23 Things I’ve Learned at 23

April 2, 2019

Ahhh….another birthday has arrived for me and the first one that I wasn’t really looking forward to. A week ago I shared on my Instagram stories that I wasn’t looking forward to turning 23 because I am so afraid of the uncertainty that will come in the following year. I don’t mentally feel like I am ready to let go of being 22 and moving up in age…weird, right? I wish I could stay young forever! But because I always see my birthdays as a new way to start over and refresh my life goals, I am looking at this day in a new light. Forcing myself to let all the negative thoughts drift away and to embrace uncertainty.

22 was a roller coaster of a year. I faced greater uncertainty than ever before in my life, graduated NYU, found my first job and “officially” became an adult. All in all, I had a good year full of memories with my amazing friends and family. I learned a lot about myself this past year from who I was as a person to who I want to become. 

To jumpstart the positives in my life, I want to share 23 things that I have learned in my 23 years of life. Some from the highlight reels of my life and some from the darkest periods I’ve experienced thus far. This compilation has all greatly contributed to the person I am and I try to bring all these lessons with me into every situation I am in. So, lets delve into the 23 things I’ve learned at 23:

1.The People Around You Matter

Your tribe reflects your vibe…I think that’s how the saying goes but you get the point! I’ve learned to stop hanging on to people who bring me down and who constantly try to compete with me. You need people around you to push you, but not to consistently see if they can do better than you. I’ve learned that quality is definitely more important than quantity when it comes to friendships.

My close circle has definitely weaned down over the years and I couldn’t be happier. I can confidently vouch for each of my friend’s character and I know they wholeheartedly support every crazy endeavor I want to embark upon. I get so excited to hang out with each one with them because they help uplift me, whether I am already happy and they are cheering me on or when I am down and they are re-affirming my abilities. The people around you becomes your rocks.

2. Go After Your Passions

Seriously, go after your passions. If you like photography, start showing it off. If you like writing, start a blog. There are endless ways to put your passion to use. We all need an outlet of some sort to take us away from “real” life. Because if we are being honest, real life can get stressful and hard sometimes. But if you have something that you can fall back on during those times, it makes life so much better. 

I’ve gotten a lot more serious with my blog this past year and after hitting my two year mark recently, I have realized just how crucial this blog has been to my creativity bubble. There was no better way for me to connect with such amazing and inspirational people and to just do something I want to do. It sounds cheesy, but you really should find something that feeds into your passions. And start TODAY – there is no better time than the present.

3. Failure is Okay

The amount of failures that I’ve experienced in the past 23 years have all taught me one big lesson: FAILURE IS OKAY. Cliche but it’s something that I still struggle with at times. I get it, you work so hard on something and it just doesn’t work out so you’re back at square one. I’ve been there before. We’ve all been there before. And as I move past those times, they still come back to haunt me and heighten my self-doubt time and time again, but I constantly remind myself that failure is okay. Because it forces me to work harder and really evaluate where I want to be in life. If you want something bad enough, failure will push you to work harder for it. 

I’ve faced rejection after rejection and each one hit me like someone drop-kicked me into the deep sea. But I’ve learned to recover through each one. Each have taught me that I can use those rejections to propel me to do better, to achieve greater and to come back stronger. Know that with failure, there always is another chance. 

4. You are Exactly Where You’re Suppose to Be

A hard one for me to talk about since I just told you guys that I was really afraid to turn 23 due to the fact that I was so uncertain about my life. I was indeed fearing for the future because my current situation is definitely not what I had imagined years ago. And there have been several points in my life where I felt the same as I do right now. It’s only when I moved past that mountain that I realized, hmm I really was exactly where I was suppose to be at that time. My parents always told me to not rush life, to live in the moment and to focus on being 100% happy. Believe that your path is unique and where you are right now is precisely where you’re suppose to be.

