I turned 28 years old this month. I can’t believe I thought 28 would feel “old.” Sure, my knees creak going up the stairs and sometimes my back hurts for no reason. And my taste buds have definitely evolved to liking veggies and fruit more. And sometimes I look at kids and think “what the hell is happening.” But there’s no way 28 is “old.” Nope, not old. We’re wise now. Well… wiser. I’m sure in ten years I’ll look back and think “What the hell was I even talking about?” And shake my head at my past self. But I’m not there yet.
So instead, I want to share twenty-eight things I wish I had known before turning 28 this year. I decided to split these bits of life advice into 4 categories for those like myself who prefer lists and “bite-sized” information with some explanations mixed in. I have your basic basics, all about social media, what I’ve learned in love and relationships, and some money and career advice I think will help just about anyone. These are just some things that have helped me and apply to my life; it may not apply to yours and that’s okay! Take what you need, and leave what you don’t.
- You need a skin routine (cleanser, moisturizer, and a spot treatment).
- Find movement that you enjoy.
- Being unproductive sometimes is okay.
- Therapy can be good for you.
- You are not weak for taking medication.
- Have at least 3 go-to, tasty recipes for easy meals.
- You’re never too old to dress how you want to.
We’re starting this list off with the basic of basics: a skincare routine. It doesn’t matter who you are, you need to take care of your skin with a simple routine of cleansing, moisturizing, using a spot treatment if needed, and applying sunscreen daily. I only wish I had started this as a teen and not in my mid twenties! I have seen a drastic difference in my skin since discovering Skincare Addiction on reddit which helped me put together my first skincare routine. I also wish I had started an active hobby sooner in my life. I highly recommend on top of a skincare routine that you find yourself an active hobby or couple a walk with something you love like listening to podcasts to find movement you can enjoy every day. Exercise doesn’t have to be something you dread when you are doing something you enjoy which is a lesson itself! Being active is good for you mind and body. Personally, my mental health and physical health were at their best when I was lifting weights at the gym.
On that same subject, it’s good to give yourself permission to be unproductive sometimes. I am constantly feeling terrible about missing a work out or not writing for the blog enough or not filming for YouTube enough. I have always struggled with feeling guilty if I am not productive daily. Recently, I have given myself permission to have unproductive days. I have felt good about myself even on days where I sleep in late, spend the day watching TV shows and playing games, then ordering take out for dinner. Being unproductive for a day is an act of self care. It’s all about balance my friends.
If you have spent some time on my blog, you know I am very vocal about therapy and my journey with my mental health. I firmly believe that anyone can take something away from therapy with the right therapist. Therapy changed my life for the better. I wish I had started sooner. One of the hurdles I had to overcome was taking medication for my depression to better myself. I was very afraid that it would change my personality or that I would become reliant on it. Medication has actually improved my life so much, even with having to tweak it here and there due to the current events of a global pandemic keeping us all at home. When my depression was at its highest, I really struggled with cooking and eating nutritious foods. I have dealt with emotional eating all of my life, and now that I’m older, I have learned how to counteract this with having a few go-to recipes for days like this. Even if you don’t struggle with cooking or eating, it’s always good to have at least 3 recipes you can turn to if you find yourself with an unappetizing dinner, unexpected guests, or if you’d like to impress someone. If you’re looking to impress just yourself, a wardrobe purge and update might be something you should add to your to do list. I am still working towards defining my style but have worried that I may be too old to dress the way I would like. If social media has taught me anything, it’s that you’re never too old to dress how you want to. Make 15-year-old you proud!
About Social Media
- Don’t let comparison steal your joy.
- People tend to only show the best sides of themselves on social media.
- Try to care less about what others think of you.
- Regularly clean out your social media (friends, followers, accounts you follow, etc.).
- Take breaks from social media at least once a month.
- You’re allowed to change your opinion.
- Not everything deserves your energy.
Social media can be an amazing thing as I mentioned above about dressing how you want, but it has its flaws. When I was younger, I often found myself comparing my peers feed to mine. I let it steal my joy for more time than I would like to admit. As I’ve gotten older, I realized that there is no comparison between them and me. People tend to only show the prettier parts of themselves to the world. We only get to see the highlights and not the in-between’s. I also found that I cared a lot about what everyone thought of me on my own social media. I too was only posting the highlights, and basing my worth on likes and followers, but not anymore. In an effort to cut down on the feelings of comparison, I began to regularly clean out my social media. I will delete friends, followers, influencers, business accounts, etc. that are no longer serving my positive lifestyle about every 6 months. I have also implemented a monthly break of 24 hours with no social media thanks to my 2021 resolutions. I will delete the apps off of my phone and iPad for the entire day in order to give myself a break.
Being on social media too often can lead to feelings of comparison but also of animosity. Speaking from personal experience, people will hold you to something you said years ago. Whether that was an opinion or a belief, they’ve labeled you with that. If you change your mind down the road, people may start to think you aren’t who you say you are, that you aren’t their friend, or that you are opening yourself up to a debate with those who think differently from you. I realized that I was allowed to change my opinion even with potential backlash from those closest to me. Sometimes I changed my opinion because new facts were brought to the table or if I had experienced an event first hand, etc. Whatever it may be that made you change your own mind, you are allowed to do so. There could be debates and arguments ahead for you after voicing an opinion that others may feel passionately against, but there is another lesson I wish I had learned long ago when it comes to facing things like this: not everything deserves your energy. That includes petty internet debates, hot headed exchanges in a comment section, or just trying to educate someone. I have spent so much time and my own energy to try to make someone see my side or see facts. In the end, it never changes their mind, and I end up feeling exhausted, sad, and angry. It’s not worth it; I promise you. Save your energy for things that matter.
