I turn 26 tomorrow, so no better time than now to recap some of the things I've learned in the last year.
  1. I need more than 5 hours of sleep to function like a normal human.
    When I was 21, I could stay up all night partying and work a 12 hour shift the next day. Now I stay up late to watch a NBA game on the West Coast & the next morning I'm pumping red bull into me through an IV.
  2. I discovered my breaking point.
    I broke down and cried in the laundry room because my dog wouldn't eat his breakfast. Literally sobbing in a heaping pile on the floor. That's when I knew I had too much shit on my plate & forced myself to rest. I have a terrible habit of going until my body won't let me. This was that moment.
  3. I am smarter than I give myself credit for a lot of times.
    I work with some of the world's most intelligent people. They have MBA's and PHD's and can speak multiple languages fluently. There's a lot in the world out there that I don't know. But someone told me recently: just because someone doesn't know a lot, doesn't mean they don't know a lot about one thing. I'm good at a lot of things. Just not machine learning or speaking French.
  4. If childbirth is anything like the pain of kidney stones, I want no part of it.
    Just after my birthday last year, I got kidney stones. I had subtle pain for days (that I ignored because that's just me) that turned into instant-horror movie screaming levels of pain. Let's just say, I'm grateful for sleep and modern medicine.
  5. I do not like avocado.
    Tried it. Don't like it. Can't change that.
  6. I can't do the gluten free thing.
    I am all for being healthy. My work environment provides healthy lunches and snacks for us - for free! (But let's face it, I still eat the Trail Mix just for the M&M's) But when I tried going gluten free I could literally feel my body telling me "This is going to kill you. We need bread. You love bread." I ate a week of gluten free; the mashed potatoes did me in. They were made of cauliflower. GAG. I just can't. Mama needs carbs. And gluten. And cake.
  7. I am motivated by the success of others.
    I can look in the mirror or look at the scale and think "huh, should probably do some sit ups" but none of that really sinks in until I see success in others. Then I'm like "Well shit, I can do that. I want to be successful too!" Whether it's weight loss or getting a promotion, I've learned that the success of others is inspiring and motivational to me.
  8. I learned to speak up for myself.
    I let people walk all over me. A lot. I'll get asked to do things - both in & out of work - that directly conflict with my priorities or my availability but I put it aside for other people. To some, that looks heroic and that's how I used to look at it. But this year I really learned to finally put myself and my needs first. Not that I'm not willing to help, but there comes a time when I have to defend myself in order to get what I want or where I want to go. I refuse to be a background player.
  9. I found that avoiding confrontation often times creates more confrontation.
    In my constant need to please others, I would avoid confrontation all together. But this past year I've learned that sometimes confrontation can be healthy. If avoided it grows into a larger problem that sometimes involves more people. I've learned (the hard way, admittedly) to just get the awkwardness out of the way sooner.
  10. I learned to cherish my mind and my memories.
    I'm currently watching my grandmother struggle with Alzheimer's. It's gut-wrenching. Every time I'm with her I bring up childhood memories and pictures. Sometimes she remembers everything, sometimes she struggles. I'm trying to help her hold on for as long as she can. I've learned this year that memories don't last forever. I've started to really live in the moment & value the memory while it's happening.
  11. Crying is okay.
    Even though my grandma is struggling with remembering, there are sometimes when she is spot on. At Christmas she gave me an apron that I used when I was five; she had written my name on it and it still had chocolate stains from the last time we baked together. She also gave me her recipe book. 10 minutes before that she couldn't remember the word for "plate" - but she remembered baking with me when I was five. I exploded into a mass of tears. Ugly crying on Christmas. To be honest, it felt good.
  12. I cannot recover from a hangover as quickly as I used to.
    Florida-Georgia in Jacksonville, my liver might still be recovering.
  13. I need a nap if I'm going to party.
    I can't make it til 9pm anymore without being ready for bed. Whenever we've hosted a party, I've had to take a nap before hand.
  14. I discovered my hair performs well with dry shampoo.
    I get more compliments on day 3 hair than I do on day 1 hair.
  15. I began to truly value time with my family more.
    My mom battled breast cancer this year. I watched her struggle with pain & difficult decisions everyday. She championed back and kicked cancer's ass! Through her struggle I began to truly value my family and my time with them.
  16. I learned to appreciate sacrifices.
    My parents make sacrifices for me - still, at (almost) 26 years old. My sister has even made sacrifices for me. I watched my family put their lives on hold for my mom when she got sick; now I'm watching my family sacrifice their time to help me plan my dream wedding. Such a contrast but I learned the weight that each of those sacrifices carry and have learned to appreciate them more.
  17. I discovered a new desire for travel I never had before.
    I got on a plane and traveled to the other side of the country for work this year. I was able to put my feet in the Pacific Ocean for the first time. I was able to experience life in a new place - all by myself! - and I loved it. I took in as much as I could and enjoyed every moment I stumbled into.
  18. I fell (back) in love with writing for pleasure.
    Hence, this list.
  19. I learned to appreciate my health.
    This year I really took the reigns on not letting my body get the best of me; instead I gave the best I could for my body. I will never be a fitness guru or push protein powders on Instagram, but I did learn to value my alone time exercising. I learned to make healthier eating choices with the understanding that indulging in moderation can be healthy for your brain.
  20. I valued tradition.
    This year was my 19th year attending Augusta National Invitational Golf Tournament. I used to think this tradition was just "something we did" but this year watching my grandfather get excited as the date approached, hoping my grandmother would remember, it hit me hard. I learned to appreciate these traditions for what they will mean when I'm older.
  21. I discovered that sometimes putting yourself out there is a good thing.
    I don't like to directly ask for things - especially if it's something I want. This year I learned to put myself out there and reach for a goal that I had set for myself. I did the work and asked all the right questions. I made sure my presence and work ethic was noticed.
  22. I learned the value of true & loyal friendship.
    I have a great group of friends. This year I learned that true friends are the ones who text you the morning of your mom's surgery to check on YOU and how YOU'RE holding up. They're the ones who cry tears of joy with you when you get engaged & reminisce the days when we would plan together.
  23. I learned that it's never too late for an apology.
    I reached out to a friend I had wronged and apologized - after four years. It had been that long since we spoke/hung out. I finally put my pride aside and humbled myself enough to apologize, which is hard for me. It was so well reciprocated & now we're moving forward in friendship again. It will never be the way it was - and I know that - but it's a start.
  24. I learned I can't eat Chick-fil-a for breakfast twice a week.
  25. I kept dreaming.
    I've set a lot of goals for myself for the next year. A lot of things will happen in my 26th year. I'm getting a completely new last name! I can't wait to see the lessons life will throw my way this year.