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Society has a way of making us feel like failures when we do not follow the timeline that has been set out for us. School, graduate, career, partner, house, marriage, babies... this narrative is getting old. We deserve to live at our own pace and our journey does not have to be set out for us like that. Today, I turn 24! I want to share 24 things that I have learned while navigating the increasingly insane expectations of life. All of which are accomplishments of their own.
1. People are an acquired taste. They will not always like you and they do not have to.
2. Friends are important, but you will outgrow (some of) them like your favourite pair of jeans. Accept this.
3. Graduating from post-secondary is an amazing accomplishment. Make a big deal about it. Not going to post-secondary when it is expected of you is also a huge step. Be proud of yourself for making the choice either way.
4. It's rare to find your forever person the first try. Don't get discouraged by all the frogs.
5. Celebrate yourself as much as possible. We shouldn't only celebrate engagements, babies, and weddings anymore. New jobs, business ventures, new housing, going back to school: all acceptable things to celebrate. These are not small feats. Did your friend just get out of bed for the first time since a breakup? Awesome! Let's celebrate that, too!
6. High school will teach you to be competitive about everything, real life will teach you collaboration over competition.
7. Stay empowered and you will bless yourself with an amazing support group no matter where you go.
8. The only way you will learn what you are worth is after accepting less than you deserve. We all accept less than at some point, realize this as a lesson.
9. Don't be so hard on yourself about your shortcomings. Learn to speak kinder to and about yourself. For every negative thought, find a positive one.
10. Regardless of what people say, you can love someone without loving yourself completely. But it's better to learn to love yourself first before loving another. In other words: if you are alone, do not worry about finding love from another. Spend the time alone finding it within, the rest will come.
11. With that in mind, take the chance on love if you get it. There will be a million reasons not to, but if you feel it, then you should follow that feeling until the end.
12. Life doesn't owe you shit. Do not sit around thinking it does, you will waste precious time you could be spending working for what you want.
13. Loneliness will teach you a lot about yourself. Learn every possible lesson you can about how you function as a human being.
14. Age does not define wisdom. Self-awareness does.
15. There will be days when getting out of bed is the biggest thing you will accomplish, this is okay. As long as you are doing the best you can, you have nothing to be ashamed of.
16. Find out what triggers your bad and sad moods then avoid those things like the plague.
17. Make "no" your new best friend. Live on your terms. You are the one that will live with the consequences of your actions, not your family, friends or any other person in your life. Remember this always.
18. People will not always be able to hold your hand through tough situations. You must learn to hold your own.
19. Go on an adventure. Change your environment when you begin to feel stuck. Go outside and get fresh air. Just do something. Do whatever it is that makes you feel alive again.
20. Tell people how you feel about them more. Tell your friends you love them, tell your partner you can't imagine loving another, tell your dog he's a good boy. Tell people that they have a piece of your heart. Spread more love than hate. The world needs it.
21. Recognize that this is a big world and that you are one individual. Just because something isn't happening to you, doesn't mean you shouldn't fight for the sake of others.
22. Learn to apologize. Don't let your ego ruin your relationship with someone. You'll regret it later on.
23. Put 100% into everything you are passionate about. Don't spend time on things and people that you don't completely adore.
24. Learn to put yourself first. Your 20s are meant to be selfish. If you've been putting other's needs before your own, it's time to make a change. Before we know it, we will be married with kids (if that's what we want). There is no better time than right now to put you and your needs at the top of the list. Live your life, stop building a cage around yourself.