This year, I've started to feel the realization of my age catching up to me. I've been feeling shame of my age as I mumble "twenty three" behind my hand. Compared to others, I think I've felt the "age shame" much earlier.
Why is this? It could be the fact that I interact and work with such young people who feel more accomplished than I, or it could be the fact that I've lived such an adventure-filled youth that I'm scared of the idea that it could all come to an end sooner than later.
There is also a very real stigma and a shame that comes with your age--the number we all hold. Why can't I value every year I've spent breathing, living and laughing? It feels customary and almost automatic to be ashamed, like the people before me.
In Korea, everyone is 1 year old by the time they are born and they add on a number every new year. So, your "Korean age" is generally 1-2 years older than your "Western age".
My "Korean age" would actually be 24.
No matter what age I am, I feel as though I am proud to have made it to where I am today. I need to remind myself of my journey and what has made me who I am.
Here's what I've learned through my many trial and errors over the past 23 years. This is the 23 things I've learned by age 23.
1. IT'S OKAY TO MAKE MISTAKES
No, really! This is something I remind myself of every day. Life has a funny way of making things go differently than you originally planned, and that's ok!
2. STOP AND TAKE A BREAK.
I would've missed so many things if I had not slowed myself down and taken a minute to reflect on myself. Even in times of reflection like now, I always find out new things about myself and others.
3. DON'T BE A D*CK.
I was going to call this, "A little empathy goes a long way," or just generally: "Don't be a jerk." I feel like this one is pretty explanatory.
4. GIVE BACK.
I've never felt better than when I engage in philanthropy. Do what you can to help others in need, not just around the holidays.
5. DON'T BE EMBARRASSED.
Dance, sing, enjoy yourself! Life is so much better when you're living in the moment and not concerned about how you look. I'm a big believer in dancing like no one is watching.
6. STRETCH IN THE MORNING, AND AT NIGHT.
You don't need to do full on yoga, but stretch your arms, legs and wiggle those toes at least once in the morning and once at night. I feel better in my body when I can feel it move.
7. LOVE YOURSELF.
Love this body that holds you. Love every crevice, groove and bump. Feel your stomach and your thighs.
8. CUT ALL YOUR HAIR OFF.
Cut all your hair off at some point in your life. I miss my long hair so much, but I never felt more liberated than when I realized I didn't need my hair (as a woman) to feel like I mattered.
9. FRIENDS ARE THE FAMILY YOU CHOOSE.
At this moment in my life, I've probably found the most supportive group of friends I've ever had. Some are new, some are old. We've had adventure, tears and many experiences that I wouldn't trade for anything.
Literally. Just shut up and listen to people! Don't try to compare your experiences to theirs, just be an ear when they need you to be.
11. MUSIC IS THERAPY.
Make a playlist, listen to it. Make a new one, repeat until wounds are gone.
12. LISTEN TO WHAT LITTLE KIDS SAY.
Really. Listen to what they're saying. Little ones know much more than you think they do!
13. MOVE SOMEWHERE NOBODY KNOWS YOU.
I've done this twice in my life and I'm glad for every second of it.
14. HAVE A TREAT YOURSELF DAY
Treat and splurge on yoself, girl!
15. TRY A NEW FOOD (NO MATTER HOW WEIRD IT IS).
Seriously, you might like it!
16. MAKE FRIENDS OF ALL AGES.
Some of my good "friends" are as young as 5 or much older than I. Don't let your group of people be typecast by age.
17. SAVE MONEY.
Whether it be in a jar, or an account. You'll be happy you did!
18. GET A CREDIT CARD!
I think I say this one all the time. Build some gosh darn credit, people. Diversify that sh*t too.
19. USE LOTION!
Keep your skin happy.
20. DRINK SOME WATER.
Right now, if you're reading this, take a drink please. It's what you need to live.
21. SPEND AS MUCH TIME WITH ANIMALS AS POSSIBLE.
They'll always love you no matter what.
22. LEARN TO SWIM.
It's a life-saving skill and you might need it one day if you don't already know how.
23. LEARN TO LAUGH AT YOURSELF.
I never knew how to do this, surprisingly, but as I've made more mistakes and began to take myself less seriously, this has been so incredibly helpful in terms of my mental health.
This life has been so good to me thus far, I feel rich in experience and in love! Here's to another year.
What's your favorite lesson you've learned this past year? Leave yours in the comments!