Photos by Lauren
Actually, there's no crying here!! Honestly, I know some people dread getting older. Especially once you hit mid-20's. You just want time to slow down. While I agree with that sentiment somewhat (especially once I start nearing my 30's), this year I'm actually glad to be leaving 25 in the dust. This past year has been a doozy.
If you've followed me over the past twelve months, then you probably know or have heard me mention that 25 has been a big learning year for me. It has also been a year of a lot of firsts. My first heartbreak, and then my second. I lost my first grandparent back in October. My first time living on my own. My first time creating a budget and really having to stick to it. My first time having to actually pick and choose what I spend my money on. Oh, and having to finally signup for healthcare (only downside to turning 26!).
While some of these aren't necessarily bad things, it's just a lot to face in one year. There were some other things as well, but all these things combined really left me with a year of learning. I'm serious. I think I learned more about myself in the past year, than I have in all my previous years. When it comes to birthdays, I usually never feel "older" or any "different." But this year, this year is different. I feel older. I feel more aware of life and its challenges.
And as I reflect on some of those lessons, there were 5 that really stood out. So I wanted to share those with you. Not just to share for those who are the same age as me, or those approaching their mid-20's. But also for me to really reflect on what this past year really taught me! Like I've said before, I love birthdays. Not just for celebrating with friends, but also to use them as a new beginning. An opportunity to take what I've learned, and move on to a new year!
5. When it comes to dating in your mid-20's, it's okay to ask some of the hard questions early on.
Dating definitely evolves as you get older. In college, you're majorly dating for fun. There's no pressure of time or need to have serious discussions in the beginning. But as you get older, time is something you don't want to waste. Now I'm not saying that I have a timeline or looking to rush into anything, but at this point in my life I don't want to spend three months with someone and then wake up one morning and realize our morals or goals for the future are the complete opposite.
I went on quite a few dates this past year. Some relationships grew past the first date, and some didn't. Some lasted for a few weeks or even a few months. One thing I learned from all of these relationships was that I was constantly overthinking each one. "Where was this going?" "What is he looking for?" "Does he go to Church?" I kept asking these questions in my head, but why wasn't I just asking him?! Duhhh Kristyn!
It's okay to avoid some of these questions on the first, and even the second date. But at this point in my life, I am totally okay with asking some of the hard stuff sooner rather than later. The way I look at it, the right guy will respect you for knowing what you want, and what you wont compromise on. It's better to know up front that he "doesn't want a relationship anytime soon" or that he unfortunately has some of your non-negotiables. It's okay! Just means you're getting on the same page before feelings develop, because once that happens you'll be making excuses for them, rather than realizing he just isn't the one!
4. Starting this blog has been the best thing I've ever done.
Not all lessons are negative!
I started this blog a little over 2.5 years ago. It has brought so many amazing memories, collaborations, opportunities and opened so many doors that I never knew were possible. Like attending Fashion Week and sitting front row at my very first show.
But the biggest thing this blog has given me is a great group of friends!
I've had a lot of friends over the years. Some I'm still close to, and others unfortunately we've grown apart. I have always searched though for a like minded group, of hardworking and talented women. And I found that because of blogging. I am so thankful that blogging brought me these ladies and their friendships. I've learned from them, grown with them and y'all, they aren't just my "blogging friends." They're my actual, ride or die, best friends. I know if I were to quit blogging tomorrow, I'd still have each of these ladies in my life. And I'm so so thankful for that!
3. Never apologize for telling someone how you feel!
If you know me, you know I'm never lacking in saying or showing how I feel. I'm still working on the whole poker face thing, ha! When I say something, I say it. I don't feel guilty, because I mean what I say. But, sometimes I have a hard time finding the courage to say what I actually feel. Mostly because I'm worried about the outcome. It's something I'm working on, especially within relationships. This past year I told someone exactly how I felt about them. I was so excited, and had never been that happy in my life. Well, the reaction to what I said was the worst possible reaction you could imagine. I was devastated, embarrassed and at that moment I wanted so badly to take it back.
What I learned over the months to follow, was that I shouldn't have felt that way. I said what I said because I meant it. I felt it. While the outcome wasn't what I had hoped for, I wouldn't take back what I said. If you feel something, you should express it. Because it's how YOU feel. Now there are some exceptions to this. You don't want to purposefully hurt someone's feelings, but I think you know what I mean here.
2. Throw your "plans" out the window.
Growing up I always had a plan. I consistently knew what the next step for me would be. I went to high school, knew I wanted to go to Tennessee for college. Went there. Knew I wanted to be in a sorority. Did that. Knew I wanted to grow into a leadership role. Got there. Knew I wanted a career in journalism. Wait, that didn't happen. Moved to DC and got a job. Now what?!
I've always been able to envision my future quite easily. I had all these plans of what I wanted life to look like. Yet the majority of those post college plans didn't happen. Which is okay. Because, so many more amazing things have happened in my plan's place.
I learned that while you can plan for some things, like setting money aside for your future or booking travel for an upcoming trip, there are many things you can't. Like major life occurrences. You just have to know that while you think your plan is amazing, there's an even bigger and better one that awaits you!
1. You'll never get where you want to go without Faith.
Since this is my birthday after all, I wanted to end this post on a POSITIVE outcome from a lesson I learned!
Through all of these "lessons" and "challenges," I realized the biggest lesson of them all. There had been something, and Someone who had been missing in my life for the past few years. And that was my relationship with the Lord. Now I don't want to get too preachy on y'all, and I can share a more in depth post on this in the future if y'all want, but I want to share this because it was my most important lesson.
I had tried to walk through life on my own. I'm an independent Leo after all, ha!
But that's just it. I'm not walking alone! The most important lesson I learned this past year, was that I can't and shouldn't do life by myself. I have an amazing Father who loves me, and He has this ridiculously exciting plan for me. But I wasn't ready or deserving to receive that plan, because I had shut Him out. I suppose I needed to go through all of these lessons and hardships in order to get back on the right path.
So whether you believe in Him, or just have a strong relationship with faith, it's important to realize and remember that you're not alone. And I'm excited and thankful that THIS was the outcome of many of the lessons I learned at 25.
Twenty-six is going to be an amazing year. I just know it. And I hope y'all will continue on this journey of life with me. Thanks so much for all the support, encouragement, for reading and being there for me. I'm so thankful for each and every one of you. Now, let's celebrate this amazing day!!