29 Life Lessons I Learned by 29

birthday cake with candles spelling out happy birthday

My birthday is tomorrow, February 2, specifically at 12:34 PM. Most people, when they take one look at me, they don’t see 29. They see a babyface and think maybe 16 at most 22, but when I start talking they’re like, “You don’t talk like a teenager or like a young adult.”

I guess that was just from the fact I had to grow up so quick. But honestly, it’s what made me, me. I’m so proud of all I’ve been through and to commemorate before I turn 30 here are 29 life lessons I learned by 29.

1) You'll never know unless you try. 

I try things multiple times before I make an opinion on them. Whether it be food, activities, or even troubleshooting tech. Usually with food and activities, by the 3rd or 4th time, I have an idea of how I feel about it. 

On the flip side, when it comes to tech I usually try, hit a wall, try again, hit another wall, complain, stress, etc. Still nonetheless trying is better than doing nothing. You can learn from the experience, but you can’t if you do nothing. 

2) You’re not expected to know everything all the time, it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. 

I usually never have to ask for help, but sometimes I do. If I'm running into the same problem over and over again to no avail and it's been a few days, I've done the research, etc., and still nothing, I then start looking for help. I google search, land on forums, then ask friends and family. I usually hate bothering people, but I don’t know everything. 

No one does. 

This can be said for many other subjects or situations. You won't know everything. There's no such thing as a dumb question. It's totally okay to ask for help! That's also another way to learn and grow! 

What's really awesome is I used to ask my dad for help with computers and now it's reversed. He asks me because I know more now. I don’t know everything, but what I don’t know someone else will.

3) If you want something, you have to go out and get it. 

No matter what it is. In your gut, you know what's right for you. What you want. What you desire. You have to go out and get it. Don't beg for it. Work for it. Earn it. Do that, and you'll be rewarded. And trust me, when the reward comes it feels so damn satisfying. It's almost as if seeing the sea part for you when everything falls together. 

No one said it would be easy though.

4) Make sure you’re okay with the shit sandwich you’re willing to deal with when choosing your career path. 

You know that saying, do what you like and you'll never work a day in your life? Yeah, well, I’d say make sure you're not turning a hobby you love into a career if you cannot deal with the shit sandwiches that come with it. 

I've had so many hobbies turn into job positions or projects, and just like that, they turned something I loved into something I hated and needed space from. 

There are so many other things out there that you will love to do and make money with that you’re willing to deal with it even when it absolutely sucks sometimes. It doesn't have to be every hobby you have or that hobby that you know you wouldn’t like if it started to suck.

5) You can be good at something and not like it. 

Just because you know how to do something and do it well, doesn’t mean you have to take that path. Don't let anyone pressure you to take that path or make it into a career if you dislike it. There's plenty of things I'm good at but absolutely hate. I always tell those people, “Over my dead body.” 

Following society and what other people expect of you will drain the life out of you. Don’t dull your spark for other people!

6) Have fun when you can. 

There's a difference between knowing when to be serious and when to be playful. Some of the best and most successful mentors I have had said this also. You can work hard, but also know how to play. How to have fun. Remember to laugh. Remember to enjoy yourself.

7) Self-care isn't selfish. 

It's self-love. It's one of the most important aspects of a person's life. It's honoring yourself enough to say, “I am enough! I have boundaries and I will set them.” It is canceling plans when you need alone time. It is investing in yourself. It is doing a 10 step skincare treatment. It's sleeping in and getting some R&R when you need it. It's anything and everything that makes you feel better. Sometimes you need to disappear or walk away from things and that's completely okay and understandable.

8) People come and go. 

It doesn't matter how long you've known someone or if you've known them first or not.  The number doesn't matter. The quality does. It'll hurt but it'll get better with time. Life isn't a competition. Especially if someone cannot support you, your wins, when you support theirs. Tries to put you down, is negative towards your accomplishments, and can’t be a good friend back to you, then let them go. 

