I’ve been meaning to make this post for a while (like, before I officially left my 20’s) but that obviously didn’t happen! So I now offer 20 life lessons and pieces of advice that I picked up over the last decade.

  1. Better late than never. I spent most of my childhood and teenage years being unapologetically unathletic (hand-eye coordination has never been a strength of mine!) and I used this as an excuse to not be physically fit. After college, my metabolism took a nosedive and I knew that sooner or later I had to find a form of exercise that suited me. At 25 I took my first yoga class; at 27 I started running; and at 28 I went rock climbing for the first time. Ultimately, after a lot of practice and patience these all became activities that I loved – I just had to be willing to set aside my ego and my fear of looking like an amateur.
  2. Nurture your friendships. Once you are out of school, your odds of making new friends decreases substantially. Everyone gets busy with work and life and family, and most friendships fall by the wayside. Spend time nurturing the relationships that matter, and always make time for a friend who is going through a rough patch (bonus points if you show up with either coffee or wine). If you aren’t there for people when they need you, they won’t return the favor. Nobody likes people who only show up when they need a shoulder to cry on.
  3. Avoid the comments section. If you want to see the absolute worst that humanity has to offer, read the comments section of anything. You could be reading an article about rescued puppies, and some jackass is going to leave a comment about how all puppies should be deported because they are taking away jobs from hardworking American kittens. Maintain your sanity and resist the urge to read the comments section. And whatever you do, do NOT feed the internet trolls.
  4. Look beyond differences in opinion. Sometimes for the sake of relationships, you have to be willing to look past differing viewpoints. We all have a relationship (or 10) with a loved one where certain subjects are off limits, hence the popular advice to never to discuss politics or religion at the dinner table. You can love a person even if you don’t always see eye to eye. Sometimes you just have to set aside your personal beliefs because the relationship is more important than your convictions. As my Grandpa used to say, “being right is being lonely”.
  5. Learn to stop apologizing. A few years ago I read a study that compared the number of times women apologize a day versus their male counterparts, and it hit really close to home because I was 100% guilty. I realized how much it affected my credibility when I would be in a meeting and I would begin a question by first apologizing. Or how many times I would commit the grave offense of brushing against someone in an elevator and I would offer a rushed “Sorry!!” when “Pardon me” would have been more appropriate. Save the apologies for actual indiscretions, not for simply existing.
  6. Learn to apologize. Not to be confused with number 5, I’m talking about offering a sincere atonement when you’ve actually hurt someone. Apologizing and then offering excuses doesn’t count. Apologizing when you don’t mean it doesn’t count. Apologizing because you expect the other person to reciprocate doesn’t count. A real apology needn’t be a long-winded ordeal, most times, simply saying “I’m sorry.” will suffice.
  7. Learn to accept an apology. Everyone makes mistakes, if someone is willing to swallow their pride and make amends- accept it.  Accepting an apology doesn’t mean that you forfeit the right to be hurt or upset, it just means that you value the person who is offering the condolences more than you value your ego. Life is too short to spend being angry – acknowledge your feelings, accept the apology, and move on.
  8. You don’t have to be good at something to have fun doing it. I started playing golf because Brendan is an avid golfer, and I wanted to be able to join him instead of spending Saturday mornings watching reruns on HGTV. I am a terrible golfer (again, that awful hand-eye coordination!). I’ve gotten to the point where I no longer swing and miss, but I don’t see my status as a golfer advancing far beyond the beginner stage. And you know what? I am totally ok with that. Golfing allows me to spend QT with my husband, and I get to watch him be totally in his element. Plus I get to day drink, ride in a golf cart, and spend time outside – these things totally make up for my terrible swing.
  9. Be informed. I know that watching the news can be soul-sucking, but by the time you are in your mid-twenties, ignorance is no longer bliss. You should at least have a basic understanding of current events, the economy, and who is at war with whom. Don’t be the person at the dinner party who asks if the Gaza Strip is a nightclub. And no, TMZ does not count as ‘news’. Celebrity gossip is to news as the Cleveland Browns are to professional football.
