Last month on February 28th I celebrated my 27th birthday. So happy belated birthday to me! While not much of a milestone as far as birthdays are concerned, in the past year I have learned quite a few things.

birthday cake, birthday candles

Image via Lifeimagefun.

1. Be an activate participant in your life.

This first one is important, and one I already had a fairly tenuous grasp on. But in the last year, I’ve taken some risks (good ones!) that have led me down a path of self-discovery I may have otherwise ignored. I know what I want and I know that I’m not going to get it without putting in the effort – I can’t just let things happen and hope for the best. I wanted a better job, so I am going back to school to finish my Bachelors degree. I wanted to be stronger, so I have started lifting heavier weights. I wanted more female friends, so I went out of my way to meet some. If I want the best, I need to make it happen myself.

2. Go outside your comfort zone.

In the past few years, my social life has been a bit of a roller coaster. My best friend of ten years (aside from the husband, obviously) very abruptly wasn’t my BFF anymore and I grew apart from a lot of people I had known for quite some time. Like I mentioned above, I wanted more female friends, but it seems simply by being an adult (especially being an adult in Seattle – I’ve found the Seattle Freeze phenomenon to be a very real thing), genuine friendships are hard to come by. It’s not like when you were six and your friends were based on who was in your class, who lived closest, or who had the same color pants. So when I had the opportunity to meet potential friends, I took it. This meant going outside my comfort zone and reaching out to people with the risk of being shot down. Rejection was a very real and very scary possibility, but I forgot one thing: There are plenty of people in the same boat and every person I reached out to was responsive. By sticking to my current circle (or lack thereof) of peers, I was preventing myself from meeting some really amazing people.

3. Listen to your body.

About a month before my birthday, I injured my wrist (I’m still not sure how exactly, but I think I sprained it). I was also feeling lethargic and crankier than usual. After going through and dismissing any possible health problems, I was stumped. Then it hit me: I work out nearly every day and have done so for years now with no break. My body was just plain worn out. I am the type who, despite conventional wisdom, will say, while blowing her nose or hugging the toilet bowl, “I can still go for a run/lift weights/do some activity! It’s only other people who needs breaks.” It took a bit of convincing myself and encouragement from M, but I allowed myself a break from working out (okay, I still took long, brisk walks) while my wrist healed. I ended up feeling better than ever and completely invigorated by the end of my little vacation. I even PR’d some lifts. So yeah, listening to your body and taking it easy sometimes really does help.

4. Comparison really is the thief of joy.

This one is still a work in progress. I have a very hard time with this one, especially since my closest friend is a thin, talented, red-haired knockout. But who am I to argue with Theodore Roosevelt? Comparing your appearance, talents, work, personal life, whatever with other people is a game we have all played that we just can’t win. We know the story behind ourselves, the nitty-gritty details. We don’t know the story behind those we’re comparing ourselves to. As cliche and ridiculous as it sounds, the only person I freely allow myself to compare myself to is the me from yesterday.

5. Be comfortable with yourself.

This related to #4, but it is important to really, truly know who you are and be okay with it. Or, as Mandy from xoJane puts it, “Own your shit.” Having a firm grasp on who you are and what makes you you – flaws and all – makes it a lot easier to happily go through life and a lot harder for negative Nellies to bring you down.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ME! Let’s see what stellar lessons I learn in 2014.

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