Twenty-Five Life Lessons

Today, July 15, I’ll be turning twenty-five. I’m finally be legally allowed to rent a car as I please, qualified to rent certain AirBnbs, and maybe get a fresh perspective on life that helps lift me out of my depression. I sometimes refer to my current state as a quarter-life crisis to sort of make fun of it as a coping mechanism, and to make it seem like less of a big deal in my head. It hasn’t been working at all, heh. Some people have told me it’s a phase that every young 20-something goes through where things seem hopeless and the future seems bleak. And maybe it is a phase I’m going through for God knows how long, coupled with my depression. Either way, it sucks and I hate it, and I just want to feel happy and grateful for everything like I normally do.

Anywho, I’m hoping that writing these life lessons helps me out a little bit, and gives me reminders of all the gratitude I ought to have. I feel like every blogger writes a post like this for their birthday, and it might feel or seem boring. But that doesn’t deny the fact that it’s a good exercise to do, and a great opportunity to reflect!

1.    Taking a chance can pay off, despite being scary.
I’m generally a very calculated person, in that I do not like to take chances unless I know the risk is extremely low.  But it’s such a limiting lifestyle, to do this to myself.  I’ve been loving trying out new things this past year, like taking my blog more seriously and investing in my creative hobbies more.

2.    There is never a bad time to feel grateful.
Sometimes, I just can’t see beyond my own woes, and this is the most important time to look up and give thanks for what I have.

3.    Treat yourself, especially when it’s past due for a little reward.
I am a huge fan of delayed gratification, but I sometimes delay it too much as a means of pushing myself even further.  A little reward can be motivating too.

4.    Don’t apologize all the time.
Apologies definitely aren’t needed as often as I think they do, but there are also times when saying sorry is the last thing I should do. I learned early on in life to say sorry to fix a situation sooner, and now I’m trying to make it less of a crutch for myself.

5.    Not all drugs are bad.
I’ve been taking various anti-depressant medications to help myself feel happier or at least, feel less sad. I’m on a combination that works really well for me, and I still deal with the stigma of simply needing a drug. It’s not a bad thing in general, and it’s not a bad thing if I need it for the rest of my life.

 

6.    Call up family at least twice a month.
It’s rare for me to see my family anymore ever since I moved away for college. It means a lot to each of us to call each other up to say hello and catch up on what’s been going on. I treasure our phone calls so much.

7.    Show others appreciation, even when you are feeling overlooked.
There are times when I feel a little neglected or overlooked in various parts of my life for work I’ve done, and I have been teaching myself to just let it roll off my shoulder and continue my efforts. These moments really make me look around at others and rather feel jealous of others’ recognition, I take the time to show appreciation as well. My time will come eventually!

8.    Turn off the phone.
My cat is good at teaching this to me in the mornings if I’m on my phone too long by laying out across my chin and blocking my view to be affectionate. I’ve been doing my blogger/Instagram hobby for a little over a year now, and it can feel easy to get sucked in for long periods of time just to feel like I’m keeping up. It’s been so much better to just stay in my own lane, do what I love, share my collaborations, show a little love back, and then just put down my phone.

9.    Seeking help is not shameful.
There still remains a bit of stigma about seeing a therapist, and I still feel self-conscious when I have to run off to an appointment. But it’s becoming more and more of a normal topic to speak on in social media and in real life, and I definitely feel less shame around it these days compared to when I first started seeing one at sixteen.

10.  Smile, even when you feel threatened.
I am all about that perseverance, especially in the face of tough situations. I also often find that smiling brings a genuinely kind smile back. I smile at everyone when I walk around Seattle and it truly pays off.

11.  Exercise is necessary, even if you’re not overweight.
Now my lack of exercise is mainly due to sheer laziness and not because I don’t think I need it. So many people like to tell me that I “don’t really need it anyway” because of how slim I am currently. Unfortunately, I have more problems than ever because of how I used to exercise at least 2-3 hours a day in college, to not working out at all post-college. I see a chiropractor, I can’t do 4 inch pumps anymore or else my knees ache, and I have to be conscious of how much I exert myself for stairs or hills (especially downhill or going down stairs) so my knees don’t pay for it the next day. A lot of these issues can be alleviated as soon as I strengthen my muscles again. Just need to make the time!

