23 Life Lessons in 23 Years
As I embark on my 23rd year of life, I thought I’d take the time to do a little self reflection. You know, just really sit down and let my mind freely think about the good and bad experiences in my life thus far. I’m grateful that the good outnumber the bad, but it seems the bad experiences are the ones that teach you the most life lessons. Why is that? I have so many good memories, but what benefit do they have other than being pleasant to think about? What was the takeaway? Why don’t I have the keys to success because of my overall great life? I feel like the answer to my original question is a very simple one, but clearly too simple for me to figure out. I guess it really doesn’t matter, but it is a little food for thought.
As a blogger, I honestly just talk about random shit that a lot of people probably don’t care about. At first it was just fashion, now I talk about my life …… like what? I find myself struggling because of it, because I’m like an open limited edition book. I like talking about myself and my life but I’m extremely private at the same time. It doesn’t make sense. So here I am, telling y’all 23 of the most important life lessons I’ve learned so far without talking about the specific life experience that I learned it from while giving you just enough information for you to understand how I learned the lesson. Nothing better than a lengthy blog post that requires a little critical thinking, right?
People will mind everyone’s business but theirs.
Good thing I learned how to mind mine early on. I don’t think people realize how much stress their causing themselves by worrying about the next person. If what they’re doing is negatively affecting another person, then that’s a different story; but if you’re just bent out of shape because what their doing doesn’t align with your values then you need to grow up. If a man wants to be with another man, that’s his choice (not your business). If a woman decides to get an abortion, that’s her choice (not your business). If a woman decides she doesn’t want to have children, that’s her choice (and still not your business). Let people live. Save yourself the energy and lay off the judgements.
2. Learn yourself before committing yourself to another person.
This one may come as a surprise considering I’m engaged to my high school sweetheart, but I’m honestly speaking from the heart (and obvious experience). LEARN YOURSELF before you get in too deep with another person. Know the things you like, know how to bring yourself pleasure, know the things you dislike, and at least have an idea of what you want in life. I’ve always known what I wanted for the most part, you know, to have a family, a booming business and financial freedom, but the issue was with everything else. I didn’t know what I needed from him to be satisfied, and trust, this isn’t just about sex. I was honestly clueless on romantic relationships. The longer we were together, of course I learned, but things would have be a whole lot better in the beginning if I knew myself more.
3. People will absolutely take advantage of you if you let them.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ll admit I’ve gotten a little pessimistic about life. However, I still try to look at the human race as good overall. Despite all of the nonsense we see on the news everyday, I know there are people out here doing more good instead of harm. I feel like I can say that with confidence. I won’t dwell on this one for long, all I have to say is don’t be naive. You know a lot more than you think you do.
4. Mental health is important.
I’m glad mental health has become a thing that’s more acceptable to openly discuss. It’s just as important as your physical health, but for whatever reason we don’t treat it as such. Talking about me specifically, my mental health had always been fine until about two years ago. Long story short, I just had a lot of shit going on with a lot of significant changes in my life and it was hard dealing with it all. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in all the chaos in your life and letting it consume you that you tend to forget that it’s all temporary. We have the power to change our situations, and if we don’t feel like we have the strength we just have to let time do the work. I feel like that’s a life lesson on it’s own, but just keeping it in mind helped me through that rough patch.
5. Post-grad depression is very real.
And it falls right in line with my last point.
We’d all expect that our degrees would immediately open doors for us straight out of college. When in reality, you’re actually blessed if you had the opportunity to jump right into your career. It took me three months to find a job that I was satisfied with, but at that point I was desperate and probably would have accepted any job. As a senior in high school I never would have thought that in four years I’d have a Bachelors Degree and still have to settle for a job that was essentially my last resort. I’ll tell you what, though, I’ve never been so humbled in my entire life. Post-grad is no joke, so check on your recently graduated friends. It’s tough out here for a lot of us.