Love & Relationships
- You are allowed to have boundaries and enforce them.
- It is not your job to make others feel comfortable.
- Don’t keep toxic people around just because you’re afraid of being alone.
- It is on you to make yourself happy.
- Don’t let others shame you for your interests.
- Don’t punish a current partner for a past partner’s actions.
- You deserve honesty, respect, and love.
One of the first things I learned in therapy was how to create boundaries. The hardest part of making boundaries for me was enforcing them, because I didn’t want anyone to be upset with me. Lesson #2 came pretty quickly with this struggle: it isn’t my job to make other people comfortable. At the end of the day, my mental health is what matters. If someone gets mad at me for setting a boundary and enforcing that boundary, that’s a problem for them. And if they can’t respect my boundaries? It’s time to cut them out. I also struggled with this cutting people out of my life. I was afraid of being alone or abandoned. It took me awhile to realize the toxicity was eating away at me, and keeping a toxic relationship around just because I was afraid to be alone was detrimental to my mental health. I couldn’t rely on this toxic individual to make me happy especially in such an environment of their creation. It was on me to make myself happy instead of relying on these toxic outside forces to make my happy.
Not too long ago, if the things that did make me happy were called into question by friends, family or partners, it would drive me away from whatever that thing may be. I remember squashing my need for alone time to make an ex boyfriend happy. I would sacrifice things that are a part of me or that make me happy for the sake of others. Not once was it ever worth it. Now I hold those things that make me happy close to my heart, and when someone makes fun of me or makes me feel like I shouldn’t love it, I know it has more to do with them than with me. Relying on someone instead of something to make me happy ultimately set me up for failure in my romantic relationships as well. I put unrealistic expectations on my partners, which in turn made me punish them for things a past partner had put me through. “If they aren’t making me happy, they must be making someone else happy” was a thought that occurred often before I got to the root of my feelings in therapy. I couldn’t continue to act as if a current partner was capable of hurting me the same way a past partner has, especially if they had never given me a reason to feel otherwise, because I deserve honesty, respect, and love… which was/is the root of my feelings that therapy helped me uncover.
Finances & Career
- Make a monthly budget.
- Start saving before you need a savings.
- It’s okay to spend money on hobbies you love that don’t provide an income.
- It’s okay not to be passionate about how you support yourself/your family.
- You’re never too late or too old.
- Take the day off without guilt.
- Learn to say no.
Other than therapy, I think that finances is another area where I wish I had started sooner rather than later. I discovered a subreddit (r/personalfinance) as well as a couple of YouTube channels (The Financial Diet and One Big Happy Life) that got me started on building healthy finances in my early twenties. The first thing I learned how to do was create a budget. It seems so simple now to me; how hard is it to list all of your bills for the month? The next step was creating a savings for emergencies. I got my first taste for that when I had to dish out $600 for car repairs at 17 and again a couple of years later when I had to pay my insurance deductible of $500 after hitting a deer driving home from work at night. An emergency savings would have really come in handy back then. Once I got a job that allowed me to start saving, I made sure that I was putting a portion of each paycheck into my savings account. Over time, I have had to dig into it, but that’s exactly what it’s for!
Now that I am in a position where I am comfortable in my finances, I have struggled with spending money. How can someone feel guilty for spending money?! In a society that prides itself on working late, side hustles, and never taking a vacation, I felt guilty spending money on things that did not provide an income. The best example of this is this blog and my YouTube channel. Neither of these hobbies provide an income; instead, they actually cost money to keep up. I’ve learned that once I found myself in a healthy place financially, there was no reason to feel bad over renewing my WordPress plan or buying a new mic for filming. These were things for me, not a side hustle. Another thing that society pushes on us is the concept of a “dream job” where we are supposed to be excited and passionate about our job or career. I gotta drop some truth on you that I learned after I went to college for a “dream job” myself: it is okay not to be passionate about how you make money to support yourself and/or your family. If a job provides you with stability or enough income to make you comfortable or is flexible or whatever the reason you are sticking with a job you never dreamed about, that job or career is valid. No love or passion or dreaming needed.
That being said, if you do have a dream job or career that you want to pursue, do it. You’ll regret it if you never try. I remember when I told my parents I wanted to go to school to make video games. It didn’t exactly go well as you might have already expected, but this was my DREAM. It still is my dream, honestly. I’m not making video games in the sense of what is on the market right now, but it’s close. This career is what I need right now. I used to worry that if I didn’t hurry up and break into the industry, that I would be too old or too late to stand out from the crowd. I feel that way now when I think about my YouTube channel and the possibility of streaming. The truth is that you can never be too old or too late to start doing what you love and what makes you happy.
Something else I have felt guilty of over the years at literally every job I have ever had: taking a day off. When I say taking a day off, I mean sick days, vacation days, mental health days, or just-playing-hooky days. I had to give myself permission to be free of that guilt. I was taking a day for me, and that far outweighs the negativity I may receive from coworkers or bosses and the negative emotions of feeling guilt and anxiety. As an American, we never learned that 40+ hour work weeks and taking a week’s vacation every two years was not normal in any sense. So take the day off, and leave the guilt behind. And never feel bad about saying no to anyone at work. Yes, even your boss. Working overtime that’s unnecessary? No. Putting another project on your plate? No. Planning the company potluck? No. (Okay, that last one was a bit personal – I still can’t say no to planning the potluck). I let guilt take the wheel for much longer than I should have in my life, but now I’m taking the wheel back. Guilt is no longer a passenger on this ride, but they might be in the trunk until we can sort this out in therapy.
What are some things you wish you knew before becoming a certain age? What advice do you now implement into your daily life? Let me know in a comment below!
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