is full of many wonders, and we should not stop asking why.
17. Learn To Love Yourself.
We are always our worst critics. You are extremely vulnerable in your teens and well throughout your 20's, and magazines and society do not make it any easier as we try to navigate through our early adulthood. Learn that rejection is just another persons opinion...and it's not yours. It's easier said than done, and it will definitely take some practice. The older you get the less you care about what others think of you, the more you accept who you are and who you've become. Those hardships that you've gone through make you stronger, and it's something you should definitely give yourself credit for.
18. Learn The Power Of "Thank You".
As I entered the work force at the bright age of 17, I learned there were two magic words that could brighten anyone's day: THANK YOU. This grateful phrase is not used enough in the world today, and it doesn't matter what industry you work in. "Thank You" makes you work harder. "Thank You" makes you feel appreciated. And "Thank You" gives you the confidence to take risks and achieve the unimaginable. Oh, and thank YOU if you've managed to read this far! :)
19. Never Forget Where You Came From.
I remember being utterly embarrassed as my dad dropped my sister and I off at school, with his work truck covered in dirt and mud from the many days in his "office". I could never get over the fact that he was a farmer and wished that he could have a normal "office job" so I could be like every other kid. What I do know is that he is the hardest working person I have ever met, and he has sacrificed a lot to provide for my sister and I. With the recent passing of designer Oscar De La Renta, one quote of his has stuck with me throughout life: "Luxury to me is not about buying expensive things; It's about living in a way where you appreciate things." Be thankful everyday for the blessings that you have been given. When you have a bad day realize that that it can always get worse, but the best people smile and dance in the rain.
20. Learn That Everyone Has Their Own Path.
Don't be afraid of your story, and learn that there is no correct path to this crazy thing we call life. I know that at a very young age I wanted to plan out my life, from school to marriage, to babies, etc. While I didn't follow any of those plans 100%, I also have learned what my passions are and what inspires me. Inspire others, and let others inspire you. Not everyone will understand your journey, and as we age we realize that life is not a race. So I say dream big...and any small steps in that direction will be towards the most fulfilling life you can have.
Sometimes it's not easy to pack up your entire life and take a risk...but I will never be the person that says "What if?"
So as I approach my birthday, I bid adieu to my 20's...and I'm ready for the latest and greatest ride that is my 30's!
Bellisima = "Extremely Beautiful" in Italian, and how i would describe the world, and how I view it through travel.