1. Life almost never goes the way you planned it. Embrace detours and look for the reasons that those changes are for the better. It doesn't always work out, and that's okay. Something better will.
2. You do not need to rush anything--education, relationships, marriage, career, etc. You've got a lot of life ahead of you, there's no need to put so much pressure on yourself. You don't have to mold your life after anyone else's timeline.
3. Find something you're interested in, and make it a passion. Live for it. Breathe for it. It will make your life richer in so many ways.
4. There's nothing wrong with staying in to watch a movie by yourself on a Friday night. Enjoy time spent alone. Make alone time a priority; it is healthy and necessary.
5. You're probably not going to marry the first person you fall in love with. You're going to love different people for different reasons, and most of them will not be for life. If you are, however, lucky enough to find the right person early in life, do not take something so special for granted. Grow together.
6. You're going to have your heart broken. Prepare for it. Make a personalized first aid kit for your heart, full of the things you need to help you heal. Your first aid kit is not the same as anyone else's, so do what you need to do to patch yourself back together.
7. You will have bad days. Terrible, awful, slam-your-fist-on-the-table days. But there will be good days again; heart-in-your-throat-and-smile-glued-to-your-face days. You must remember that. Live for those days. Depression is not romantic, but loneliness, anger and fear are real things that feed on your heart if you let them.
8. You're not going to be able to please everyone with your life and your choices, but make an effort not to disappoint those who matter most to you.
9. You will never get "enough" sleep. But naps are important. (They're also better when shared with someone.)
10. Just because you weren't what he or she wanted, doesn't mean you're not good enough for anybody else. Just because they didn't see your worth, doesn't mean you are worthless.
11. If you are doing something that makes you unhappy, stop. Quit the job. End the relationship. Free yourself from the addiction. It is better to extract yourself from an emotionally harmful situation than to give it permission to break your spirit.
12. Making someone feel bad about themselves will not make you feel better about yourself. That is a promise.
13. Let people know that they matter to you. Do not hesitate to say "I love you" if you truly feel it. Compliment strangers and friends as often as you can, and mean what you say.
14. Try to always get a window seat. Sunrises and sunsets watched from a tiny airplane window or the plexiglass of a greyhound bus are some of the most beautiful things you will ever see.
15. Travel as much as you can, as far as you can. You will not regret the opportunities to learn from other cultures, to meet people who are different from you, and to see the beauties that this earth contains. Every moment I have spent on my travels has taught me something about life, things that I could not have learned any other way. Make adventure a priority. Save for it. Do not wait for opportunities to come to you--if you want it, make it happen.
16. Be kind. Speak soft. Be slow to judge. Encourage, do not tear down.
17. Find something bigger than yourself to believe in. If you believe in God, pray often. Form a relationship with your Creator. Give thanks for the blessings in your life and do not take all the credit for your successes. If you do not believe in God, at least realize that the universe does not revolve around you.
18. Hold on to the things you believe in, but always be open to new ideas, new beliefs, and new ways of thinking. You can learn so much from people who live and think differently than you do.
19. If you find someone that you want to stay in your life, do everything in your power to keep them there. Fight for them. True love, true friends, true goodness--it's rare, and you deserve to hold onto it.
20. If, for some reason, you can't hold on any longer, have the courage to let go.
21. Don't be afraid to laugh at yourself every once in a while. Humor is sustaining, and some of the greatest comedians have outlived their crooning counterparts for this reason. (Think Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin.) Laugh loud and laugh often. You deserve to.
22. Eat healthy. Take care of your body--but don't forget to indulge when you need to. Chocolate cake is one of the greatest pleasures in life and there is nothing wrong with an occasional slice.
23. Be brave with your life. Make it beautiful. Live the life you desire, and do not let anyone or anything tell you you can't.
23 years of life has taught me these things, and I can't wait to see what I have added to the list in another 23 years from now. I'd love to hear some of your own bits of advice and life lessons in the comments below! Feel free to share :)
For now, xoxo