Lately I’ve been reflecting on my life, where I’ve come from, where I want to get to, and all the ups and downs I have come across. The fact that I’m 26, but still feel — and sometimes look — like a teenager got me wondering about different experiences I’ve gone through and what I’ve learned from them. I’ve lived in England, Puerto Rico, and California, and each place has molded my character into who I am today. Though I’m still in my 20s and am sure I will pick up more life lessons down the road, here I'm sharing with you what I've learned so far:
Learn to love your natural self.
This is a big one for me. I had been straightening my hair since I was 12 years old and dying it since I was 15. By age 23, due to all the constant chemical processing and manipulation, my hair was so fried and damaged it started to fall out. I never realized I was so attached to my long straight hair until I no longer had it. However, I later saw this as a blessing in disguise because it became a journey to self-discovery. Not only was I learning for the first time what my natural hair texture looked like, but I was how also learning how to care for it. I had set unrealistic beauty standards for myself that looked nothing like my natural self. This made me shift my perspective and helped me redefine how I saw my beauty physically and mentally. This is still a constant journey, but it has made me stronger emotionally and spiritually, which is something that I will forever be grateful for.
Cultivating good energy is important.
Keeping myself motivated and focused has a lot to do with how I choose to spend my free time and whom I choose to be with. Energy is contagious, and I have learned to forever be mindful of my space and who I invite in. I’ve experienced everything from bad breakups with ex-boyfriends to best friends becoming complete strangers. When you put so much energy into a bad relationship, it will drain you, and that’s exactly what was happening to me: I felt drained emotionally and physically. I would get so upset that I could no longer call this person that I had spent so much time with a friend or boyfriend. Some relationships can be so toxic, which is why I now choose to surround myself with people who uplift and inspire me, those that challenge me to be a better person and support me through the process. This keeps me at peace with myself and energizes me.
It’s okay to not have it all figured out.
Nothing will frustrate you more than constantly wanting to have your life figured out all the time. After I graduated from collage with a bachelor's in psychology, I would get so anxious and upset because I felt like I no longer wanted to continue on to a master’s degree. I had no idea what my next move should be, and I saw my friends continuing on to medical school or law school and I just felt so unaccomplished because I no longer wanted to pursue what I had been planning for myself for the past four years of collage. I learned to allow myself time to reflect on my needs and to go with the flow. I took a break from school, and worked a few odd jobs here and there: I’ve been a high school librarian, a caretaker, a summer camp counselor, retail clerk, and office secretary. Throughout each experience I was able to become more flexible with myself and see things in a new light. I realized I needed to find my own path, even if it meant breaking away from my comfort zone. Not everyone is cut out for grad school and that’s okay.
Bad eating habits will catch up with you.
I’ve always had the worst eating habits! I crave junk food and sugar all day, every day. Back in high school I would down whole large cheese pizzas in one sitting then later treat myself to a pint of ice cream. I knew I wasn’t eating the healthiest, but I never worried too much about it because I always felt fine afterwards and my weight seemed to stay relatively the same. But now, my body will let me know quickly when it is not happy with my food choices. Gone are the days when I used to frequently chow down on juicy burgers and milkshakes because junk food now upsets my stomach, makes me go to the bathroom unexpectedly, causes one too many random breakouts, and my energy levels drop. It’s vital to take care of your health now while you’re still young! I don’t want to have to pay for all these bad habits later, and that may just be the case if I don’t improve my eating habits ASAP.
One of my favorite quotes has always been, “What doesn’t break you, makes you stronger.” And while we might not have a say in the situations we face in life, we have complete control over how we react to each one. I’m grateful for where mine have taken me, and for everything I
continue to learn because of them.
Bianca Alexa is a Founding Creator and beauty blogger. When she's not writing for Vivala.com, you can find her on her YouTube channel.