It’s my 21st birthday! Well, it was my birthday on Friday. For whatever reason, turning 21 feels like a really big milestone to me. I finally feel properly in my 20s now. That may sound weird, but somehow I always thought of 20 as part of the teenage years, and 21 feels like a brand new chapter. Like I’ve walked through the place of no return, and I’m on the other side staring back at teenage Row and her waist long hair and newly pierced nose.
I really like reading through posts such as this one; where people list lessons they’ve learned over the years. Many of the things that I thought of when brainstorming have been articulated before, so instead of just writing down the lesson I’ve added personal stories to attach to these thoughts. Hopefully some of these “words of wisdom” help you if you ever need a boost.
01 | You’re stronger than you think.
I spent my whole life afraid that the nightmare that kept me awake at night as a child would come true, and this year it did. I spent a week in bed. I cried more than I have ever cried and I still have not yet healed. But I’m still here, and I’m okay. I dealt with the nightmare that came true and emerged stronger than ever. You can too.
02 | Don’t beat yourself up for having a bad day.
There will be days when it feels like the whole world has been turned upside down and everything is falling apart. These are the moments when it’s important to step back and take the time to do the small things that make you feel better. Sometimes you’ll have a bad day and you’ll eat a whole bag of chips (just me? kay cool). When this happens, don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember that it’s okay to slip up once in a while. Also drink a lot of water in between handfuls. Trust me…
03 | Hurt people, hurt people.
I’ve experienced what seems to be a lot of heartbreak in the past few years, and it’s made me realize that a lot of the time the people who were trying to tear me down were doing more harm to themselves than they were to me. These are also the people who seem to need love the most. If one feels whole and content with what they have there is no point to hurting others. Show kindness in the face of hate, because anger won’t get you anywhere.
04 | Don’t feel guilty about sticking up for yourself.
I am notorious for letting people walk all over me. I aim to please, can’t say no, and avoid confrontation like the plague. But in the past few years I’ve learned that while sticking up for myself is difficult, it is crucial to my happiness. It isn’t acceptable for anyone to treat you without respect especially if they are supposed to be your friend:“Your value does not decrease just because someone is unable to see your worth.”
05 | Make your bed every morning.
If I walk into my room midday and see a beautifully made bed, my whole life immediately feels put together. It’s actually a very calming morning ritual, and I always feel better about my life when it is done. So future Rowan, make your damn bed. Also, do the dishes before bed. If there is one thing that is worse than doing dishes at night, it’s seeing them in the sink first thing when you wake up in the morning.
06 | It’s okay to walk away.
Letting people go is so difficult, but you should always put yourself first. Never feel guilty for ending a bad relationship. If there is someone in your life that makes you feel like the worst version of yourself, or constantly puts you down please know that it’s okay to walk away.
07 | Call your grandparents as often as possible.
There is nothing more reassuring than calling your grandparents for a quick catch up. Some days you’ll talk for three minutes, and others it will be half an hour before you hang up. These conversations will stay with you for years. Cherish them all, and go out of your way to make them happen more often. I can guarantee that you will hang up feeling peacefully happy and full of love.
08 | Enjoy the ocean.
I truly believe that everyone must live near the ocean at some point in their life. Sitting by the water and letting the salty air into your lungs while the waves beat evenly against the shore is extremely therapeutic. I always come away refreshed and inspired.
09 | Make more time for the people who make you laugh.
In this busy digital age it is easy to tell ourselves that we are too busy to socialize. But there is always time. We just need to find it. I’ve learned that the moments that truly matter are the moments when I’m surrounded by people who make me laugh so hard I can’t breathe. The online world can wait, but your life won’t.
10 | Ask for what you want.
If you go through life keeping your dreams a secret you’re never going to get what you want. Let’s say it’s Christmas time and you’ve been secretly dreaming about a certain book for weeks and weeks hoping you’d find it under the tree. You cannot be disappointed when it’s not there because you didn’t tell anyone you wanted it. It’s the same thing in life.
11 | Go for it.
I had been thinking about making this blog public for two whole years. I kept telling myself that the timing wasn’t right, or my writing wasn’t good enough until I’d built up walls of excuses that kept me from just trying it out. Now, blogging is one of my favourite hobbies. It makes me happy, keeps me inspired and has let me connect with so many amazing people. Let your fears and doubts go, and just go for the things you truly want.
12 | Don’t make excuses for yourself.
This kind of goes along with the above “lesson”, but stop making excuses for yourself. If you’re late to something, don’t blame it on the bus or rattle off a list of reasons why you were late. Plan ahead, or just apologize. I absolutely hate when a friend bails on me for some reason and tries to play it off with a million excuses about why they weren’t reliable. It doesn’t help you in the long run, and learning to be accountable for your actions is so important.
13 | Let yourself be open.
Be open to love, to people, to experiences and to new ideas. Take that semester abroad, read a book someone recommended to you that you didn’t think you’d like and make friends with someone you normally wouldn’t. These experiences are so enriching and important.
14 | Don’t take everything personally.
I can get so sensitive when people are rude to me, or say mean things when they don’t even know me. Lately when these things happen I’ve been trying to take a breath and think about what might have happened that day to make the person feel a little off. Everyone has bad days, so when I feel like I’m not being treated fairly I try to think of how the other person is feeling. It’s not always about me.
15 | Stop comparing yourself to others.
Everyone needs to work on this. Especially with social media constantly filling our time. I can spend a whole evening feeling down about my blog simply because of all the other fantastic bloggers in the world. It’s extremely unproductive and unfair to myself because my journey in blogging is going to be completely different from anyone elses. Sometimes I have to take a step back and think about how ridiculous it is that I’m spending so much energy comparing myself to someone that has been blogging for 5 years.
16 | Learn to love the things that make you different.
If I’m going to be totally honest, university has been pretty difficult for me. I’ve struggled to find people that have similar interests to myself and that has been a little bit isolating. But at the end of the day, I have found a couple people that appreciate and maybe even share my interests, and I’m staying true to myself. I love the fact that staying true to the things that make me different has actually pushed me to be the person I want to be.
17 | People change and you will too.
People change, relationships fail. And it’s okay. Sometimes change are for the best, and sometimes it might not be, but everyone deserves to be happy. You will find yourself changing over the years, and it’s important to trust that in the end everything will work out.
18 | Forgive and forget.
Life is too short to hang on to grudges. If there is someone that you’re worried to run into because of a falling out you’re wasting precious time and energy. Take all of those feelings and let them out in one deep breath. Decide right now to let everything go, and move on. There are so many more important things to focus on.
19 | Connect with family.
I feel so fortunate to know many of my older relatives. I can honestly say that most of my Great Aunts and Uncles know me well and that I have a relationship with their kids and grandkids. Spending time with them has become so important, and it makes me sad sometimes that my cousins haven’t had the chance to build a relationship with them.
20 | Do what you love.
When I was 10 years old I realized that I loved beautiful things and interior design. 11 years later and I still want to be an interior designer. Nothing makes me happier! It makes me sad that it’s taken me all these years to start thinking seriously about finding a future in interior design. Many of my interests have changed over the years, and I think the fact that this passion has lasted this long is really powerful. I can’t wait to graduate so that I can finally pursue this passion!
21 | Love yourself.
Tell yourself every day that you are enough. Remember that you deserve the absolute best. Don’t let your insecurities get in the way of your life, and give yourself your best chance. There is no one else in the world that will be able take care of you as well as you can take care of yourself.
Well, that was a lot of words! Thanks so much for reading. I’ll talk to you soon!