So, today’s post is going to be very different; because it’s about my personal life, rather than my take on the outside word. It dawned on me this past week that I am turning 24 today, and it brought up a lot of different emotions in me; for different reasons. The past 5 years have been filled with so many incredible moments, good and bad. And I say incredible for the bad moments because looking back now I wouldn’t take a single thing back. I wouldn’t want to do a single thing differently. Not the tears. Not the heartache. Not the depression. Not the anxiety. None of it. Because I would not be who am I today, on my 24th birthday, without going through everything that I went through.
Recently, I decided to read through a lot of my old journal entries starting back in 2015, and I decided that I needed to make a post to the kid that was writing all those journal entries. So, I am sitting here writing this on my birthday, January 18th. In a lot of ways, this post is very much a letter to myself. Past, present, and future. My hope is that whoever reads this, even if it’s just one person, can take something away from this. And maybe it makes your journey in this beautiful thing we call life just a little bit lighter.
So. Here are 24 Lessons I’ve Learned By 24:
1. Life is unfair sometimes, but you have to learn how to roll with the punches.
You won’t always get what you want. And sometimes life will push, throw, and kick you while you’re already down. But guess what? You’re still here. And you still have to deal with the problems that you didn’t want to deal with yesterday. I look back to all the things that I used to think would destroy my world. The things that made me think “How am I going to get through today?” And what I realized is that bad stuff is always going to happen. Life is going to be unfair. But I get to choose how to respond to it. I look back and I see that these bad moments forced me to grow. Sometimes you really do have to take it one step at a time. One breath. One minute. However, you choose to get through your toughest days, just remember that you made it through the day before. Life doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle, the fact that you’re still here is evidence of that.
2. Self-Care. Self-Care. Self-Care.
Secure your oxygen mask before you help anyone else. I always used to be so confused by the airplane safety demos, but I realize now that you really need to take care of yourself before you can think of taking care of anyone else. I’ve spent so much of my life giving my energy to help others, and at my worst moments I would think to myself “Why is no one asking how I’m doing?”. And what I learned is that you need to take care of yourself. Whether that’s through working out, eating right, yoga, meditation, recreational drugs, a glass of wine at night, a soak in the tub, reading a book, or just going for a drive. Whatever you do. Give yourself a moment that is just your time. Where you can just be. Give yourself some love. What you’ll come to realize is that the when you give time for yourself, it will allow you to be more present in the here and now.
3. Don’t believe everything you think or feel.
Sometimes our mind is our own worst enemy, and it make leaps and bounds to draw conclusions between things that have no correlation. Emotions have a way of changing the way we think. Whether it’s from depression, anxiety, or past traumas. We often forget that we are in the driver’s seat of life. We control our thoughts and feelings. When we are confronted with a thought that affects our own well-being or our view of the outside world, take a minute to step back from the thought and just look at it. Ask yourself where is this coming from? Acknowledge it. Accept it. And then let it go if it does not serve you.
4. Be patient with yourself, and life.
There is no rush. If your constantly focused on the future, you forget to enjoy the present moment. This is something that I am still working on. I graduated in the summer a year behind the people that I graduated high school with, and it was something that affected me more than I cared to admit at the time. I was so upset that I was still in school and everyone was already out living their lives that it took me out of focusing on what was right in front of me. Everything happens on its own time. Everyone has their own path. Enjoy the moment that you’re in. Take power in the moment you’re in. You only have right now. So be patient and enjoy the ride.
5. TRUST THE VIBES.
Now I know I said don’t believe everything you think or feel. But I’m not talking about thoughts or emotions. What I’m talking about here is the energy. And whether or not you believe “energy” is a thing. You all know what I’m talking about. It’s that feeling of pulling up to a party, walking inside, and everything just seems off. You can’t place the feeling, but something just feels off. We often forget that we are spiritual beings with souls. Trust your gut. Trust the energy. Trust the vibes. Energy doesn’t lie.
6. Don’t go out unless your heart is asking you too.
Mama Faragher taught me this one. First off, FOMO is not real. There are always going to be parties. There are always going to be nights out to da club. There is always going to be something. Whenever I would ask for permission to go out at night, my mother would always tell me the above lesson. On nights when I didn’t listen to my mother, I had some of the worst nights of my life. You don’t have to go out all the time just because all your friends are going. Sometimes a night in with video games and Netflix is a lot better than standing around watching a whole bunch of random people play beer pong. ALSO, going to sleep at a responsible hour is so underrated.
7. Feel your feelings.
I used to hate my emotions. I hated crying. I used to think that emotions were this irrational thing, and I hated having them. What no one tells you is that it’s okay to feel sad. That it’s okay to be depressed. If all you do is push your emotions to the side, you end up bottling them all up, and then one day you’re just going to explode. I spent so much time avoiding my feelings that I ended up depressed and feeling nothing for such a long time. But you would never know, because I was great at putting a smile on my face. So, feel your feelings. All those unpleasant things. Welcome them because they are a part of you.
8. Anger doesn’t solve a thing, and it might feel good at the moment, but it does more harm than good.
Yes, it is okay to feel angry. But you can’t stay in that feeling, because nothing good ever comes from a place of anger. Rather than immediately reacting to what happens in life, take a step back, and choose how you respond to situations you’re in. Be mindful of other people’s experiences too, because we’re all just trying to get through the day.
9. The way you think and talk about yourself matters.
RuPaul calls it the inner saboteur. Some people call it imposter syndrome. Other people call it the ego. Whatever you call that voice in your head that tells you aren’t worthy. Don’t believe it. But don’t push it away either. Confront it. Challenge it with positive beliefs. Self-deprecation is real, whether or not you are just making jokes about yourself. Our brains can’t tell the difference. When we start to think and talk about ourselves positively, our outlook on life can change.
