{via etsy by Anita Waters}

Today is my 30th birthday! Every year, for my b-day, I’ve been republishing a version of the below post. It’s become sort of a tradition around here. In it, I share what I’ve learned about body image and life in my years on this earth thus far. Oh, why 32? Two lessons for good luck! 🙂

1. Forget about being clever or cool. Just strive to be you. In all your amazing & unique glory. (Pretending has never worked for me. Trust me, I’ve tried. But I just end up feeling and looking really awkward. And then there’s the matter of life being too short.)

2. Eat what your heart, mind and body desire. As my friend and fave blogger, Anna Guest-Jelley says, use “the feel good rule.” Figure out what nourishes and energizes you.

3. Do what makes you feel comfortable – not what others say (unless, of course, it’s something self-destructive).

4. Don’t compare yourself to others, whether it’s looks, academics, accomplishments, how clean and pristine their house is, how happy their marriage is and what an amazing blogger they are. (I battle with this tooth and nail almost every day. But it’s so. not. worth it.)

5. Even if you have trouble deciding the seemingly small stuff, like what you want to eat for dinner (I can take 10 minutes to read a menu and then another 5 asking the server about how they like the food and whether I can make a few substitutions), learn to become more decisive.

Because you know what? Deep down, you do know what you want. You just might be used to a) letting others take the reins b) silencing yourself or c) being afraid to voice your opinion.

6. Just because someone offers you a compliment doesn’t mean you need to drool all over them. A compliment doesn’t validate your looks, your intelligence, your feelings or your figure.

While it’s nice to get them, compliments don’t make or break who you are. I’m learning this one very slowly.

7. It’s fine to eat chocolate every day. Doing so doesn’t make you a bad person, a diet failure, a glutton or a person doomed to an unhealthy and horrible life.

8. You’re beautiful. Period.

9. Figure out what you love, hold on to it and never let go.

10. Self-care is not selfish; it’s key to your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health.

11. Don’t wait to do anything you want to do until you lose weight. Do. It. Now. (You’ll thank me later.  )

12. Celebrate yourself and your loved ones – often! (In fact, call or email someone you love right now.)

13. Don’t let anxiety or fear of the unknown stop you from following your dreams. (Easier said than done, but just keep reminding yourself.)

14. You have to stand for something.

15. Sleep is not over-rated.

16. But perfection is.

17. A diet is not a magic elixir that leads to everything you want.

18. Success looks easy, but it takes a lot of work, sweat, tears, late nights and early mornings. And the road is sometimes paved with nails.

19. Don’t let anyone define what success is for you. Like thinness. This is just another society-created blueprint. Like thinness, a society-created definition of success can leave you feeling miserable trying to attain and maintain it. Remember you’re the only who has to live your life, day in and day out.

20. Take the time to express yourself creatively, whatever that might be. It’s so worth it.

21. Honesty really is the best policy.

22. It’s perfectly OK to spend hours on pinterest.

23. It’s also perfectly OK to spend the whole day in your pajamas with your face in a Nook (umm, I mean book).

24. Live life with your own voice.

25. You can’t change people’s feelings, and you can rarely change their minds.

26. A new pair of shoes can bring happiness. (OK, maybe not, but they can brighten your day.)

27. Being thin has nothing to do with being beautiful. Being yourself does.

28. It all boils down to self-acceptance and self-love. Do everything with these as your foundation.

29. Numbers are needless, and age ain’t nothing but a number. Of course, this is by no means revolutionary. Still, sometimes I feel iffy about my age, because I’m not where I want to be in some areas of my life, or where I thought I would be by now. But just like I try not to get bogged down by other numbers — namely what the scale says and what size I wear — I’m trying to embrace my age. And I hope you try, too.

30. Figure out what your passion is and do it! The older I get, the more I realize the importance of filling your days with things that you’re passionate about, whether that’s your day job or a hobby you work on for a few minutes a day. There are so many amazing things out there that can put a smile on your face. How fun and interesting to figure out what they are and then to enjoy doing them!

31. Be patient with your loved ones. It’s no doubt tough in the moment. But I don’t think you’ll ever regret being extra patient and understanding with the most special people in your life.

32. Be patient with yourself. Practice self-compassion. Yes, it’s tough, too. But just take it one step at a time. One kind gesture at a time. Just practice. The more you practice, the more natural it’ll become.

What things do you know to be true about body image or life in general? What lessons have you learned? What did you think was true years ago but turned out to be false? What did you think would bring you happiness but didn’t?