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26 Things I Learned at 26

I turned 26 last week. I think this is probably the first age that has underwhelmed me.

26 isn't particularly special. You don't get shiny new privileges in the eyes of the law. At least 25 came with the perk of renting a car without obnoxious fees for being apparently too young to be responsible.

I think, though, that 26 is going to be my year. This is probably one of the first times in my life where I'm pretty comfortable in my skin and can confidently tell you some of the things I've learned, and some of the things I know I'm going to do with my life.

Here are 26 things I'm glad to have learned by 26, in no particular order:

  • It's okay to be dependent on someone else: a spouse, a friend, your mom. Especially your mom.
  • Also, being independent is totally awesome (and necessary) too. Just because you depend on others doesn't mean you're somehow less independent; it means you're a human who has different needs at different times.
  •  Exercise is the cheapest form of therapy. And totally worth getting up early for.
  • Unless you're going to a job interview, people really don't care what you look like. Wear what you want, get that crazy haircut, you get the idea.
  • Eat more vegetables. Just do it.
  • Excuses will get you nowhere. Not with yourself. Not with your family. Not with your professors. Not with your boss.
  • In that same vein, own your mistakes. Nothing shocks people (in a good way) like you walking up to them and saying, “I messed this up; can you help me fix it?”
  • Passions change.
  • There’s never enough time/money/whatever other resource that holds you back. Go for what you want anyway. Whether that’s marriage, babies, starting your own business, going back to school… Waiting around for that perfect number in the bank account or block of time in the day ensures you’ll be waiting forever.
  • If you want something, work for it. Opportunities don’t often fall out of the sky. Though, when they do, grab them with both hands!
  • There’s no such thing as too much coffee.
  • When you’re feeling crappy, drink a cup of water and eat some food. Then assess whether you still feel crappy.
  • You can be nicer to yourself. You respond better to nice you than to evil you.
  • Flowers are always nice. Doesn’t matter if someone gets them for you or you get them for yourself.
  • Master a few “makeup faces”: one for work, one for going out, one for mornings when you oversleep. Also master the natural look - and wear it as often as you please.
  • Embrace your weirdness.
  • You’re not going to please everyone.
  • Friends may come and go, but family is for life.
  • The things you worry most about will not ever be as bad as you imagine them to be.
  • Conversely, some of the worst things that happen will have never crossed your mind until they do happen.
  • So basically, stop worrying so much about everything and take life as it comes.
  • Hard things are less hard when you break them down to their pieces and accomplish one thing at a time. Before you know it, you’ve accomplished a whole lot.
  • 15 minute breaks and 15 minute naps are very underrated luxuries.
  • Change is a constant; but stagnation is a killer.
  • Style can be whatever you want it to be.
  • There’s always room for cake.

Here’s to a great year!

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