Here’s the thing about having a birthday on December 31; you reflect on your life in more depth than a person who doesn’t have a birthday on the biggest celebration of the year.
I think the reason why is that New Year’s Eve birthday’s can be seen in the duration of a 12-month calendar. Everyone celebrates a birthday every 365 days, but not like we do. Not only is it a New Year for Earth, it’s a new age for those who are born on December 31. I look back on so many things, not just my year as a whole, I look back and think, “how did 24 treat me?” I don’t think of it like, “how did 2018 treat me?”
With that said,
“Her dreams went out the door, when she turned 24,” from the hit “1985” by Bowling for Soup, proved to be true, but 24 just showed me who I’m supposed to be. Age 24 has tested me, gifted me, hated me, loved me and challenged me.
I’ve learned a lot just this year alone but here’s what I’ve learned over the last 25 years.
- Don’t take life too seriously: It’s too short to worry about the small things. Is it really going to matter in 15 minutes that someone messed up your order? Or that the line is moving too slow at the grocery store? Are you really going to get somewhere faster by speeding and driving recklessly? Probably not.
- Don’t be afraid to cut out toxicity: I’ve let go of people and things that didn’t make me happy anymore. People don’t deserve your support if they don’t support you. Things don’t deserve your time if it doesn’t make you happy. I’ve learned people shouldn’t keep you around just for convenience. You win some, you lose some. Sometimes, it’s just time to let go. And that’s okay.
- Go for it: Do all the things that scare you. Take risks, take the road less traveled. Go down the path where you can’t see the light. Don’t be scared if it’s wrong or right. You’ll never know what you’re capable of if you stay where it’s comfortable.
- Do things by yourself: Go shopping by yourself. Take yourself out on a nice walk. Go to that movie you’ve been eager to see. I’m one of the biggest extroverts I’ve ever met, and I love doing all the things by myself. It’s the little things.
- Speak your mind: This one can be scary, but if you don’t agree with something, don’t change your opinions to fit the climate. Don’t level to someone else’s thoughts and opinions when yours are just as valid.
- Accept the past: We’ve all been through shit in some way, shape or form. Just because something(s) happened, doesn’t mean that it has to define us. It doesn’t mean we have to stay in that place of darkness, even if we don’t know it at the time. I’m not saying it’s easy getting there or even knowing where to start. But I’ve learned that there is light. There is good. It does get better. I promise.
- Know your worth: No one knows what your good at or capable of than yourself, even if you don’t know it. There are always these expectations of who we should be as individuals that fit us into an unrealistic, intangible box. There are always people, women in particular, who feel the need to belittle each other down. We’re all capable of wonderful things. The only person who needs to believe in you, is yourself. And this point leads me to my next lesson:
- Different is better: Whether that’s in our opinions, style, personality, class, interests or dislikes, it’s always better to be different. We weren’t meant to be the same. No two bodies are the same, no two personalities are the same, nothing about any one of us is the same. That’s good. It’s supposed to be that way.
- Don’t compare yourself to others: This lesson I’ve learned a lot about in 2018. What’s best for someone else, isn’t what’s going to be best for me, or you reading this. We’re all on our own journey, living our own (hopefully best) life. How I plan to get to point B is no less than how someone else gets to the same exact point B.
- Money (sadly) doesn’t grow on trees: I’ve learned that the money I have, the little I do have, needs to be saved. I can’t spend it willy-nilly. The night out with friends will happen again, the movie I really want to see will be On Demand in the next few months, I can live without name-brand products. I plan on *really* saving my money, any penny I can, come 2019.
- Take care of your health: It’s so, so important. What I’ve gone through this year aren’t life-threatening conditions, but I’ve learned if I don’t change aspects of my life now, it’s just going to be harder down the road. I’m done letting myself go. My body isn’t going to be in the same shape it is right now 10 years down the road, and if I want to keep up with everything life is going to throw at me, I want to be in the best shape possible.
- Be okay being alone: Your own company is the best company. Doing things alone and being alone are two different kinds of alone. Sometimes the peace of being with a good book, watching your favorite tv show or cooking what you love, at your own pace and comfort is so relaxing.
- Other people’s opinions on you is not your problem: I’m a people pleaser. I’ve always been this way. I’ve cared about what people thought about me, how I looked, I’ve been scared to eat around friends and family because of what they might or were thinking about me. Then I thought to myself, why do I care so much? If people have the energy to dislike me or say negative, or even mean, things about me, that’s their problem.
- Laugh a lot: It’s honestly the best medicine. Even if no one else is laughing, laugh anyway. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend laughing at things that aren’t funny. That’s obvious.
