26 Things I Have Learned in my 26th Year on Earth

So I’ve only been on this earth for a short 26 years, but this year was definitely a growing year for me. I do not have it all together – this morning I accidentally used soap in my hair instead of shampoo. But I’ve come a long way from where I once was, and there is something to be said about that. So in honor of learning to be a better person this year, here are 26 things I learned in my 26th year of life.

  1. Self-care is important. I’m not talking about getting yourself a vanilla latte every Friday in the name of self-care. I mean trying to get 8 hours of sleep every night, eating fruits and veggies, going to the doctor when something hurts to the point that you can’t do anything, taking a personal day from work if you feel like you’re truly going to commit suicide, etc. Apparently it took me 26 years to realize my body isn’t going to last forever, so I need to take care of myself.
  2. Appreciate your parents, damn it (unless your parents are truly horrible people, then disregard). Your parents most likely love you and want what is best for you. Call them at least once a week, even if it is just for 5 minutes. If you are as fortunate as I am to live close to your parents, invite them over for dinner. Sneak into their house sometime and do their laundry for them. Let their dog out for them when they ask you to. Ask your dad to go out for a beer with your some night. Sit on the couch with your mom and watch hockey. Actually talk to them both. Get off of your phone, look them in the eyes, and talk to them.
  3. Saying “no” is okay. Telling your boss you can’t take on another project and keep up the work ethic you are known for is okay. Telling your husband you don’t like the way he arranged the furniture is okay. Saying no when your friends ask you to get wasted with them is okay. Telling a friend that no, you can’t take on any more of their emotional baggage is okay. If something is too much or you just don’t like something, it is okay to just say no. You don’t have to do everything to please everyone.
  4. You don’t get to be upset if you don’t voice your opinion. You also don’t get to be upset if you give a false opinion to spare someone’s feelings. I have a really bad habit of not saying anything when something bothers me so I don’t create a ruckus, but then I stew about it. Then I blow up about it if it keeps eating at me. It’s so much easier just to voice your opinion right away.
  5. Liking sex is normal. I grew up in a household where expressing any interest in sex was frowned upon because “it’s not the Christian way”. I really enjoy having sex with my husband, and that is a good thing. I like the intimate and personal connection. We had sex for the first time when I was 24 and I really struggled with it because of how I was brought up and my past sexual abuse. After some work, we have a really great relationship and I am finally at ease.
  6. Get rid of things in your life that are clutter. These are belongings and people. If it/they are not bringing happiness to your life, get rid of them. Sorry to go all Marie Kondo, but seriously. Your schedule is busy enough. You don’t need to feel obliged to make room for people and things that are not having a positive impact on your life. Make time and space for people and things that build you up.
  7. Rescue an animal if you are able. My husband and I got a dog from the shelter. She was abused and she is an older dog, so we weren’t really sure what we were getting into. She is the best dog ever, even though she has required some patience and a little extra love. It’s so rewarding to come home to my two four-legged babies and know I am the highlight of their day.
  8. Don’t overdo it at work. I used to be one of those people that stayed 2 hours after work to “prepare”. Prepare for what? What doesn’t get done today must not have been insanely important or it would have gotten done today. Save it for tomorrow. Go home, spend time with your family. Especially if you aren’t getting paid overtime. You dedicate 40 hours a week to your job. Are you dedicating 40 hours a week to your family? What will be there when you are old and gray – your job or your family? There you go.
  9. Crockpots are a gift from God. Seriously. I am a wizard with a crockpot. Pinterest is also a gift. However, it is important to learn to cook a variety of meals on the stove and in the oven as well. I’m nowhere near a chef, but last year, I couldn’t make mac n’ cheese without it smelling or tasting kind of funky. You can’t live off soup forever. You need nutrition. See #1.
  10. Read more. I used to love reading, but then I got really busy with grad school, working, and being married. I really missed just laying down to read a good book every once in awhile. I’m trying to read for 20 minutes as part of my nightly routine, and I’m already starting to see some improvements in my mental health.
  11. If you car is making noise, do not turn the radio up. Get that shit checked. All 4 of my brakes gave out in the middle of a highway because I heard a noise and just ignored it. I almost died. Your car weighs a few tons and gets you from point A to point B. If something happens to it in the middle of a crowed highway, you could run into something that weighs a few tons as well. I’m lucky to be alive. Be responsible. Get your car inspected, get your oil changed when you are supposed to, and for the love of all things holy, if your car sounds like a helicopter, go to the mechanic.
