I just turned 24!

This week I turned 24! That's almost a quarter of a century! I'm practically old and wise at this point ;)

I thought it'd be fun to share 24 things I've learned in my 24 years of living! I know what you're thinking - what business does a 24 year old have teaching other people about life?! Well I don't claim to have it all together, but there are for sure some lessons I've committed to heart. Besides, I'm a firm believer we can learn from anyone no matter how small and simple, even children!

I love hearing the things on your heart as well, so if something sticks out to you on this list let me know! Or even better drop some of your own advice down below!

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Lesson #1:

Not everyone will like you. I love that quote about how you can be the juiciest, most ripe peach in the world, and there will still be someone who doesn't like peaches. This has been a difficult truth for me to accept because I'm a people pleaser all the way! I used to spend a lot of energy trying to change myself whenever someone wasn't automatically a fan of me and it always made me feel pretty crappy inside. I would wonder what was wrong with me instead of realizing that some people just don't like peaches. And that's okay. They don't have to. Focus on all the rad humans in your life who DO like peaches. It's awesome to improve yourself, but there's no need to fundamentally change who you are just to be best friends with everyone.

Lesson #2:

Life's too short not to eat what you want. I'm all about healthy eating and I totally believe we should do our best to live long and happy lives!! But eat the dang pizza!!! Celebrate with some brownies! Who even cares if one study says olive oil is healthy and another says it causes cancer? Do you like olive oil? Eat the darn olive oil. I love the 80/20 rule: learn to love veggies and all the healthy stuff, but once in a while, don't think the world is going to end because you eat something that isn't on your good list. Obviously you may have to be extra strict when addressing a legitimate health issue, but way too many people take it to the extreme. Nutrition science is constantly changing anyways, so follow your gut (literally) and eat what makes you feel good. The end.

Lesson #3:

Self love doesn't come from the way you look. The problem with all these campaigns such as "curves are beautiful!" - no matter how well meaning they can be - is that it still focuses on the wrong thing: being beautiful, having your body considered attractive by the opposite sex, and have society deem your flaws as acceptable which is literally the LEAST important thing about you. I guarantee every single one of us can think of a beautiful girl we know who has low self esteem. If beauty equaled self love we wouldn't have super models with eating disorders. TRUE self love comes from knowing who you are: a beautiful child of God (or the universe) who is loving, kind, and a host of other more important factors. Your beauty is simply not important. Now am I saying we shouldn't celebrate skin colors / body types of all kinds? Definitely not! I'm not saying you shouldn't feel confident about the way you look, either! Feel free to work out, eat well, dress up, and wear makeup - but don't believe for a second that true self esteem will come from it. Once I let this sink it, I was able to combat negative self esteem issues by getting to the root of it all: who am I as a child of God? How am I caring for my soul? You'd be surprised how everything else falls into place when you can answer those questions honestly.

Lesson #4:

Everything you need is already inside of you. Every. Single. Time. that I feel like my life is going wrong, I'm spinning out of control, I feel depressed or unhappy, I feel distant from others or lonely, I can ALWAYS trace it back to the disconnect from myself. What I mean by this is that I can look back and see myself getting more casual about prayer, doing things I love, being mindful, eating healthy, getting outside, etc. When I disconnect from this part of myself, it always results in unhappiness. I'll let life get in the way of these grounding practices that bring me to my soul and suddenly that disconnect manifests itself in negative ways. When I'm connected to God and my soul, even the hard stuff doesn't seem so hard because I still have hope. But when I've strayed my challenges seem insurmountable, and it's easier to listen to the lies about being lonely, unloved, or unworthy. Your list of things might be different from mine, but you know what they are. Maybe it's spending time with good people, reading a book, or meditating. The important thing is, when you feel that disconnect, to hop back into it.

