26 Lessons I Learned While Being 26

As the sun sets on my 26th year, I recall how this year in particular was filled with lessons.

The First Five Months: Photos

Sunset at Xiangji Temple on the outskirts of Xi’an, 2010.

You might be thinking, “Well, isn’t every?” But something about 26 was particularly teaching. It was messy, freeing, scary, and slightly fun. And above all, it was loving.

I grew, with pains, and a new perspective. I laughed, cried hard and wondered, wandered far too often.

So my birthday gift to myself is one to you. May you learn from my lessons, remember you are not alone, and follow the worst advice ever: It is all going to work out.

1. Don’t hide from vulnerability. Even when it means that you might end up in a puddle of pain, do it anyway.

2. Propose new ideas that you can and want to take on. It might be a long shot, and even end well.

3. Go ahead and show up at someone’s door. There’s something beautiful about being so unafraid to love…

4. Say yes to strangers. To a new friend. To weird opportunities. Adventure awaits.

5. Use your words for good. They are so much more powerful that way.

6. Do not let distance, tangible or otherwise, keep you from the ones you love.

7. Fall and get back up. Even if it takes you quite a while.

8. Be OK with being angry. Just make sure you understand what it is you are protecting.

9. Give and exercise. They are two things that quite literally have the power to change your life.

10. Always say yes to music concerts, even when the headliners are not your general cup of tea. Leave your music snobbery behind, and embrace as many genres of music as you see fit!

11. Make walking after meals a regular occurence, however short or long they may be.

12. Take time to devour a sunset with a loved one. You’ll never feel more connected than watching the greatest light show on earth.

13. Harness the good of social media, and refuse to give in to it as a vice. Do not get sucked into the vortex of “digital envy.”

14. When you feel wronged, let it go. Honor it, momentarily, and then let it go. I said LET IT GO…

15. Get in a car, and take a road trip, a day trip, or a few hours at the park, on trails, or exploring botanical gardens.

16. Don’t shy away from other people’s grief. The greatest gift you can give is to sit with them in that. Plus, they really need you in those moments.

17. Ask for help from people smarter and more talented than you. They want to see you succeed.

18. If you can’t be strong on the outside, find strength from within.

19. Raise your hand for the opportunity that scares the s*** out of you. You’ll be so proud you did.

20. Learn to embrace nature. Nature is one of the best ways to part with gloom, revitalize the mind, body, and spirit .

21. Be OK being alone. And be equally OK with feeling lonely.

22. Get rid of the constant, incessant weighing of yourself habit. A number is not your worth.

23. Family. Near, far, blood or not.

24. When the voice in your head has a crazy idea, honor it, and act. It might be your calling…

25. You are constantly growing. What you did not like last year may just be something you fall in love with this year. Like fitness and nature.

26. Do not lose sight of being connected to something so much bigger. Your time here, however fleeting, is a journey. Do everything in your power to stay connected to that. To the universe. To your soul’s whispering to go after whatever it is you want.

And thank you, dear readers, for embracing me, continuing to stop by, leave some love, and push me to revitalize my tiny corner of the engulfing Web.

What’s one lesson you have learned this year? 

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11 thoughts on “26 Lessons I Learned While Being 26

  1. autumnashbough says:

    I hummed “Let It Go,” the whole second half of your list. Now the song won’t let me go.

    My greatest reminder to myself — every year — is probably to shut up and listen. Clearly, I learn it well.

    • maklu001 says:

      Oh no to inspiring you to hum “Let It Go!” I still have not watched Frozen, if that’s the intended reference. Glad you picked up on my greatest annual reminder 🙂

  2. Susan Blumberg-Kason says:

    What great lessons to share at the end of your 26th year! I love them, especially the ones about being courageous. My 26th year got off to a rough start (it was a chapter in my book!), but yours sounds so much more grounded.

  3. R Zhao says:

    Great list. I dont do concerts though. Ive never enjoyed them. But I do think it’s good to open yourself to new genres of music, movies, books, whatever!

    I had a baby last year and it was hard for me. I guess this year I learned to enjoy being a mother more and I’m still working on being a more confident one. I’m trying to not let people’s constant advice and commentary bother me.

    • maklu001 says:

      Agreed, genres of movies, books and the like…I should not have limited that lesson to just music! Confidence seems like a big one for many of us…thanks for stopping by 🙂

    • maklu001 says:

      You’re more than welcome and it’s a list I’m working on…still have a ways to go before I can say with confidence that I internalized all the lessons I listed.

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