  12. You cannot please everyone. Some people literally are never happy, no matter what. Do your best, be a good person, and if someone still isn’t happy with that, that’s on them, not you.
  13. In contrast to number 10, do at least one nice thing for someone a day. I don’t care if that is shoveling the driveway so your husband doesn’t have to, buying a coworker coffee, giving up your seat for someone on the bus, or writing a thank you note to your mom for putting up with your sorry ass in your teenage years – make it a point to do something kind for someone else each day. People notice. You’ll notice people noticing. People will start spreading rumors about how nice of a person you are.
  14. It’s okay to not forgive people immediately. I had an argument with a family member not too long ago because she said something that was excessively hurtful on Facebook. When I called her out on it, she flipped on me. I kindly told her I respect her opinion is different than mine, but it is not okay to be rude or to make fun of others. After some time, she calmed down and apologized. Still hurt from her words and not ready to discuss the matter, I ignored her. She then aggressively demanded I forgive her immediately. That isn’t forgiveness. Forgiveness does not have to happen immediately, no matter what some religions say. For forgiveness to be authentic, you truly need to feel it in your heart. Anything less is just you being a pushover. Sorry not sorry. If you need time to heal, take that time to heal. The person who wronged you should respect that if they are truly sorry for their actions.
  15. Sometimes you just need a day to do nothing, and that is extremely difficult for someone like me. I feel like if I have a day off of work and I’m not doing laundry, dishes, hanging pictures, working on grad work, or doing something productive, they day is wasted. If you need a day every now and then and no one is negatively impacted by you spending some time just resting, do it. Even God rested.
  16. Gaining weight isn’t the worst thing in the world. I’ve gained a good bit of weight in the last few years and at first, it really bothered me. I was never a super-skinny girl. My thighs were always a little bigger than I would like and my butt was even bigger. I developed a slight eating disorder in high school when some girls started making fun of me, but I conquered it. However, I was athletic, my stomach was pretty flat, and my arms were toned. Now, my belly jiggles if I jump, my thighs are bigger, my butt is bigger. I love to eat. But none of this makes me a bad person. I still volunteer when I can, I love my students like they were my own children, I’m a good daughter, and I try my hardest to be a good wife. I just happen to be heavier than I was 10 years ago, and that is okay. As long as I am still a good person, the number on the scale and the number on the tag of my jeans does not matter.
  17. Your relationship with your spouse is more important than your friendships. In my relationship with my husband, male friends have tried to cross the line with their words. My husband’s female friends have tried to cross the line as well. Something I have learned is that sometimes you have to hurt the feelings of others to protect the feelings of your spouse. It isn’t okay to flirt with someone else when you care about someone. It isn’t okay to allow someone to flirt with you if you care about someone. If your friends do not respect your relationship with your significant other, they are not really your friends. If they continue to press the matter when you’ve made it clear that it isn’t okay, you need to drop them like a hot potato. It will be hard, especially if your friendship is deep, but someone who is truly your friend will not do anything to damage your relationship with your spouse.
  18. Embrace your past, even the crappy parts. I’m a sexual assault survivor – that is not a secret on here. It was something I never talked about because it was shameful. How could I let a man do that to me? I was naive, I lacked the education of what sexual assault entailed. I didn’t know that it wasn’t okay for a man to touch me when I told him no. I was told, “This is what boyfriends and girlfriends do, it’s fine.” I was embarrassed. I’m not embarrassed anymore. I am stronger because of this. Because of what happened to me, I am more aware of the women around me. It has taught me to look out for those around me like I wish someone would have been looking out for me. It has taught me to say no when I am uncomfortable with something. It has taught me to teach my students about respecting others when they say no to something, even something as trivial as sharing crayons. Some of the things that have happened in my past suck, but I’m embracing it and using it to help others.
