So this is twenty-six.

I always thought I would be in a much different place in my life by the time I hit my mid twenties. I figured I’d have a couple kids by now and be finished with my teaching degree, working at a school. Instead, the only child I’ve got is the one I’m married to and I’m anxiously attempting to go back to school and finish my degree online. Still struggling working part-time, still dealing with a 2001 piece-of-shit-mobile that has been out of commission for months, still drowning my 5 o’clocks in a tall bottle of stress.

But it’s not all bad, despite how many friends have said, “Wow, you have the worst luck.” We’re in the process of making it work. Somehow we always do. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself, especially these last few years, it’s that I’m resilient as hell.

And if I’ve learned anything about life these past 26 years, it’s this:

  1. You are always tougher than you think.
  2. Trust is the easiest thing to lose and the most difficult thing to get back once it’s gone.
  3. Friends can break your heart too.
  4. When it rains, it pours. And often, it then monsoons.
  5. Storms don’t last forever.
  6. Hard work and dedication is often met with blind eyes or overlooked entirely.
  7. Self-love is a long process full of set-backs.
  8. Adulthood is difficult.
  9. When in doubt, fake it ’til you make it.
  10. Not everyone you lose is a loss.
  11. Life is too short to hold a grudge.
  12. You are under no obligation to be the same person you were five minutes ago.
  13. It takes guts to recognize toxic people and put space between them and yourself, but you will thank yourself for it later.
  14. Go with good intentions or stay the fuck home.
  15. Go with your gut. Really—women’s intuition is a hell of a thing.
  16. Few things can’t be improved by either a hot shower, a nap, or an orgasm.
  17. Be weird as hell—those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
  18. Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.
  19. Gettin older is a gift—not everyone will get the opportunity, so cherish every new year you get— even when the cashier at the store who is younger than you thinks you’re fifteen.
  20. Moderation is everything.
  21. Your vibe attracts your tribe. Being the kind of friend you want others to be is no guarantee you’ll find those people, but it doesn’t hurt your chances.
  22. Regret of the things you didn’t do far outweighs the regret of things you’ve done. Better to look back and say “I shouldn’t have” instead of “I wish I had.”
  23. Fear of failure won’t necessarily stop you from failing, it will only guarantee you won’t succeed.
  24. Take. Risks. On yourself, that job, changing your major, on love.
  25. If you want something done right, just do it yourself. Eliminate the middle man.
  26. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you can’t have what you want. You need to make yourself happy—eat that bowl of ice cream, get frisky on the first date, take that job in another state—you are responsible for your happiness.

I’ve always been the person who gives advice but never follows their own. Here’s to hoping this year is the one I finally learn my lesson.