If you caught on, yesterday was my 24th birthday. I thought it would be fun to highlight 24 things I’ve learned so far in my 24 years of life. 🙂
1. Everyone has a different “best time of my life”.
Growing up, I always heard people say, “High school will be the best years of your life,” or, “Enjoy college, it’ll be the best years of your life.” But that’s not true. Sure, it’s the best for SOME PEOPLE, but not everyone. First of all, I think that’s a horrible way to look at life. It’s almost like saying, “Enjoy this, because it’s all downhill afterwards.” REALLY?!
When I was in college, I still looked at middle school as being the best years of my life. That’s when I was surrounded by the people I’d grown up with and always gone to school with. That’s when I had my best friends. Then, suddenly, in high school and college I was thrown into groups of totally different/new people. And I didn’t click with ANYONE. I looked back on those middle school days and I missed them.
Then, after college (now), I realized that I was now in the best time of my life. I’m married, I’m self employed, and I love my life! But at the same time, I also feel like there are AWESOME things ahead of me. I love where I am now, but I’m also excited for new things on the horizon.
Everyone will have a different favourite part of their lives. Don’t expect that high school or college will necessarily be the best.
2. You can do whatever you want.
Seriously, you can.
I think this really clicked for me when I quit my job. I started a year in industry (like a paid internship) with a company as a web designer. I started Monday and quit Friday.
When I quit, I felt like I was doing something wrong. I thought I was supposed to have a corporate job. So how the hell could I quit?!?! Plus, it’s pretty embarrassing to quit a job on the fifth day (Fourth day, technically. I called in sick on the Thursday because I couldn’t stand to be there.)
But I knew that it was something I REALLY didn’t want to do. That’s when I realized that I didn’t want a corporate desk job. I wanted to do my own thing. I wanted to be a freelancer.
So I went out there and made it happen. I took a big risk, but it ended up completely changing my future and I LOVED it!
3. Making friends as a freelancer is hard.
In general, it’s hard for me to make friends. I’m picky and not super outgoing when it comes to new people. But when you work from home, it’s even HARDER to make friends. You don’t have a job that you go to every day where you see the same people. I stay at home. I see NOBODY.
I probably need to find some “after work” groups/activities to join.
4. You can lose weight.
Seriously, YOU CAN DO IT!!
Sometime over the last four years of my life, I gained a bunch of weight. Losing it seemed like such a huge, daunting task. I didn’t want to diet, I didn’t want to exercise, BLSOSDIFJAOSFI JEFOIAW sfiwjo!!!!
But you know what, I did lose it… and it wasn’t actually that hard. It only took me about six weeks to lose 10-15 pounds and guess what? I’ve been doing a good job of maintaining the weight loss.
5. Cheating is okay, once in a while.
Continuing on from #4, cheating (on your diet—NOT on your BF/GF… geeze!) is okay too. My husband and I used to get REALLY upset and freaked out when we’d have one single cheat. And for us, a cheat was like eating 35 grams of carbs instead of 25 grams… Big deal.
But we realized that having a cheat day here and there is totally fine. Sometimes you’re feeling lazy, have zero interest in cooking, and want to order a fucking pizza. Do it, it’s okay.
Just don’t do it every day.
6. Your future isn’t set in stone.
I guess this is similar to #2, but it feels different to me.
I always thought I’d be a web designer. Emphasis on the designer part. But I’ve slowly come to realize that I don’t actually enjoy designing for other people that much. It’s stressful. What if they hate my ideas? What if we don’t click together? What if I can’t create their vision?
And when I realized this, it freaked me out. I thought I was a web designer! What if I don’t want to be that anymore???!?!
I realized that I enjoyed doing the coding part and I wanted to focus on that. It wasn’t what I originally imagined for myself, but that’s okay too. Your dreams can change and you can set yourself on a different path. There’s nothing wrong with that.
7. You can run a 5K.
I haven’t even run a 5K. But I believe I can.
In 2014 I started the Couch to 5K program. I didn’t finish, because, reasons… but I saw myself improving. Prior to C25K I had been able to run for 10 minutes, but never longer than that at once. But in the C25K program, I ran for 20 minutes straight. I was SHOCKED! I really didn’t think I could do it, but I did. That’s when I started believing that I could finish the program; I could run a 5K. And if I can do it, so can you.
