33 Lessons I’ve Learned in 33 Years of Living

Tomorrow is my birthday.

It’s my first birthday without my mom, the person who gave me life. We lost her last June after a seven-year journey with blood cancer. I miss my mom so much. We used to spend every birthday together and ever since her passing, I haven’t been able to write publicly. However, I believe that she would want me to so here I begin again.

Where to begin again? Well, I’m really embracing getting wiser as I grow with each year, and have learned so much in my past 33 years of living. I thought to myself today, why should I keep all this hard-earned knowledge to myself? Why not share it with others?

I’ve never been one to expect nor like material gifts. So, rather than receiving anything, I’d like to instead gift you some of my life lessons in the hopes that they will inspire you. Without further ado, here they go:

33 lessons I’ve learned in 33 years of living:

On Life As a Whole:

  1. Trust the process. It’s always a process. Life continues forward through the good times and the bad times. Have faith that one day all the dots will connect when you look back.
  2. Find the extraordinary in the ordinary. Life doesn’t have to be some grand Hollywood movie for you to be happy. You can find everyday joy in ordinary things. Take a moment to take a look at what is presently around you. What is it that seems so ordinary and commonplace in your life, but is actually so wondrous and magical? If you view your life with awe, rather than angst, you will see that your life is a movie, an extraordinary one that you are creating scene by scene, day by day.
  3. Be a humble student always. Have humility in your quest for knowledge. Know that you cannot possibly know everything. Keep an open mind and approach life as a giant learning opportunity. If we don’t learn forward, we become stagnant. We must learn, grow, and evolve.
  4. Traveling opens so many doors: to new worlds, to new perspectives, to new cultures, to new people, to new sides of yourself that you didn’t know existed. As you travel, you see more and more that we are more the same than we are different. Traveling is a portal to humanity. Do it as often as you can!

On Self-Love:

7. You are enough. You are enough. You are enough. No one is perfect. There’s always room for improvement. But you are enough. YOU. ARE. ENOUGH.

8. Before you can love anyone else, you must love yourself. Your love must first come from within. How could someone else love you if you don’t do it yourself?

9. Creating and maintaining healthy boundaries leads to self-love. Having strong mental, psychological, emotional, and physical boundaries is imperative to your well-being. It’s ok to say No. Communicate your boundaries. Protect your boundaries. Stand up for your boundaries. If you don’t value yourself, who else will?

10. Be honest with yourself. Sometimes we are not honest with ourselves and then we are surprised when we are stuck in shitty situations we didn’t want to be in. Be honest from the start and it will save you from a lot of heartache.

11. It’s ok to feel for yourself. It’s ok to cry. Many cultures tell us to just suck it up, but life sometimes breaks you and that’s ok. Crying is a good, healthy release. As much as you need to have empathy and compassion for others, you need to have empathy and compassion for yourself.

On Love:

12. Love fully. Love openly. Love with all your heart. Some people go through their life not ever loving fully because they are scared. Of pain, of heartbreak. But you know what? A life without love is a life not truly lived. It’s better to feel fully and allow yourself to be vulnerable than to numb yourself and miss out on love. The more vulnerable you are, the more you let love in.

13. You will find the right love. You are deserving of love. Don’t stay in relationships where you don’t feel loved, or don’t have your needs met. Don’t stay in them just because you think there’s no one else who could ever love you. You are loveable. If you love yourself, you will attract the right kind of love. Be patient. Love could be just around the corner.

On People:

14. Be kind and empathetic to your fellow humans. Kindness and empathy grow exponentially as they pass from one person to another. Let kindness and empathy grow in your heart and help others blossom. You never know how much this could mean to someone else.

15. Your happiness is your own responsibility. You can’t rely on others to make you happy. This places unfair burden upon others and relinquishes your own power. Empower yourself to be happy.

16. You cannot control anyone else. You cannot control other people’s actions, emotions, nor thoughts. You can only control your own actions and reactions.

