24 Things I Wish I Knew This Time Last Year: Celebrating 25!

I’m pressing publish on this post with my free Starbucks Venti in hand (you better bet I went all out…) because today, I’m celebrating 25 years of being a human!!! I’m a little awkward about celebrating my own birthday… to be honest, I have no idea why. I like to keep things pretty low key and become the world’s most awkward human whenever someone tries to sing Happy Birthday to me. The funny thing is though that I LOVE celebrating other people’s birthday and constantly subject people to my own horrible singing of Happy Birthday.

This year, I’m celebrating by teaching a few classes at the studio, and then, I’m hopping on a plane to fly back home to Texas this afternoon! I can’t wait to steal some puppy snuggles while relaxing with the fam! I’ll get to see my parents, my brother AND my grandparents when I’m in town, and I know that will just be so special. (We’re missing my sister already!!) My mom, my Grammy and I are taking a gardening class tomorrow, and then we’re all going to the rodeo too (Wow… that made me sound REAL Texan). It will be my grandparents first time, so I’m definitely interested to see what they think!

I started a little tradition with myself last year on my birthday when I was in a HUGE season of transition. I really do love looking back on posts, and looking back on last year’s post meant a lot to me, just about a year later. This time last year, I was less than a month away from leaving my full-time job and literally had NO idea how the next season of my life would look. I was terrified and excited and really wished that there was a way to look into the future to see that everything would be okay.

Spoiler alert: it was all okay… in fact, it was actually pretty great.

Sometimes it is hard to admit that you are proud of yourself, but it’s my birthday, so I can say whatever I want, right? I’m proud of myself, y’all. I really, really am. I’m proud of the work that I’ve done and I am doing and that I’ll continue to do year after year. I’m proud of the growth that happened over the last year, and I’m proud of the failures that I learned from. I’m proud of the person I was, and the person that I’m becoming. I’m proud of the fears that I’ve faced, and the successes I’ve had from facing scary things. I’m proud of the ways I grew personally, and I’m proud of the way my business has grown too. I am really proud of the fact that I am no longer live in fear of what comes next… in fact, I’m pretty dang excited about it. It has taken me such a long time to be able to say these things. It has taken so long to be able to admit that I am, in fact, proud of myself. There were many, many things about this year that scared me, and I am so proud that I can look back on the year with gratitude.

I thought about dressing up for my header photo, but to be honest, I thought it would make more sense to rock my daily uniform. If I’m truly trying to pay tribute to my 24th year of life, shouldn’t I dress the way that I did for the majority of the year? (Black bandy headband, stretchy leggings, a slouchy tee, sports bra & hair straight out of a messy bun). When I’m not dressed up for a wedding… this is me y’all. 24 was a crazy year of hustle, spent mostly in leggings, sweatshirts & top knots. It was equal parts exhausting and fulfilling and exciting and completely terrifying all at the same time.

Today, I’m sharing with you 24 things that I wish I knew this time last year! They’re in no particular order, and there is no particular theme. I’ve been writing this list for the last 364 days and will start taking notes for next year’s post tomorrow!

Arugula is actually delicious… so is goat cheese. Also… mangos. Those are the best. I’m not sure how you went 24 years of life without these things considering they now make up about 50% of your diet.  

Your birthday is actually in the winter… yes, I’ve spent most of my life thinking my birthday was in the SPRING. When you grew up in Texas (Where it gets warm the last week in February) and constantly had your birthday fall on SPRING Break when you were in school, you can see how I easily made this mistake! I have to say, I was a little disappointed to realize that my birthday actually falls in my least favorite season 🙈

“When you focus on what you aren’t, you forget to be grateful for what you are.” Caroline Logan said this at the Gathering back in July, and it rocked my world. How many times do we focus on who we aren’t and who others appear to be while forgetting who we really are?! I’ve been fighting my hardest to keep this quote at the front of my mind.

Leaving your full-time job will be the scariest thing that you ever do. You’ll panic for a really long time, but in the end, it will be the best decision you’ve ever made.

So many of your friends are going to move away this year, and you are going to feel really weird and sad at first. It is okay to be a little sad, but do try your best to not become a total hermit… especially because you work from home! 

Take the time to get to know your business’s books and the accounting side of your business that scares you.

Hands down, you have the world’s best family and friends. Love them well this year. 

Rebranding during busy season is a really crazy decision. You can do it, but it won’t be a pretty process. Let’s agree to just never do it again…

The best way to deal with difficult people is by being yourself. There really is nothing else you can do!

There is no bad mood that a walk around the city can’t fix. While we’re on the topic of walking, walk all the dogs… trust me, just do it. It is the perfect way to break up a work from home day.

Lean into the new people that come into your life this year. They’ll change you for the better. 

It is easiest to give up on the goals that weren’t meant for you to chase. Focus on what fuels you instead.

You are more than fine, just the way you are. Don’t you dare try to change for those that don’t recognize this.

Get the Harris Teeter & Giant loyalty cards… they’ll save you tons of money. 

You’ll meet some of your biggest role models this year… remember that they’re just people like you too. Love them well and learn as much as you can from them. 