10. Be comfortable being alone.
I used to crave physical connections with people, in the hopes that it would make me feel less alone. It never helped, and it would push me into more self-destructive patterns. I had to learn how to be okay being alone. I had to learn how to be okay with my own thoughts. I had to learn how to be friends with my own worst enemy. As I started to do that, I learned to love myself. I started to get comfortable in my own solitude. And now, I love my alone time.
11. The past is in the past. Let it stay there.
Whatever it is that your holding on to in the past, let it go. This is something that I’ve been working on these past few months, and I can honestly say that I have forgiven myself for so much. All the mistakes, all the heartaches, all the times I wish I could of done better. Let it go, because you can’t change it. You literally can’t. All you have is the present moment and focusing on the past takes you away from the here and now. Accept your past. Learn from it. And keep moving forward.
12. No one is going to save you, only you can do that.
Whoever grew up watching Disney, we were all lied to. No one is coming to save you. There is no Prince Charming that is going to make all your problems go away. You can’t look to other people to solve your problems for you. Be your own damn hero.
13. I AM ENOUGH.
We constantly wish that we were richer, smarter, healthier, thinner, or fitter. But who you are now is enough. In this exact moment, that person is enough. You don’t need to be anything more than you currently are. You are enough.
14. Know when to ask for help.
Sometimes your hero story, needs a super cool sidekick.
Build yourself a support system. To catch you when you fall. To cheer you on in the race when you don’t think you can take another step. It’s okay to not be okay. And sometimes it helps to talk about it. So, feel free to talk about it. And if you ever feel that you don’t have someone to talk to that will understand what you’re going through, feel free to reach out to me. I will sit with you in silence and listen.
15. Our world is so small in the grand scale of things.
On some of worst nights, I would lay in bed and I would look up at the stars. And I would think how around those stars there probably planets orbiting them. Then I would think about how big our galaxy really is. And how there are other galaxies. And then it makes you think about how big the universe is. And how in comparison, we are so incredibly small. And our problems, our worries, are so incredibly small. And yes, I’m fully aware that problems are relative. But in the grand scale of things, how big are our problems really?
16. True happiness is when you can look at yourself in the mirror and smile at what you see.
Anyone that grew up with me knows that I was a fat kid. I was a chunky monkey. What no one really knows is that I was teased for it too. And in turn, I hated looking at myself in the mirror. Even when I started to work out and got fitter, I would still look at myself and notice all the things I hated. And then I would miss one workout I would beat myself up. Then I would go and eat all my feelings and gain the weight back. For the past 3-4 years, my body size has fluctuated like crazy. I was stuck in this cycle. I’d use Instagram to try to feel good about myself and post nice selfies. But none of it helped. So, I put it all away for a while, and just took care of myself. I stopped weighing myself. Stopped punishing myself for eating when I was hungry. Now, I can honestly say that I love the person staring back at me in the mirror. No matter how I look.
17. Enjoy the little things.
Find joy in the small things that happen in the day. Maybe it’s this lovely rainy weather, or an amazing sunset. Whatever it is for you, find more joy in your day. It’ll make you appreciate every day you get.
18. College is not for everyone.
The one question everyone asked me when I graduated was “What are you going to do know?”. And I hated that question because I still had no real idea. I mean I had my go to answers that we all do, but deep down I had no idea what is that I really wanted to do. And that’s when I realized that college didn’t really prepare me for anything. It didn’t prepare me for life or figuring out the job I wanted. I still don’t really know. What I can say is that I’m trying a lot of different things and figuring out what feels right for me. And I’m happy with that. College will not give you the life you always dreamed. Having been severely depressed all throughout college, I will say that it is not for everyone. I am extremely grateful and happy that I did it and got my degree, but that is my experience. I hated school. Academia was not for me. Maybe it is for you. And that’s okay. There are other ways to be successful that don’t involve going to a 4-year university. So figure out what feels right. Find what your passionate about and pursue that. And don’t ever let money be you focus.
19. Set boundaries with yourself, your friends, and your family.
Boundary-setting is so important. I feel like I used to have a sign that just read “Please walk all over me”. Learn how to say no in a respectful way that allows you to continue caring for yourself. Don’t be afraid to stick up for yourself. You are only responsible for yourself and your own well-being, no one else’s.
20. Be yourself, because everyone else is taken.
I wish I had learned this sooner, because it would have made my life a lot more gay, and I would have loved it. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Just be your weird ass self. Who you are deep down is unique and show the world who that person is. I am so thankful for the queer community because it gave me permission to just be myself. And what I realized is that I never needed permission.
21. Nothing you do in this world should compromise your own happiness.
I know that this is probably very easy for me to say. But at the end of the day, you go to sleep with your own thoughts, and you have to comfortable with them. So, don’t compromise your own happiness at other people’s expense because it will only cause you to be mad at yourself. You are your first priority.
22. No one cares.
I say this in the most positive way imaginable. No one cares what you decide to do with your life, because it is your life. Miss the party. If you don’t wanna go, don’t. If you don’t wanna be friends with that person anymore, don’t. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Stop caring about what other people think of you, because they probably don’t think of you. And if they do and have something to say, then as RuPaul says “Unless they payin’ yo bills, pay them bitches no mind.”
23. There is nothing a 30 second dance party can’t solve.
If Grey’s Anatomy taught me anything about how to be a doctor, it’s that a 30 second dance party will cure anything.
24. Even if you feel lost, you are always going in the right direction.
Even on your worst days, you are always moving forward in life. So, trust that you are always going in the right direction. You’ll figure it out, I mean you always have, and you’ve made it this far. Tomorrow is a brand-new day.