6. If your career path doesn’t require a degree, think twice about going to college.
It’s all fun and games until you’ve officially been graduated for six months and you have to begin paying back your student loans. I’m close to 50k in debt from student loans, so I would have to pay over $600 a month just to have them paid off within 10 years. That’s ridiculous, right? 600 a month for a degree that really didn’t even get me where I wanted to be. Would I have been able to start out as a supervisor without any prior management experience? Probably not. So I don’t feel like it was a complete waste of the last four years of my life; though, I’m sure I could have taken a cheaper route and still been able to make a “livable wage.” It’s not that I ever felt that I needed a degree to have my own personal styling business, because I don’t. I liked the idea of having those credentials and a higher education, that’s literally it. I obviously expected more corporate-level job opportunities to come my way, but hey, it is what it is at this point. Nothing will ever be wrong with continuing your education after high school, all I’m saying is, if your dream job doesn’t require a degree, there are other ways to get a jumpstart in your career that doesn’t include college.
7. All experience is experience.
From post-grad depression to “should I really even have gone to college” to the appreciation I have for my first job as a college graduate. Yes, I did settle. But do I hate it? Not at all. It’s in my field, so I actually enjoy it for the most part. It was my absolute last resort because it’s in the retail industry, and I’ve worked in retail long enough to despise it. The hours suck, for one, and two, so do people. Granted, you’re going to have to deal with people no matter the job, but the goal was to have clients which I can essentially choose, rather than customers that I have no control over. Everyday is a gamble because one day I can smoothly make it through a shift, and the next I can have five customer complaints over the most minuscule things that a) truly do not matter or b) are not in my control. What I’m grateful for, however, is that I was able to start out as a supervisor; and it’s in the merchandising department in a major department store. So not only am I putting my degree to work, I’m gaining management / leadership experience while I do it. Having worked in retail for the number of years that I have, it was definitely time, it’s just that you never expect to be able to start out in a management role in a company that you’ve never worked for. ESPECIALLY being fresh out of college and younger than everyone else. Excuse me while I continue to swim in my pride.
8. Wedding planning really isn’t that fun.
I waited a long ass time to officially be able to begin planning my dream wedding just to realize how shitty the whole process is. Everything is expensive, and you realize how unrealistic it is to spend that much money on one day. I’m honestly over it; so for those of you who may have thought that I abandoned my wedding planning series, I didn’t, I just literally haven’t thought about wedding planning since that last post. I’m like 60% set on my new plan in regard to the wedding, so stay tuned on that post coming soon.
9. Living is expensive. Period.
Why are mattresses so expensive? Doesn’t everyone deserve a good nights rest? Why do I still have to pay $250 for a medical bill when I have insurance? Why can’t I get a decent living room set without paying $1500??? Rugs are too much. Washer and dryers are too much. I can even begin to express how fed up I am with not being able to afford quality things in life. I deserve better than this.
10. Vaginas are sensitive. Care for it as such.
Your pH can just about be thrown off by anything … and it doesn’t mean that you have poor hygiene. Wearing too tight clothes, sex, eating the wrong foods, and even certain kinds of underwear can make your girl unhappy. That’s why probiotics exist. These capsules contain millions of live cultures that are supposed to balance the good and bad bacteria in your vagina, and it only takes one per day. I’ve been taking the Renew Life Women’s Probiotic for a couple of weeks now, so it’s kind of early to say if I recommend them or not. There are hundreds of brands with different combinations of probiotic strands and live culture counts, so do your research to figure out exactly what you would need. Another thing that has helped me tremendously are Boric Acid Suppositories. You insert them into your vagina with a tampon-like applicator, and over a course of a day it melts and helps to rebalance your pH. I highly recommend these for anyone that may have recurrent BV or yeast infections. Once it melts it does get messy, so it’s best to use them right before bed and to wear a thin panty liner the following day.
10. Trust your gut.
They say you should always trust your gut. People raise red flags for a reason. The hairs stick up on the back of your neck for a reason. You feel like a risk is worth taking for a reason. Look into it. TRUST YOURSELF. Don’t always give people the benefit of the doubt and never become complacent in your current situation if you know it can be better.
11. Don’t stress what you can’t change.
I know it, but I still haven’t fully learned it yet. I’m really bad with staying stuck on things that have already happened. It’s kind of frustrating because I know I should move on but I can’t. Sometimes things won’t cross my mind for weeks, then all of a sudden I can’t sleep because I’m thinking about everything at once. When I vent to my dad about life, he always says “you have to keep moving.” Either you can stay where you are or progress, but you’re not doing yourself any favors by worrying about the past.
