26 Things I've Learned by 26

 July 29th was my 26th birthday, and I reflected on how I could write a meaningful blog post that summarizes my feelings towards this new chapter of my life, so what better way than to look at the past and talk about what I've learned!

I was inspired to do this post by many, many others I've seen use this format, so I hope my contribution resonates with some of you and the things you may have learned while traversing through life.

13 Serious Things

1. No matter where I travel, I always bring myself

This was something I've been faced with again and again, whether it's short term trips or long term stays in different countries, the one thing that will always accompany me on these journeys is myself. This means that any problems I have, any fears I carry, or even just neutral feelings will always be part of the deal. Whenever I move, I always feel limitless as if I can just 'reinvent' myself and create a whole new me, but really it's more similar to 'method acting' a part in my life, as if I'm performing for myself and others. Eventually, my authentic self will come forward, with all of it's positive and negative points.

2. People follow you, whether you like it or not

This is something I really wish I knew when I was in grade school. Every person I've ever met at school, online, etc has the possibility to click a follow button on any social media app and just follow updates about my personal life till the end of time. I think if I would have known that everyone I ever meet would be able to 'access' me forever, I may have been a different person or re-thought some things I've done or said.

3. Life is short - wear whatever you want

I have always been a huge fan of vintage clothing and time-period themed things, but I hesitated to really incorporate them into my life because I was worried of what people would think about me professionally. I thought it might make me seem naive or unprofessional. Then one day, I realized I didn't care anymore and that if I wanted to wear a big circle skirt and heels, I should just wear it! It wasn't even a big deal, I think for some people this kind of period fashion is actually considered 'cool', as I've gotten some compliments during my internship.

4. You'll find true love when you aren't looking for it

I was definitely NOT looking for a boyfriend when I met my current boyfriend Guillaume. I had recently gotten out of an almost 4 year relationship and was traveling to Paris to meet my best friend for Valentines Day, but when I met Guillaume something just clicked in a magical way. We had been friends online for years, but once we were together the chemistry was electric, I knew I had found something special. As soon as you stop looking for 'the one', they will find you.

5. Our parents are people too

I learned this a few years ago, but it still rings true. When we are children, we see our parents as superheros who know how to do everything, can do no wrong, and somehow have things all figured out. In reality, I'm sure there were moments where my parents felt lost, unsure, scared or sad when confronted with different situations. Nobody is a perfect person and thus it follows that the perfect parent doesn't exist, as you get older you accept the flaws your parents have and recognize that they are just doing their best, like everyone else in this world.

6. It's easy to mistake a friend and a foe

There are some people in this world who are simply not good friends. They are never there for you, you feel like you're constantly fighting to keep the relationship alive, and your initiatives always feel one sided. Sometimes, those friends will choose to walk out of your life and sometimes you have to be the one to remove them, but either way it's very easy to mistake someone who you thought was your friend, for someone who doesn't wish the best for you. Though it hurts, you're better off without them.

7. Being diagnosed can change everything

I've gone through some mental health struggles over the years and been through some difficult situations. These are things I mostly keep to myself, and usually try not to share on this blog. However, I will disclose that, after being misdiagnosed with a mental health condition in 2015, I was reassessed and diagnosed correctly in 2020. This has opened my eyes to new forms of treatment, new therapists, new resources and ultimately new ways to try and continue to heal and care for myself. For this, I'm very grateful.

8. You don't have to be the best

I'm the kind of person that doesn't like to take up new hobbies or learn new languages due to fear of 'being bad' at something. I constantly guilt myself about not studying hard enough or knowing enough about a particular topic, and all this pressure is entirely self imposed. Being the best is not what matters, being curious and hardworking counts more.

9. You don't need alcohol to have fun

I had my first drink at 22 years old, and I wasn't really an avid drinker, however whenever I did have alcohol I would always blast past my limits and end up either feeling sick in the morning or doing something stupid the night before. These days I've decided to stop spending money on alcohol and focus on just having a good time without it, which isn't that hard at all!

10. It's really easy to be the 'Well when I lived in X country.." person

I'll admit, I've said some of these statements ironically, but I sometimes find myself quoting my experience living in different countries to people as if I'm some international expert on what's what for each destination. News flash: Living in Sicily for 6 months didn't make me the authority on what's good there. Still, I found that it's really easy to be the obnoxious person who talks about their 'onsen stay in Hokkaido' or 'honest thoughts on Marseille', so I'm trying to keep my comments to myself unless asked!