12.  Make time for your hobbies.
Watercolor painting makes me so happy, and I really need to just schedule time to get into it for an hour or two a couple times a week. The same with photography. I always feel so content when I jump back into these favorite hobbies.

13.  Smile at yourself in the mirror.
I used to avoid mirrors in college due to low self-esteem. My favorite part of collegiate cheer was stunting because of the skillset needed to accomplish stunts, and because it meant I didn’t have to stare myself down in the mirror. I would purposefully place my mirror on the back of the dorm room door and then leave the door open so the mirror was facing the wall and unseen. I used to be so harsh on myself looking at my reflection. Taking on modeling as a hobby of mine has been so exhilarating, and so encouraging. The only way to improve myself though is to appreciate what I see in the mirror.

14.  Assume the best intentions in people.
This is a more recent lesson for me. Often times when we feel offended, it can be easy to focus on our own perspective of hurt and put walls up. It is so important to consider the perspective of others, that people make mistakes or put their foot in their own mouths on accident when they really had the best intentions in expression. It’s a key lesson to learn in all aspects of life.

15.  People suck, but not all the time.
This is going off of the previous one a bit. People can be really, really crummy. I’ve had instances of going home in tears even this past year because of how vicious people can be. It hurt worse to see how mean someone would be to me and then to see how kind they would be to someone else, and not knowing why or whether I did something. It’s so easy to feel resentful for someone behaving like that. It takes a LOT for me to feel hurt too. It takes even more for me to swallow it down, not write someone off, and see that they are a decent person – just not a decent one to me.

16.  Vitamin E oil is a miracle.
I used to self-harm and leave scars on my skin, which did not help my self-esteem in college. It’s a terrible coping mechanism of sorts that had been a habit as a teenager. I sometimes fall into my old ways, twice this past year. But vitamin E oil and aloe help with cell turnover, and help a ton with getting scars to fade!

17.  Don’t ignore your instincts.
This one is self-explanatory, hehe. There are times I don’t know how to justify what I feel, and then I end up right! Instincts happen for a reason, and I’m one to abide by them.

18.  Call your friends up too.
Don’t let friends drift away, especially after finishing up with school! It’s so hard to see each other once we’re scattered, but we all have phones that we look at daily. Say hello!

19.  Persist especially when the going gets tough.
I am all about trying to persevere and display resilience. Nowadays, it feels exhausting trying to prove myself when it feels like the odds are against me. It used to be so motivating to try to prove people wrong. I’ve been trying to do a little soul-searching to get re-motivated and get my head back in the game.

20.  Adjust your comparison game perspective.
It’s so easy to get down on myself in comparison to others. I try to use others’ success to not just inspire myself to do better, but to feel happy at the possibilities because of what others have accomplished.

21.  Make time to read.
Reading really helps me take my mind off of things and keeps my mind stimulated for thought processes. I love trying to predict the next part of the plot when I read, and will sometimes read for 8 hours straight trying to find out the next part of the story.

22.  Routines are my thing.
I know I do really well when I have a set routine to fall back on. I’m adaptive but I really love having a routine and being able to move along with a half-working brain.

23.  Deviations are not bad.
With routines being my thing, deviations are a great way to change things up, keep myself on my toes, and test myself!

24.  Animals are so wonderful.
I’ve been a Rover pet sitter/walker for half a year now and I absolutely love it. I’m learning patience for all kinds of animal personalities and situations, and it’s all while being paid!

25.  Love exists and you are loved.
I’ve never been a denier of love and relationships. But with that being said, I’ve definitely had moments where I’ve felt so isolated, alone, and neglected. And usually for no true reason. The mind can be tricky, and I love having keepsakes like birthday cards and little trinket gifts around to remind me to not fall for it.

I hope I was able to impart some wisdom to whomever might be reading, and I hope you thoroughly enjoyed it!

PS: all photos are taken by Zoë of Zoë Burchard Studios, LLC.

xo,

Stephanie

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