It's not about the destination or the event, it's about the journey. Two people do not always have to be on the same wavelength or journey. Maybe one day things will be okay again, and maybe it won’t, but respecting yourself enough to prefer having no friends than shitty ones is a step forward in any direction better than allowing that kind of behavior.

9) Don't wait for weddings and funerals. 

What I mean by that is, don't be co-dependent on others to do something you want to do. If you keep trying to make plans with people to no avail, go out and do it by yourself. It can be hella scary at first, but the more steps you take to do something on your own you'll feel so exhilarated, empowered, inspired, and confident. You’ll get the practice down and everything else will come without a hitch. 

10) If someone means something to you, make an effort to keep them a part of your life. 

Even if you're distant right now. It just takes an, "I'm grateful for you," type of message to bring them back into your life. “You inspired me, and I miss being around you,” I tell my friends, the people I want in my life because as adults, things get busy. Schoolwork, some have families, career goals, side hustles, you name it. As long as you try and so does the other person, and stay grateful for one another, then no matter the distance, you two will understand and make things work.

me and my friends took part in 3 different photobooth photos for my 28th birthday before the pandemic hit
Some of my friends and I celebrating my 28th birthday in 2020 at Round 1 in center city Philadelphia.

11) Sometimes you will be the villain in someone else's story and you just have to be okay with that. 

They won’t see what they did to you. They don’t see anything outside of themselves. They’re so focused on, “me me me,” that they’re not willing to see your side of things. If that’s the case, so be it! You don’t need someone so selfish like that because you’ll find that in more than one case if it’s not their way it’s the way. Therefore, focus on yourself. You'll forget about whatever that person did or didn't do, and you'll eventually not care anymore. You'll feel free.

12)  Faith is personal. 

Simple as that. I'm just going to say what I've been saying for years about faith, religion, and spirituality. Whatever you believe in, it is personal! It shouldn't be that's right or that's wrong, no it all comes down to what makes sense to you as a person. Just don't put another person down saying one side is more legit than the other. No one way makes it the right or wrong way. It's what makes you feel better, what makes sense to you. And that's all it should be at the end of the day. Case closed. 

13) There's a fine line between good and evil. 

How easy it would be for me to ruin people's lives. It's easy for anyone. When you’re focusing on negative self-talk, negative thoughts, and just your general unhappiness, negative feelings come to the surface. So it’s so easy to act on jealousy, competition, being petty, and tearing people down. But it's true strength and courage to want to help others and support others. 

When you feel good about your life, have a healthy self-esteem, even when things go bad in your day-to-day life, you still don’t allow that negative self-talk. You honor your feelings, you self-care, you take space, but you won’t tear people down for shits and giggles. Only people with low self-esteem do that.

14) There are 3 people who you should learn to recognize in your life.

People who help you when you're stuck

People who leave you alone when you're stuck

People who cornered you into that situation 

15) The person you truly should remember is not the person you hate, but the person you like. 

If you keep the person you hate close to your heart, you'll only focus on those negative feelings. Nothing good can come into your life because of those negative feelings. You'll get scarred, hurt, and anger will wash over you again and again. You will be blinded by negativity. 

But remembering the people you like, the people who do your life good, counting your blessings, etc. You'll start to actually live your life and forget about the people you hate or those that hurt you. You'll start living a more fruitful abundant life. 

It's hilarious when it happens. One day someone asks you about so and so and you're just like "Who?" Because you honestly forgot about them. And it takes you a minute to recall.

16) Becoming successful is the best revenge.

But something that feels even better than that, is just not giving a flying fuck about whoever or whatever it is anymore. It takes effort to hold a grudge or hate someone. Therefore, life is so much easier living in your own lane, not giving a shit about those who did you wrong, or wanting to teach others a lesson when you become successful. It'll mean so much more to you that you become successful through doing what you love than going after it just to prove a point.

17) Majority of people won't believe in you if you have dreams or goals that are too big. 

Don't let that stop you. You are capable of anything. It just may take a little more work or time, but it’ll be worth it! Majority of people will put you down to make you fall in line because they don't want to see you do better than them. Don't let them stop you. You're doing great. You'll find people who have your back. Everything works out in the end. 

