11 Things I Wish I Learned Earlier In Life


This weekend is the joyous anniversary of my inception. Each year, I find this day a great time to not only eat my weight in guilt-free cake, but also reflect on the ups (learning to make a better omelet) and downs (navigating NYC on crutches) of the past year.

What did the past year teach?

1. Go With Your Gut

Though data and analytics are great, they are no substitute for a gut feeling. Whether a move, or a taking a new job, before making a rash decision it is crucial to sit down and listen to how you feel in your heart and not just your brain. Ignoring this feeling has always resulted in an imminent disaster.

2. Make Friends With A Dry Cleaner

If something says, “dry clean only”, this is not a synonym for “throw in the washer and dry.” It’s taken me years to finally learn this.

3. Communicate Your Feelings

Raised in the Pacific Northwest, passive aggressiveness is something I am all too familiar with. For a number of years, I’ve believed that everyone had superpowers and could read my mind. This last year, I was shocked to learn that people don’t possess this trait! Talking about issues as they arise is better than bottling up emotion until they blow up like Mentos and Coke.

4. Everything Is Negotiable

My first time negotiating, I got taken advantage of. The second time, I did a little better. With any skill, negotiation takes time and practice to learn. The key to a truly successful negotiation is to value yourself and know what you need.

5. Appreciate Your Style

Over the years, I’ve bought a number of items thinking “I would love to be someone who wears something like that,” only to have it hang in my closet untouched. Buy clothing that you love and feel comfortable in – and if that means buying an entire wardrobe of black, that is okay.

6. Always Have A Written Contract

I will always remember my first time getting burned. After spending days putting together a marketing plan for a client, they disappeared when the invoice came. Thinking a verbal contract was sufficient; I quickly learned that this was not the case. A written contract is a freelancer’s best friend.

7. Your Health Is Your Wealth

All of the money in the world is useless if your health is destroyed. An injury last year taught me to never take health (or your limbs) for granted. Spending money on wellness is best investment you can make.

8. Burning Bridges

On occasion, a few bridges have crumbled under my feet with resolutions seeming unattainable. Instead of trying to mend the bridge, I’ve thrown my hands in the air, subsequently throwing gasoline on the flames as the bridge fell. It truly is a small world after all – especially in the professional world. I’ve learned this the hard way.

9. Add Sriracha To Everything

This year, I found a magical condiment that makes any dish taste better. Boring eggs? Bland toast? Add Sriracha to any dish and it will instantly taste better.

10. Enjoy Being Alone

A meal alone tastes better than a meal with company you don’t enjoy. New to a big city, I soon learned that having “friends” for the sake of having friends wasn’t very enjoyable. Instead of saying yes to everything, I have learned to spend my time with true friends, and not ones to cure a temporary bout of loneliness.

11. Ask For What You Need

Every major life accomplishment was a result of asking for help. Though it is hard to ask for a favor, asking for what you need is the best way to let others help you reach your goal. Whether you are looking for a job or an apartment, your network is the best place to start. Help others and they will in return help you.

As I get ready for another 365 days on earth, these lessons will not be forgotten. “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” – Carl Bard Read