So now I’m back on the program and determined to see it through!
8. You have to MAKE time.
Sometimes I think that time will just fall into my lap. For example, I know I need to redesign my client site to match my new branding, but I always tell myself, “I’ll have time later.” It always seems like there are more important things to be doing, and I’ll have time to do this less important thing at a later date.
But time doesn’t just present itself.
I finally realized, that this was never getting done if I WAITED for an opening. If I wanted it done, I’d have to make a commitment, shave out some time, and just do it.
9. Cutting back on carbs isn’t as hard as you think.
I used to be all carbs. I’m talking sugar, bread, pasta, carb-filled sauces… the works. I never thought in a million years that I could stop eating those things, but I did. And after a few days or a week, you realize it’s not actually that hard!
The only hard part for me is giving up hot chocolate. Hot chocolate is my coffee equivalent. So, coffee lovers out there, imagine not drinking coffee. Sounds crazy, right? That’s how I am about my hot chocolate.
10. You will lose touch with friends. It hurts.
This has always been a hard one for me. If I were to look at my entire life and think, “During which period did I have the BEST friends?” it would be middle school. 100%.
It’s pretty easy to figure out why. Up until middle school, I was with the same people. We went to elementary school together, then went to middle school together, and we just grew up being friends, you know? And middle school was when it was really solidified. I had a best friend or two and a whole crew of other friends who I loved to hang out with. Those were the glory days.
Then in high school we split off for the first time. Only ONE person from my middle school went to my same high school. And things just kept going downhill. I never met anyone who would become a friend that was “on par” with my middle school friends. I still haven’t been able to click with anyone the same way.
And, well, ever since high school I’ve lost touch with nearly all my middle school friends. We just branched off and went different ways. I see ONE middle school friend about once a year and that’s it. It makes me REALLY sad, but it happens…
11. You can learn anything.
I’ve learned so many things over my 24 years of life. And the only thing stopping you from learning the thing you want is time and patience.
- I knew NOTHING about coding.
- I started with templates and just tweaked a few things. I slowly learned how to EDIT someone else’s code (not make my own).
- After enough editing, I started to understand what I was doing. That understanding allowed me to build things from scratch.
- Soon enough, I could build entire—static—websites.
- Then I realized WordPress was THE SHIT. But I had no idea how to code on WordPress!
- I followed a tutorial that helped me build my own theme from scratch. I didn’t really understand everything, but I did it!
- After enough of this (plus Googling), I obtained that same understanding as before. I could make my own themes from scratch instead of using a tutorial/template.
- Then I thought it would be cool to make a WordPress plugin. But dude! I had no idea how to do that. I didn’t know PHP beyond how to include stuff.
- So I did a lot of Googling and practising and piecing things together… suddenly, I had a plugin.
- Then I started using WHMCS. But obviously I wanted my theme to match my brand. But I had no idea how to code a WHMCS theme!
- So I opened up the starter theme, moved things around, edited things… and I had my own template.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that we all start at the same place—not knowing how to do something. You just have to jump in there and DO IT. That’s the first step towards learning.
12. A bad airplane journey can fuck your shit up.
When you combine these three things, you get your shit fucked up:
- A long flight.
- An early morning (between 7am and 12pm) landing time.
- A class fare that does not have a “bed” or “lie flat” chair.
That is a POWERFUL combination. Do not underestimate it. You will get zero sleep (2 hours tops) then you’ll land at your destination in the early morning, which means you have to last the ENTIRE day before you can sleep. Well obviously that won’t happen, so then you’ll have a nap and become nocturnal.
13. You don’t have to constantly beat your previous achievements.
In 2012 I read 128 books. In 2013 I read 153 books. Then in 2014 I “only” read 84.
Although I had expected to read fewer books in 2014, I still felt a little disappointed. My numbers were climbing and climbing, but then I stopped being able to match my previous number. I felt a little disappointed. It’s like I was no longer up to my own standards. But you SHOULDN’T think that way.
You’re not in competition with yourself. You don’t have to constantly try to beat your previous records. You and your priorities are always changing. If you force yourself to keep beating your previous records, you’re on a fast track to burn out.