12. Don’t compare yourself to other people.
There will always be someone better than you. Smarter than you. More attractive than you. And more successful than you. It’s life. But on the flip side, you’re always going to be that “more” person in comparison to someone else. Honestly, instead of worrying about other people, do yourself a huge favor and just live your life. Stop wishing that you were in another person’s shoes because they’re doing better than you. Put in the work and you could have the same qualities in yourself that you’re envying from another person.
13. You really don’t know how you’re going to react to a situation until you’ve been in it.
I know we’ve all watched a movie where a character was in a situation and we mentally told ourselves how we would react if we were in their position. I think it’s easy to come to that conclusion because we don’t actually ever expect to be in the supposed situation. Throughout my four years of college, I definitely had some unanticipated experiences, ones of which I thought I’d know how to handle. But it’s different when it’s actually happening. Everything isn’t so black and white so we get this shitty gray area and don’t really know what to do about it. It sucks, but just how you thought you would have had it all figured it out, you can still get to that point. It’ll just require a lot more effort.
14. Save money.
I DO know how to save money. I just don’t. It hadn’t really been a cause for concern up until I graduated, which is when I hated myself for not doing it. Every semester I was getting over 6k from my refund check and I didn’t save a dime of it. It would have been excusable if I used what I had left after paying my rent to pay off my credit cards … but I didn’t. So come graduation time, I’m jobless with no savings account to fall back on and all of my credit cards are maxed out meaning my credit score is shit. How was I open to relocating to another state for my career when I probably wouldn’t have gotten approved for an apartment? I didn’t think that through at all. I know it’s harder to save money as a college student, but just remember that something is better than nothing. Y’all don’t want to end up looking crazy like I did.
And I’m not just talking about college students. If you work, you need to be building your savings account, period. I don’t think the importance of having emergency money is talked about enough.
15. Life really isn’t fair.
Bad things happen to good people. And good things happen to bad people. The justice system is absolutely screwed and it probably will always be. I wish it was one of those things that I stressed because I could change it, but it’s not. I typically believe that everything happens for a reason, but when I think about innocent people being murdered and rapists getting a slap on the wrist, its hard to imagine what the reasoning behind that is.
16. You are absolutely entitled to your own feelings.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when people try to invalidate my feelings. It's toxic behavior. No, I’m not tripping. No, I’m not blowing the situation out of proportion. And I promise I do not care that if it were you, you wouldn't make a big deal out of it. I’m the one being affected, so I’m the one that has every right to feel however I choose to feel. I don’t care if you were in the same exact situation yesterday; if you brushed it off, congratulations, but do not try to make me feel crazy for not reacting the same way. I don’t need the negativity.
Never let anyone attempt to guilt trip you because they don’t have the decency to try to understand why you feel the way you do.
17. You can wear anything you want if you have the confidence.
I’ve always hated when I get complimented by someone, and they say “I wish I could pull something off like that.” I’m like what’s honestly stopping you? I get every body type isn’t flattered by every type of garment, so that’s not what I’m referring to. I mean simple things. Like mixing prints, or wearing two types of stripes. Or even pairing certain colors together. What I’ve concluded on women that intentionally limit what they can wear is that they have some sort of mental block. They tell themselves they can’t without even trying. I don’t know if it’s because they’re scared of what other people will think, or what. But if you’re that woman, I’m here to tell you to stop. Like now. If you’re rocking an outfit with your head held high then there isn’t shit anyone to say about you without looking like a hater. I’ve seen people wear some questionable outfits that I for sure wouldn’t have chosen for myself, but they wear it so confidently that all I can do is applaud them for it. Think higher of yourself and rock that look that you told yourself you couldn’t.
18. Surround yourself with those who benefit you.
I remember when I was younger, I always wanted this large group of friends and to feel like I was a part of a clique. I mean, I knew people and people knew me, but I only had a handful of people that I was friends with outside of school. Fast forward to college ( and now ), I feel blessed to have a smaller circle with a solid group of people. They’re not just for fun and games and I actually feel that they serve a purpose in my life. I can confide in them and vent if I need to. We all support each other and strive to better ourselves. And most importantly, when I’m around them, I feel at ease. Like they literally bring me peace. If you can’t say that about the people that you associate with then you may want to think twice about if it’s a relationship worth keeping.
