22 Lessons Learned on My 22nd Birthday

“I don’t know about you, but I’m feelin’…”

It’s my 22nd birthday! It’s also the birthday of Siez The Day! I’m emotional! Life is happening! I can’t explain it, but I’m so excited about this year’s birthday. I’m not celebrating being ‘legal’ for anything, or donning a Bulls jersey for my ‘Jordan Year,’ or anything like that…but this birthday is special in its own way.

Besides, according to numerology, 22 represents light, harmony and co-operation among other great things. I’m welcoming in this new chapter of my life with open arms. It helps that Siez The Day is finally alive, too.

In honor of being blessed to see another year, and being filled with luster to go after my dreams with even more fervor, I thought I’d reflect on some of the lessons I’ve learned throughout my journey in life. These are specific to the past year of my life, but as many of us know, lesson learning is a process. Read what I’ve learned below.

1- You Decide Where Your Worth Lies

Thanks to spending four years studying at a product-focused institution, I’ve already learned that your productivity doesn’t determine your worth. But recently I’ve learned to stretch that reasoning – your worth doesn’t lie in your body (eat what makes you happy without feeling shame), not in your experiences (that bully was and will always be wrong), or anything.

2- Sometimes, They Won’t Understand…Even the Ones Who Always Do

Your gut is just that – yours. While people may often get on the bandwagon of your ideas, dreams, etc., you can’t expect that from everyone at all times. Sometimes your vision will sound fuzzy to those who always are ready to rally behind you, and that’s okay. You have to believe in yourself, and also stay level headed enough to know when a pivot is necessary.

3- Don’t Abandon Your Happy Place

For me, I’ve always found solace in writing. I have always been able to write words easier than I could ever say them. Whenever I go too long without writing, something inevitably feels ‘missing’ in my life. Whatever that thing is for you, don’t abandon it. It’s your thing for a reason.

4- What’s Mine is Mine

I’m pretty sure I’ve written (typed?) this one a thousand times before, but I will continue to do so. I’m not too proud to say I often stress myself out about opportunities that could be and I’m good enough for them or not. But resting in the fact that opportunities destined for me already have my name on them is reassuring.

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5- Enjoy the Journey

I know my fellow Type A folks will be able to relate to this one. We are always making plans for finishing projects and what needs to happen to get there. But we can get so caught up in that, we let our blessing fly right past our eyes. It’s time to start taking one step at a time instead of, like, 10.

6- Don’t Lose Your Steam

Life will get hard, there’s no question about it. But in the midst of struggle, do you give up or pivot? Giving up serves no greater purpose, even though it may be the easiest option available. In times of stress, remember why you started.

7- Network Without it Being Transactional

Like many of my peers, I am maneuvering the job search world and trying to find the right start to my career. One of the most common pieces of advice given to job seekers is to network, but I’ve heard from many folks (including myself) that traditional networking can often feel fake. The answer? Remember your passions. Reach out to people in genuine ways, don’t forget the tried and true manners of conversation, and shake off the robot rhetoric.

8- You Are the Author of Your Own Story

Not your BFF, not your bae, not your parents/family, none of them. The only person living your life is you – period. At some point, you have to take responsibility for your actions and choices, and you have to figure out what steps you take next. Obviously taking advice from your circle(s) is always a good idea, but at the end of the day, you’re the one who deals with the decisions made on behalf of your life.

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9- Do Better for Your Bank Account

This one is simple…well at least simple to understand. How many of us went through waaaay more money on food than we thought, only to check our balance and react with a big fat woah. Yeah, we’ve got to do better with that as we get older. Whether it means downloading Qapital or tallying up each week’s expenses manually, our future selves will definitely thank us.

10- Work Hard, Play Hard

Not just a catchy saying or a Wiz Khalifa song, this is a mantra to live by in mind, body, and spirit. Put the work in, of course. But don’t get too deep into the work that you look up and have missed out on life. Go out with your pals, watch that Netflix movie, do something that makes you genuinely happy. Then? Back to the grind.

11- Believe Your Affirmations!

Anybody can say “my good news is coming.” But if in the back of your head, there’s another voice saying “yeah, right” then what’s the point? If you recite warm & fuzzy words on that sticky note everyday but laugh at the thought of your dreams being actualized, stop. Now. Be like Octavia Butler and put some power behind your affirmations and intentions. Put that fire behind them.

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12- You can cross the finish line at your own pace

13- Don’t be stingy with your celebrations. Show up for your friends!

14- Honor your time alone. Use it for growth.

15- You may know a lot, but you don’t know everything.

16- (Or 15 pt.2) No one knows everything – so take pride in what you do know.

17- Acknowledge the adventure in the “every day.”

18- Fight hard for the relationships you value. Don’t let your loved ones fall by the wayside.

19- It’s okay to say “no.” And don’t feel bad about it, either!

20- Sometimes, life is just going to suck. Don’t take it personal, it’s just life.

21- Don’t let a good day go by without a lil’ bit of pride.

Annnnnnd, last but not least…*drum roll*

22- Shine bright! Shine far! Don’t be shy, be a star!

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In other, more succinct words, I’ve learned a lot. And I’m so excited to take on another chapter of learning and much more!




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