11. Give back the energy that people give to you

If you have a friend that often cancels on you, don't rely on them. If you have a classmate who can't seem to get projects turned in on time, don't expect them to do much. Of course, you always have the option to get rid of these people, but understand that people are flawed and no one will be the perfect friend, partner, etc. It's better to just manage your expectations and plan around unreliable people.

12. Your childhood timeline probably won't be your reality

I've spoke about this in a previous post, but as a child I thought I'd have a kid by now! My real life timeline doesn't perfectly match up to the one I wrote in my journal at 13, and that's okay. I think kid me would look at my life now and understand the path I'm on.

13. Good health is your most precious asset

I'm so lucky that I'm fit, able to do all the tasks I need to successfully navigate my day, and mentally sound enough to hold down a job. This is a blessing that many people don't have, and though it can be easy to take this for granted, it's important to recognize the gift of good health. 

13 Fun Things

14. Red lipstick and black eyeliner are the perfect makeup combination for almost any look.

This has essentially become my 'makeup uniform' and I think I've got it down pat, complete with a tiny star below my right eye that I've been doing for a decade!

15. Prepare your karaoke songs in advance

As a karaoke enthusiast, I was often faced with the 'Oh god what do I sing now' dilemma when choosing a song, so to counter this I made a private Youtube playlist with songs I like singing. Best choice I've made in a while.

16. Don't pay for subscriptions

I can proudly say I don't have a single subscription! Any access I've ever had to things like Hulu, Spotify or Netflix have been through past partners or friends, and there's no way I'm changing that.

17. Reading books is an awesome past-time

I've been doing reading challenges on Goodreads since 2019 and they are awesome. As a kid I read anything I could get my hands on, and rediscovering that hunger for reading as an adult has been an amazing feeling.

18. Write a journal, your future self will thank you

I love reading my journals from when I was a kid, so when I turned 25 I decided to start journaling again with the goal of doing it for the next 5 years. I'm happy to report that I'm still doing it!

19. It's okay to really, really love things

I'll admit I get obsessive about things easily, and I'm the type that like to learn as much as possible about a particular thing and geek out. Some people will try to make you feel lame for liking the things you like. I advise you to cut them out of your life ASAP and continue being yourself.

20. Cooking is way more fun when you have Youtube video going

I cannot tell you how many times I've queued up an hour long Youtube deepdive before preparing dinner, but it's become my favorite way of relaxing and getting in the 'cooking zone'.

21. You don't have to blow tons of money on 'self care'

I see people buying really expensive makeup, skincare and haircare because it's trending online and promises to give life changing results. Honestly? I buy mostly drugstore stuff and weed through what works for me and what doesn't. Don't drop a fortune on a trendy product, just stick to what works for you.

22. Social media is not real life

Instagram is not real life. Twitter is not real life. Everything we post online is curated for everyone to think we are living our 'best life', and even I'm guilty of this. I've learned to stop comparing myself to Instagram bikini models, granola moms with aesthetic houses and perfectly dressed babies, or girlboss entrepreneurs who claim you can make millions if you 'just take their course'. 

23. I'm really bad at keeping plants

I have to be honest... my green thumb is nonexistant. I've tried so many times to be a good plant mom, but it's time to face the music: I suck at keeping plants.

24. I'm awful at selling things online

I've tried Facebook Marketplace, Ebay, Vinted, Leboncoin, etc but no matter how many photos I post, how much I include in the description, or how much I lower the price, no one buys from me! I have no idea how these Poshmark girlies do it.

25. Don't waste money on degrees to 'name drop'

This may be controversial, but I think that degrees that put you 100k in debt are just not worth it. Many people that go to top schools pay to have a fancy name on their resume, but are they really learning 'better' than everyone else? If you want a degree, choose a school that works for your budget and let your passion and drive guide you. People that are obsessed with 'university rankings' probably aren't the type of people you want to have around you anyway.

26. Whenever you have a problem/concern, Google it and add 'reddit' at the end

I do this ALL THE TIME. Whenever I have a concern about something and want to see if this is normal or how other people solved it, I write down what I'm feeling in a short phrase and add 'reddit' at the end. Life changing.

I hope you enjoyed my list, and here's to the next year of my life! 26, welcome :D