19. You can have just about anything you want if you work for it.
Nothing comes easy unless you’re rich. Not only can you afford all the material things you want in life, you can buy your looks too! Us regular folks don’t have that luxury, so if we want it we have to put the blood, sweat, and tears into it. It takes time and dedication to get where we want to be, but if we want it bad enough we won’t mind the process. For the last three years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve wanted it to blow up so bad so that I can begin making a profit from it. I know I put out good content, the look of my website is professional, so I know the reason its not where I want it to be is because of my lack of consistency. I just feel it in my heart that if I stuck to a schedule with posting I’d be making money in no time. I’ve been making excuses on top of excuses on top of excuses and I’m at the point where I have none left. If I can’t make time for it then I don’t want it as bad as I think I do.
20. Relationships are only hard if you make them.
I stand by this 100%. Relationships are only hard if you make them, it’s not something that just comes with the commitment. Is it the compromise aspect? Or the arguments? Because that shouldn’t be hard if it’s for the sake of being with the person you love, and if you’re with someone that you’re actually compatible with, arguments are pretty rare. This isn’t just me talking out the side of my neck; I say these things as a person who has been in a long-term relationship for 6.5 years, and it was one of the easiest things I’ve ever done until we made it hard for ourselves. Treat your partner right, respect them, and stay loyal to them and I promise you the relationship will grow beautifully.
21. Appreciate the things you’re used to.
The two most important men in my life are the two people who have done the absolute most for me in these last few years. My dad and my future hubby. No matter the situation, my dad has always been there to make something happen, even if its super last minute. He’s goes out of his way to make sure that I’m good. When I wrecked my car he fixed it himself. When I couldn’t pay my rent, he spotted me. He paid my lawyer fees and countless other things, and to this day he’s never asked for a penny in return. When I think of being a parent some day, he and my mom are exactly how I want to be for my kids. They absolutely deserve the world and I want to be able to give them at least a quarter of it.
Then there is Deion … that man has me no matter what. He’s helped me in so many ways and majority of the times I’ve never even had to ask. He does little things, like getting me food while he’s out without me asking, just to show me that he thinks about me, and he’s always been that way. I’m so used to it that I feel like sometimes I forget to thank him, even though in my head I’m always thankful. He’s truly one of the most selfless people I have ever met and I want him to know his efforts never go unnoticed.
Your life or someone’s life that you’re close to can be cut short in an instant, so I can’t stress how important it is to never take things for granted. Appreciate the little things and the people that do them for you.
22. Appreciate your parents for having boundaries.
I’m actually chuckling to myself as I’m thinking about how this is a legitimate statement that I agree with. Probably because I’ve realized that my parents really weren’t that bad, they were just looking out for me. Yes I had a curfew, but I still got to go to most places that I wanted to. I was allowed to have a boyfriend, and we could go out alone. I just couldn’t go to his house. He could come over to my house, but my room was off limits. I had a TV in my room, but I had parental locks on them until I was older. I couldn’t spend the night at my friend’s house, but she could always spend the night at mine. I had my own car, I just had to ask / tell my parents anytime I went somewhere. I get why, though. With all the craziness going on in the world, I can understand why a parent would be a little overprotective. It’s an important part of the job, right? I do think some parents take it a little overboard, and I know it’s hard to see it in a positive light as a child, but in a lot of cases it's all out of love.
23. Love yourself.
We’re always overly critical of ourselves. That’s why self love is always the hardest to conquer. We emphasize our flaws entirely too much, we let others joke about our flaws, and in turn, we forget to recognize the qualities we love about ourselves. Maybe its your hair that you hate. Or you wish you weighed more or less. Or maybe it’s something you can’t control, like having a big nose or freckles. For me, it was my teeth. I was extremely insecure about them until I dished out $3000 for braces a few years ago. I didn’t let it consume me, but closed mouth smiles were definitely my best friend. Deion actually boosted my confidence during that time because he convinced me that my teeth really weren’t that bad. Looking back on it, they really weren’t, but like I said, we’re always our own biggest critics, even when it comes to our intangible qualities; we have to stop being so hard on ourselves. Stop stressing the things we can’t change and change the things that we have control over.
Love your natural hair. Love your height. Love your complexion. Love your lips. Love your body. And most importantly, love yourself enough to know your worth and don’t put up with anyone’s bullshit. You’re better than that.