23 Lessons I've Learned in 23 Years

May 30, 2016


23. The Jordan Year. Sigh. It’s quite an odd age, stuck right in between the rites of passage that come along with turning 21 and the stress-ridden ‘what am I doing with my life’ that comes with being a quarter of a century. I may not be ripe with old age and wisdom, but I have learned a thing or two from surviving high school, college, moving away from home, and completing half of a graduate degree. I think that accounts for the knowledge and familiarity that accompanies growing older and more experienced.

I strive to age gracefully, to grow more internally beautiful as the years trudge on, and become more of the woman God created me to be with every step I take.



1. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. Nothing in life will ever be handed to you. You’re not going to wake up with success in your lap. A lot of the triumphs I’ve had in life are because I mustered up the courage to ask for something more, even if it wasn’t readily in front of me.

2. Treat yourself to experiences, not things. Clothing, shoes, the latest technological devices, knick knacks – they all eventually go out of style. Those who know me well know that I’m fairly frugal when it comes to these items, but I have no problem opening up my wallet for experiences, whether that be road trips, events, conferences, travel, or new adventures. At the end of the day, earthly pleasures will fade, but your memories will not.

3. Everything always works out. It may not be what you wanted or envisioned, but it always works out for the best. This is where faith comes in. Don’t waste valuable time pining over an anxiety-ridden future. Note: I am STILL learning this.

4. The art of forgiveness will change your life. When your mind is pent up with anger, frustration, and resentment, whatever your focus is on controls you. Your space is sacred. Don’t let negative energies flow through or they will consume you. Learn how to forgive yourself. You are wired to make mistakes because you are human.

5. The only thing you should ever chase after is your dreams. When you relentlessly pursue your goals, light, love, and excellence will gravitate towards you. The right partner will throw on their running sneakers and run beside you. You will never have to run after or beg for something that is meant to be yours.

6. It’s okay to cry. For a long time I was cruising in overdrive and didn’t take the necessary time to process my setbacks and disappointments. Eventually, it’ll catch up to you and before you know it, you’ll be crying in church, at the grocery store, and at the gym. Emotional intelligence has to be flexed like a muscle in order to endure the weight productively. Always take time to grieve and heal, even if it doesn’t seem like the best timing. You’ll be thankful in the long run.

7. Put yourself out there. Be vulnerable. The right people will respect you for that. Sometimes we can’t fathom the magnitude of our stories. You never know whose lives you’ll be able to touch just by sharing and living in your truth.

8. People are going to hurt you. At some point in your life, you’re going to get your heart broken. You’re going to be disappointed. Those you once thought were close to you will let you down, and not always gently. If you’ve never had your heart broken, that means you weren’t living passionately or fervidly. You can’t know joy without falling into the depths of pain.

9. Conversely, you’re going to hurt the people you love. You won’t be able to please everyone 24/7, especially when you have to live for you. Sometimes you will have to make decisions for yourself that might not make sense to or may pain others. At the end of the day, you have to go to bed with your decisions, no one else does.

10. The way in which you love yourself sets the stage for how others will love you. Set your standards high and others will be forced to meet them. Shower yourself with love and inspire others to do the same.

11. You have to believe in something. Find something that gives meaning and purpose to your life. Some people choose to believe in a religious deity, others love, some family. I choose faith, living each day with the hope that my life is more than just about me. I also believe in random solo dance parties(music may or may not be required).

12. Don’t live your life for social media. Not everything has to make it to the gram, fam. Timelines and feeds are carefully crafted to display the lives we want others to believe we lead. Put down the phone sometimes and enjoy the ride.

13. Play is as equally as important as work. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

14. Love manifests itself in multiple forms. Love is not always exhibited through  empty affirmations and bouquets left on your doorstep. Maybe it’s going into work early despite exhaustion to be able to cheer at the finish line of a race, or finding ways to make someone’s daily routine a little easier, or maybe it’s learning to find compromise even when you don’t see eye-to-eye. Not everyone loves the same, so it’s about the commitment to keep loving others and find understanding when they’re not speaking your language.

15. Patience is a virtue.

16. Treat everyone with respect. You never know how someone can end up changing the trajectory of your life.

17. Never stop learning. Once you leave school, the learning shouldn’t stop. If you are stripped of everything, the one thing no one can take from you is your mind.

18. Balance is the key to life. Indulge in your Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey, but make sure to go hard in the gym and get some green on your plate. Give a lot when you have it, and recharge when you don’t have it. Binge-watch Netflix all day, but make sure to get some sunshine.

19. Happiness is a choice. My life is now starting to drastically change since I’ve realized that my own happiness begins and ends with me. No one else has control over or a say in when I get to enjoy my life.

20. What others say about you is not a reflection of you, but of them. People project their own insecurities onto others because they don’t know how to constructively deal with them. If they have enough time to worry about you, they have too much time on their hands.

21. When people leave your life, politely hold the door open for them(and tell them boy bye *cue Beyonce*). Don’t fuss over the shoulda, coulda, woulda been. They weren’t ready for your glo up.

22. Shake hands with important people. Go to networking events. Get business cards made and actually hand them out. You would be surprised with how many people remember you when an opportunity or opening arises.

23. No one else is you, and that is your magic and your contribution to the world. Oprah once said, “You have to find what lights a spark in you, so that in your own way you can illuminate the world.” Let your light shine brightly, and never give anyone else the power to put it out.

Here’s to 23 years of laughter, dancing, too many Twizzlers, being hangry, tripping over everything, and sharing my story!




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© 2017 by Cierra Kaler-Jones