5. Make Time for People

Life gets in the way of a lot of things, like quality time with the people you love. For me, it’s my friends and family. There have been periods that I was so into what I was doing myself that I forgot I had to make time for others. No one is going to chase after you for long – relationships are a two way street. Make the time and effort to see the people you care about. It doesn’t even have to be seeing them in person. Make sure you call them, let them know you’re thinking of them and know you’re there for them. Time is an invaluable gift that you can give.

6. Mental Health is Important for Everyone

I’ve once been told that I can’t talk about mental health because I’ve never been diagnosed with anything. But inside, I constantly struggle with anxiety, feelings of self-doubt and waves of emotions. Being diagnosed by a professional doesn’t entitle anyone to have exclusive rights to mental health care. We all should take an active effort to take care of our mental health. You don’t have to be diagnosed to know what you are going through. Do activities that challenge your brain and ones that help you close the chaotic world out. 

7. Dreams are Still Important

I wrote an entire blog post on this because I am so passionate about this topic. I don’t think age has anything to do with our ability to dream. Having dreams and goals help propel us forward in life and achieving greater things. Nothing great came out of people who just idle around. If you want something, go for it and dream bigger for your next endeavor! 

8. Actions Matter

Actions do speak louder than words. I have noticed over the years that I remember a lot more about people’s behaviors than what they have said to me. From the way their body language tells me if they comfortable or nervous, I have it mostly pinpointed down. What you do for someone is also extremely important. It doesn’t mean you have to buy people things, but just little tidbits from time to time letting others know that you are grateful for them. These small acts speak a thousand more thank you’s than a statement.

9. Being Nice is Free

Remember that you never know what is truly going inside someone’s life. Spreading kindness is at no expense to you. I’ve learned that you can’t combat negativity with negativity. Be the sunshine of any situation, learn to let things go and enjoy every moment. With how fast time has been going for me, I’ve realized that life is too short to be mean. Why make underhand comments about someone when you can just have a genuine conversation together? Help the people around you and it will go a long way. 

10. Comparison is the Thief of Joy

I’ve heard this one so many times and it’s a gold statement in my books. I was the girl who looked at other people and wondered why I wasn’t as successful or achieving as great of things as others. These thoughts are draining over time and it doesn’t allow us to focus on US. Let other people live their own lives because we have our own path to live on. The grass is always greener on the other side, and there are always people who are going to be better at something than you. But I remember that I am still special because I am me and no one can do a better job at that than ME.

11. Ask for H E L P

This is a hard one for me. I am someone who is used to being asked for help…not the other way around. And I’ve come to terms that this is also a two-way street. There WILL be times where you will need help and need to ask for it. And there is nothing shameful in that! We all can use a little bit of help from time to time. It’s better to do it right the first time than doing it wrong a 100. Asking for help shows initiative and incentive to do better. 

12. Capture Moments

I love taking pictures of things wherever I go. I am the one friend who constantly says “ooo this looks so good, turn around and smile!” or “nooo don’t eat yet, I have to take a photo!” I am this way because to me, looking back on photos can evoke so many memories for me. The quick two minutes I take to snap a shot of something doesn’t take me away from the present moment. It helps me encapsulate the present and allows me to come back to feel the emotions time and time again. 

13. Learn to Say No

Jenny, can you please do this? Can you help with this? You think you can do this? YES. YES. YES.

I am a “yes-sayer” by default. If someone needs help, the answer is always, yes. I sometimes don’t even listen to the context – I just start nodding. Saying “no” is super hard for me and I have learned over the years to learn how to balance my commitments. Life gets a little hectic once you start piling unnecessary stuff on top of it. While helping others is important, it’s also to think about your own priorities. 

14. Stand Up for Your Values

Always speak your mind. Being the loudest person in the room doesn’t necessarily mean they are always right. And it doesn’t mean you should be threatened by them. If you believe in something, then say it out loud. Your thoughts are important! I had an amazing boss once who always pushed me to share my thoughts, telling me that there are people who want to listen and that I add value. This applies to everyone. You can add value to the world with your thoughts!

