12 Lessons I’ve Learned at 26


It’s taken me some time to put this post together because to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to write about. I was looking for these big, impactful moments that happened in year 26, but then I started thinking about what I’ve actually learned. What has truly impacted me and made me stop in my tracks and it wasn’t all big moments. A lot of them were actually small. I don’t write this post as an advice post or what you should know or do or be at 26, but rather to share my story of what I’ve learned about myself and my journey thus far. And if one person reads this and resonates with it then that’s the goal.  

To be totally honest with y’all, 25 was a tough year for me. I won’t be getting too specific with details, but I want to share the harder points because that’s life and no one’s everyday is all corgis and Prosecco (I wish! 😉), so this will be a long one, but I hope you stick around and share some of your learnings in the comments no matter your age.  We all keep learning, right?


In 2018, things started to pick up with the blog, most of which was behind the scenes, but still very exciting. I was getting partnerships more often, making a little money and actually getting into the whole “blogger” thing. But the more I was gaining in confidence, the comparison game would hit right on queue and it all felt like a drop in the giant “influencer” bucket. 

“She just started and has 5.000 followers. What am I doing wrong?” or “how did she get that partnership, why aren’t I good enough for that?” 

This isn’t just a blogger thing. We enter this everyday no matter our hobby or occupation. But one day I read a post on Instagram and decided to take it to heart. It said “Over the last few months I’ve implemented a new habit to shift negative energy. If I feel myself getting jealous of a woman for her success, I squash that jealousy and reach out and congratulate her instead. Spreading love is more powerful than wallowing in envy.” 


You don’t owe anyone anything that outweighs your happiness. Sure, we all have times where things don’t go our way or we have a tough couple days. But if you are consistently unhappy and you know it, make a change. For me, it was a scary step at first, but then I truly realized how much it was really impacting my happiness.  


Anyone else instantly reach for your phone to capture the beautiful moment you’re witnessing? I’m so guilty of this and it took a lot for me to realize how much I was living through my camera rather than truly living in that moment of beauty. I can still appreciate it even if Instagram never saw it. 


You can do anything, but you can’t do it all. Year 25 I took on a lot. Working full time, blog, wedding planning, traveling and the day to day of life catching up with it all. We sometimes feel helpless or inadequate when asking for help, when in reality, people want to help and it takes a strong person to let go and accept that help.  One of the areas that I was so set on being 100% involved in was the wedding. It got to be a lot and stopped being fun because I was trying to do it all from 3 states away. I then realized through conversations with our moms that it’s ok to not do everything. My mom and Kollin’s mom have been God sends in this department and so gracious with their time and efforts during wedding planning.


Always be aware of your worth and value to those you are contributing to. What are you giving and is it being reciprocated or even appreciated? Spend your time where your ideas are heard, your voice is valued and you can support the lifestyle you want or have a path to get there in place.  Without those things what are you working toward? I had to learn that even if I loved something, it wasn’t giving me back what I needed and I needed to reevaluate what I was accepting as my worth.


There’s a common saying that marriage is 50/50. You each give equal parts to the relationship and there’s an even playing field. While I believe that is somewhat true, I think there is more to the picture. There are times in life where your partner can’t give you 50, or even 20, and not because they don’t want to but because life gets in the way and things happen. Sometimes you pick up the slack. Sometimes you need help reaching 50 and sometimes you both only get to 35. Something that Kollin and I have experienced in this last year of engagement is that yes, respect and love should always be at 100%. If you can’t give me more, at least respect and love me. But other times you might need to provide your partner with more than 50 or vice versa.


For my new year’s resolution this year I decided I wanted make healthier choices. One of these was cutting out the majority of alcohol. While I haven’t really been much of a drinker anyways since college (GO CATS), I was noticing that even after only a couple drinks, I was not ok the next day. Sure, everyone is entitled to go out and have a crazy night now and again, but I wanted to see what it would be like to give it a change.  

I cut out all hard alcohol and when I drank it was only wine or champagne. I would have at most 2 glasses and restrain myself from the party bug or opt be the DD that night. While sometimes it was a total buzzkill or I felt FOMO, I quickly learned that it was actually working. I felt better, my migraines were decreasing and I was keeping off the extra 2-4 pounds that were previously there from sugary mixed drinks. Oh, and the best part? I didn’t wake up feeling horrible from a night out. This is something I’ve been doing since January and I’ve really seen a difference. I’ll indulge in a margarita here and there, but I’m liking this new rule for myself!


