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21 Lessons I've Learned in 2021

1. Take the leap

I started blogging when I was 15. First on Tumblr, then on my own blogspot, then in shortened form on Instagram. Then I stopped abruptly. I missed it so much and spent so much time ruminating on starting it again. I rolled over the decision for more than 3 years to full fledge commit to taking the leap again and this year I did. Take chance and take the leap. Go for it and bet on yourself. It has the highest payoff you can imagine.

2. It's okay to fall apart I can earnestly say I spent more time crying this year than any year in my personal recent history. This was a really tough year for me wit

h some high highs and a lot of low lows. In the heartbreak of falling apart, there is beauty in picking yourself up.

3. Be a positivity magnet Think about where and with whom you spend your time and how they make you feel. The great irony of this year was to lean into positivity in all areas except on covid tests. Optimists don't believe the future will be bright. They

actively work to bring the light.

4. Time block I am simply not a person that can answer an email eloquently on my phone. It just is not my strong suit no matter how hard I try. I like trying to be incredibly deliberate about my tone and word choice and when I'm hunched over a glowing screen and not in the right headspace, I don't perform my best. I started reserving two hours a day for email responses, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and it allows me to show up as my best self. Designating specific times on your calendar to do tasks strategically will make your day more productive.

5. Explore your hobbies In the middle of 2020 I realized that I didn't really have any hobbies. Work had become the biggest part of my life and other than sometimes connecting with friends and family and traveling every now and again, I realized I didn't have any things that I genuinely liked to do. This year, I made it part of my mission to investigate myself again and learn what it is I like doing. So far, I've found writing, photography, reading, cooking, and design. I joined a virtual book club. I added content creation to my resume. I started watching Master Classes about wine and cooking. I spend time unwinding by looking at beautiful homes and stores on social media. I leaned into those things that sparked joy. Every action of every day does not need a purpose bigger than enjoying where you are.

6. Diversify your revenue streams This year, I truly learned the importance of diversifying your income. When it came to launching a blog, my savings for sure took a hit. I was stressed for the next month about whether or not I made the right decision, but then I received my biggest sponsored content collaboration which was more than 75% higher than any other collaboration I've ever had. I started exploring investing more, creating additional streams of passive income, and giving myself a little wiggle room. Diversifying your revenue helps you build financial freedom and flexibility.

7. Don't be afraid to embarrass yourself It's not easy to pose in a sparkly dress in the middle of the street on 5th Ave. It's not always fun to be teased about the TikTok video you posted, or knowing that when you share your inner thoughts and feelings with the internet everyone (and I mean everyone) that knows you can have access to that information. The moments where you could potentially embarrass yourself are the moments when you can be most vulnerable. And there is so much beauty in vulnerability.

8. Being prepared can help with anxiety Over the past few years, I've been trying to lean into my anxiety to help me understand how to keep it at bay a bit more. What I learned this year is the feeling of being prepared truly helps me feel like I have a bit of control over my emotions, fears, and anxieties. When I can't sleep at night, I'll make a to-do list of what is buzzing around in my brain for the next day. I started sharing them with Matt and it helps me clearly communicate what I need to get done and what is stressing me out so he can help. Seeing him mark off a few to-do's during the day takes weight off my shoulders. Take time to think about what needs to be done and strategizing a plan instead of fearing of what's to come.

9. Fix one silly thing a week How many silly things are not working correctly around you, adding to a bit of extra stress? This year, the silly things got a bit out of control for me. A leaky sink, a broken keyboard, a fire stick on the fritz, windshield wipers that were temperamental. They were all great until they suddenly weren't, often exacerbating my stress. I started making it a priority to fix one silly thing a week to help make things work just a bit smoother. Do something today your future self will thank you for.