15. Different backgrounds are COOL

People who have different backgrounds are COOL. Through going to NYU and living in the city, I am able to experience various facets of the cultures that exist here. This has largely opened my eyes and not only became more accepting of others, but of myself, too. The lenses in which I view the world give by these different people have allowed me to experience and live life in so many different ways.

16. Invest in Your Body

While we still may be young, there is never a right time for us to start looking after our bodies. If we really go through our daily events, we will realize how much our bodies take a beating at times through our habits. Indulge in the things we love because life is all about those moments, but also take time to learn how to better your body. Sign up for the gym to stay active. Try to eat healthy at least one meal a week. Buy better ingredients and learn to cook more at home. There are so many ways you can invest in your bodies – learn to love it so it can keep giving back.

17. Feed Your Mind

I am a natural wanna learner. It’s literally impossible to know everything in the world and we are never done growing so why not constantly feed our brains? Engaging our brains in something new, even once in a while, will do a whole lot of good. I’ve come to realize that as you grow older, it’s cool to be a nerd. To read and delve into topics that aren’t mainstream. It’s rewarding to be able to have intellectual conversations with the people around us. So challenge yourself and your mind and try to learn something new whenever you can.

18. A Good Cry Can Be Good for the Soul

I am an extremely emotional person and I’ve come to embrace my ways throughout the years. I am the girl who cries at every scene in a movie even if it’s not sad (and then also laugh at the times when I shouldn’t be). I never really thought about my emotional tendencies until I noticed on my own how emotional I can get at times. And I’ve learned enough over the past few years, from my own experiences and from others, that a good cry can do a lot of good for the soul. Instead of squashing those feelings and storing it all inside, let it out! Let it roar! Whether it’s good cry session you need, a good rant or just letting something go. It will make you feel like a thousand pounds have been lifted off of your shoulders.

19. Know Your Finances… Or Attempt To

Gone are the days where I can fully rely on my parents for everything. Here are the days of taxes, applying for health insurance and maintaining my own place. Being an adult = needing to figure my finances out. I was blessed with parents who helped me along in life every step of the way, but when adulthood hit, it hit hard. Budgeting? Psshhh, mom can do it. 

YEA RIGHT! As soon as I got a job, I had to learn how to spend my money wisely and actually come up with a budgeting plan. It wasn’t the easiest since I didn’t have that much guidance, but I am slowly progressing. Saving money and knowing when to splurge is crucial to learn!

20. Take Social Media Detoxes

I talked about how social media platforms really only exist to show people’s highlight reels. People rarely post about their bad moments and if we really dig deep, we don’t really know who the person is behind all those photos. Unless you know someone in real life, you see exactly what they choose to put online. And we all do the same. It can get overwhelming. Taking a beak from your social media accounts can do you some good – let you refocus and focus on yourself.

21. Learn to be your own cheerleader

For some reason we are always our own greatest critics. We need to change that energy into being or own cheerleader instead. We are capable of so much more if we learn to accept who we are and to advocate for ourselves. Find the value in speaking our minds, pushing for our voice to be heard and continuing to better ourselves in a positive way. 

22. Hard work pays off

School, work, general life….hard work does pay off. Even if in the moment you don’t see it. The hours, days and even years of work you put into something will bear results in the end. Sometimes you get lucky and meet people who can give you a boost in some part of life. And other times, you just have to buckle down and work at it. No matter what, you’re going to have to put in as much determination as you can to achieve what you want. 

23. Better Days Will Come

We’ve all had those days. The ones where you feel like the entire universe is against you. And just when you thought it can’t get any worse, another awful event hits. These bad moments or days are just part of life. Which means eventually they WILL pass and better days will come. Learn to live in the present and to not let your past define your present or your present define your situation. Your current state of being is just that: current. Take one day at a time and look for the positives.


I hope 23 brings more of eating desserts before dinners, laughs that feel as if I am getting a six-pack and being with people who feel like home. I am entering this year of my life both frightened for my future but also excited to see what I can do. Taking one day at a time and also taking into account that imperfection of today can be my motivation for perfection tomorrow.

A million and one thanks for reading – until my next lil’ thought then!

xx jen

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