Lesson #5:

Don't take everything so seriously. Most people might not know this, but I'm a very serious person! I wish I was the kind of person who could fill up a room with laughter but it takes years of friendship and getting comfortable for me to do that. It's just the way I am! I'm naturally more on the serious side and prefer personal conversation over large group settings. It's not always a bad thing, but sometimes it is. Sometimes I take myself too seriously: I forget to give myself grace when I slip up or say something stupid. Sometimes I take others too seriously: I feel offended when really they only meant to joke around or they've got their own issues to work on. Sometimes I take my job too seriously: one mean comment and all the nice ones fade into the background and I wonder why I'm even trying so hard. And then I realize.. life isn't meant to be taken so seriously!! It takes SO much practice for someone like me, but I've learned to literally just brush things off! If it's not life or death, it really DOESN'T MATTER. Friendships and work and life should be FUN! It's meant to be enjoyed! It's not a competition, no one is sitting around waiting for you to mess up, and at the end of the day there's very few things that actually matter. For me, I've had this mental practice for a few years now where I literally imagine myself brushing things off my shoulder. I find a way to laugh about it. And then I move on!!

Lesson #6:

Plan for the future, but don't count on it. I can't tell you how many times I nailed down my 5 year plan only to see it slip through my fingers as time went on. Yes, it's SO important to have goals. Yes, it's smart to plan for the future and be progressing at all times. But it's not healthy to grasp so tightly onto your plans that you miss out on the beautiful story God has written for you. A year ago, I had no idea I'd be where I am now. And I'm sure next year will surprise me too! That doesn't mean I can't accomplish things and press forward, but now I do it with a looser grip. None of us has life figured out. Opportunities, tragedies, challenges, and people will come in and out of our lives and the hard truth is that we cannot be prepared for everything. I've learned to mourn the loss of my future plans a little less and celebrate the unknown a little more. Ease your grip on life and enjoy the ride.

Lesson #7:

Life's better with a few good people. That's really all you need. Be kind to everyone, but there's no need to dedicate extra time to them if it means taking away your time from those who are most important. I used to think having dozens of friends and being popular would make me happy but when that happened through Instagram I found myself feeling extremely unhappy. Suddenly my friends all felt kinda fake. I would only be contacted when it benefited them in some way. This year I really took a step back and reevaluate my life a bit. I realized there were a just few people I knew that would hang out with me whether I had 5 or 100k followers. The kind of people you can just sit together and laugh at nothing and do nothing and yet it feels like fun. Those are the ones who really matter. Everything else is just noise, and it's a-okay to disappoint them on a regular basis when you no longer choose to benefit them. It will make some people angry or even hurt when you start saying no, but remember that a no is really a yes: yes to time spent with your family, yes to time on your own ambitions and projects, and yes to your own mental sanity when you're no longer running around filling everyone else's cup.

Lesson #8:

The people you see on social media are not always who you think they are. Before I moved to Hawaii, I had a handful of people who I really admired and couldn't wait to meet once I lived there! We'd surf together, become BFFs, and all would be well. I'm going to be totally frank with you guys: I've met a lot of people off of Instagram from all over the world and some of them are amazing humans, some are straight up snobs, some are extremely unhappy, some stress constantly about what they are going to post, some are bad friends, some are beyond flaky, some have serious issues, and some won't give you the time of day. My point is.. just because you see it online doesn't make it true. Yes there are incredible and kind people and I know many of them personally! But don't get so caught up in idolizing your favorite influencers that you forget they are human too! They have good and bad days and more work goes into creating content than you might realize. Basically I'm saying you should enjoy Instagram, but don't get trapped thinking your life sucks just because it doesn't look like someone else's grid. You have no idea what's behind the pretty pictures.

Lesson #9:

I love being alone. I used to hate it and surround myself with people to avoid facing myself and my own issues. But now, I love it. How did I get to that point? I confronted myself and became extremely honest. It's the best thing I've ever done. Now, I crave alone time. I crave slowness. This part of my life has become the opposite of everything before, and I’ve never been happier.

Lesson #10:

It's never too late to love something new. I started surfing just a couple of years ago. Am I totally amazing at it now? Definitely not. But it's freaking fun!! As long as you can get over the embarrassment of sucking at something, it's totally worth it to try everything you can. Whether you're 15 or 50, there's a million hobbies and pastimes and skills and activities to be done. Choose one and just go for it. Let go of the idea that you need to be good at something to enjoy it. Let go of the idea that you can’t become a photographer, actress, writer just because you didn’t love it straight out of the womb. We all start somewhere.