  19. Family members will surprise you. I have an aunt that was always a little distant to me. When I got engaged, she literally took over as my wedding planner, even though she had her own life, full time job, and 2 kids of her own to take care of. Her generosity and dedication astounded me and we are now very close. On the other hand, I had some family members that were very close that didn’t show up to my bridal shower for no other reason besides that they were tired. I had relatives throw punches at my wedding reception. My sister, who has a tendency to make most things about her, stood up to my other bridesmaids when they were planning a bachelorette party she knew I wasn’t okay with and made sure it was everything I had ever dreamed of. My sister’s boyfriend threw himself in the center of the fist fight to make sure that no one got hurt. My dad, who usually makes everything about my brother with autism, made sure our day was about my husband and me. Sometimes it takes a really stressful situation to find out who is really there for you.
  20. Some people will hate you, literally, for no reason. I have a coworker that talks shit about me behind my back on a daily basis. This woman wouldn’t even open the door for me yesterday when I knocked. I cannot figure out for the life of me what I did to her. I have even asked her what I did to her. Other people have asked her what I did to her. She says nothing, but continues to treat me like a pile of garbage. I’ve tried to talk to her, I’ve gone out of my way to be polite to her, I compliment her, and I ask her about her family and pets. No matter what I do, she twists my words, closes doors in my face, and continues to spread nasty things about me. This bothered me for a really long time, but I realized that it is taking her so much energy to hate me that it is draining her. It’s draining me to worry about it. I teach special education, this girl doesn’t have any energy to spare. It is taking me no energy at all to be nice to her, so I’m going to continue doing it. If she wants to hate someone this badly and focus her precious time and attention on me, that’s on her. I’m going to keep on being kind.
  21. You don’t have to keep in touch with someone frequently to still be friends. I have friends from high school that I go months without talking to, but if I ever need anything, they are there. I have people that I see almost daily and hang out with almost daily that I don’t know if I could trust them with my coffee order. Time really isn’t a thing when the friendship is real.
  22. Spend time with your loved ones while you can. I lost my grandpa earlier in the year and I really thought I would struggle with it. I lost my grandma a few years ago and I still really struggle with it. With my grandma, I don’t feel like I got to spend as much time with her as I should have leading up to her death. With my grandpa, I made sure to spend the time with him that we both needed. I am at peace with his death. It is a really good feeling.
  23. Stressing over something that might happen is a waste of energy. Stressing about things that are going to happen is also a waste of energy. I’m so guilty of doing both of these to the max. I’ve been working at this for awhile now. I’ve just noticed that I can get so much more done with my life if I do something productive and don’t stress about things that are outside of my control. What will be will be.
  24. Write. Write often. I have no problem writing my thoughts and feelings on here, but sometimes when I’m angry or upset, I can’t verbalize what I’m going to say. If you write it, you can choose whether or not to publish it. If you decide to vocalize it, the second the words are out, there is no taking them back. Writing is good for your emotions, and it helps you to release some energy that could hurt other people.
  25. Take no for an answer. If someone says no, respect it. I talked about saying no in #3, so now I’m going to talk about accepting no. If someone says they can’t come out tonight, don’t push them. If your husband says no, you can’t buy another dog, accept it. You should never have to sacrifice your wants and happiness to someone else, but no one else should have to sacrifice their wants to you either. Respect that. Don’t be a bully.
  26. Share with others. I was always really afraid of sharing about myself because a lot of girls that I went to school with would ask me things about myself to use for gossip. I clammed up because I was sick of people talking about me. I shouldn’t be. Your story is important. You should share it. Share your ideas, share your fears, share your joys, share your sorrow. It is not good to keep things inside, and who knows. You might end up helping someone.

Author: alicethompsonspeaks

Hey everyone and welcome! My name is Alice. I am a teacher, animal lover/cat and dog mom, wife, writer, yoga novice, coffee-addict, Hufflepuff, succulent planter, and lover of life. I write about things that happen to me that make me think and help me to grow. I look forward to talking to you and going through this journey of life with you!

5 thoughts on “26 Things I Have Learned in my 26th Year on Earth”

  1. Obviously you’re a lifelong learner. Bravo for learning so much at a young age. The one that made me laugh out loud was if your car is making noise don’t turn up the radio. Make it a beautiful day.


    1. Oh my goodness, it was terrifying! We were trying to save money for our new home, and I thought if I just ignored it, it would go away. Nope! In the middle of a highway, all of my breaks just gave out. I sure learned my lesson!

      Liked by 1 person

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