Twenty-seven! Twenty-flipping-seven. For me, twenty-seven officially sounds adult. I'm far away from college, even further away from high school, even far enough away from those rambunctious, transitional years right after college to look back with a bit of nostalgia and a lot of hindsight.
With that in mind, I started thinking back on all the things, big and small, that I've learned thus far in life. And with THAT, a list...because lists are among my favorite things, and every birthday girl deserves to indulge in as many of her favorite things as possible:
27 Lessons for Myself at 27
1. Say thank you, always. Even better, send thank-you notes for everything. It's such a little thing and it makes such a difference.
2. Always, always wash your face at night. Waking up the next day feels so much better.
3. It's okay to hold grudges privately deep inside. That's just how you are. Don't let those grudges affect how you live your life or treat people in it, though.
4. You will never be the kind of girl who can casually wear red lipstick. Points for effort, but save it for the fancy days.
5. By now, you really should know better than to read scary books late at night. Just don't do it.
6. Take ten seconds before reacting in anger. Your temper gets the best of you more often than it should, even now. Rational reactions are always better.
7. Sometimes, ice cream actually does fix the problem.
8. Notre Dame football will always, ALWAYS at some point in every season make your blood pressure skyrocket. It will always, ALWAYS at some point let you down. You're going to love it forever anyway.
9. You're never going to like working out while you're doing it, but you always like it afterward. Remember that...and do it.
10. The following things are almost always worth it: travel, theater, happy hour, going home to see your parents, and throwing parties. Keep that in mind next time you're feeling antisocial (or poor, or tired, or cranky).
11. Know when to stick to your guns. Set minimum acceptable standards for yourself and the people in your life, and hold those as non-negotiable. You know what you deserve.
12. Quality over quantity, in everything. Friends, clothes, commitments...sometimes it's better to have fewer, but better. Sometimes, less is more. (Except striped shirts. You can never have too many striped shirts.)
13. Gin in large quantities always ends poorly. In the same vein...NEVER drink more than one Backer Long Island. Bad things happen.
14. The people you have surrounded yourself with are worthy of your love for a reason. Don't be afraid to tell them that you care about them (and why!). Similarly, the people who aren't worth it will make it apparent. Friendship and love are both two-way streets.
15. You're pretty much never going to win the lottery or strike it rich off a best-selling series of novels about a teenage wizard. With that in mind, keep making smart money decisions, but remember to have fun along the way.
16. At work, show up, speak up, but also know when to shut up. By the age of 27, you know a fair amount, but you don't know everything.
17. Appreciate the little things. Let inside jokes and babies and perfume and fireworks and crushes and flowers make you happy without feeling insipid. It's worth it.
18. Don't be afraid of the next steps life holds for you. As Mom always says, "Everything happens for a reason."
19. As little as you want to do it, cleaning and cooking on Sundays starts the entire week off on the right note. Don't skip the floors.
20. In that vein, make your damn bed. You like it that way.
21. It's okay to accept a compliment without immediately deflecting it. Yeah, maybe your hair DOES look really good today. Just take it for what it is.
22. Seek out opportunities to advance yourself and to bring people together. You've got a great network and you need to put it to work more often.
23. Value family above all else. It's okay that your dad is your favorite man in the entire world, your mom is your idol, and your siblings are two of the people you admire most.
24. A lot of your natural lack of coordination can be mitigated if you just slow. down. Look before you leap...or before you walk on a flat surface in heels, you know, the usual.
25. Remember to be grateful for what you have...for what you've earned and what you've given. Gratitude tends to re-frame things in a much more positive light.
26. Your enthusiasm for your life and the people in it is not a bad thing. It's okay to be "hyperbolic" and to be excited about everyday existence.
27. Laugh at as much as humanly possible. To quote your Grandma Lo, "If I wasn't laughing, I'd be crying." Seek silver linings and laugh at the rainclouds, and don't let life steal your sunshine.
Cheers to you, 27-year old Liz, and here's to the next 27 and all the lessons still to come.