23 Things I Learned at 23

As I turn the corner on 23 and enter my mid-twenties (ugh), I wanted to reflect on my past year for my own memory and maybe some entertainment.

1. Travel is freeing.  This year, I did a bit of traveling.  I visited friends in Los Angeles, took a vacation with my family to a beach town in South Carolina, and enjoyed work-filled stays in New York City and Cleveland.  Though each city was visited for a different reason, I began to realize that I always felt refreshed and inspired upon returning home.

2. You shouldn't have to fight for friends.  This is a lesson that I learned more recently.  If you find that the people you are surrounded with are only reaching out to you when they need something or have found themselves in a tough situation, they are not your friends.  Cut them off.

3. Personal style.  23 is the year that I looked around at my closest friends and peers and THANKED GOD that we are all out of the Hollister/Abercrombie t-shirt and jeans phase.  Praise the Lord for the acceptance of self-expression and the fall of mindless mall zombies.  We all looked terrible in middle school.

4. I have chronic hives.  Though not a life-lesson that everyone can relate to, this year I was diagnosed with chronic hives (scientifically known as Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria).  After visiting 5 doctors - all with different specialties - I ended up at an appointment with my allergist.  One look at my skin (and the graphic photos I brought along) and he assured me that there was no reason to sit through $700 worth of allergy testing. Simply because I didn't have any allergies.  Three rounds of steroids and four courses of antihistamines later, I can now go to bed without screaming in pain and scratching my skin off.  Thumbs up for that.

5. Be sensitive to the people around you.  You don't know what they're going through.  Going along with #4, I've learned to be careful of the things that I say about others.  When I was first diagnosed with my hives, I was prescribed a pretty high dose of Prednisone.  Anyone who has taken this steroid, knows that it comes with a handful of side effects including weight gain.  This, along with something known as "moon face". caused me to appear quite bloated for a few months.  After posting a photo with my co-worker on Instagram, an ex-friend (almost immediately) shared a screenshot of a conversation to Twitter in which she was discussing how "chubby" I looked in said Instagram shot.  You never know the reason behind someone's change in behavior, look, or lifestyle.  Don't assume.

6. Makeup is an art.  On a lighter note, I discovered a newfound love (obsession) for makeup this year.  Playing with the colors of my now vast collection of palettes and trying to create new looks has become a welcome and fun part of my weekly routine.  Also, the hype around beauty blenders is not a joke.  Those things are amazing.

7. And art is necessary.  Whether you love painting, photography, filmmaking, baking or music, art is an extremely important part of your life.  It allows you to express yourself and can draw out many emotions that you might not have even known existed.

8. NO ONE PERSON IS BETTER THAN ANOTHER. You are never above any other single human being.  Skin color, wealth, gender, sexual identity, religion, education and political stance are not what gives you value.  This is important.

9. Parking tickets are real.  And Savings accounts exist for a reason. December 28th, 2016.  The first time they put a boot on my car.  December 28th, 2016.  The only time they will ever put a boot on my car.  Pay your parking tickets.  And keep money in your savings account - just in case.

10. Shit happens.  All the time.  At 23, I learned that no matter how high you're flying, you need to be prepared for shit to happen.  Life can't be peachy 100% of the time.  How boring would that be?

11. You have no control over anyone else.  You can spend your days begging, pleading, and trying to force someone to be different....but it won't matter.  People will do/say/be what they want.  Let it go, babe.

12.  And also...Never apologize for being you.  Sorries should be reserved for condolences and stepping on your cat's tail.  That's pretty much it.  Are you really "sorry" for waking up with bed head and smudged makeup?  Hell nah.  You probably had a great night!

13. You better work, bitch.  I know it's been 3.5 years since she dropped the track, but it took me a while to get Britney's message.  This year was one for busting my ass (not literally....I still don't work out).  I networked, dressed for success, and poured my life into my work.  And it felt pretty damn good.

14. I like quinoa sometimes.  Before 23, I would have pulled out my phone and started googling the second anyone used a word like 'edamame', 'quinoa', or 'kombucha' in a sentence.  Now, I enjoy healthy foods on the regular!  Except that last one.  I threw up the only time I ever tried kombucha.  (Also, please don't think that this means I'm a healthy human being.  Cheese and bread are still my staples.)

15. Family is everything.  I already knew that.  But it was still really important this year.

16. You're not your best self yet.  Nor will you ever be.  There are always opportunities to grow as a person.  Never stop growing.  Never stop learning.  Never stop bettering yourself.

17.  Facebook is...kind of pointless.  Like yeah, there are some great memes floating around, but does anyone actually use Facebook to connect anymore?

18.  But e-mail is awesome!  I used to only use my e-mail (hit up 2007 me at smartgirlswimmer93@verizon.net) for coupons and creating other accounts.  Now, I can't go an hour without checking both my work and personal Gmails.  I know that sounds lame...but did you know you can actually talk to people on there?!  You can send someone a message and they can send one back!  So cool!

19.  I'm actually a Grandma.  I own two cats, my bones crack, I've watched every episode of Downton Abbey (with my super-strong glasses on), I learned how to cross-stitch, and apparently I love e-mail.  Add all of that together and you get one 95 year old stuck in a 20-something body.

20.  Collaboration is key.  One of the most important things that I learned this year was the importance of collaboration.  There is nothing like working with a friend or fellow artist to create something new and incredible.  There's room for everyone to succeed and it's important to lift each other up as opposed to pushing each other down.  (Also, being online is cool...but real humans are alright too.)

21.  Support your friends.  Buy their book, watch their film, wear their t-shirt.  Never allow them to stop dreaming.

22.  Print is NOT dead.  She says as she writes her blog post.  But in reality, I think I picked up a new book or magazine for every day of my 23rd year.

23.  Coming up with lists is hard.  Seriously, what was I thinking?

xx