- Always be creative: There were a couple times in the last few years where I thought I needed to step back from theatre or singing because I believed I wasn’t good enough to keep something that made me so happy once I was out of college. I was wrong. Keep singing. Keep working at your craft. Being creative through various art forms is something we need more of in this world.
- There’s a difference between a job and career: In 2018 alone I’ve been through I think four different jobs. One was beginning to destroy my mental health, I traveled back and forth for three weeks for theatre (so worth it!), I got a job but left that for something I thought would get me to where I want to go and then left that job after two days because I felt so out of place. I know there’s a feeling people get where they know where they need to be. I felt that and now I’m taking the steps to get out just having a job to now building a foundation for my future career. It’ll take some time, but I’m figuring it out.
- Admit when you’re wrong: God, if I had a quarter for every time I was wrong about something, I’d have millions. Sometimes, we’re right. Sometimes, we’re wrong. It’s okay to be wrong. So many fights happen because someone won’t take responsibility for their actions from being either right or wrong. There’s a time and place for admitting when you’re right and especially when you’re wrong.
- Know when to listen: Everyone doesn’t want your opinion all the time. Being there for someone, no matter what situation, can be sitting there in silence from all parties. It can mean driving around in continuous circles throughout town just so someone can get out of the house for awhile. Sometimes people need to figure out what’s going on inside their head without the need for a comment or sense of judgement from someone else. Listening is powerful and we don’t do enough of it.
- Keep reading: I was never the reading type when I was younger. I’d be found doing anything else but reading. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school I truly appreciated reading for fun. I didn’t do so much reading during college, I did these last few summers. I made a goal to read more books in 2018 but that didn’t happen like I thought it would. Reading books is refreshing, going into a world unlike yours, but reading can also be from a magazine, news article, a Buzzfeed quiz, or learning how to make the perfect omelette. Just keep reading, exercise your mind to the fullest.
- “I am a work in progress”: This has been my motivation through every single hardship I’ve experienced. I first learned this from one of my favorite professors in college all the way back in 2012. It was the first day of Intro to Acting as a wee freshman who didn’t know what the hell she was doing but was told she was a work in progress. It stuck with me. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t remind myself of that. Truthfully, I don’t know if I would be even half the person I am, and continue to become, if it wasn’t for that phrase.
- Love yourself: This isn’t a lesson you learn overnight, in a day, week, month or even in a year. It’s a lifetime of understanding and patience. I’ve heard probably every negative word, phrase, comment and gesture in the last 25 years of my life. A lot of those feelings have stayed with me up until a few years ago. I’ve learned that what people think of me is their own problem. If they’re uncomfortable with the space I take up, it’s their own insecurity. I’m not going to apologize for loving myself exactly as I am; my size, my looks, my personality, my life and my choices. If someone doesn’t like it, oh well.
- Learn how to take constructive criticism: Now, I’m not saying you have to like it. During any of my theatre classes in college, giving constructive criticism was second nature. When giving or taking criticism, 9 out of 10 times it’s not even that bad. In anything we do, we want to get better. Listening to what other people have to say, with fresh eyes and new ideas, means what we’re doing is only going to get better. We can only go up with the help from others.
- Accept failure: Not everything we do is going to end with a perfect success story. Hell, even if we do succeed, doesn’t mean it was easy to get there. Everything we do have their battles, the uphill climb we weren’t expecting. Sometimes in our pursuit to get something we want or desire, we don’t: the door closes. Life is a series of high and lows and all the in-betweens. It’s okay to not succeed, it’s okay to fail. What’s not okay is if you let the failure define you; that you stop going after what you want in the midst of fearing you’ll fail again. Don’t do that, keep going.
- Never be afraid to ask for help: Asking for help doesn’t make you weak or incapable, it just means you need additional support. It can mean helping someone with their groceries. Maybe you’re asking someone to get something off the top shelf since you’re short. You could be asking for help when you don’t know what decision to make. Maybe you don’t know what to do and you need someone. Help comes in all ways and it should never be looked down upon when someone needs it.
- Everything happens for a reason: I’ve done so many things, have said (and written) a lot of words and have made too many right and wrong decisions. Even when I’ve made, what feels like my worst mistakes, there’s a reason why they happened. Things just don’t happen; there’s a reason behind everything we do and experience, even if we never learn the reason why. If I didn’t make all the decisions I’ve made up until this point in my life, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m thankful for every great and horrible decision I’ve made, the words I’ve said, the feelings I felt. It’s part of my story, it wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t supposed to.
Holy shit, I’m a quarter century old guys. I’m closer to 30 than I am to 20 now.
It’s been a wild ride and I’m excited to see how 25 turns out.
“It’s gonna be a Happy New Year.”