kirsten smithOn the eve of my birth, I’m always a bit reflective.  I think about the year passed and its highlights, low points, and lessons learned.  At first when I thought about this year, I really chocked it up as a loss.  I dated wildly inappropriate people, spent much of my time in a very unproductive fashion, and basically acted like the Tasmanian Devil with a raging case of PMS.  But nothing is ever a complete loss.  I fell back in love with running and Pilates, reconnected with old and made new friends, and finally figured out what it is that makes me tick.  I spent the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 in California, a place where I’d lived before and hadn’t associated with the happiest memories.  I didn’t plan on staying as long as I did, but it turned out to be like emotional rehab– where you drink a lot of wine.  Some may say I spent a little too much time on the West Coast and became soft, but really, I just had a life epiphany, which is honestly, the greatest birthday gift I’ve ever been given.

It took me many years and reading the same book several times over before it all really clicked for me.  For so long I was spinning my tires and trying to figure out how the hell to put this bitch in drive.  There were times I’d stare up at the sky and just wish these answers would come to me- preferably in the form of magic fairy dust… or diamonds.  Would have saved me so much time and quite a bit of agony if someone could have just spelled it out for me.  But that’s the thing about life, the most important lessons are often the hardest earned.  So, I decided to share with you some of the valuable nuggets of wisdom I collected this year. I did this once before, but feel it’s worth revisiting.  Even looking back at that list, I laugh to/at myself at what I thought was most important then- only a couple of years ago- although some of them certainly hold true.

  1. Family is everything and friends are second families.  Cherish them and let them know how much you do.
  2. If you’re going to worry, you may as well pray (to whomever).  Worrying is quite literally a waste of energy.  Use your energy for positivity and prayer instead- or at least go do some yoga.
  3. Never become complacent.  There’s way too much in this world and in you to waste any of your precious time being boring or bored.
  4. All broken hearts heal– and surprisingly enough, each one gets a little bit less painful.  It’s a difficult concept to grasp while in the middle of complete and utter heartache, but I swear to you, you won’t even remember what’s his/her name a year or two from now.
  5. There is absolutely nothing more exciting or more important happening on the internet or social media than what is happening right in front of your own face right this instant.  Be present in your own life and put down your phone.
  6. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else.  Spoiler alert: there will always be someone younger, smarter, prettier, thinner, wealthier, etc. than you.  But you’re perfect.  You’re you.
  7. Get healthy now.  When I was 18, I could and would house an entire pizza in one sitting and on my very first test shoot, the photographer and his wife asked what I did to stay in such good shape.  I shrugged and said, “nothing.”  Well, that doesn’t last for most of us forever.  Learn to love wholesome food and exercise and remember there’s a difference between doing it for health and doing it to be “skinny.”  When you switch your mindset, it’s not such a chore.
  8. When you feel like your life sucks, do something for someone who has even less.
  9. Let shit go.  This is something I have struggled and still struggle with, but I finally realized: I am not a caped crusader here to save the world.  It’s not my job to teach people what’s right or wrong.  I often felt it was my duty to make sure justice was served, but like they say, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.
  10. People will shock the shit out of you (in good ways and bad).
  11. It really is okay to be happy.  People, society, and advertisers will try and lead you to believe otherwise, but there’s nothing wrong with being happy.  There isn’t anything cool or edgy about angst.  Besides, all negative emotions are rooted in fear.
  12. Don’t worry about everybody else.  They don’t know what the fuck they’re doing either.  Some just happen to be better at hiding it.
  13. It’s a lot easier to be nice to people than mean.  Trust me, I’ve made a living crafting snarky commentary and let me tell you- it’s exhausting.  Also, being kind to someone or complimenting them doesn’t detract anything from you.
  14. Take care of your skin.  It’s the only set you get.
  15. You do not need to be married with children living in the suburbs before the age of 30.  Not doing that or not wanting that does not by any means make you a failure.  If you allow people (or yourself) to make you feel bad about bucking the social norm, you’re going to drive yourself insane and probably end up marrying the wrong guy out of sheer panic.
  16. It’s okay to express your opinions.  Just learn to do so respectfully and eloquently.
  17. Be happy and supportive of others’ accomplishments.  Don’t be a hater because there’s more than enough to go around.
  18. Find what makes you happy and do it.  Figure out what gives you those butterflies in your stomach and makes you smile just thinking about it.  Don’t worry what other people think about your dreams.  They’re just scared of their own.  Fuck ’em.  Yes, you are going to have to do some mundane tasks in life, but don’t do things that you don’t love.  True excellence can only come from a place of love and if you hate what you’re doing, it will show.
  19. Learn when to say, “no” and when to say, “yes.”  Not all opportunities are good opportunities.  And some good opportunities are missed out of fear.
  20. Fall absolutely head over heels in love with yourself.

Somewhere my elders are simultaneously smirking and shaking their heads because I’m fairly certain they did try and teach me these things.  And that’s why I’ll just tell you to forget everything I said and make your own mistakes… you’re going to anyway.