17. Surround yourself with positive energy and people. Quickly exit situations with negative energy and toxic people. Do not let them suck all your energy away. If someone seems to have a lot of drama in their life and constantly places blame on others for the drama, run for the motherf*cking hills. Often times, the common denominator is them and some people are the main actor in their own soap operas. Don’t become a supporting actor in their drama.

18. People often project their own insecurities onto you. Be wise enough to know what is theirs and what is yours. You can help them, hold space for them, empathize with them. However, you do not own other people’s issues.

19. You can’t please everyone. If you try to please everyone, you will end up pleasing no one. In life, there will be some people that you just can’t please, and that’s ok. What matters is you are honest and aligned with your own values. When you do this, you will attract better people.

20. Your friends are your chosen family. Choose wisely. Surround yourself with people who love you, grow you, support you, challenge you, and who are truly there for you. It’s about the quality of your friends, not the quantity.

21. Some people are meant to stay in your life for only a page. Others a chapter. A few, the entire book. Hold a special place for each of them as they are meant to be in your life at that time. However, don’t be too hard on yourself if some people drift away. This is natural. Treasure the times that you did have together.

On Achieving Your Dreams:

22. F*ck everyone else’s expectations of what you should be doing with your life. You can design your own life the way you want it. Do not feel the need to conform as this is your life and you can decide how you want to live it. Don’t get caught in the dogma of other people’s expectations.

23. Life is too short to get stuck in a job or career that sucks the life out of you. This is where you spend most of your day, and thus, much of your life. Where is it that your passion meets your talents? What is your offering to the world? What would you do if money was no object, yet is there some way that you can still do that thing in some way to turn it into something that does make (enough) money?

24. When someone says you can’t do something, that it’s impossible, or that the odds are against you…think to yourself- So what? What if I am the one who defies the odds? What if I am the 0.001%?

25. Imposter Syndrome can feel so real, but don’t make it your reality.Sometimes we think to ourselves, who am I to do this? Say this? Do I have a right to? Why should anyone believe in me? Believe in yourself. You are not an imposter. You just need to be confident in your own abilities and execute the heck out of your plans. Besides, everyone is making it up as they go along anyway. 😉

On Wellness and Finding Peace:

26. Practice self-care. Listen to your body. It will give you warning signs and tell you when you’re self-destructing. Your body is your temple. It is your vessel. You only get one in this life so please take care of it. Nothing is worth sacrificing your own health.

27. Mental energy is a very expensive commodity. Worry less. When you let certain thoughts consume you, think to yourself, what is the cost of this? What could I be spending my mental energy on instead?

28. Practice equanimity when you can. It will bring you much more peace in life. Know that both good things and bad things enter your life. Don’t hold onto either too tightly.

29. Letting go is sometimes harder than holding on, but you must gently let go of things that no longer serve you.

30. Grief is non-linear. Sometimes you feel like you’ve made significant progress in healing, and other days the waves pull you under and you feel like you’re drowning in sadness. This is all part of the process.

On Gratitude:

31. Stay present because everything is ephemeral. People, places, things. Nothing is forever. Thus you must stay present in the moments and cherish them while they last. Each moment is a gift.

32. Be grateful. You don’t have to be an incense-burning hippie to practice gratitude. You can do this in many ways, such as giving thanks to the one thing you were grateful for in the day. Or you can do this by simply acknowledging that you’re alive, or that you and your loved ones are healthy. Acknowledge that you have many things in your life that some others are not as fortunate to have.

33. Setting daily intentions is a beautiful practice. I did this every day for a year and felt significant shifts in my life. What is it that you intend for the day? How can you bring that thing into your life? In what way did it come to you that day? This is an excellent and practical way to practice gratitude.

So there you have it! 33 life lessons! 🙂 Of course, there are a lot more life lessons to share but those are the ones that come to the top of my aging mind right now. 😉

I’m grateful that I’ve made it through 33 years so far, and I look forward to beginning my 34th.

These life lessons are my gift to you. If they have inspired you in any way, please gift someone else a bit of wisdom by sharing this article. Pass it forward! It would make me so happy! 🙂

I wish you much happiness, love, and joy in the journey of learning forward in life.

Cheers to being alive,


Originally published on Medium here.