Today is my birthday. I’m astonished (and weirded out) that I’m close to leaving my 20s! When I was a kid, I never understood why adults always say “where did the time go?”. I get it now. I really do! Just the other day, I reflected back on my “early 20s” and can’t believe so much has changed since then. Time does move fast and each year is a new year to achieve something – regardless if it’s small. 

Today, to celebrate my 28th birthday with you all, I want to share 28 things I’ve learned in life thus far. I’ve always enjoyed these entries because it allows me to get a glimpse of how others grew up. My list has a mixture of everything pertaining to adult life and I hope you learn a lesson or two!

1. A credit card is not an extension of your bank account. 

I’m not shy when it comes to personal finance and my history of credit card debt and abuse. It took me years to learn good financial habits and years to dig myself out of CC debt. Don’t follow in my path. Having a credit card doesn’t mean you have an extra $5,000 in the bank to spend. 

2. Learn to cook – the earlier, the better.

It’d save you some money in the long run too. 

3. Do a Working Holiday Visa program.

If you can afford it (or hell, just save up for it!), take a year abroad. New experiences, new culture, and not to mention, you experience humbleness, gratitude, and empathy. Growing up in Canada, I had it easy being a Canadian Citizen. When I moved to Australia for the year, it’s difficult to find a job as a “foreigner” and the stress you have when you feel your bank account is depleting in a foreign country.  

4. Travel when you can. 

There are so many sights to see and cultures to experience. Broaden your horizons! 

5. No is a complete sentence. And it doesn’t need a follow-up.

Learn to set boundaries early on in your life. It’d save you mentally and physically when you don’t have to force yourself to attend an event or do something you don’t want to do. Real friends will respect your decision. 

6. Get rid of toxic friends and people in your life. 

They literally make you rot from the inside. I got rid of two toxic people in my life after 2-3 years with them and I am beyond happier now. I have them both blocked and I refuse to attend any events with the two of there. This isn’t petty or childish behaviour – it’s setting boundaries in your life that certain people aren’t worth the anxiety/stress. 

7. It’s okay to have a different opinion than the rest of your group. 

Stand up for what you truly believe. Speak your opinions. It’s okay to give in and conform to group consensus, but make sure you take the time to also have your opinions heard and taken into consideration. 

8. Never let anyone disrespect you.

I can’t think of any scenario in where you should let someone disrespect you. It’s easier to stop the disrespect than to recover from the loss of self-esteem. 

9. Friendship & relationships are a two-way street. 

Trust me, you can’t expect your friend to be the only one always inviting you out, or making the effort to talk on the phone, or start a conversation. These people will walk away from your life if you don’t put the effort to maintain and grow the friendship/relationship too. I’ve lost several friends when I treated friendships as one way.

10. Develop financial habits early and invest your money early. 

Investing doesn’t have to be complicated – your bank most likely has easy options to get started. When you start young, time and compound interest are on your side. Even putting away $50/month is better than $0. Also, don’t touch your savings/investments either. 

11. You can’t force friendships or relationships. 

If it’s not meant to be, it’s not meant to be. Leave them alone.

12. Find a career path you’re passionate about (or don’t mind doing). 

Going in a field for money would only get you so far. You’ll burn out. 

13. No toxic workplace or no work-life balance is worth staying for. 

You can pay me a salary of $100k and it still won’t be enough for me to ever return back to the most toxic workplace I’ve ever experienced.

14. Everything on social media is fake. 

I post only the best of the best on my social media, but I am not rich, and my relationship sometimes has arguments. Don’t believe in the hype of social media, especially influencers. It’s their job to portray a certain lifestyle. 

15. Friends won’t compete against you. They’ll support you. 

Nobody likes a frenemy. A frenemy will compete against you and will bring you down. I’ve been there. I helped a frenemy out and she did nothing but tear me down while I thought she was my friend. 

16. Be patient, be kind. 

Life is long. There’s no need to be a d*ck. 

17. Find a hobby that develops you mentally.

Hobbies can be fun, but I believe everyone should have a hobby that develops them mentally too. I love blogging and reading.

18. You carve your own life after 18 years old. 

Regardless of your childhood, I believe everyone has the possibility to change their life. It might be difficult, but it’s not impossible. 

19. It’s normal to feel “behind” in life but don’t read into those thoughts and feelings. Nobody is behind. Everyone is going on their own path. 

What is that saying? Comparison is the theft of joy? Never compare your life with others – it’s a slippery slope and you start to feel like shit. There’s no rat race in life – just focus on yourself, and focus on improving yourself. 

20. If you lend money to friends or family, consider that money gone.

Also, understand that money can ruin relationships. Don’t lend out money if you can’t afford to, or if you can’t risk ruining that friendship. 

21. School grades don’t define you. You can still achieve your career. 

One of my favourite things ever taught to me was back in 6th grade when my teacher told us, “grades don’t define you.” Yes, grades are required for school and university, but being “an average student” doesn’t mean you can’t achieve what you want in life. 

22. Don’t buy into the hustle culture. 

The hustle culture is toxic. You don’t need a 2nd job or your own business to feel accomplished in life. If you are happy with your situation, then enjoy your evenings. Not everyone is interested in having their own business. Don’t let anyone ever shame you into not having a side hustle or your own business.

23. Fitness is important. If the gym is not your thing, find a fun physical activity. 

It’s easier to stay in shape than to get back into shape. Working out doesn’t mean the gym and weights. Find other activities that you actually enjoy. I remember forcing myself to do weight training because that’s what everyone else was doing. I discovered barre and found a better fitness routine and lifestyle that suited me.

24. Live within your means. Don’t go broke trying to impress strangers. 

If you’re going to buy expensive things, buy them for yourself. Don’t buy them to portray some sort of image to strangers that you’ll never see again. And they probably won’t even remember you.

25. Do what makes you happy. 

If you want to eat that ice cream… you go and eat that ice cream.

26. Take criticism from those you respect and value. The stranger down the street doesn’t know you.

Listen to only those that you value in your life. There’s no need for external criticism from those that don’t know you and/or your career. I once had 

27. Declutter and don’t hoard. 

A cluttered space is a stressful environment. 

28. Make time for the important things in your life. 

If it’s important, you’ll find the time. No one is ever that busy. 

There you have it! Let me know if any of these life lessons resonated with you. As well, feel free to drop your life lesson(s) in the comments below and let me know what you live by! I am now off to grab some lunch, do some birthday shopping and wait for my husband to get home so we can attempt to make our first cheese fondue at home… yum!

With love, Claire

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