Lesson #11:

If you need a friend, be a friend. When I was a teenager, I felt super isolated at church. There was technically no one in my age group and I always felt like I didn't fit in with the older girls. I was awkward and artsy and in all honestly probably thought I was better than everyone else because I listened to Led Zeppelin (I cringe thinking of poor high school Heather). One day I made a decision: either I can go on feeling sorry for myself, or I can look around and see what other weirdos need friends or maybe feel as lonely as I do. Turns out a sweet girl named Carissa went unnoticed most of the time. Turns out she also loved drawing. And Harry Potter. And okay wait, was actually a super awesome person. We became inseparable after that. And maybe the older popular girls made fun of us, but at least we had each other to film weird videos and obsess over horses with! Like I said before, popularity is literally useless. You just need another weirdo to be happy with and you're good.

Lesson #12:

You will survive hard things. I don't talk about my struggles very often, and it's not because they don't happen, but because I hate with being a burden to others. I'm not one to ask for help (working on that!!). I also try to be a positive person since I feel like there is enough negativity in the world without me adding to it! However, like every other human being on the planet, I've gone through trials, committed sins I am not proud of, and have felt as low as you can feel. And the crazy, magical secret I've learned is that I have survived this whole time. Sometimes I still feel grief or even shame for the bad things I've done, but I remind myself that I made it through. The challenges I have now are not the challenges I had five years ago, and that gives me hope. In the scriptures, "and it came to pass" pops up all the time. When it comes to the bad, it will pass, so hold on strong. When it comes to the good, it will pass too, so savor it. I've learned to embrace this.

Lesson #13:

No one else will make you happy! I am married to the love of my life but him telling me I'm beautiful everyday and smothering me in affection surprisingly does not guarantee my happiness. When it comes down to it, it's my choice. (Disclaimer: this is not referring to clinical depression, but rather the times when we choose to hold onto anger, sadness, or resentfulness despite our ability to let it go).

Lesson #14:

To go along with that, it's OKAY to not be happy all the time!!! I can't even fully describe the sweet relief I felt when I realized this!! Holy cow you guys! You are NOT a bad person just because you don't have sunshine coming out of your butt on a daily basis. I knew people like that and thought I was doing something wrong because sometimes I just didn't feel it! The more I got to know these people who I thought were happy all the time, the more I realized they were faking it too. It's not a character flaw to experience other emotions besides happiness once in a while. Embrace it. Let it flow, but don't let it last. Get back on track as soon as you’re able.

Lesson #15:

There is not a one size fits all solution to everything. When it comes to diets, lifestyles, or even (dare I say it) religions, there isn't just one way to do things right. I think every human is entitled to experience truth the way they feel is right in their heart. Does that mean I'm not going to share what makes me happy and what works for me? Of course not! But it's not the end of the world when you meet someone who doesn't agree. I've learned your example speaks louder than your opinion anyways.

Lesson #16:

I love that I am a working woman. I grew up with a mom who worked, but I definitely was influenced by a culture that thinks it's okay to ask a woman (but not a man) how she feels about working outside of the home. I 100% honor any mother who stays home with her children and is completely dedicated to them and has no desire for a career! But I also 100% honor people like my mom who felt that she could contribute more as a mother when she spent time pursuing work that she was passionate about. My mom actually stayed home while we were young and then worked as a teacher once we were school aged, but even now I can't remember a time when my mom was content to sit still and stay at home. And guess what! There's nothing wrong with either choice! For me personally, I know I'd go crazy and probably be a way worse mom if I didn't run some kind of business or have a creative project going on. I've learned to give myself permission to do what I feel like my family needs, and I hope you find the freedom to do the same!

Lesson #17:

Men are simple. I'm not about to claim I have this whole marriage thing down, but I have gotten a lot of marriage advice from people much wiser than me, and this one has rang true for both my marriage and every other relationship I've had before I met Bryant. I don't mean to generalize men, but from personal experience, I've learned that they mean what they say, they're honest about what they want, and there's no need to get offended unless they are actively trying to hurt you. I can solve 99% of my marriage problems by realizing that I'm overreacting, overthinking, or forgetting that men are simple. Enough said.

Lesson #18:

The flaws you see in others is a direct reflection of how you view yourself. Let's face it, the reason we gossip, judge, or think we're better than others, really just stems from our own insecurity. I've been trying to mentally practice being honest with myself whenever I feel judgmental towards someone. I dig deep and find out why I'm feeling judgment towards them and realize it comes back to something I'm insecure about. It's helped me to let things go and work on myself instead.

