Today, I turn 26.
Gosh, I'm old.
Now, before you try to correct me, tell me I look like I'm 17, or say that 26 is young, give me the chance to prove you wrong. It's my birthday anyway, and the birthday girl is always right, or so they say.
In my 26 years of life, I have learned quite a few things. Some big. Some small. Either way, they've shaped me substantially, so I figured I'd throw down some knowledge for you all.
I'm 26, and here's my wisdom (whether you like it or not)
1. Nothing makes you smile like sunshine.
Seriously. All you people living in cloudly cold places, hear this. Life is better in the sun. I do not hate winter. I'm just saying you'd be happier. Scientifically, this is correct.
2.) Take A Million Pictures
On your phone. With a camera. Using a polaroid. You will never say "I shouldn't have taken so many pictures."
3.) Animals are the best
I recently adopted a puppy (team #adoptdontshop). Before her, I wasn't much of a dog person. I wasn't much of an "I want to take care of other living things" person. I love her SO MUCH. I could never have predicted how much she'd change my life for the better. All of you out there with animals, please love on them 25/7. Spoil the shit out of them and stop complaining about their slobbery kisses.
4.) Get outside.
Nothing heals the soul the way that nature can. It will slow you down, stop your racing thoughts, and get you centered.
5.) Don't take people for granted
Your family. Old friends. Those random old people that try to give you unsolicited advice in the grocery store. We all need love, and we all need to be heard. Don't take a moment for granted, even if it's a moment you "don't have time for."
I don't do this enough. Even still, there's so much power hidden in books. Make the time to find an author or a genre you love, and read everything you can find.
7.) Enable your creativity
So often, we turn off our creativity. Sometimes for work. Sometimes for people. Sometimes because we refuse to make time for it. There's nothing more unhealthy. Provide yourself with a space to be creative. There's no wrong way to allow yourself to think freely.
Try the weird food. Order the bizarre drink. Tell a dumb joke to a stranger. Make an old lady smile. Let someone into your heart. Try to tell the story. Just try to be better, no matter what you're doing.
9.) No one will hand you anything
No one in life will save you from drowning. No one can give you everything you need. No job is perfect, and no place will make you happy. YOU have to do it, figure it out, and ride the wave. Happiness doesn't come from anything, or anywhere, other than yourself.
10.) Get a nightlight
As humans, we all need that thing that helps us to see in the dark. It keeps us sane and helps us to move forward. Find your nightlight, and use it when you need it.
11.) Get the tattoo
Always. Celebrate art. Build a relationship with an artist or tattoo studio, or just throw up your hands and say "fuck it, let's do this."
12.) Ask questions
So often we listen to what people are saying and internalize it. Then, it eats at us. Instead, when you hear something you don't like, ask a question. A calm, specific, pointed question. This will get your feelings across and probably throw off the loser who's saying weird/wrong/inaccurate/bigoted/sexist/racist shit. This way, no one can say you were an asshole, just that you were inquisitive. (Yes, this is me being a smartass. But seriously, this works every time).
13.) Luck is a thing
I believe in luck. For some reason, I have always been a lucky person. Instead of luck being this foreign and untouchable thing, it's facilitated by the belief that you can do something.
14.) Health insurance in the US sucks
As a 26-year-old, former athlete, non-smoker with no preexisting conditions. An affordable health care plan with a reasonable deductible shouldn't cost me more than $250 a month. And don't tell me to get a real job. Entrepreneurs, small businesses, and artists like me shouldn't be penalized for doing something different! I don't know what the solution is, but we're doing it all wrong. (This is not an invitation for you to get political in my comments).
15.) Drink water
It's simple, I know. But water is health, and you should drink more of it.
16.) Try to find the good
In conflict. In people. In change. In heartbreak. It will make you better, more loving, and a source of good in the world.
17.) Give yourself a challenge
Maybe it's psychologically. Physically. In your relationships. In your job. Challenge makes us better, even if we don't meet our own high expectations.
18.) Love hard
Loving too hard is impossible. It doesn't make you weak. Or weird. Or an optimistic romantic with a faulty lens on life. The world needs more love. So give it.
19.) Give into your sweet tooth
Because ice cream, and cheesecake, and cookies are the bomb. Self-control every second is overrated.
20.) Stay in school for as long as you can
If I could be a career student, I would be. There is so much power in learning from others, having knowledgeable dialogue, and being a part of a community that fosters individual growth.
21.) Drink good beer/wine/booze
When your 26, your body hates you for drinking anyways. Might as well make your hangover worth it, right?
22.) Go on road trips
Wherever you live, there are beautiful things to see and beautiful people to meet. Explore them via a road you've never been on.
23.) Spend time with your siblings
This summer, I spent a lot of time with my brother. I'm so thankful to be close to him and to call him a real friend, rather than an obligatory one.
Have you been in the same place your whole life? Move. Leave everyone you know and do something different. You'll learn a lot about yourself, your tastes, and how you do on your own.
25.) Make Something
Maybe a collection of poetry. Maybe a painting. Maybe a photo. Maybe a drawing. Just make stuff.
26.) Make time
Make time for people, adventures, to watch the sunrise, to go to your favorite place. Time is all we have, but it is short.
The age-old question...
Now that I've passed all of my wisdom onto you, what will you do with it?
I'll be adventuring to some unknown location to celebrate my birthday. I'm making the most of the day, and you should too - that's my birthday wish.