Yesterday was my birthday! Which means another spin around the Sun is done. I’m now 23, so I thought to share 23 things I’ve learned in my 23 years. Okay, to be honest, most of the things written here are learnt within the last year or two. But let’s get into the list:
1. Nothing is impossible, if you really want it.
I’ve understood that all things come down to priorities. If you have dreams and you work for them, you can make ANYTHING happen. Anything. I wanted to live in BCN for a loong time, and when my attempt for an exchange year failed, I wrote to 100 agencies here to find an internship (read the full story). So I truly believe I can achieve anything I put my mind to and work hard for.
2. Be patient, things don’t happen overnight.
This might be an obvious point to a lot of you, but it’s something I’m struggling the most with. I know I’m too impatient and want to see results right THIS second, whether it’s working out, learning something new or just progress at work.
3. Wait, but why?
I’ve lately tried to question everything – other people’s words, my own actions and stuff “I have to do” with “wait, but why?”. Knowing WHY it’s necessary gives me much more motivation to actually do it. And too often I find myself thinking wait, it doesn’t make sense or matter at all.
4. Being happy is not an end-goal, it’s an everyday practice.
I’ve understood that I can only be happy when I’m content with myself. It doesn’t matter what goes around you, what matters is how you feel inside. Happiness is a mindset that should be practiced daily. And it doesn’t come from a place (if I go there, I’m happy) nor from a person (if he likes me, then I’m happy) nor from a goal (if I get this, then I’m happy). Happiness is looking the world through pink glasses (haha, I have those) aka noticing all the good things, even the little ones and being positive.
5. Change the things you can and accept the things you can’t. Aka don’t whine.
That’s an important one as well, as I see so many people around me whining about life and not doing anything to change it. Of course, I’m sometimes the same, but I’m really working towards designing the life I WANT to live and taking control over it. I’ve understood that I don’t like working 9-5 at an office AT ALL, so I’m becoming a full-time freelancer from the beginning of summer. That’s a BIG change (and a bit scary one), but hey, why keep doing something you are not enjoying?!
6. Don’t find excuses, find solutions.
This goes together with the 5th point. The idea is not to get caught up in the problems and negativity. Accept it, and find ways to make it better. Adapting to unexpected situations is such a good characteristic.
7. The grass is not greener somewhere else.
It often feels that somewhere else is always better. When I was in Estonia, I wanted to come to Barcelona so badly (and I really-really LOVE it here), but sometimes I miss the less-crowded streets of Tallinn, haha. I think it’s important to understand that no place in the world is perfect. There are ups and downs everywhere. and in everything. Even if someone’s job seems “perfect”, they probably have bad days as well or stuff they don’t tell you about. Appreciate more what you have and what’s around you. and if you really don’t like something, read point nr 5.
8. Consume less.
Less negativity. Less plastic. Less stuff all in all. Watching the documentary Minimalism on Netflix made me really rethink the stuff I have. I read a great quote: “If it doesn’t add to your life, it doesn’t belong to your life”. Now both me and Markus try to really think what things bring value to us and what things should we let go of. Oh and another idea from the film: “we don’t buy things with money, we buy them with hours from our lives” – hah, that was a real reality shock to me. If you put it like that, I would, of course, prefer making memories over buying things any day.
9. Communication is key. Always.
Again, a really basic one, but SO IMPORTANT. I’m really not the one who likes to talk about problems. Fortunately, Markus is the opposite and if anything is like even the tiniest bit wrong, he doesn’t let go until we talk things out. That’s one huge thing I appreciate about him and I really try to learn this from him more. And as I’ve seen, most conflicts come from misunderstandings, so if people would communicate more (clear), it would help to avoid lots of arguments.
10. Say YES more.
Hah, I’m the one usually staying in my comfort zone. I don’t really like doing things I’m not comfortable with, but I’ve understood that saying YES more to things you are not sure about, can surprise you oh-so greatly! Whether it is meeting new people, going to an event etc… It’s actually not that scary. And it’s usually worth it. For the connections, the possible opportunities and just for a good time.
