Last night, I had one of those "oh my god, I'm going to be T W E N T Y N I N E" moments where I didn't totally know how to process it.
Society tells me I'm wilting away with it being the last year of my twenties - my brain spiraled with thoughts of, "Have I achieved enough? Am I where I should be in life? When is the last time I got Botox... is it time again?" - I literally googled yesterday (unrelated to that string of thoughts) "Average net worth of a 28-year-old" to see if I was on track.
Another part of my brain was like, "heck yeah. I'm T W E N T Y N I N E. That's a solid number. I've got solid footing in my life. I'm doing good things." And that's the part I want to hold on to - it feels better than the first set of thoughts ;)
I've never done one of those "things I've learned in 29 years" lists, so I thought it would be a fun little exercise and quick birthday blog to reflect on nearly three decades of existing on this planet. Bear with me; it will probably be cheesy.
In no particular order - here are 29 things I've learned in 29 years:
1. Start somewhere.
You can't get very far if you don't even begin. Even if the thing is really big, all you have to do is start somewhere to take that first step in getting to where you want to go.
2. Eat the burger.
I mean yes, stay healthy, learn what your body needs and take care of it - but also - just eat the burger, or the pizza, or the mac n cheese. We torture ourselves over food way more than we should - allow yourself to enjoy it, too.
3. Start saving early.
My mom used to tell me this all the time and I used to roll my eyes every time, but now I'm practically screaming it at every youngish person I know - start saving earlyyyyy even if it's just a little bit every month. My favorite life-hacks that have literally helped me save thousands are Albert and Digit. Two apps that help me save without thinking about it and help me learn my financial habits in an accessible way.
4. Start investing.
Mom told me to save, and Dad told me to invest. His advice that I am now giving you is two-fold: A) You should do it and B) Once you do, don't look at it. My brother and I both invest with a pretty cool dude named Steve at Ameriprise. Send me a DM if you want me to connect you!
5. Her win doesn't mean your loss.
I'm certainly guilty of not remembering this from time to time. But there is enough room in this world for all of us to succeed. Maybe it's not the pageant crown or the job promotion at the exact time you wanted it, but just because she succeeds, does not make you a failure.
I went to the dentist yesterday, and without fail, they told me I need to floss more. So now I'm telling you: once you get your grown-up teeth, that's what you're stuck with (unless you pay for new ones). And if you don't want to pay for new ones, you better take care of the mouth bones you have.
7. If you can't stop thinking about it, you should probably go for it.
Simple as that. If it's still in the back of your mind, there's probably a reason. Whether that's taking the jump, making amends, having a tough conversation, or going for that goal one more time - it's still in your brain for a reason.
8. It's probably not about you.
I can't tell you how many times I make entire situations about me when they're just not. The stories we tell ourselves with ourselves as the main character are not always the truth (shocker). That leads me to my next one...
9. Everybody has something going on.
If someone snaps at you that's uncharacteristic - it's probably not about you (see above). Everyone has something going on. In our world, everyone is healing from some sort of trauma. Have empathy, give people grace, and understand that all the stuff in your world is just a peek at the amount of stuff going on in their world. Kindness goes a long way.
10. Find a hobby or something you love that has nothing to do with making money.
Personally, every time I learn something new or see a reel on Instagram, I'm like "I could do that AND I could sell it!" and I'm here to tell you - not everything has to turn into work or profitability. Something I've started lately is "diamond art"?? It's sparkly, it's pretty, I don't have to think too hard about it, and I love it. Find something that speaks to your soul, and not to your bank account and fill some pockets of your life with that thing that brings you joy.
11. You're allowed to say no.
In the age of immediate gratification, it's easy to get overloaded with things and say "yes" to every opportunity that comes across our desks. You're allowed to turn down things that do not serve you. You're allowed to say "no" to the date, or the drink, or the thing you don't want to do. You're allowed to say "no" to your doctor if you don't feel comfortable with the treatment (or switch doctors or therapists entirely if they don't fit your values and vibe). Hold your space, respect your own boundaries, and know that you can voice your preferences whenever you need to.
