This week I celebrated my 25th birthday.
Just like on a Christmas morning, I have this tradition where I open my gifts when I first wake up. It's a ritual I've done ever since I can remember, and this year was no different. But this time I did it alone, in my third-floor walkup, before I went to work.
Unlike it sounds, it wasn't a melancholy moment -- in fact, it was a tiny gift in itself. I got to spend a few peaceful moments to myself, surrounded by little reminders of love from my family. That solitude and positivity is a gift I wish I gave myself more often.
Sweaters and flowers are wonderful, but there are just some presents that are invaluable -- whether it's your birthday or just another, regular Wednesday.
Here are 25 gifts I wish everyone would give themselves:
1. Rest. You can do anything but not everything. Burning out just to prove yourself is no way to live, so allow yourself those moments of meditation or even just a lazy Sunday -- your work and your life will be much better in the long run, I promise.
2. Love. Let others in and allow yourself to be loved. We're built for affection -- even if it's hard, even if it means getting hurt. Vulnerability is challenging, but isn't the reward worth it?
3. Uncertainty. The only guarantee in life is that there are no guarantees. The sooner you give yourself permission to befriend the unknown, you'll start to realize just how brave you really are.
4. A meaningful career.
You spend the majority of your waking hours during the week at your job. That's a lot of misery if your creative, emotional and intellectual needs aren't being met. You're too talented to be putting your assets toward something that isn't fulfilling your passions.
5. Therapy. I'm of the belief that everyone can benefit from talking to someone, whether you're struggling with anxiety or just have a few stressors to work through. Give yourself the opportunity to open up to someone, either a mental health professional, a life coach or just a trusted confidant. They may have more insight than you think.
6. Confidence. Not just the "fake-it-until-you-make-it" kind, the real deal. Give yourself the gift of security of knowing who you really are, because I bet the genuine you is an awesome person to be around.
7. Good health. This goes for your body and your mind. They're both inextricably linked. Find a fitness routine that you love (it doesn't have to be SoulCycle or CrossFit or any other trendy workout), eat delicious vegetables and always, always, always keep in tune with your emotions.
8. A positive attitude. There's power in looking on the bright side, no matter what your circumstances (research says so!).
9. Taylor Swift concert tickets.
Taylor is the best friend you wish you had and the queen you hope to be -- who wouldn't want to spend a night jamming out to "1989" live? (OK, OK, maybe not everyone). The point is, give yourself the gift of experiences, not things. Research shows they'll make you happier in the long run.
10. Kindness. Express compassion, especially toward yourself. Research shows there are so many benefits, whether it's accepting ourselves or extending niceties to other people. Kindness is the gift that keeps on giving because it makes the world a better place.
11. Failure. If there were no such thing as failure, we'd never know what a chocolate chip cookie tastes like. Mistakes are really just opportunities for something new or to try again. Nothing is set in stone.
12. A digital detox. Social media is exhausting, and we're constantly comparing our lives to those in our Instagram feeds. Give yourself a tiny break. You may be disconnected from your screen, but you'd be amazed at how connected you really feel.
13. A chance. Give yourself the gift of following your dreams, your heart and your mind. Give your desires the merit they deserve and go after them wholeheartedly and unbiasedly. Who cares what other people think?
14. Faith. Whether it's in God, spirituality or just yourself. Give yourself the knowledge that bad moments aren't forever and things always have a way of working out.
15. Good friends. Life's too short to spend it with people who bring negative energy into your life. Do yourself a favor by filling your life with relationships that lift you higher and inspire you to be the best version of yourself. People who don't do those things don't matter.
16. A solo dance session.
You know the kind. Grey's Anatomy style, in your pajamas, preferably to the most embarrassing, yet pleasurable song possible. It's amazing what a little movement to *NSYNC will do for your mood.
17. Gratitude. Be thankful for everything: The little moments, the big events and even the opportunities that didn't work out. It's good for your health and it gives you the perspective you need when life is giving you a swift kick in the behind.
18. Forgiveness. You are not defined by your past, a mistake, a choice you've made, a diagnosis or anything else for that matter. It's one thing to hold yourself accountable, it's another to berate yourself until you don't even like who you see in the mirror. Let go of the guilt you're carrying -- it's weighing you down, anyway.
19. Sleep. You know that pure satisfaction you feel every time you hit the snooze button? Imagine that same joy, but for a few extra hours each night. The gift of sleep never goes out of style. Getting the right amount of rest is so good for your body and soul.
20. Time alone. Introverts may be onto something: There's nothing quite like a little solitude. It may be scary to be alone with your thoughts (in fact some would rather be shocked with electricity) but there's something serene about deepening a relationship with yourself. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world."
21. Happiness. Experts theorize that joy isn't something we pursue, but rather something we can control. If that means petting a golden retriever puppy, continuing your education or just going on a mini vacation, do it.
22. Humility. Sure, we have our strengths, but recognizing our weaknesses is also incredibly important. We could all use a little boost in one area of our lives. Have the grace and the tenacity to acknowledge when you need help and you'll receive it in spades.
23. Silence. We're constantly surrounded by chatter, but it's in quiet where we can find calm, concentration and even creativity. Let yourself have that moment.
24. A willingness to learn more lessons. Life is a journey, and you're going to hit a few roadblocks along the way. If you open yourself up to those lessons, you'll also open yourself up for more wisdom, which is one of the best presents you could give yourself and to others around you.
25. A cupcake.
Because you deserve it, whether it's your birthday or not.