• Mayreni Sweis

24 Things I’ve Learned in 24 Years- A Birthday Reflection

A birthday is a time for celebration, reflection, and a new adventure, at least that's how I've always liked to think of it. I never want to take another year for granted and I am always grateful to God everyday I wake up that I am able to breath in a new dawn. This year, more than ever, celebrating another year of life is cardinal because of the events this year has wrought. It doesn't make celebrating a birthday as enticing as in years past, but 2020 has reminded us all that though we hope, and maybe obnoxiously expect, a long life, nothing is guaranteed. Though this birthday celebration looks much different than in prior times, today I choose to still find joy and purpose in rejoicing another year, a year in which I hope to make a small difference in the world. A year in which I hope to come closer to becoming the person God has created me to be. So dear friends, I leave you with a reflection of the 24 years I have lived in the form of golden solids of wisdom that I hope will bless you as they have me. Now eat some cake or gelato and enjoy!

  1. If your light is shining bright, don’t dim it in order to make others feel more comfortable with themselves. Your true friends and family will want you to keep your light beaming and will be genuinely joyful for your successes and for the person you are becoming. Let your light radiate and sparkle always. Encourage your loved ones to do the same in their lives and celebrate their light as it shines brightly too.

  2. Starting your skincare routine at a young age is a short-term decision with long-term benefits. In addition, wearing sunblock everyday and never sleeping with makeup on will keep your skin healthy and clean. And the neck! Don't forget to take care of the neck.

  3. God is always in control and He knows what He’s doing. Take relief in knowing that you don't have to worry because He's always got your back. God is always working, even when you don't feel like He is. When you look back on your life, remember how the hand of God has always provided for you. He has used every moment you've experienced to get you to where you are today. It all has a purpose.

  4. Just show up! You never know what’s going to happen.

  5. Save energy when it comes to 1.) the environment and 2.) in terms of your mental and physical state. Don't spend your time worrying about the things you cannot control or about the future. Worry and stress only provide more chaos and confusion. Use your energy to do the things you love or conserve your energy by taking a nap. And don't leave the lights on unnecessarily. And walk as much as you can instead of driving in order to reduce CO2 emissions and save money on gas.

  6. Friends and significant others will come and go. Some people are meant to be in your life for a season, some for forever. Rather than focusing on the loss, take what you learned, wish them the best, and be happy for the moments of joy you had with them. You're a stronger and wiser person because of the experience and now focus on the incredible people that are presently in your life.

  7. Age is just a number, not a mentality or a reflection of your inner soul. Growing older and feeling like you haven't accomplished a set goal or that you should "act a certain way because you're X years old" is so overrated. You can be 80 and have the joi de vivre of an 8 year old. And wrinkles are a history book and map of your life, so embrace them when they come. ;)

  8. Find your purpose and may your purpose be the driving force that's get you out of bed to take on the day and to take on life. Jobs come and go, so don't "live to work," "work to live." Use your purpose as the keystone for all that you do and it will guide you to the kind of career you will embark on, hopefully one of service to others.

  9. Listen to your gut, it has truly never been wrong (about people, work, safety, etc.). Your intuition will guide you and it's not worth second guessing or trying to make consolidations.

  10. Don’t wait until the last minute to submit your research paper a few hours before your business graduation award ceremony or else you're going to be late. (cough, cough).

  11. You can’t look at a piece of art (or a situation) up close, only focusing on one small piece of it. You have to step back to be able to see the whole picture. Your change of perspective will allow you to see and understand it in a new way." This applies to many things in life and is phrase I've coined.

  12. Just because people tell you can't or shouldn’t follow your dreams, or even underestimate the likelihood of them happening, don't listen to them. It is your life and you have only one shot at living it. Follow your passions (you can have multiple!) and see them through. Even if things don't turn out how you imagined, at least you gave it your all and you tried. You don't want to reach the end of your life regretting not giving your dreams a chance.

  13. Travel far and wide and as much as you can. Soak in different cultures, try new foods, converse with locals, and try speaking their language. Do things out of your comfort zone.

  14. Adaptability is everything, in travel, work, school, life, etc. Being adaptable is going to make your life a lot easier and will make you a more resourceful person. People are also naturally drawn and better able to connect to someone who goes with the flow.

  15. "The best they can say is yes, the worst they can say is no. At least you asked." You never want to live your life wondering “what if.”

  16. Just because all of your exes are currently with significant others, doesn’t mean you won't find your person one day. You know what you want and you refuse to settle for someone who is not going to support your dreams and not be in a 100 me-100 him partnership with you. That's not being "picky," that's having standards.

  17. Comparison will always lead to unhappiness and self-loathing. Whether it's comparing how you look or your career, you'll always feel like you're not doing enough, but I promise you, you are. Most times people share their successes and omit the struggles and failures. Keep staying in your lane and remember that life is a never ending adventure, there is no finish line, no trophy for who gets to the top first. Celebrate the successes of others and celebrate yours and the one of a kind journey you're on.

  18. Do not place a timeline on your career, focus on cultivating longevity. Let go of needing to have all the accolades by 26. Timelines are a construct of unattainable expectations because each person’s journey, especially an artist's, is different and rightly so. Focus on living your passion and that should never have an expiration or to be fulfilled date.

  19. Have low expectations to yes, avoid disappointment in certain situations, but also to allow very cool things to happen because the best things happen when you least expect them. By not going into situations expecting certain fulfillments, you will keep your mind open and will be more willing to discover life's surprises.

  20. Dreaming of something isn’t enough, you have to get up and actually do it.

  21. Take care of your body by eating healthy food (gelato on occasion is definitely okay), finding an exercise that you love (barre!), and taking the time to reset your mind. Focus on holistic living: mind, body, and soul because God only gave you one body and He wants you to love it. Also, I really want to be that 90 year old lady power walking and doing yoga in Central Park.

  22. A separation of work and personal life is important. "Balance" can be an overused term, but finding ways to compartmentalize or separate will be helpful for your mind and body. A very easy example is to keep your bedroom a no work zone or avoid hanging out by your job on your days off.

  23. You learned how to make a freaking delicious three fold French omelet at 20 years old and you're very proud of that culinary achievement.

  24. Love yourself and be one of your best friends. Compliment yourself, treat yourself with respect (ex. choosing uplifting words to talk about yourself), and spend time alone with yourself. I love taking myself on solo movie theatre dates, or to the farmers market, or on a photography adventure. It's so important to be comfortable with my own presence: just me, myself, and I.

XOXO Mayreni and Happy 24th girl, cheers, santé, and l'chaim.