12. Go on dates with your friends.
It's literally the most fun and has brought me so much joy the last couple of years with my dates with Kacy and Jillian and other friends that are themed, or on the whim, or special in their own way. You don't need a romantic partner to go on fun dates and get dressed up and have fun.
13. You'll learn more in the world than you learn in school.
There are so many avenues to learn and grow your skillsets that aren't in the traditional walls of an educational institution. Getting a degree serves its purpose, especially in certain career fields, but you will learn exponentially more out in the real world than you will in school. Is school still valuable? Yes absolutely. Are there so many ways to succeed in 2023? Also yes. Figure out what works for you.
14. Drink water and stretch.
Phew. I'm only 29 and my body is FEELING IT. Lord knows I'm not athletic and you don't have to be a gym buff to take care of your body - water is magical. Stretching does wonders.
15. Never stop learning.
Back to number 13 - there are so many ways to learn so many things and knowledge is something that nobody can take away from you.
16. You don't have to have it all to be happy.
Comparison is a beast and it's so easy to get caught up in wanting to get to the next big thing, or the next bullet point in your journey, or yearn for what other people have in order to be happy. There are people in this world who are so much happier, with so much less than most of the rest of us. Find happiness in the little things.
17. Wear sunscreen.
That's it, that's the tweet.
18. Ask someone to take your picture.
It may feel awkward, but if you want a picture, ask a stranger to take a picture! Or ask your friend! It's not weird, and you won't regret it.
19. Be clear about what you want.
Communication is everything. I mean this in so many ways - be clear with what you want with your higher power, be clear with what you want (and don't want) in your relationships, and be clear with what you want in your career. If you can be clear and specific, you can start to build the life that you want.
20. Read the fine print.
That's where they getcha. Never sign something without reading the entire contract and/or fine print. It's there for a reason.
21. Go to therapy.
Y'all know this list wouldn't have been complete without this one ;) I'm a huge advocate of going to therapy whether you're "good" or you're going through something right now. Check out my highlight on Instagram to read more about how to find a therapist, what questions to ask a therapist on your first visit, and more about my personal therapy journey.
22. Put down your phone.
Experience the world. I know apple has this great feature right now of different settings to tune out notifications or set a "wind down" at certain times of the day. Experience life through your own eyeballs and not always through the lens or screen of your device.
23. "Failure" is just helping you write your ultimate story.
If you know my story, you know it packs a punch because of the six times I lost Miss Kansas. In the moment, those losses sucked. But in the end, they helped me write a very powerful story of perseverance and grit - and developed those character traits along the way, too.
24. Everything is okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.
I used to have this written on the windshield of my car, and I think it's still a good reminder. Keep going ;) You got this.
25. Celebrate the little things.
The way we interact with each other on social media is typically the big-stuff-highlight-reel. Celebrate the small stuff, too ;) Celebrate it for yourself, and celebrate the little things for other people in your life, too. It's just as important as the big milestones.
26. Find someone who makes you laugh.
I used to think I needed to find someone "serious" and "adult" to make a life with, and those are definitely parts of my relationship with Jesse - but I cannot explain to you how much joy he brings me by making me laugh in the best ways. My life is so much better because he makes me smile and isn't afraid to be silly with me. Find your laughter, too.
27. Pay it forward.
It doesn't have to be financial, but find ways to take stock of what you have and where you've been, and how you can pay it forward.
28. Take the opportunity.
Going off of #27 - paying it forward could mean extending an opportunity you've been given to the next person you're pulling up with you. And if someone extends an opportunity to you - it's only good if you actually take advantage of that opportunity. It's a two-way street. Re: #11 - you're allowed to say no. But also, consider what's in front of you and take the opportunities that make sense for you.
29. Love yourself first.
In the words of RuPaul - "If you don't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?" - in other words: you can't pour from an empty cup. Loving yourself first also includes learning how to love yourself and take care of yourself in each chapter of life.
Alright y'all - that's my brain dump of 29 things for 29 years. Here's to the next 365 days around the sun.
I'm so thankful that you're all along for this journey and that you take the time to read my blogs and like my posts. Remember #25? Celebrating the little things because they are also big things in my world.
Until next time!
PS. Please enjoy this collage of baby Annika to 29-year-old Annika that my mom adds to every year