18) Stand up to your bullies. 

Ask them what’s their problem, point out your boundaries, draw a line, but if they start trying to dumb you down… walk away. If you made yourself clear at least once, and they still don’t get it, ignore them. Walk away. Majority of the time, your bullies won’t end up on the same level as you will be. Life throws the hardest tests to those who are called to be more. 

19) Stand by your principles. 

Integrity is a value that not many have but many admire. If you don’t know what your principles or values are, I implore you to figure them out. Knowing them can help you get closer to understanding who you are as a person, what shit sandwiches you're willing to put up with, what your passion or purpose is and so much more. 

20) Don't apologize if you're not sorry. 

A lot of people say, just say sorry, be the bigger person, but no I feel like this is only said to females. I’ve never heard this being said to males, ever. If you’re not sorry, don’t say that you are. Stand your ground. Don’t let someone make you feel guilt or remorse, that’s for you to decide and only you. 

You are human enough. You are valuable. You have rights. You are worthy. You have boundaries. Don’t let anyone strip you of that. 

If you are feeling guilt, reflect if what you did was wrong, or if you are feeling guilty because it’s a learned behavior. 

If you made a mistake, or if it indeed is your fault, yeah own up to it. If I make a mistake, I own up to it, but I also stand my ground and proclaim my boundaries. For that, I’m not saying sorry and retracting those statements just to make someone else feel better. What about me? What about how I feel? 

It defeats the whole purpose of me making my boundaries clear. Boundaries will never make sense to people who only think about themselves and want things on their terms.

21) If you're stuck between 2 choices, assign each choice heads or tails, and flip a coin. 

While it's in the air, you might just find yourself wishing, for one thing, more than the other. And that's how you know your answer.

22) Everything good comes in moderation. 

I’ve been there, I had drank myself to the point I had to be carried out, and so many other crazy experiences I’m not comfortable divulging yet. 

People may wonder, “Why did you let it get that far?” 

But honestly, growing up with so many issues around me, in my life, in my family, being the child of immigrants, being between two worlds all the time, and being bullied on top of everything from the time I entered school (literally pre-k)...I was sick of it. All I wanted to do was fit in, so at 14 I tried to “become cool” by drinking. 

Needless to say, I never became a "normal" person's definition of cool, and rather be weird now, but when I look back I’m very thankful I did start at such a young age. This is because at that age you can’t fuck up your life as bad as you can if you were an adult doing this. If you want your life to be wasted away and going too fast, yes party your heart out, but really good things come in moderation. By the time I was 22, I learned how to moderate my drinking to enjoy the taste and not to get drunk, and have healthy moderation in just about every aspect of my life.

23) The scariest thing isn't what you think other people’s expectations or opinions of you are, but rather the expectations and opinions you have for yourself. 

Life is entirely too short to only live inside of your comfort zone. It is absolutely exhilarating and very peaceful when you overcome something you once feared. 

24) Cycles repeat themselves until you make the right choice. 

If you’re constantly making the same choice over and over again to the same old problem that you’ve been having, no wonder the cycle keeps repeating. It’s because you’re not changing anything, and I learned this the hard way. I learned that my relationship has been over for so long and it wasn’t me that stopped trying but it was on me to completely walk away and break ties otherwise I would have still been attached and looking back. 

The only way to look forward is to make a different choice. Also, I saw this with a lot of other situations I was in, problems that just kept coming back. That I had to sit down and think, what choice or choices did I keep making, are they connected somehow, and what am I missing? What is life trying to teach me? 

25) Sometimes you really need to walk away from things to see a different angle. 

If you’re too close to the subject or too focused on it you may be missing the big picture or the answer that’s right in front of you.

26) In life you will be lost, then found, then lost again. 

Our journeys ebb and flow and what excites us is meaningful. It means something. But when we’re lost it’s the best time to explore those things that excite us! Any passions, curiosities, and things, anything that tugs our heartstrings, that excites us because that’s where opportunities lie. 