Lesson #19:

Don't spend your life waiting for the future. I'm naturally an anxious worrier who spends most of my brain power worrying about the next five years. One day I realized that my life was flashing before me and I was missing out because I couldn’t wait for the next phase of life. 'I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them.' - yes I’m quoting the office but how true is this! Now I try to soak up my life while it’s actually happening so it doesn’t slip away too fast.

Lesson #20:

I have changed more in the past three years than any other time of my life. I never considered myself a business woman. I hated the idea of pursuing money. I considered myself an artist and never once thought I’d have it in me to run a company. When I started my online shop, I felt salesy and worried people thought I was a sell out. I read this book and my whole perspective on money changed. Something that altered my thinking was “you can be cool and broke or lame and rich.” Once I accepted that being salesy, running a business, and actually giving a crap about my finances was gonna be lame and people would judge me BUT I get to be rich, well, things started running a lot smoother than before. I’m not ashamed of wanting money. I believe money is power. I believe when done the right way, money gives you the power to focus on your family, dedicate your life to service and passion projects, and allows you to give opportunities to other people so they can follow their dreams too. Money is rad!!

Lesson #21:

Apathy is NOT cool. I know in high school this attitude of too cool for school is pretty popular but you’d be surprised how much this attitude carries into adult life too for most people. I’ve been made fun of for caring about the environment, being stoked on my passions, and even being super into religion. I’m naturally a passionate person - about everything. And personally, I don’t think it’s cool at all to be apathetic. I think it’s lame. I think people who are apathetic are boring and suck to be around. I don’t really care if I’m cool anymore. That’s the best part about adulthood: I can eat lunch by myself, stay in on a Friday night, get real nerdy about my favorite hobbies, have two friends, and dip my toes into whatever I want. I’m more impressed by people chasing their dreams than people who are cool and pretend not to care about anything.

Lesson #22:

The truest form of love and service is allowing others to change. We all want grace and forgiveness but we can be harsh when it comes to others. I’m not saying you need to be BFFs with people who hurt you, but you’ll find a whole lot more peace in your life if you simply allow others to change and grow. We like to put people in boxes and keep them the way they are! This is why it’s so hard for us to watch others lose weight when we’re struggling and knock their goals out of the park when we can barely get out of bed in the morning. When we allow them to change though, we give ourselves permission to transform. When one of us lifts, we all rise. Another person’s success doesn’t diminish our own! If someone offered you a million dollars would you say no because there were people out there with a billion? Of course not! You’d be stoked on your million dollars!! So get stoked on whatever you have going for yourself, and be excited for everyone else too.

Lesson #23:

Just because something is right for part of your life doesn’t mean it’s right for your entire life. Maybe you were meant to be best friends with someone, be in that relationship, pursue that career - but it doesn’t mean it should be set in stone. Some friends are best for certain years and sometimes you have to let your friendship drift apart. Sometimes your boyfriend is the best thing that’s ever happened to you but it doesn’t mean they’re the one you’re going to be with forever. And sometimes a passion can feel so right only to come crashing down and you find yourself at yet another crossroads. It’s okay. Breathe. You can live several lifetimes within your own. Find the strength to start over. The next “right” thing will find its way to you.

Lesson #24:

This one is the biggie: my life secret to happiness and success. This is my answer to anyone who looks at me, or anyone else for that matter, and feels like there’s something special about that person. This lesson defines my core belief about everything and it steers the way I live my life.

You ready?

There is one major difference between someone who is happy and successful and someone who isn’t.

It’s taking responsibility for your choices. It’s 100% accountability for your actions. It’s deciding that your life’s happiness is solely up to you: not your parents, friends, society, or even spouse.

Throughout my life I have watched many different kinds of people, and the ones who were happy, thriving, and successful were the type of people who were accountable for their actions despites their circumstances. You can spend your whole life blaming others or you can move on and get to work. I believe wholeheartedly that each person’s life looks the way it does because they made choices. We can’t choose what life throws at us but we get to choose our reaction.

We can play victim or we can play victor.

A favorite quote from my father in law (he works on the police SWAT team and uses this line when arresting criminals - ha!) is “if you play stupid games you win stupid prizes.”

Yup.

xoxo Heather