10. Being a friend means showing up 2021 had its share of highs and lows. I feel so grateful to have friends that showed up to both. My friends showed up to shower us with love at our engagement party, singing, celebrating, and giggling until late in the evening. When I hit a few work milestones, they sent a bottle of wine. When my family dog passed away early in the year, they sent flowers. When I had a tough day at work, they sent a gift card. And I tried to show up right back. Simply showing up and being present is the greatest sign of friendship. True friends do that without being asked. 11. Find a "secret project" I find so much joy in sharing. As you may know, it's the power of connecting about shared experiences that was the impetus for my blog. However, this year, I've also found great joy in working on things behind the scenes, before it's ready to be shared with the whole world. There's a magic in the secrecy of creating in the dark, when the potential to mold and shape an idea is in your finger tips. Whether in be writing poems on the notes app of your phone or perfecting a recipe when you're the only taste tester, find something that is yours. Lean into the moments of wonder before it becomes work. 12. Setting boundaries is a strength It's taken me some time to learn that there is not as much heroism in overextending as I had thought. In fact, it takes real strength to preserve your energy so you can show up as your best self. When I find myself melting into burnout, I'm not the best version of myself. I am quick to snap, have difficulty concentrating, and can just be downright crabby. Taking time every day to rest by setting boundaries is essential for mitigating burnout. "If your goal is to do inspired, creative work, you have to work like a lion. Sprint when inspired. Rest. Repeat."

13. Block off time on your calendar to do nothing On the same note, I have loved making it a priority to do absolutely nothing. So much so, that I now block off time on my calendar to do it. During the sweet spot of the pandemic when we thought we were racing back to normal, I found myself constantly busy, bouncing from one place to the next. Travel fatigue and my introvert nature set in and I felt like I would need days to bounce back. Now, the days I look forward to the most are the ones that I completely unplug, curl up with a good book, and stay in my pajamas all day. Be intentional about giving yourself the gift of rest.

14. Recycle and repurpose your work One of my new favorite creative exercises is figuring out ways to reuse the work I spent so much time creating. For example, this year we launched a ton of major projects and new initiatives that I spent months putting together. The true test wasn't launching the projects, but rather finding new and creative ways to recycle to content to keep it at the forefront of our community's mind and making it better each time. Before jumping from one project to the next, take a moment to think about how you can recycle and repurpose the energy you are putting in and continue to build something even better. Keep your eyes on optimization.

15. Find what makes you feel good, then tell others. In case you haven't noticed, this has been a major year of learning more about my mental health. One thing I've noticed, is that while my anxiety ebbs and flows, when it's at its peak, it's almost always formulaic. When I don't show up for myself in areas like eating in a way that fuels me, working out, and unplugging, I contribute to my own burnout and anxiety. I've made it a priority to figure out what really sparks joy for me which includes going to new neighborhoods just to be present with where I am, indulging in overpriced coffee, notebooks, and pens, bubblebaths, cleaning with music on, and spending time outside. When I shared that with the people I loved, they knew more about me and could help me prioritize those things too. Take the time to explore and date yourself to find exactly what makes you happy then share that with others.

16. Ask for help I used to find glory in carrying the weight of my burdens myself. It wasn't until they got too heavy that I learned the hard way to ask for help. Earlier this year, I had COVID and was sicker then I've ever been in my adult life. For two weeks, I couldn't leave my house, with a few days where I could barely leave my bed. I had to lean into my team at work to delegate my projects too. Matt took on both of our roles around the house without complaining once. Having to let others take care of me wasn't easy, but it taught me how important it was to clearly ask for help and that it's okay to do so. Life isn't meant to be lived alone.

17. Find little moments of luxury I know a bubble bath as a form of self care is cliché, but truly a bubble bath, glass of wine, and an episode of And Just Like That... is critically underrated. Throw in some relaxing bath salts and a candle and you've just made my night. Find little moments of luxury and indulgence. Little simple indulgent moments of luxury can make all the difference.

18. Go to the doctor The last two years have been a stark reminder of how important our health is. This year I had several people in my life have lifesaving care because they had an inkling something was off and went to see a doctor. So now, I am that person that tries to scream from the rooftops about making healthcare more accessible and asking others to schedule regular check ups. Take the time to prioritize your health in the way you prioritize others.

19. Trust your gut If there's a superpower we humans have, it's our instinct. Learn to listen and lean in to that feeling.

20. Do things you won't regret Call your mom. Write a thank you note. Take a day off. Get an extra hour of sleep. Make a mess. Get lost. Get found again. Life is fleeting at best. Take some time to make some memories.

21. It's supposed to be fun Your job.Your relationships. Life. Turning 21 (sorry, I had to).

At the end of the day, it goes by quickly. Take a new route to work. Do something spontaneous. Shepard your own moments of serendipity. At the end of the day, it's supposed to be fun so let light, fun, and joy be your guide. What lessons did you learn this year? Your internet bff,

kylee Photo credit: Photography by Q



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