29 Life Lessons Learned in 29 Years

I turn 29 today.

Admittedly, it’s a bit scary teetering on the edge of my twenties. Next year I can no longer call myself a “twenty-something” and can no longer be grouped in with all the bright, young minds finding their way in the world. Although I feel young (as I’m quite certain most people do despite the number attached to their life) the next decade of life looming looks a little intimidating.

But, until then, I have 365 days before I need to worry about any of that. Plus, age really is just a number. So I plan on making the most of it through travel, work and most importantly, spending time with family and friends. And maybe this year, I’ll actually learn to love to cook (but probably not).

To celebrate, here are 29 life lessons I’ve learned in 29 years.

  1. Very few people truly know what they’re doing in life.
    It’s an illusion that most people have life figured out. If you sat down and really talked to people at any age, you’ll discover they’re just as insecure or unsure of themselves as you feel.

  2. Fake it till you make it.
    If you don’t know how to do it – learn it. We’re all capable of learning as we go, so if you don’t know, be resourceful and find ways to figure it out. With the Internet, you have no excuse.

  3. Devastating moments (rejection, break-ups, loss of loved ones) make the joyous moments that much more sweet.
    Not everything in life is going to be easy and wonderful. Although the tough moments are never enjoyable, they make you appreciate those moments when things are going good.

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  4. You make your own opportunities happen.
    People aren’t always going to hand you what you want on a silver platter. You need to step up and speak out when you want something. But remember, you can’t get where you want to be without putting in effort.

  5. Putting in the extra effort will get you further.
    Some days it may not feel worth it, but I guarantee putting in the extra effort will benefit you. You’d be surprised who notices and will remember in the future when it matters.

  6. Do things alone.
    Go to that movie alone, eat at that restaurant by yourself – doing things alone helps make you feel more comfortable with yourself. Learn to enjoy your own company.

  7. Happiest days usually involve the least amount of money.
    Whether it’s something simple like a walk outside or a talk with a good friend, the most valuable experiences in life don’t involve spending lots of money.

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  8. Travelling alone has taught me more than sitting in a classroom ever could.
    The best learning doesn’t happen inside a classroom with someone talking at you. You’ll learn the most from the experiences you have. That’s why it’s so important to try new things, taste new foods, and talk with people who are different than you.

  9. Friendship is on a spectrum: sometimes you give, sometimes you take and sometimes you split it right down the middle.
    Friendships are give and take, but sometimes one friend needs more. Understand that people’s lives fluctuate and sometimes they need your friendship a bit more and sometimes a little less. The most valuable friends are the ones who understand and respect this.

  10. It’s okay to sleep in sometimes.
    Caffeine doesn’t always cut it. In a world that never shuts off, it’s okay to take some extra time to catch up on sleep. Your body and brain will thank you for it.

  11. It’s not failure if you learned at least one thing from your experience.
    I don’t view my mistakes and failures as such, I view them as opportunities to learn and grow and get it right the next time.

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  12. Everyone in the world is the same.
    After traveling to more than 50 countries in the world, I’ve realized that we all want happiness and health and close family and friends to share it with. 

  13. Say “Yes”
    In order to grow and learn you need to say yes to opportunities and experiences. More than likely, these will be the moments you remember most.

  14. That nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach – that’s a good thing. It means you’re growing and learning.
    It makes you squirm, but that nervous feeling is a physical reminder that what you’re about to do is going to make you a better person.

  15. It’s less about the places you see and more about the people you see those places with.
    You can be doing the most amazing thing in the world, but if you don’t have anyone to share it with, you won’t enjoy it as much. My best memories have been shared with others, connecting over an experience or place.

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  16. Make the world a better place.
    Be polite to everyone you meet – something as little as a smile and hello go a long way. Do it simply because it makes people feel good.

  17. Anything worthwhile takes time.
    Whether you’re starting up a new passion, learning a new sport or activity, or building a relationship remember that it takes time.

  18. No one else is responsible for your happiness but you.
    Don’t depend on others to make you happy – that’s not their responsibility. You are the only one who can make choices and do things that make you happy.

  19. Lists are an effective way to visualize and conquer tasks.
    If you’re not sure where to start, make a list. They allow you to visualize what you’re trying to accomplish and are a map to help you see it through.

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  20. Know what makes you unique and capitalize on it.
    Whether it’s something you’ve done or something you can do, capitalize on what makes you stand out. There are enough people out there trying to be like someone else, so make the choice to be You.

  21. Talent is just a small part of success.
    What really makes people successful is hard work. People often forget the hard work others have put in and only see their achievements. There are no shortcuts.

  22. It’s important to follow your passions – whether in work or leisure time.
    You don’t have to work in a job you’re truly passionate about as long as you’re happy with what you do. You can pursue your passions in personal time as well. Regardless of how you do it, just be sure to make time for what makes you really come alive.

  23. Learn when to say no.
    Often it’s hard to say no, but understand your limitations. If saying yes is going to cause you extreme amounts of stress or make you feel uncomfortable, you need to say no. Recognize that you can’t do everything all the time and understand your limitations.

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  24. Take time for yourself.
    Do something you’ve been meaning to even if it’s as little as a crossword in the local paper or buying that hat you’ve been eyeing up. Take a bit of time for yourself and don’t feel guilty about it.

  25. Learn good time management
    Sometimes procrastination happens, but learn good time management so you can be productive and not have to deal with the stress of completing tasks or work last minute.

  26. Be smart with your money.
    Learn how to properly manage your money. Even if it’s a small amount every month, put a little bit aside in a savings account for the one day you’ll need it.

  27. Change your perspective when things go wrong.
    Worst day ever? Take a deep breath and change your perspective. Focus on what did go right and see if you can fix what didn’t. Write it down if you have to – I guarantee it will make you feel better.

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  28. Don’t change yourself for someone else.
    It’s important to acknowledge your shortcomings, but don’t change who you really are or what you desire for someone else. At the end of the day, your life is yours alone and you need to make choices that will satisfy you.

  29. Remember that everybody is just a regular, normal person.
    They might have a lot of money, expensive clothes, or work high-profile jobs, but everyone you meet is just a normal person battling their own issues. Remembering that the next time you walk into a job interview might make you feel less nervous.

    What other lessons have you learned in life to add to this list? Share your stories with me in the comments below! 

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