23 things I wish I knew at 23

Originally published September 2018

1. Get comfortable with your body exactly as it is. Throw away the things in your closet that make you feel terrible when you put them on. Wear clothes that feel good and fit you and if needed, just buy some bigger pants. Stop saying ” I need to lose 5 pounds and then I’ll be happy. “

2. Comparison is the thief of joy. Be grateful for what you have and who you are, not what someone else has ( or their Instagram account makes you feel like they have ).

3. Buy yourself flowers. Do not sit around and wait for someone to make your day – you’re the only one that gets to decide what puts a smile on your face ( do it now!).

4. The grass is greenest where you water it. It’s easy to leave. It’s easy to abandon cart. It’s easy to start fresh and be distracted with something shiny and new. What’s more rewarding is putting the work into what is right in front of you. 

5. If it’s not a fuck yes it’s a no. Don’t say yes to say yes. The more no’s you give the more you can say FUCK YES to the things that really matter. 

6. No one should make decisions for you but you. Trust your gut.

7. Real relationships take work. A lot of work. And the work never ends. You have to continue to invest time in communication, intimacy, consistency. Nothing worth having comes easy. 

8. Say sorry first. Even if you think someone is bat shit crazy, just say sorry. Emotions, while they may be irrational at times are all valid. Until you can empathize with someone else position, the fight will never end.

9. Throw roses, not grenades. When people throw arrows at you, throw roses. Even if you have to clench your fists and hold your tongue keep throwing roses. 

10. Never have tough conversations over text, email, or social media. The email you took hours to craft and pour your heart into may not come across as you intended it, as no one can read your tone. You also probably don’t want a record of this drama later down the road. Face to face is best.

11. Stop counting calories.  I do not mean eat cheeseburgers for lunch every day. Eat what you’re craving and balance this with exercise and a healthy diet. I literally can’t look at broccoli ever again without cringing over the years I meal prepped down to the calorie. When I stopped counting, I stopped feeling deprived and I went down two jean sizes. 

12. Turn your notifications off. You really do not need to know when people like your photos on social media or the moment an email arrives in your inbox. The more distracted you are with the “noise” the less present you’re able to be in real life. Go to settings in your phone now and make a commitment to give less fucks on the validation you get from people that do not matter. 

13. Spend time with your family. Whether your family is big, small, or one you’ve created or one you’re born with… make time. 

14. Invest in moments, not things. You can fill your closet with stuff that makes you look fab or you can travel, go to concerts, treat your friends to experiences and enjoy the world. (I am very guilty of this and currently trying to sell all of my Citizen jeans)

15. Care wayyy less about what people think. Draw a small box on a piece of paper. Write down the names of the people who have been with you through your strengths and struggles in that box. These people’s opinions matter, every one else is a critic. (Thank you, Brene Brown )

16. Find your tribe. The energy you put into people, you should get back from them. Do an inventory of people you could call in the middle of the night who would show up for you and spend more time with those people.

17. Failure is OK. Fail with dignity and hold your head up high because if you failed, it means you took a risk and people who take risks are heroes. If you get knocked down, dust yourself off as soon as possible and get back up. 

18. Listen. Listen to understand, not listen to reply. The most precious gift you can give someone is your ear. Repeat back what you heard before you get defensive.

19. Ask permission to give advice. If someone is venting with you, they have given you the honour of sharing their most intimate reality but aren’t necessarily asking for advice. As a default ” How can I show up for you?” is a good test and ask if they are asking for advice before you start dishing.

20. Don’t air your dirty laundry. If you have a problem with someone – talk to them and them only. Your relationship, your co-worker, your boss. Gossiping and complaining about your side of the story doesn’t solve the problem and it’s hard to look that person in the eye after you have made up and moved on.  The only person who can solve the problem is the one who’s a part of it, right?

21. Meditate. Get comfortable with yourself, alone, quiet, still. The world will still be there when you get back and you’ll be a little more zen to handle what’s thrown at you.

22. Know what you’re good at and outsource everything else. You don’t need to be everything. Find your magic ( whatever it is ) and clench on tight. 

23. You eat elephant’s one bite at a time. You are the only person that decides what’s possible in your life and those big dreams you have are all possible with hard work and commitment. If it’s not going your way, change your mindset and re-establish what you want. Now go get it – one bite at a time.

Bonus: Find a real role model. NOT a socialite, an influencer, or a celebrity.  Someone with integrity, grit, and experience and take them out for coffee.

A special thank you to those people who are in my one inch box who have been there for me for my strengths and struggles and who have helped me learn these amazing lessons. Especially to James, thank you as you have been through 24/24 of these with me – more than once. These lessons have contributed to the woman I have become, and I’m proud of who I am today. While it hasn’t always been graceful ( in fact, it’s been more like falling in mud with a white jumpsuit on more often than not ), I wouldn’t trade my scars for anything – even a chance to be 23 again.

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