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As I sit here writing this list, I am 32 years old.
I am sitting on the end of an eight-year relationship and marriage with an eight-month-old baby.
These circumstances make me look back and think, “If I would have just known then what I know now…things would have been so different.” I think about that a lot.
At the same time, I know they could not have been any different. If I close my eyes and feel my heart, I know that everything happened exactly the way it was supposed to. My heart needed to do exactly what it did to learn the lessons I am about to write. I needed to go through the pain.
I would describe the relationship just ending as a relationship with my “soul mate.” Not the “ride off into the sunset” soul mate you see in movies. But the mate placed on this planet to break your soul free. The one who comes in, shakes everything up in your world, and leaves you standing on your own two feet.
I am not the person I was when I came into this relationship. I am now stronger, more integrated, more wise, more open, more discerning, more hopeful, and more sovereign. I needed the past eight years to get to this place.
I am writing this list mainly for my 20-year-old self.
I read a book once about love and relationships. The author described the reason for writing the book was to help people not make the same mistakes she did in love. I am not going to be so naïve. I think we can get inspiration from others’ stories, but our hearts are on a journey of their own. Sometimes it takes living the pain to know what the people writing the stories are even talking about.
This list is not being put out into the world as a cure. It is being placed in the world in the hopes that it might spark resonance in some, might nudge others to begin the journey inward, and to serve as a reminder that we are all worth living our best life—regardless of our current circumstances.
May we all conclude, in our own time and our own way, that we were never broken and always complete. May this list be an inspiration, but always remember you are the one who holds your freedom.
What I wish someone would have told me in my early 20s:
1. Figure out what schedule works for you (morning, afternoon, and night routines).
2. Stick to those routines in and out of a relationship.
3. Learn how to meditate and practice daily.
4. Getting into a relationship is not going to help you feel more confident.
5. Confidence comes from knowing your inner self.
6. You can only feel the love someone has for you if you first love yourself.
7. Self-love is a daily choice and practice.
8. Love and relationships are not the same things. Relationships can end, but love never leaves.
9. Learn how to let love in—from plants, animals, Mother Earth, children, friends, and colleagues.
10. Learn how to be honest with yourself about who you are.
11. Find the balance between self-honesty and self-compassion.
12. Stop overspending; you are going to need that money later.
13. You will always have triggers.
14. Learn who you are when you are triggered and who you are when you are grounded.
15. Communicate the difference between the two with your people.
16. Start yoga. Do daily. Your nervous system needs to heal.
17. Walking is a great form of exercise. You do not have to kill yourself on cardio machines.
18. Lifting heavy weights is where it is at.
19. Stop eating sugar.
20. Spend time alone. (I know this is going to make you feel unsafe at the beginning. Learn how to breathe through the feeling of discomfort that comes when alone and honor the little girl inside. You are the parent now.)
21. Get into therapy with a good therapist.
22. Stop trying to “win” a relationship.
23. Invest in a good skincare routine over spending money on clothes or makeup.
24. When a guy picks your friend over you, do not take it personally.
25. Never let circumstances take away your worth—it is not up for debate.
26. Learn how to save money.
27. Start saving money with your new skills.
28. Learn that you can provide for yourself financially—and it is critical to do so.
29. Get out of religion.
30. Learn who God is all on your own. (Hint: meditation helps a lot with this.)
31. A guy is not going to save you.
32. It is so much better to be alone than in the wrong relationship.
33. Your life is your art.
34. Your family is not evil. But you do need to learn how to be an individual outside of them.
35. Be okay with not having a lot of friends.
36. You do belong—just not with those people and that’s okay.
37. Your connection to your own heart and God takes priority over other relationships.
38. Learn what activities spark the light in you—repeat daily.
39. You do not like to be around a lot of people—stop trying to like it.
40. Alcohol is not good for you.
41. Be okay with being different than everyone else. You will find your people eventually.
42. Nature is healing. Go there as often as you can to remember who you are.
43. Having time to relax is important. But you need to balance that with productivity. Too much of either is not healthy.
44. When you feel like nobody likes you—check in and see if you are liking yourself in that moment.
45. When you are out of alignment—life is going to feel like sh*t.
46. If life feels like sh*t—examine how you can get back into alignment.
47. Living your daily life well is underrated, but crucial to overall well-being.
48. Depression is there to let you know something is off.
49. Trust your pain.
50. Bad seasons do not last forever.
51. Trust the magic around you.
52. Do not buy the horse…yet.