11. Be gentle to yourself.
I don’t know if I’m the only one feeling this, but it’s weird how we put so much pressure on ourselves and criticise every single mistake. And that’s not at ALL how we treat the ones we love. And we all love ourselves, right? I think we should look at ourselves as we look at the ones we love. For me, I’m so proud of my friends and family. I cheer for their success, find so many positive sides about them and always easily forgive the mistakes. That’s something I should practice on myself more as well.
12. Don’t live in the future.
I have the habit of always looking forward to next travels, next events, next weekends etc. But I try more to enjoy the moment, enjoy every monday and every situation I’m in.
13. Exercise IS important.
That’s so good on paper, but lately so hard for me to carry out in real life. Although I’ve had the habit of working out regularly since the age of 3, here in BCN it’s really hard to put on those sneakers and go running. I always find excuses (like the weather, yep this spring it rains a lot here, being tired, having no time, etc). And the ONE WEEK me and Markus managed to wake up at 7 AM and go running made us both feel so energised and good for the whole day. But I’m now trying to get back on track. Okay, need to make myself a schedule. NOW.
14. Make habits. Consciously.
Habits are formed by the stuff you do EVERY SINGLE DAY, not by the stuff you sometimes do. So if I want to keep exercising I have to stick with it for a long time before it actually becomes a habit and easy to do. Same with eating healthy, going to sleep early and reading books.
15. No set goal = not sticking with it.
I’ve realised, that it is really hard to keep doing something if you haven’t thought of WHY you do it. Matching with the previous point here. What I mean is, if my goal is to read a book a month, then I’m motivated to read every day the X amount of pages I have to, but without that montly goal, I think like “eeh, I’ll read it tomorrow”. So set specific goals you actually manage to fulfill.
16. Don’t criticise.
You never know the whole story. Or the reason someone is acting the way they do. They might be going through their toughest time in life, so if they say something not nice to you, don’t react. Keep your calm. And rather than being angry, feel sorry for them. For whatever reason made them feel and act this way. And maybe your act of kindness will make their day. Or change their attitude. You don’t cure evil with evil.
17. Travelling is everything.
I’ve realised, that if there is one thing that I really-really like, it’s travelling. So I try to keep doing it as much as possible. I think that travelling is the best education and although often while travelling you are hungry, tired and uncomfortable, it’s the most exciting and inspiring thing out there. To experience different parts of the world – the nature, the culture, the people. Uh, even writing this gives me goosebumps. So I’ll keep on spending all my money on plane tickets and Airbnbs.
18. Bring snacks.
Everywhere. You never know when something goes longer then you expected and it’s always good to have something in your bag to munch on. Otherwise, you’ll get hangry (at least I will) and will more likely make unhealthy food choices (if I’m extra hungry).
19. Audiobooks are life-changers.
I made a goal at the beginning of 2018 to read 10 books in a year. Well, so far I’ve only read 3.5 books, but I’ve recently tried out audiobooks and it’s such a life-changer. It’s so comfy listening to it while running, walking to work, in an airplane or at the beach. I’m usually too lazy to grab a book, so this is the perfect solution. I’m sure I have no problem meeting my goal by the end of the year. (At the moment I’m using the app Scribd, which has audiobooks + ebooks).
20. Don’t forget to keep in touch.
Extra important when you live abroad. It’s the hardest part, not seeing my friends and fam every week. But thankfully we have 1000 of possibilities to keep in touch. Just have to remember to do it more often. Call, text, ask how they are doing. Sending kisses to everyone reading this at the moment. ♥
21. Wear sunscreen.
Looking tanned is cool, but don’t overdo it. Sunscreen is a must. Your skin will thank you when you are older.
22. Practice the attitude of gratitude.
I really want to keep in mind to be more grateful. Appreciate all the things I have, the places I’m able to go, and the people around me. That’s really more than enough to keep a smile on my face every day.
23. Celebrate life.
Celebrate small victories and even smaller anniversaries. Celebrate Saturdays and finishing a book. It’s important to pay attention to the things you are proud of and happy about. And celebrating is always fun!
So this was my list of 23 things I’ve learned. Or keep on learning to be exact. Which points resonated with you the most? It would be so interesting to know, let me know in the comments! ♥
Thanks for reading this!