We all have situations where we bite our tongue. We rethink it before we say anything, if we say anything at all. Sometimes being silent is easier than confronting the issue and sometimes that’s the right choice. But year 25 taught me a lot about the situations where you do speak up, even if the words don’t come out in the most eloquent way. I had gotten comfortable staying silent because it was easier than the argument that was to come if I did, but it was digging a deeper hole. If they don’t hear your voice, they may think you don’t have one. And if you do use it, they may not appreciate it by that time because in their mind it’s too late. 


Growing up, we might hide parts of ourselves or make decisions based on what others would think. I definitely did and still do, but throughout the last year I’ve really become more comfortable just doing me. For example, for our engagement pictures, I had a vision and did not want to do anything else. I wanted to be me. The me that wore a formal dress in 90 degree heat in a park in the dirt and grass. I wanted to be the weird mix of myself that loves fashion and is a little extra because it’s fun, while also staying true to my roots. Being comfortable with my choices of expressing who I am has been one of my favorite learnings this year. 


I’ve always been a pretty “balanced” person. I know my feelings and what to do when I feel certain ways. But like I mentioned, 25 was a tough year and I started experiencing things I hadn’t dealt with before. Anxiety, burn out, anger, and not giving things my all. Certain aspects of life were really taking a toll on me and I didn’t pay attention to them until others brought them to light or I couldn’t ignore them anymore. Taking care of your mental health and what is best for you is a top priority. No matter how small or silly it might seem.  


Kollin gets all the credit for this one. I’m a creature of habit and am completely comfortable not pushing the boundaries on much. Enter Kollin Edmund Nava. God sure knew what I needed when he put him in my life lol. He is always wanting me to experience new things or push me out of my comfort zone because he knows it’ll open a new side of me. And the majority of the time, he is right. The only time I will not give him credit for? Pushing me to try uni. Still not over it.  


This year I was faced with a pretty tough decision. Going through with what I wanted to do was taking longer than I expected and my head kept telling me to wait for the right time. But the more I listened to my head, the unhappier I became. My dad is one of my best friends and I knew he’d be totally honest with me, but also be my dad and give me advice that could be hard to hear, but that I needed to hear. I was fully expecting his response to go one way and to my surprise, he told me to go through with the plan. I knew that if my dad, the most responsible and “do what is right” person I know, was telling me to do it then I knew I had to do it. The best part, the second I made the decision, I instantly felt better and knew it was right.


One of the best pieces of business advice I’d ever received was to never be the smartest person in the room. Whether that be the board room, your department, or even just the people you hang out with, always surround yourself with people you can learn and grow from. Having those people will not only develop you, but push you to gain knowledge and insight into whatever it is they provide you.


2018 was a hard year for some other people in my life too and last year and this year I did a lot of praying about it. I recently read a quote that said “If you pray for flowers, God will send you rain,” and I loved this perspective. Things take time to grow and mature. Instant gratification is rare and even through the rain we have to remember that the end result will be beautiful and work out. I also started manifesting what I wanted to happen and while this is a bit out there for me, I would basically just pray about what I wanted to be, where I wanted to be and accomplish. And the more I did that, the more I motivated myself, opened up to new things and it started happening. One of the tools I use to do this is called The Morning Pages - it’s a writing exercise that transform the way you start your day and approach creative work. A blogger I love, The Skinny Confidential, did a post about it here. It’s great!


To round out this very long post (bless you if you are still here) I wanted to share a trick my bestie Taylor and I do from time to time. When work or life or whatever it is was getting us down we would schedule a wine and whine. It is exactly what it sounds like. We’d pour ourselves a nice champagne (for me) and pinot (for her) and jump on FaceTime (she’s in NY) and just talk. We’d start complaining about things that annoyed us or something that happened, but we’d eventually just start laughing and talking about life. It is such a great way to unwind. While it sounds like any other girl time, the point was that it was either scheduled or completely random and one person would call see the glass of wine on the phone and stop what they were doing to listen. It has really kept our friendship great and can obviously be done in person if you aren’t long distance besties!

The last time I did this kind of post was year 24 and I read it the other day thankful that I documented part of what was happening with me. So while I do use this as somewhat of a journal, I hope that some of you got something out of it or at least got a good wine idea! Thank you so much for reading and sharing this journey with me. Here’s to 26 - I think it will be the best year yet!