It is okay to grow slow… just look at your plants for that reminder when you start to forget this.

Another lesson from your plants: what may be flourishing in plain sight may not be thriving under the surface. It is okay to slowly lay strong roots.

9+ months away from home is far too long… make an effort to get home a little more often.

Learning to love yourself is far more important than loving someone else. 

You’ll feel like you’re failing daily… it is okay to recognize your successes every now and then.

Your love language is quality time. Remember… you have way more people that love you, even when you don’t get to spend the time that you would like with them.

Taking time off can often be scarier than doing the hard work. Embrace the challenge of doing nothing every now and then.

Your insecurities will lie to you on the daily. Fight to learn how to discern truth from the lies you tell yourself. 

This will be a year of major hustle. You’ll be living life a lot different than most 20-somethings, and many of your friends will not understand this. When people say mean things, that will really hurt your heart. Know that their opinions are out of your control and that you have nothing to prove to them. Lean into the people in your life that truly understand you and focus on what makes YOU happy. 

Bonus: One of the scariest things about living out your dream each day is that you fear it slipping away with every single decision you make. Opt to live in gratitude of what you have now instead.

Some of my favorite moments and favorite people from my 24th year of life in no particular order:

Wedding season 2019 kicking off with a bang • Just after my 24th birthday with sweet Sophie! • St. Patrick’s Day 2018 in Baltimore with the sis! • One last selfie with my base badges on my last day at my full-time job • Easter 2018 with my favorite gals x 2 • Walking sweet lady • Class of 2018 Penn State senior sessions • Photographing my first proposal on my sister’s birthday! • Headshots at the Capitol with two sweet friends • FlyFam photos • That time I got to show my family around my town • Charleston with some of my favorite ladies! • Visits from sweet friends from Texas • Last day of my 2018 wedding season • Another picture of Sophie looking real thrilled to be in my presence • Christmas Eve 2018 x 4 • Showering the sweet bride to be in Texas! • Day one of 2019 wedding season! • Seeing our fave GGE live show! • The 2019 Arepas/Union Market Tour.Nat’s game for Alexandra’s birthday • Day 1 of 2018 wedding season!! • Vendors have no fun when working weddings • I got asked to be a bridesmaid! • 4AM wakeup calls are worth it for my favorite people x2 • Tried many pairs of shoes this wedding season… these weren’t my favorite • We Are! Love shooting Penn State Weddings • Sweaty selfies • I got to spend lots of time with sweet Mr. Hoagie this summer. Our dates were the best! • Pride Weekend with my favorite x 2 • I just love my sweet couples! • The end of a doubleheader weekend selfie • I think I was more into my dates with Hoagie than he was… • Another sweaty selfie • My favorite place • 4th of July with sweet Lady • Engagement sessions are the best when they start with a trip to Cafe x 2 • Just two gals looking extra sweaty on the dance floor • This sweet gal got adopted this year!!! I promise we were friends when I met her… • The Gathering 2.0 with some of my sweet friends • I get to work with some of the best bridesmaids ever! • 2018: the year of the house plants • Family dinner on my rooftop • I love my grandparents! Can’t wait to celebrate with them this year. • It’s called fashion… look it up. • Found two of my favorite foolproof salad recipes this year • I dropped my phone in the trash shoot 2 hours before I had to leave. Manali forgave me! • I’ll only go out after a full day of shooting a wedding for sweet friends like this! • Secret agent or goat whisperer? • That time Jessie surprised me in FlyBarre all the way from Colorado • New roomie; new selfies • Penn State family tailgate x 2.That time we attempted to do all the Christmas things in DC and soon realized being a tourist is exhausting • Celebrating Alexandra’s birthday! • Finally got a bag big enough for all my wedding day extra stuff! • Seeing our fave Ben Rector x 2 • Charleston x4 • I got to meet a lot of my favorite dogs this year… • Love my job & my brides • Still not over these oak trees & Spanish moss • Touring with this sweet gal before driving to Richmond! • Half arugula, half brown rice, half chicken half veggies, two scoops of eggplant and red pepper & one of crazy feta, tomatoes & onion, feta & romaine. You’re welcome, Cava loving friends. • That one time I got to learn from KJ in her living room • I got to meet a lot of my favorite dogs this year… part 2. • Headshots by KJ! • That time I started a rebrand at 2AM • “Quick try putting this on your face & see what happens” • So thankful to get to work with one of my best friends almost every weekend • Again… met a lot of dogs • Love this sweet group of women x2 • Pre-Wedding Starbucks… always a must • Love running into CKP/SSP fam at weddings • We Are!  pt 2. • Sophie Bug on Halloween * sobs * • Anything for the ring shot • Just two gals going on another Starbucks run • B&H in real life!! • Prepping our layers for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade… think this will keep us warm? • Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Crew x2 • Not sure which I’m more obsessed with… the cookies or my Christmas decor? • Mashed Potatoes & Snap Filters… two wedding day essentials.

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  1. Manali Sontakke says:

    These are all reminders I need for MYSELF too!! SO glad that you shared this, cheering you on ALWAYS <3 So pumped for this year for you!!!

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