Food & Fitness

26 Things I’ve Learned in the Year Leading Up to My 26th Birthday: Part One

This week I turn 26 years old. One of the biggest questions that’s been eating away at me in the past few weeks leading up to my birthday is, where did 25 go? This year seemed to happen so fast. Already the cusp of 24 – 25, when I had a mini quarter-life crisis, seems such a very, very long time ago. What happened to 25?

So much has happened this year that it’s been something of a blur! And now, as I turn 26, and the leaves start to change color yet again (which begs the question – where did summer go?), I think it’s time to turn to some reflection on what I’ve learned over the past year.

13 Things I Learned in the Year Leading Up to My 26th Birthday:

1) Everything will go smoother if you take a few deep breaths. This is a great one to apply in yoga, since the deeper you breathe, the deeper you can get into a pose. But it can be applied to a lot of other areas in your life, too. A few deep breaths can calm you down, can make you more relaxed, can help you think more clearly, can make you more focused, and can help you connect with people better.

yoga clothes

♥ yoga

2) Others will understand if you have to say “no.” At my old job in the non-profit sector, I was so exhausted all the time and so inundated with being around others and talking with people all day that I had to cancel on social plans with my girlfriends a couple times. I could have made up an excuse for why I couldn’t make it, but instead I explained that I was tired and I really needed some alone time – it’s not that I don’t want t hang out with you, it’s just that I really need to be by myself for a while! And they completely understood. From time to time we all need to say “no,” and there’s no shame in that.

3) I adore the “business” side of owning my own business. This came as something of a surprise to me. I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy the business component of being a business owner until I started freelancing full-time. Sure, sometimes it’s frustrating or boring (as with anything else), but most of the time I really like the process of business planning and marketing and doing administrative work for my little editing and writing business.

4) Appreciation goes a long way. There’s a lot to be grateful for in life, and expressing our appreciation is really important. And the moment we don’t feel appreciated anymore, we’re probably going to lose interest. Not feeling appreciated can be a real turning point. It can even lead to quitting jobs and forgoing friendships! Appreciation is extremely important to express.

5) At a certain point in your life, being tired gives you as much of a hangover as drinking too much. Last week I attended a bachelorette party where I had a measly two little glasses of champagne, and I stayed awake until 2am. The result? The next day I had a total exhaustion hangover. I was too tired to do anything but curl up with a book for most of the day! I’m definitely not the type of person who goes out and gets drunk, but I am the type of person who has a hard time doing much of anything the next day if I stay out past – ahem – midnight. Moral of the story: most of the time, I’m in bed before 10pm.

I’m too old for this… stuff.

Because double references are always better than single references!

6) It’s a good idea to always have multiple back-up plans. My full-time freelance editing and writing business is working out pretty great so far, but I definitely put several contingency plans in place before I launched my business! You want those back-up plans to be there in a pinch if something goes wrong, but you also want them to be difficult enough to access that your first plan will work.

7) Letting go of things that aren’t working can be a huge relief. This year, the board of directors and I decided to disband our non-profit, The Food Label Movement. We just didn’t have the resources we needed to make it be a catalyst for change, and there are also other groups doing similar work in Canada, so we decided that it was time to dissolve the corporation. As soon as we agreed, I was surprised at the weight that lifted from my shoulders – it’s still an issue that I feel strongly about, but I know that I / we were not the right people to make the difference. And that’s okay.

8) Sometimes you just need to rearrange your environment to give you a fresh state of mind. For several months I was moping about how there were a lot of things I wanted to change about our condo, but we simply couldn’t make the changes because we can’t afford it at this time. So one day, Mr Science announced that we were going to rearrange some of the furniture. It only took a couple hours to change up our work stations, hang things up on the walls, and organize everything. I love the result and it feels like we’re making much better use of our open-concept suite! And we didn’t have to spend a penny.

9) I am much more sensitive to the caffeine in coffee than I expected. I gave up coffee just a couple weeks ago, and it’s amazing how much deeper and longer I was able to sleep for that first week! I’ll still have coffee occasionally, but I don’t actually miss it. It’s rather nice to go back to drinking my chai green tea first thing in the morning.

having coffee for the first time

10) There are few things as beautiful as waking up when it’s still dark out and getting outside to watch the sunrise. The days are certainly getting shorter, and one day not too long ago when Mr Science and I went running along the river, there was the most gorgeous pink and red sunrise. We started running when it was still dark and by the time we arrived back home, the sun was up. It was the perfect timing and a good reminder that sometimes getting up a little bit earlier than usual can really be worth it.

11) Learning another language is so much more difficult when you’re an adult. I used to catch on to languages pretty good, and at the very least understand what people were saying, even if I couldn’t read or speak it very well. But Mr Science and I are learning French and it is tough! (Of course, it’d probably go smoother if I studied it every day rather than every few days…)

12) Identifying your learning style can make life easier. I really enjoy the challenge of learning a new language, but I think I’ll have to use additional supports while I’m using Rosetta Stone to learn French. I learn much better when I write things down, as opposed to when I’m just supposed to pick it up as I go along. I’ve found that when I write down words and sentences, I get a better hang of the grammar of the French language. I really like Rosetta Stone, but a few extra language-learning supports (like a French-English dictionary!) make a big difference for my ability to learn.

13) It’s possible to write a first draft of a book within the space of one week. Last year, National Novel Writing Month was a bit of a failure for me (I think I wrote 1,000 words and then stopped, rather than the 50,000 words you’re supposed to aim for). But I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo this summer and I surpassed my word count goal within the first week! It will still take a few more drafts before it’s ready, but I’m hoping to launch a little series of business e-books in the next year or so (speaking of which… does anyone have small business questions they’d like me to answer in said books??).

Stay tuned for next week’s blog post, which will featured 13 more things I learned in the year leading up to my 26th birthday!


  1. Pingback: 26 Things I've Learned in the Year Leading Up to My 26th Birthday: Part Two | Living Healthy in the Real World

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