35 life lessons for my 35th birthday

Similar to New Year’s Eve, birthdays tend to be a moment in life where we reflect on where we’ve been and where we are going. Most people tend to stress out about being in their 30s, while I’ve loved it.

I’ve become the woman I was meant to be (although, still a work in progress!), I live my life more authentically than ever before, have a great zest for life and am deeply grateful for my tribe. As I approach my 35th birthday, thanks to COVID, I have had more time to reflect and think, I put together a list of 35 life lessons and thoughts that I’ve learned along the way.

  1. Self-love is so damn important. Make sure to put yourself first – in doing so, everything else falls into place. Learn to love your body, your insecurities, your flaws – they are a part of the beautiful human you are.
  2. Banish the drama -learn how to set healthy boundaries and trust the vibes you get. I’ve learned to love some people from afar. I’ve learned the hard way to not ignore a feeling of being uncomfortable around someone, to trust the vibes I get, my gut instinct.
  3. Aging is a privilege. Not everyone gets to look in the mirror one day and see laugh lines – cherish that.
  4. I know the importance of mastering a few easy cocktails but haven’t learned this life skill yet. Until I do, I’ll continue to support my local bars for a good Paloma, Moscow mule or spritzer.
  5. Know how to appropriately apologize. If you need help with this, listen to Brene Brown’s podcast with Harriet Lerner (Unlocking Us – May 6th episode).
  6. When someone is hurting, it’s ok to say that you don’t know what to say. Most of the time, they just need to know you are thinking of them and are there if you need them. So, don’t worry about saying the right thing, make that call or send that text.
  7. Date through all the seasons. While I believe you can quickly fall in love with someone, I also believe in dating through all the seasons. Grieve with that person, argue with them, have the hard conversations about money, kids, politics, etc. Make sure they are someone who will support you in all areas of life (personally, professionally, emotionally, spiritually, sexually), and that you have similar values, morals and ideas about a life together before you walk down the aisle.
  8. Take care of your skin. Use lotion daily, moisturize your face, put on sunscreen and drink lots of water.
  9. Acknowledge childhood scars and trauma, then sit in a therapist’s office to work through them. “If you don’t heal from what hurt you, you’ll bleed on people who didn’t cut you.”
  10. An expectation that has not been discussed, is a thought. I don’t remember where I heard this, but it’s stayed with me (so credit to that person). Communicate with your friends, family and partner about your expectations. If they don’t know what you want and need, how can they show up in that manner for you?
  11. Learn to speak in more than one love language. Learning to recognize and speak in more than one love language is important. We all want to feel loved and appreciated, but not everyone speaks our same love language.
  12. Learn the difference between lifelong friendships and situationships. Not everyone that comes into our life is meant to stay, and that’s ok. Hold onto the memories, the lessons, wish them well and move forward.
  13. Be kind to the environment. Seriously though, this beautiful planet of ours needs you to give a damn. You don’t have to be perfect, but we all need you to try. Stop using plastic bottles. Recycle. Refuse straws in restaurants.
  14. Fight fair. We are going to make mistakes and hurt someone we care about. But listen to one another, talk through things, compromise and don’t be mean.
  15. Celebrate the baby wins in life. These are the wins that keep us going, they are little ‘power ups’ of motivation and reminders that the hard work is paying off.
  16. Have discipline, because you won’t always be motivated. Some days running is the last thing I want to do, but I’ve never regretted a workout. Discipline leads to freedom when it comes to managing an eating disorder, reaching financial goals and more.
  17. Practice gratitude daily. Being mindful, appreciative and in the moment leads to a happier, less stressful and more meaningful life.
  18. Be vulnerable. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Have the hard conversations, open up and be authentic. Realize that vulnerability is strength, not weakness.
  19. Learn how to fact check everything you read on the internet. Fake news is a major issue – so please, fact check before you post something.
  20. Be an informed voter. We are personally responsible for becoming more ethical than the society we grew up in. Pay attention to the news (unbiased, factual sources only please). Research candidates. Email your elected officials about issues you are passionate about. Elections matter. Your voice matters.
  21. Support local businesses, artists, entertainers. They are the backbone of our community, the safe spaces we need, our friends, family and mentors. They are who we reach out to for donations to our fundraisers, catering for events, people who stand beside us at protests for our own equality. Support them.
  22. Be kind. It really isn’t that hard. Smile at strangers. Hold doors open. Tell someone they did a good job. Offer to help.
  23. Be appreciative of everyone you work with, including those that take out the trash. Without them, you can’t do your job – they are not below you.
  24. Diversify your social media. If you continue to live in your bubble of the world, you’ll never see life through someone else’s perspective. Just because police brutality hasn’t happened to you, doesn’t mean it’s not an issue. Amplify the voices of people of color, the LGBTQ community, refugees, etc.
  25. Always remember your why. And don’t be ashamed of it – your ‘why’ may not be what everyone thinks it should be, and that’s ok. You changed careers because you wanted to help others and feel inspired, not solely to make a better life for your family? Awesome! Your why is what motivates you each morning and may change as the years pass.
  26. Travel. This world is breathtakingly beautiful. Get out and see it now, don’t wait. See other cultures, experience life in a different part of the world. See animals in their natural habit. “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us”.
  27. Be authentic. You are inspiring others that you don’t even know are watching by being you, living your authentic life.
  28. “You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously.” Huge props to Sophia Bush for this quote – it’s a reminder that even if we are hurting, healing, growing or working on ourselves, we are still amazing and worthy.
  29. Don’t be afraid to fall in love, get your heartbroken. I have learned so much about myself, life, relationships and more by falling in love and getting my heartbroken. It’s brutal, but also one of the most beautiful and amazing aspects of life.
  30. I’m not for everyone. The credit for this mindset goes to my friend Lee Cordell, owner of The Write Planner. We are not going to get along with everyone, we will disagree or simply not vibe with all we meet. And that’s ok. You can still be respectful, kind and learn from them; they are just not meant to be in our tribe.
  31. Leave conversations, relationships, jobs that require you to abandon yourself. I could have listed 35 different lessons from Glennon Doyle, but this is one of my favorites.
  32. Everything is figure-out-able. I love this mindset by Marie Forlo. We don’t climb a mountain by jumping to the stop, we climb one step at a time. So, when a situation seems impossible, break it down into small steps and just start.
  33. We never truly let go of the people who made an impact on us. We hold onto the memories, the lessons and enlightenment they gave us. And some of them we will always miss, care about and wish them well.
  34. Trust the author of your story – you. Write in that plot twist if you want. Choose happy. Afraid to make a move? Good, but go for it anyway. There’s no perfect time, we won’t always be ready – just go for it.
  35. Be humble and confident, not arrogant. “A mistake that makes you humble is better than an achievement that makes you arrogant.”
by megperk

I am a hospice consultant pharmacist who lives in Columbus, Oh. The past few years I’ve tried to use my voice more for women’s rights and empowerment, LGBTQ rights (I am bisexual), body image issues, eating disorders, the environment and mental health. I love to travel, and work a part time job to fund that passion. I’m also a runner, scuba diver, yogi, dog mom and more. I love to have vulnerable, open conversations, discuss astrology, books, movies and more.

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