14. Relying on other people can suck.
It doesn’t always suck—sometimes it can be great. But other times it SERIOUSLY sucks. In 2014 I talked about why I hate relying on third party plugins. It seriously sucks when the guy who created your email subscription plugin doesn’t update it for a major WP update, it breaks, and then he’s MIA for like four weeks. It really, really sucks. Imagine if you were using that for your business and actually lost money because of it!
Obviously you can’t always do everything yourself. But my new motto is, “If I can do it myself then I will.”
15. Have your terms set and stick to your guns.
I’m writing this one in regards to businesses, but I’m sure it can apply to pretty much anything.
As a freelancer, make sure you take time to write out all your terms. What happens if the client doesn’t pay? What happens if they stop responding? Who gets the copyright? What’s your refund policy?
Write all that out, then have your client sign a contract to agree to these terms. Then do that EVERY SINGLE TIME. Do not make exceptions. Don’t get excited over one particular client and not make them sign your contract. Don’t break your own invoicing/refunding/deposit rules. Stick to your guns, and that’s how you’ll run a solid business.
16. If it seems like a headache, say no.
Sometimes you can get an iffy vibe about a situation/job/person, but you go through with it anyway because you need the money or you feel bad, etc. But that’s usually the quickest way to get frustrated and stressed. If something doesn’t feel right to you or excite you, don’t do it. Better opportunities will come along that you’d actually enjoy.
17. Do not buy a sofa if you don’t actually use one.
My husband and I have a sofa. We don’t actually NEED a sofa in the sense that we don’t need a place to sit and we rarely entertain guest that would want to sit. Since we don’t actually USE it the way you’re intended to use a sofa, we throw all our shit on it. Then we start throwing shit on it instead of putting it away properly. Soon, we have a huge pile of shit on our sofa and it’s horrible and overwhelming to clean up.
It seems like it would be easier to just not have a sofa.
18. A good playlist can make all the difference.
This is true when working, when going to the gym, when doing dishes, when doing laundry… anything! Having good songs playing can change you from “meh” mode to “dance party” mode immediately.
19. People make mistakes. And they change.
Someone can fuck up REALLY REALLY BADLY. So badly that you’ll think they’re a bad person and you’ll tell yourself to stay way from them. You’ll be tempted to hold it against them forever. But there’s probably another side to the story. Or if not, then at least the person who made the mistake might learn from it and change. Heck, you might even want to be their friend in a few years.
20. Animals make everything better.
I miss my cat Willow SO FREAKING MUCH! I know it might seem lame, but sometimes I think he’s my best friend. He’s been with me all through high school and college (even if I was away in a dorm) and beyond. He’s been there curled up at the foot of my bed while I cried, while I read, while I giggled, while I watched movies. He would follow me upstairs for midnight snacks, then back again to bed.
Now I’m living in the UK and he’s still at my parents’ house. I miss him like crazy! Sometimes I feel like I’m missing my partner in crime.
21. You can find inspiration anywhere.
Some of my best ideas come when I’m in the shower/bath. I swear that’s where I do my best thinking!
But also, I get some awesome design ideas from the simplest things, like a single colour scheme, or a single font. Those single elements can spark an entire design idea. Always be on the lookout for inspiration!
22. It’s so easy to get worked up over something small.
I recently talked about how I’m a bad customer and I think this point integrates with that one a lot. If something small happens to me, I can FREAK THE FUCK OUT if I don’t immediately know how to fix it. Cue stress, frustration, pouting, moping, sobbing, etc. Sometimes we get super worked up when we don’t need to be. It would make a lot more sense to just take a deep breath and work through it.
Of course, that’s much easier said than done.
23. Eventually you will be able to laugh about your most embarrassing moments.
I don’t have a ton of embarrassing moments, but I do have a few. There are some deep, dark secrets that only my husband knows. I NEVER thought I’d be able to get over those moments, but I am beginning to. Now I can laugh about them without trying to stick my head in the ground and hide.
24. It’s really hard to think of 24 things.
That sounds bad… as if I haven’t learned 24 things in 24 years. I guess that’s not necessarily true, but it’s REALLY hard to sit down and think of 24 useful or important things. This post took me DAYS to write. I had to constantly save it, step away for a day, and come up with new ideas. I don’t think I’ll be making this a yearly thing! LOL.