What I learned at 27.

The other day, my friend Anna asked me what I learned during my 27th year. She’s one of those friends that challenges you to think and won’t let you take the easy way out, which I appreciate. Now it’s fairly difficult to come up with a direct answer to that question, so this is me sitting down to think and share a thoughtful answer. The following list is what I came up with the evening of my 28th birthday. Sorry I’m a day late, Anna.

  1. Your mid twenties are glorious. I still don’t know why everyone misses college so much. In your twenties, you have a job and have money to go out and have adventures. That’s how I’ve spent the majority of my mid-twenties, especially 27.
  2. Take a risk with you career. If you’ve had the same job since you graduated or are just getting (too) comfortable at your job, try something new. When I first turned 27, a great opportunity came my way, and I would have been a fool to pass it up. In fact, my new boss wouldn’t let me. You’ll miss your coworkers and certain opportunities and experiences, but it’s important to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, struggle and learn much more than if you had stayed. That’s what makes any job great, and what keeps you from getting bored.
  3. Wear tiger leggings and get included in a Wall Street Journal story on the trend. Why not?
Best purchase from a trip to New Orleans — tiger leggings!

4. Invest in your good friendships. It’s awesome to have a 539 friends, but better to have 11 people you cannot live without. Spend your weekends and weeknights with the people you know will be there for you; pop the nice bottles of wine with them. Open up and share things you’re scared to admit. Be willing to meet new people and when you find great people, make them your friends.

At dinner in New York for a friend’s birthday

5. Use your vacation. At my current job, I have unlimited vacation. In the real world, this translates to 4–5 weeks. Never have I ever had a problem spending my time off in new places or with people I love. Invite your friends to visit; go to see family and if you have the chance, go on a vacation with them. It’s much more fun than just going home for the holidays. Go on an adventure to 1 new place every year. Bonus points if it’s a spot where you don’t get reception and have to unplug. This year, it was Italy, specifically Lake Como, Cinque Terre, Florence and Montefioralle, and Pedernales Falls State Park for camping.

Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy

6. Keep trying foods you don’t like. You may discover your tastes have changed. I now love mushrooms — who knew?!

7. Dedicate time to things that matter to you. So often, we spend a ton of time doing what everyone else wants us to do. I always get caught up in every. single. social. activity, I don’t always stop and slow down. This year, I refocused at the beginning of the year and spent more time in a few areas of life: my relationship, non-profit work, cooking and religion. I turned down invites with friends to spend time with my boyfriend. I volunteered with The Flatwater Foundation to standup paddle 21 miles on Lake Austin, and spent time at the homeless shelter downtown. My roommate and I discovered some fun, healthy meals and even started a foodstagram (?) to capture some of our favorites. I joined a bible study with some truly great girls. All things I’m thankful for.

Dinner with my beau

8. If a good friend offers up something that has to be too good to be true, it probably is. If it’s not, lucky you. I saw both sides of this — the good side was a trip to New York Fashion Week. Bucket list: check.

9. Pick one thing to challenge yourself. Now it may not sound difficult, but in August, I did The Whole30. Long story short, you can’t have sugar, alcohol, grains or dairy for 30 days. Sure, for vegans this sounds easy, but you can’t have grains. Maybe for those who “eat clean” it sounds like normal, but I can assure you it’s more strict. Throw in the fact that I’m allergic to all nuts, coconut and try to avoid soy, and I’ve lost 25% of the food allowed on the diet. It was a rough month, but I felt great at the end. It ended up being more about willpower than it was weight loss or fitness, but helped in all areas. If I had less fun, I’d love to do it again.

10. If you try to cook a steak inside your house on a cast iron skillet , it will flood your kitchen and house with a TON of smoke.

Ten is a nice round number. Let’s leave it at that, shall we?

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