26 Things I Learned by Age 26

Today, I am 26 years old.

I feel like I just entered the world yesterday, and yet it’s kinda like…dang! 26 years?! So much has happened in that time.

I felt like commemorating this most auspicious occasion with something I love: a list!

So, here it goes.

26 Things I Learned by Age 26

  1. The term friend is used so very loosely. Those who SAY they are your friends are your associates. Your true friends will SHOW you as much. ‘Nuff said.
  2. Life is too short to not dye your hair. Go red. Go blonde (I just did!). Go green, for crying out loud. It can be fixed if you hate it…and you might just love it, and learn it fixes a little piece of you that was fading away.
  3. Don’t confine yourself to any labels. You can be a girly-girl-hipster-thug-nerd if you really want to. Some people like to tell me how “eclectic” I am. Loving Taylor Swift AND Lil’ Wayne doesn’t make me eclectic. It makes me well-rounded. Cultured even. So, there! If it bothers anyone, kick them to the curb, because you know what?…
  4. Some people are so exhausting. Always complaining. Or always projecting their insecurities onto you. Life is TOO SHORT. Surround yourself with people who make you feel loved, alive and HAPPY. Tolerate those you have to (like family members, co workers, etc), and make sure you take any opportunity to show them how terrible their life IS NOT, should you have the strength.
  5. BE NICE. It’s so easy to be sarcastic, or mean, or petty, or upset. Everyone wasn’t raised like you. Not everyone learned proper grammar, or manners, or common sense. Is it ok? Not usually. But if you don’t have to rip them a new one, don’t do it. Sometimes, you just have to calmly say “Hey, so you know, it’s really offensive when you call me the N-word. I don’t like it, and I’m going to need to you STOP THAT. By the way, Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. day!”
  6. Family is forever. My family is far from perfect. I didn’t talk to my parents for long stretches of time, but the older I get, the more I see in what they did/didn’t do for me. More importantly, I can be grateful that all those trials, tribulations, good times, and bad times melded together to make me, ME! I’m fortunate to have them at all, and more fortunate to grow better relationships with them as I get older.
  7. You can’t do it all alone. You just can’t. I’ve tried. And I didn’t always need someone to save me, but there are plenty of times I went to bed after doing what felt like everything, and crying myself to sleep. Accept help. Accept support. YOU NEED IT FOR YOUR SANITY! People won’t offer to help if they don’t want to. See #1 and #6.
  8. Blood isn’t everything. For all the love I have for my family, there are friends I have that may as well have danced out of the womb with me. My best friend Alex has been in my life a mere 4 years, but I’d give a kidney for her. She works in the kidney and liver transplant ward at the hospital…so this would be super convenient for the both of us!
  9. Sales are everything. I pity the silly fools running around the mall talking about “It’s not as good if it’s on sale. I pay full price for everything!” Um, ok. In an effort to stay true to #5….um, it’s way more impressive to say “HEY! BE CAREFUL! THESE ARE $500 BOOTS!” and smugly think to yourself, “But, they were on sale for $200 and I had a promo code to get $50 off, and I used Ebates to get 4% cash back on the entire purchase, plus free shipping, b#tches!” No? Just me? Well….carry on then.
  10. It’s not that serious. I am a self-proclaimed Drama Queen, largely because I know people think I’m dramatic. So, obviously, if I say it about myself, the appeal wears off to people, and I’m not sitting here with my feelings hurt when someone else says it about me! However, in the midst of my Mariah Carey-esque mental breakdowns, I want you to know that I truly do realize the world is not over, and I can still hit the high notes. Dumb things happen. Bad things happen. Sad things happen. You’re still awesome. Hell, you’re still ALIVE. You win. Cope. Deal. Move on. It ain’t over ’til Mariah leaves…and then, you should be worried about me
  11. Take the vacation. As often as you can. Your boss might not like it. You may not have enough paid time off. Your boyfriend might be jealous. But you know what? You’ve got a LOT to see and experience here on your measly 100 years on earth. I don’t know about you, but I won’t be seeing the world through someone’s Facebook photos. I have things to do, and places to see! Get away for a weekend, for a whole week, or Lord willing, for longer! You will never regret that trip to Hawaii wearing your first bikini ever and not having to use an Instagram filter on a single photo! Trust me. 🙂
