Food & Fitness

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

My birthday has come and gone, but the reflection continues! If you haven’t already, check out last week’s post on 13 things I learned in the year leading up to my 26th birthday.

Thirteen (More) Things I Learned in the Year Leading Up to My 26th Birthday:

14) Dusting can make the surfaces in your home look super shiny and new. This I discovered after putting off dusting for an embarrassingly long time. On the other hand, everything in my house looks really pretty now!

15) Sometimes you don’t know how bad you feel until you add / remove something in your life. I didn’t realize that my “normal” actually felt really bad until I started getting massage therapy and acupuncture. My new “normal” is so much better and happier and energized than my old “normal”! It’s the same with stopping drinking coffee – I feel better now that I’m not drinking it on a regular basis.

16) The theory behind changing a tire. When we got a flat, it was a neat chance for me to learn the logistics of changing a tire (can you believe that I didn’t know how to do it?) – but then we couldn’t get it off completely, even after we removed the lugs, because the tire was stuck. But at least now I know the theory behind what you have to do to change a tire! (And evidently it’s more important to have a CAA card than to know how to change a tire. :))

how to change a tire

Jacking up the car!

17) You can learn much more when you summarize rather than take down notes verbatim. This is something I noticed with my transcribing / computerized note-taking job (in which I write down the lectures for deaf and hard-of-hearing students). For some of the university lectures, I’m typing exactly what the professor says, and in other lectures, I’m taking notes in the class. In both situations, you have to pay very close attention to the professor, but I find that I’m actually getting something from the class and learning from it when I’m taking notes. When I’m transcribing verbatim, I’m much more focused on getting everything down as quickly as possible to pay too much attention to the actual content.

18) If you budget properly and pay very close attention to your finances, you can get by on a pretty small income. Budgeting is one of the first things people should learn about when they’re thinking about launching their own business!

19) Living in the present makes a difference. Having anxiety sometimes makes it tricky to live in the present and do what you want at that moment, but I’ve been able to let go off things that I can’t do anything about much better over the past year. It’s important to know when you should think things through to find a solution, and when you need to let something go because you can’t do anything about it anyways.

20) If there’s no reason to keep stale and stagnant things in your life, get rid of them. This past year was a little bit of an overhaul in a bunch of different areas of my life. There were many things, such as a couple of volunteering gigs, which I had enjoyed immensely at one point but which I was gradually starting to feel like were dragging on a bit. In these cases, it’s really important to recognize that it’s time to move on! For me, the people were great, the issues were important, but it was just time for something new. Trade the stale for something fresh – you’ll be happier and it will free up space for someone with new ideas to take your place!

21) Burnout is a very big problem that a lot of people face. I recently was going back through some of my old Twitter updates, and I realized that a couple years ago, I was bringing a lot of my work home with me. I used to work slightly longer days Monday – Thursday so I could leave early on Friday, but I would often still respond to emails on Fridays and sometimes on the weekends, too. It wasn’t at all a requirement of the job – but it was something I did because I really enjoyed my work. In short, my enthusiasm for my work was part of what burned me out at my non-profit job! When I became aware that I was burning out, and left that job, many other people approached me to tell me their story of burnout, and it was rather surprising to see how many other people experienced similar issues. That’s one of the things I like best about working from home, now, too: if I get too enthusiastic one day, I just take an extra day off work at another time. It all works out, since I’m the one making my own hours.

22) We usually have a little bit more left in us. This is a funny one to follow a point on burnout, but it’s true! Things were pretty hectic at my non-profit job around the holidays this past year, and I ended up needing to take on a project and organize an event with less than two months to spare (the year before, I had been given six months to prepare for it). I’m not quite sure how I managed to do it and keep on top of the rest of my work, but I did. I’ve found the same thing when I go running, too: I might think that I’m running as fast as I can, but if you push yourself… we can always go a little bit farther. I don’t think we should push ourselves to our limits every time, but it’s important to remember that we have an extra reserve available if needed!

23) There’s nothing quite like following your passions. I was certainly challenged at my job in the non-profit industry, and I gained a huge amount of experience, but although I was passionate about the issues, I wasn’t passionate about the work. I am so happy every day that I get to write and edit for a living. A couple of full-time opportunities came up this summer, but for me they just reinforced how much I love having a home-based business and being my own boss. I can’t see myself taking on a full-time position for a very long time (if ever).

24) Taking a day off isn’t the best thing for your immune system. As I write this, I’m ill – yet again. I don’t think I’ve ever caught so many colds as I have this year. In fact, this particularly illness started off as a combination of a cold and the flu (I didn’t even know it was possible to have both at the same time!). It seems that whenever I give myself a full day off of work – or a day off of really doing anything – to just veg out and read books and watch Buffy and Angel (best. TV shows. ever.), the germs attack. Consequently, as Mr Science observed, I’ve been getting sick once every couple months pretty much all year (which also leads me to wonder, do I only really take a *proper* day off every eight weeks?). Moral of the story: if you spend much of your time in go-go-go mode, it’s going to catch up with you sooner or later. So maybe this point shouldn’t so much be that “taking a day off isn’t the best thing for your immune system,” but rather, “we should all take more days off so that our immune systems are better able to handle said days off.” Hmm, yes, I like that better.

25) It’s okay to be on totally different pages from others. I tend to feel that I go throughout life not really *getting* what other people *get* and vice versa. Like the appeal of having children (sorry, guys – your kids are cute and I really like the ones I know, but I am completely flabbergasted as to why anyone would want to have a child of their own), or why no one else seems to think Science Style is nearly as funny as I do (please go and watch it. Is anyone else cracking up as much as I was when watching it?). But here’s the thing: that’s okay! It’s even a good thing, especially when we appreciate the differences that we have and can discuss them candidly and enjoy the quirks of others and ourselves.

26) If something’s not working… change it. On my last birthday, I wrote about how I was feeling discontented with who I was as a person and what I had accomplished. So… I made some changes. I realized that I couldn’t deal with my anxiety by myself, so I started getting acupuncture and massage therapy. I realized I wasn’t as good of a friend as I wanted to be, so I started trying to be there more for people. I realized I wasn’t happy with my job, so I created a new one for myself. If there’s one thing that’s wonderful about the passing of years, it’s that each year is another opportunity for growing, making changes, and progressing to be the people we want to be.

What have you learned over the past year? Share in the comments section below!


  1. Liz

    Well Sagan. If everyone learned as much and reflected on it the world would be a better place. This is a great post. I found it very thought provoking. There are many things in this world that have an impact. Keep noticing them. And don’t worry about too many things.

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