  10. Do no harm, but take no shit. I avoid conflict like it’s a communicable disease, and I consider this to be one of my best and worst qualities. Somewhere along the way, I realized that avoiding confrontation often means being taken advantage of. If someone is doing you wrong, it is perfectly ok to stand up for yourself. There’s a fine line between being a pacifist and being a pushover: don’t allow yourself to be steamrolled.
  11. Stop holding on to things that no longer serve you. I’ve seen way too many people spend their 20’s dating someone that was wrong for them simply because they were too afraid to let go; in fact, I was one of these people. I was also the type of person who would keep reading book that I didn’t enjoy simply because I was already 200 pages in. If someone or  something isn’t bringing you happiness, cut your losses and let that sh*t go.
  12.  You are what you eat. Food labels are confusing: this is 100% intentional. Processed food is inexpensive: this is also intentional. I’m going to avoid being soapbox-y here, but if you are putting something into your body, you should at least know what is in it and where it comes from. Your body is a temple,  don’t treat it like a landfill.
  13. Done is better than perfect. I’m a perfectionist by nature; for every 30 minutes of writing I do, I spend at least 60 minutes editing. I often have to remind myself of the Law of Diminishing Returns: at some point, returns are marginal and you just end up wasting time. Give something a good effort, review it once, and be done with it already.
  14. Accept yourself as it is. I spent way too much time as a young adult sun bathing until I was fried, or wearing jeans in the summer because my natural skin tone is the color of chalk. I realize now how ridiculous this was. I’m a pale person, nothing is going to change that. Wearing jeans in July only makes you pale and uncomfortable. Worry less about how you look and more about how you feel.
  15. Vote.  I realize that to most people, elections often feel like choosing whether you’d prefer to fall in to a pit of lava or be mauled by a bear – but this isn’t a reason not to vote. Even in the year 2016 there are many parts of the world where people are literally dying for the right to vote; if you can’t find someone you can support, write down a name (write your own name down if you want). You forfeit the right to bitch about the political system unless you do your homework and show up at the ballot box. In fact, you forfeit the right to bitch about anything unless you are willing to do something about it.
  16. Take everything you hear with a grain of salt. Whether this is sensationalized news story, a workplace rumor, or gossip from a friend. We live in an era of internet vigilantism where we have the ability to broadcast our opinion and judgments before gathering all of the facts. Realize that there are at least 2 sides to every story and adjust your opinion accordingly. Better yet, keep your opinion to yourself.
  17. Think before you speak. One of the best pieces of career advice I ever received is that when you are on an interview, it’s completely acceptable to ask for a moment to think about your response. This advice applies to every sort of interaction. I can’t tell you how many arguments I’ve been in that have escalated in a matter of seconds because I didn’t take the time to react appropriately. Its much better to take a deep breath and form a rational response than it is to say something regrettable.
  18. When in doubt, drink water. Most of my  hunger, crankiness, sleepiness, headaches, muscle aches, and hangovers are the direct result of not being hydrated. Water is (practically) free and readily available, so drink it often.
  19. If something is cheap, ask yourself why. This applies to every purchase from a Forever 21 dress to a used car. I’ve learned the hard way that if you want something to last, you will probably have to spend a bit more money. It’s better to have fewer quality items than a collection of junk in need of repair.
  20. Have fun. Have fun with family and friends, and have fun by yourself. Somewhere along the trajectory of adulthood, we stop playing. We leave vacation days unused because we don’t make the time to actually enjoy ourselves. We don’t allow ourselves to have alone time because we think it’s selfish. This is craziness! Life is fleeting and stress will always be there, so take a break now and then to do something that you actually enjoy.


Feel free to leave some of your own life lessons in the comments section (just don’t be troll, please).