  12. Write it out. I have journaled for as long as I can remember. It helps me deal. There’s a lot of things I don’t want to burden others with, or that I need to just see on paper to figure out and plan to conquer. My journal is my little safe haven where I can put the pen to paper, and sleep just a little more soundly at night without all my random thoughts swirling around my head. It’s cathartic, and in my opinion, ESSENTIAL.
  13. Apologize. I have made so very many mistakes in my life. Mistakes are a given, and no one is perfect. The key is acknowledging that your mistake was not ok, not unrecognized, and that you are sincerely and genuinely apologetic. People can never stay mad if you say “That was my mistake. I am really sorry it happened. Sondra loves you.” If they do, maybe they can teach you the art of never making a mistake that they’ve obviously mastered.
  14. Eat the chocolate. See also: Buy the shoes, say yes to the sea salt scrub from the pedicure lady. Indulgence is absolutely necessary. Everyday, no. But definitely appropriate when you can. You work hard, you should play hard. A single piece of California Brittle from See’s Candies saved someone’s life the other day. I keep some on standby in my desk drawer.
  15. Life is a Runway. Right? I mean, I almost rented an Oscars-worthy gown to wear to my Karaoke Birthday Party tonight! So, if you really want the neon green shoes? Do it. The crazy peacock printed yoga leggings from LuLu Lemon? YUP! You know why? Because rarely do I see anything on a runway I’d actually wear, and people are shelling out the big bucks for it. So when I see neon yellow, highlighter looking Chuck Taylors on clearance and my dad offers to buy them for me? You bet your butt I’m getting them. And I’m gonna wear them with pride and happiness…because that’s what they do..make me happy! And when I wore them to the airport on my way to Vegas, I got zillions of compliments anyways. So do it. Look crazy. You’re making someone’s day on Instagram if it goes badly, so either way, you’re #winning. Just, you know, try not to walk that People of Wal Mart runway. I’ll know if you do, because my mom often forwards me the highlight emails.
  16. Do something new. Like always. I just registered for Italian classes in Little Italy, San Diego. I am actually TERRIFIED because I have a slur when I talk, and seem to sound a bit silly when I speak Spanish, which is similar…so I avoid it. But my big dream is an awesome month in Italy exploring and cooking next year…so  I need to prime myself for the total experience, and I know this is the way to do it. So fuhgeddaboutit. I enrolled, and I’m gonna kick butt!
  17. It’s the little things. I am a truly blessed, fortuitous individual. My birthday was celebrated at work yesterday, and they decked out my office, brought me a huge arrangement of gorgeous flowers, cards, gifts, cake….the works! But you know what warmed my heart, really? That these people cared enough about me to do anything AT all. And my cards and gifts were like they were made for me. It was truly moving and special, and it makes me so happy.
  18.  Gestures, too. Some of the best things I’ve been given can’t be found in stores. My Aunt Elsie will call my work phone to check up on me and say hello, My cousin Karen will call me just to catch up. My friend Jen, who was a bridesmaid at Alex’s wedding with me, sent Sean and I a Christmas card, even though the wedding was the first time we’d met. Alex always makes sure I have awesome accessories for my birthday to let the world know I am HERE, and ALWAYS celebrating. Sean will leave me a long voicemail or send a long text when he knows I am having  a hard day. My friend Jenny at work always brings me Starbucks if she stops by on her way to work, and knows my drink as “the usual” (as do the baristas!).There is nothing in the world like a kind gesture to make you see how valuable human interaction is.
  19. You can start a movement. We forget how influential we can be. By sharing information, insight, kind words, etc…we have the power to change anything, big or small. I once worked in a stressful environment where we were confined to a single office altogether, and you could FEEL tension. I printed out these “take one” positivity fliers and hung them in the bathroom. People would take one, and share it with someone of their choice…if they wanted to. Wouldn’t you know? By the end of the day, all the little tabs were pulled off, and people were smiling because someone left a little slip of happiness on their desk. Awesome
