Every year, as my birthday approaches, I feel the need to count my blessings, but at the same time, I also feel the need to book keep and reflect on the things I've done, and the things I didn't do, the things I have forced myself to do, and the things I've stopped myself from doing. I like to think that the older I know, the wiser the decisions I make. Even if they aren't wiser, they would be more sound than a decision my 18-year-old self would take on - or so, I hope.
I know I don't know everything, and I know I will never know everything. But for now, at this moment, these are the things I know for sure.
* Always dress well. It's not about wearing designer, or wearing the latest trends. It's about taking pride in how you look. You're allowed to look like you've rolled out of bed once in a while.
* Never settle for less. Whether it's in love, in career, or in life. If you feel like you're unfairly treated, if you're settling for less than you deserve, there is always, always another way.
* It's okay to be wrong. I'm one of the most stubborn people you'd meet, and while I'd easily admit that, it's hard for me to admit that I'm wrong. And on the occasions I do, it's always humbling.
* Everybody should be entitled to the toe-curling, giggle-inducing, and the more-than-occasional out-of-body experience of falling in love. It may not happen now, it may not happen today, but it will happen. And when it happens, it'll be magic.
* Surround yourself with things that make you happy. It's not easy to be positive or be in high spirits all the time, but when you try, sometimes it's possible.
* Eat good food and savour it.
* Enjoy working out.
* Luxury scented candles and a good book in bed will make you feel better.
* Wear nice knickers.
* Write letters. Send thank you notes. Send postcards. Tell someone in writing how much you miss them.
* Befriend people of all ages. You can learn something from everybody.
* Reduce clutter. In your wardrobe, in your social circle, in your life.
* Don't buy the cheapest. Buy the second cheapest.
* Travel when you can. And do it alone.
* Love your family. It doesn't have to be the people you are related to by blood. Family can be defined however way you want to; love your family, whoever they are, in whatever form they come in.
* Be a good listener. Your ears will never get you in trouble.
* Never reveal all. Keep your mystery.
* Give it your all. If you're doing something half-assed, don't bother doing it at all.
* Read widely. Read things that oppose your beliefs, read those that support yours. Read things you'd never usually read. Read everything.
* Have a handful of go-to recipes that will sure to impress. Want to know what mine are?
* Play make believe.
* Enjoy long showers. I like rain showers, with vanilla-scented products and scrubs that buff my body into polishy perfection.
* Take the stairs. You never know who you're going to bump into, what you're going to see, or what will some across your mind when you have time to yourself.
* There is no perfect person, but there is a right one for you. J didn't change me, he made me a better version of myself, and for that I'm thankful.
* Buy fresh flowers for your home or for your bedroom.
* Revel in the fact that your life is yours to create. Now, get busy!