Birthday Reflections: 33 Powerful Lessons I Learned This Year - Among Other Things (The Blog)

Birthday Reflections: 33 Powerful Lessons I Learned This Year

… More often than not, the hard way.

Today is my 33rd birthday.

… I actually had to look that up, lol. Isn’t it funny how the older you get, the more the years just kinda blend together? Some of you know what I mean — the rest of you will find out.

This isn’t a milestone birthday, traditionally — but it is for me.

I’m always amazed and humbled by how much can shift in a year.

This has been, without a doubt, the most challenging time of my life (so far).

I learned a lot this year — many times, the hard way — about myself, identity, career and relationships… Among Other Things.

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The media tends to portray learning these life lessons as simple, beautiful epiphanies, pretty Pinterest quotes and happily-ever-after experiences.

In reality, life’s most powerful lessons can only be learned and understood through layers of pain, failure, humility and change.

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As I personally turn the page into a new year of my life, I wanted to reflect on some of mine with you.

Here’s 33 of the most transformative, raw, difficult and perspective-changing lessons I’ve learned in the last year:



1. Failure is the most effective path to success.

We’re all stuck in our own heads — in this way, failure becomes beautiful. So don’t dull your pain, fear it or avoid it. Embrace it.

2. Life is not fair. It was never meant to be.

3. Let it be what it is rather than what you think it should be.

Stop spiraling. Stop scrolling. When you find yourself giving too much importance to something, break it down to what it really is.

We get so caught up in romanticizing a particular outcome only to become disappointed when things don’t pan out that way.

4. Most narratives happening in your head are not actually about you.

This one took me awhile to learn, admittedly. I often assumed people were talking badly about me, making assumptions about my job; that certain outcomes were inevitable, and so on.

Sometimes, there is truth there. But usually, it’s not about you.

Also, who the fuck cares? Reason being:

5. You will cause yourself a lot of unnecessary pain by fueling the need to make others feel comfortable.

6. There’s a difference between good friends, true friends and friendliness.

Sometimes people you think are on

your side are not.

7. Sometimes, you have to learn to love people from a distance.

And respect the boundaries of those who need to do the same of you.

8. Paths cross for a reason.

… It’s up to you to notice them and act on them. You will never know if you need to meet the person behind you at the grocery store if you don’t take a minute to talk to them.

9. Regret is more painful — and permanent — than fear.

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10. You can create (and live in) your own time zone.

This isn’t a race. You’ll reach your milestones when you reach them — and that’s okay. You’re not early. You’re not late. You’re on your time. Get out of everyone else’s.

11. There’s never a “right” time for anything. 

Book the trip, ask him/her out, launch the business — and most importantly, live on purpose. Just fucking do it.

12. You’re human, it’s perfectly okay to act like it.

Understand your emotions instead of labeling them — and find a way to release them. Don’t judge yourself for feeling upset, angry or triggered.

13. Endings really are new beginnings in disguise.

You’ll be uncomfortable with the uncertainty — it sucks — but this is where many of life’s most powerful, fulfilling moments are born.

14. Pain will bring what really matters into focus.

For better or for worse.

15. Running away from your problems is a race you will not win.

Most of the time, it’s necessary to confront your obstacles in order to move beyond them. The times in my life I was most lost, disconnected and lacking clarity were the times I was distracting myself Netflix, social media, etc.

PS: Not opening your bills won’t make them go away. Ugh.

16. Your truth will set you free.

I’ve given myself permission to fall apart a couple times this year. It’s scary and embarrassing, but also incredibly liberating to surrender to the reality that things are always changing. Usually in your favor.

17. There’s power in turning your mess into your message.

I lost a lot of strength through drastic changes in my once concrete-feeling dreams and career path this year — but I am gaining even more strength in authentically rebuilding it.

18. Distraction is just a mindset that’s lacking purpose.

Distraction is a source of un-dealt with pain — an absence of alignment with a dream, purpose or vision.

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19. Playing the victim leaves you powerless to change.

Yep. It feels comforting for a minute until all of a sudden it doesn’t anymore.

20. Your worst breakdown can become your greatest breakthrough.

… Or it can become the identity that you take to the grave.

21. Momentum works in both directions.

You know how “they” say when it rains, it pours? Yep — in most cases, this is not an accident.

I used to say that all the time when I was teaching. (Some of you Chicago and New York babes will remember it, no doubt.)

22. You. Are. A. Magnet. 

I learned that the “shitty” things that happened to me are actually things my soul asked for. And you can’t be mad at what the universe for that.

23. Find something in life that pulls you.

You can only “push yourself” for so long… Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.

24. Let the Universe do it’s thing.

Life has a way of happening and plans often change faster than you can even make them. Surrender to this.

25. It’s okay to disappear for awhile.

For real… Here’s why I did.

26. Be grateful for the hard times.

They will open your eyes to things you weren’t paying attention to before.

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27. It takes A LOT of time and courage to accept you are broken.

It takes even more time to acknowledge it and take responsibility for everything that happened. The only way is up.

28. Acceptance and ownership are foundational to healing.

After I took responsibility for my reality, came to terms with losing a job and began opening up about depression, it became so much easier to move forward.

29. Periods of recovery are really hard — and they take time and patience.

And when I say “recovery,” I’m speaking in general: From a breakup, a life change, addiction, obsession, etc… It’s hard. It gets easier.

30. You have to learn to choose your thoughts.

… Just like you choose your clothing every day.

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31. It will all be okay.

I know that sounds a little cliché; but from someone who has lost herself/her identity a few times in less than two years, just trust me. Your patience, pain, time and persistence will be worth it.

I can’t explain how or why, but I can tell you that one day you’ll wake up one day and feel that long-forgotten inner peace — and see that it all starts to calm down.

32. Gratitude will get you through it. 

I used to think this was a crock of shit too, guys. But it really is true:

I’m grateful for all the things entering my life — and I’m finding a way to be grateful for all has that left.

I’m grateful that this this year I was vulnerable enough to open up with/connect with many you on a deeper level.

I’m grateful that this year I inspired some of you. I’m grateful that this year I re-inspired myself.

33. Life’s most important lessons are the ones you learn the hard way.

I’m grateful that this year I’ve found ways to set the pain and vulnerability aside to unearth the good that lives within it.

I hope you find the courage to do the same.

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Endlessly grateful to you all. 

For your visits, presence, love, comments, shares, feedback and unwavering support.

Cheers to the next 365… Together. 

Love you!

x Hallie

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