  20. You’re never too broke to be fancy. We are wine club members. Olive oil club members. I subscribe to a couple key Subscription Box services…it keeps me HAPPY. I love getting real mail, that doesn’t ask me to pay for something adult-ish, like my vehicle registration, and finding new awesome products as a result. Our wine club membership encourages us to get out and see the beautiful Temecula Wine Country at least 4 times a year…and we pay the equivalent of 3 whatever-ish bottles of wine 4 times a year as a result. But when I’m at the vineyard with the Wine Club card, in the members only wine section with private tasting bars, discounts, and special appetizer menus? I feel glamorous and luxurious, and like all my hard work is WORTH something.
  21. Never stop adding to your Bucket List. Mine changes probably daily. I see or hear about something and say to myself “Hmm. I am so gonna do that!” and there it is. On the mental Bucket List. And when I write it all out, I don’t remember everything, so it’s never-ending. I wanna do a whole ton of stuff. And I know I can…I’m making the effort and I’ll take the time to do so. You’re never done trying new things.
  22. Food is your friend. You don’t need to be ashamed. You don’t have to hide your goodies. You need to say to yourself, “You know…this birthday cake pop is not the most awesome choice for my weight loss goals…but the extra 15 minutes I spend on the treadmill as a result is an awesome life decision and life extender!” It’s all in how you sell it, people!
  23. You always have been, always will be, and couldn’t be more BEAUTIFUL. If someone doesn’t think so…you can’t help that. I can expose people to my awesome personality, slammin’ karaoke skills, and fun party planning ideas….they might choose to see me as a waste of space regardless. But you know what? I am MY artist. I am MY canvas. I can’t be YOUR eyes. Sometimes, a healthy “F*uck ’em!” is in order. Embrace your beauty…be it physical, mental, whatever. You have so much to offer. If you don’t think so, take an inventory of the people that you thought of when you read some other parts of this list. People came into your mind and brought a smile to your face, and it’s because they see ALL the beauty in the world in you, and choose to be a part of your magic.
  24. Saying “No” is totally ok. Can you babysit my Devil Child? Can you make 450 cupcakes for my birthday…tomorrow? Can you please just support the super stupid life decisions I am making, even if they affect you? Yeah…NO. Guess what? I just said no, and chances are nobody died. The earth is still spinning. I’m still crazy. Everything is still OK. And it will continue to be, because you are staying true to yourself and making decisions that help you maintain your health and happiness. Go you!
  25. Go ahead. Be “crazy.” I used to be so unbelievably offended when people called me crazy. Then, I realized that they are usually high-fiving me, smiling, or completely in awe at how I handled one of the several million insane situations that seems to find me on a daily basis. You know why? Because secretly, every person has a little piece of them that watches me get all “Sondra”(also often referred to in my close circle as “I pulled a Sondra!” or “I channeled my inner Sondra”), and handle business or have a blast. And why, oh why, on earth would I be as silly as to be offended by that?
  26. You can do ANYTHING you put your mind to. I used to start a lot of things, and then give up. I got too busy, or more than likely, I got too worried I couldn’t do it. And I’ve worked really hard the last 5-6 years to have more faith and confidence in myself and my abilities. You know what happened? People saw what I was doing, and encouraged me. And when they did, they sparked even more passion and ideas for me, and made me KEEP GOING. That’s how SeeSondraSlim.com came to be in the first place. And I can’t believe that I get to celebrate my 26th birthday with a whole bunch of amazing people who thought that my journey to being healthier and happier was worth checking out, and keeping up with.

I’m honored, I’m flattered, I’m blessed, and I’m finished rambling.

I love you all. New look launching soon! WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE THE NEW GRAPHICS. Ridiculously fab!

‘Til Next Time!