It’s like Rainer Maria Rilke said, 

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

27) People who focus too much on judging you for even the slightest things, aren’t realizing the dumb decisions they’re making within their own life. 

I’m not one to judge anyone ever at all because I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of someone judging me for the smallest thing. I constantly have to tell people on social media, just because I post something doesn’t make it true. Maybe I just like it? I also don’t have to post something to validate its existence. There’s only a select small few I trust my business with. I do post my thoughts or how I’m feeling from time to time, but that’s not even a fraction of me! 

Especially, when said person is telling me they can’t imagine themselves living with their current boyfriend ever again because it sucked the first time. Then they do the opposite and buy a house to live with them in, but somehow don’t add in the fact don’t have a job anymore to pay the bills. Yet are too focused too much on who I’m friends with, my then-boyfriend, and a list of other things that get taken out of context.

Like this is high school stuff, but sadly there are some “adults” who still act childish and hella negative.

28) The journey is never easy. Only then can you enjoy the destination that much more.

Enough said. No matter what it is you want in life, if it's worth it all to you, it won't be easy. But what comes easily can be lost just as easily. So sometimes working your ass off to get the thing you want may be hard, but will be valued that much more when you actually do get it. 

29) Always one step ahead.

This one is more of a personal lesson than a universal lesson. I've literally been told this a lot and all the time, "Diana, you're always one step ahead." And I never believed people because I felt like the stuff I know is common sense or like they could know this stuff too since we all are gifted with this thing called the internet. But the reality is... people don't know. And knowledge is value. 

What you're thinking about right now, chances are I already knew about it and could educate you on best practices. But most often than not, some people don't really trust what I say, and why should they? Everyone should do their own research and not be handed things on a platter. If they need help, I'm there, but if you put the work in yourself you want it that much more and that's how you start to get ahead. Later people would come back and tell me or ask me, "How did you know? How are you one step ahead? How do you do this?" 

I honestly don't know. Looking back, I've always been this way. I've always had an entrepreneurial mindset. And now that I'm finally accepting that I've always been ahead of the curve, it's like, okay watch out, watch me, once put my pen down that's when shit begins. And when shit begins, you better believe SHIT IS GOING TO HAPPEN. In the same way, I was able to finish my bachelor's degree in 2 years, not 4, by making shit happen. No one believed I could or that I would or that it was even remotely possible. But I did. Because that's just me. That's who I am.

I do shit. I act. I educate myself, and then I educate myself some more. And I fail a million times, and I try things. I like to tinker. I like to figure out how shit works. I plan and act around my failures, but the truth is, I've always been ahead because I wanted to be. Because life and everything in it fascinates me! I've always wanted more for myself, to be more, to see more, to know more. All my old jobs and internships I used to take, that mindset of "more" came out, and because of it, and thanks to that mindset I'm one step ahead at all times. And I guess that's what makes dreamlikediana, dreamlikediana.

Wrapping it Up!

I feel like I wrapped up the 29 life lessons I learned by 29 quite nicely. The fact that I added a personal touch as the year that I'll be turning. In Polish, we would say I just finished 29. "Skończyłam 29 lat." 

That idea that every end is a new beginning, and that I'm on this path of discovering my voice, working on my self-rejection issues, gives me a better way to be able to serve others, you, myself, and help, educate, show up, and be more, become more, and show others how to also. It's no walk in the park, but it is all mindset over matter.

It’s just wild to think that I’ve been on this Earth for 29 years and yet I haven’t made much of a dent on my bucket list. Education is a big portion of your life, but life in all its entirety is meant to be celebrated. Whether you're having a birthday, having a baby, finished your thesis, started a YouTube channel, leaving a job you hated, or whatever. It's meant to be celebrated! And even though I've acted on a lot of different things in life, I want to start acting on completing my bucket list. This is the time for me to do it! I’m single, I’m career and education focused, and I don’t get lonely. In fact, I know how to deal with myself when I do get lonely. 

2020 went according to none of my plans, but maybe 29 will treat me better? Here's to hoping!

Question of the Day

What's one thing that 2020 taught you? Let me know in the comment section below! :)

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