Life Chats

36 Things I Wish I Knew In My 20s

birthday shoot on empire state buildingTHIS IS 36! Feeling all the feels right now. I still can’t believe that today is my birthday. It seriously crept up on me, but I am more than ready to embrace this next trip around the sun with open arms. When I was younger the thought of being in my mid-thirties scared me and part of me expected to still have a little bit of that fear today, but I don’t. I actually feel inspired by it. I look back on my life and I am so proud of how far I’ve come. It hasn’t been a perfect or easy journey, but it’s shaped me into the woman I am today.

I have to be honest in saying that 35 was not my best year. I dealt with a lot of personal struggle, especially during the summer months, and it was a year that truly tested me in many ways. Between experiencing horrible anxieties for the first time, dealing with the stress of living alone in NYC, financial burdens, slow seasons in work and even challenges in friendships, it was a year that taught me so much about myself. I’m appreciative for everything that 35 gave me, especially the lessons, but now I’m ready to close that chapter.

After struggle and transition, there is usually a breakthrough. I’ve had this feeling deep within that something big is about to happen for me. I can’t quite explain it and I honestly don’t know what it will be. It’s coming though. I know it. I have a strong sense that it’s going to happen for me in this 36th year and I hope that I get to look back on this post and say, “I knew it.
naty michele birthday empire state buildingnaty michele birthday empire state building naty michele birthday empire state building It’s crazy to think that I lost my father when I was 26, just three months before my 27th birthday. There is so much of my life that he has missed and I can’t help but to feel emotional about it today. I was such a different person back then and there are so many things that I wish I knew at that age. Maybe I did know deep down, but didn’t fully understand or comprehend in the ways that I do now. In celebration of my birthday, I felt inspired to share 36 things that I wish I knew in my 20s. Hope you enjoy.


  1. Spend as much time as you can with your loved ones because you never know when it will be the last time that you are with them.
  2. A lot of people in your life right now are not meant to always stay connected to you. Learn what you can from them while you can and when it’s their time to leave be grateful for whatever their presence taught you.
  3. It is absolutely OK to still live at home with your parents. Don’t let that make you feel ashamed. Take the necessary steps that you need to be financially secure on your own, but don’t rush the process. See it as a blessing that you’re still able to live at home while you need to.
  4. You will go through many different seasons in life and each season is going to demand a different version of you.
  5. Don’t spend so much time at a job that doesn’t bring you happiness.
  6. Trust the struggles and learn to see the beauty in failure. It’s such an essential part of your growth.
  7. Always know your worth and never allow someone to decrease your value when it comes to work, relationships, friendships and everything else in-between.
  8. Stop trying to rush through your 20s. When you’re in your 30s, you’ll look back and wish that you would have taken your time.
  9. You can’t truly love someone else if you don’t love yourself first. Self-love is more important than you realize. Develop the relationship that you have with yourself so that you can know how to be in a relationship with someone else.
  10. Take risks and stop being so afraid to fail. Instead of seeing something as a failure start to see it as a lesson. What can you learn from the experience? How can you do better next time?
  11. Grief is more complicated than you can ever imagine and it will be the hardest thing that you will ever experience. It’s going to change your life completely. Let your loved one’s absence inspire you to be the best version of yourself.
  12. Embrace being single. You don’t have to be married with children by the time you’re 30. Do not put that pressure on yourself. There are blessings in being alone.
  13. You don’t have to be so hard on yourself. Be a little bit kinder to YOU.
  14. Your 20s are all about finding yourself and you probably won’t really know who you are and what you want until your 30s. Maybe not even then.
  15. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Don’t allow yourself to become stagnant or complacent for too long. You have to push yourself and learn how to live outside of your familiarity and comfort.
  16. You should never have to force anything.
  17. Protect your space and your energy. Be very mindful of who you surround yourself with.
  18. You don’t need validation from anyone else. Don’t seek it on social media or from friends or from lovers.
  19. You’re going to learn from all those heartbreaks and you’ll look back with gratitude that those relationships didn’t work out. You will love again.
  20. Be comfortable in the skin that you’re in and learn to love your flaws.
  21. Throw away the notion that you need to reach certain goals by a certain age. You do not need to put yourself on a timeline.
  22. Don’t expect to have anything handed to you. You have to work hard for the things that you want.
  23. Know when it’s time to walk away from situations that no longer serve you.
  24. Wake up every morning with real intention and purpose.
  25. Start saving now for your future.
  26. You have to stop worrying so much about what other people think of you. You are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.
  27. The number of likes you get on a photo on social media does not tell you how good you are or how great your work is. Stop letting numbers define you.
  28. Don’t follow the crowd. Create your own path. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing just because it’s popular or trendy.
  29. Sometimes not getting what you want is a blessing in disguise.
  30. You are more than capable of achieving absolutely anything if you just believe in yourself. Stop holding yourself back from the things that you truly want.
  31. Spend money on experiences and not things.
  32. Trust your gut and follow your instincts. If something feels wrong, then it probably is.
  33. Set healthy boundaries early on in friendships and relationships. It’s important to let others know how you want to be treated.
  34. You’re never going to have it all figured out.
  35. Be more present. Spend a little less time on your phone and don’t forget to create and maintain real life connections.
  36. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to live up to other people’s expectations and timelines. Go at your own pace and appreciate where you are in your journey. Your story is not going to look like everyone else’s and that’s more than ok.

naty michele birthday empire state building

naty michele birthday empire state buildingI’m about to get even more personal right now. I’ve had this conversation with several people recently, even on Instagram DM, so I know that there are other women who are currently struggling with this. I felt really compelled to share it here in this post.

I thought that 35 would be my year of love and that I would finally meet him – that I would meet “the one“- but things don’t always happen how or when we want them to. I have to be honest in saying that I felt a little bit of sadness when another year passed and we still hadn’t crossed paths. Every one of my friends is either married or in a relationship. I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t sting a little sometimes. The more I think about it though, the more I have realized that for whatever reason, it is still not my time. God knows what He is doing. He knows what He is working on in my life. I have to be ok with that. And I am ok with that.

I am still living in a season of blessing. I have my own apartment in New York City, a dream that I fought long and hard to achieve for many years. I’m traveling solo in other parts of the world and I am not finished with that yet. There is more exploring that I want and need to do on my own. I’m still discovering all of these other parts of myself. I feel empowered. I feel whole. And I know that when it’s my time to fall in love and have a family of my own, I will be more than ready for it. I will be able to fully give love to someone else because I fully love myself.
naty michele birthday empire state building naty michele birthday empire state building

naty michele birthday empire state buildingThank you so much for stopping by and reading today! Cheers to many more years and lessons to celebrate. Happy Birthday to me! ❤️

Photos by Lydia Hudgens 

Special thank you to the Empire State Building for giving us access at sunrise before it opened up to the public. I had this vision of shooting up here in a pretty gown for my birthday – does it get more New York? I’m so thankful it all worked out last minute! It was very cold and windy up there, but we made it work! ❤️

  1. Tach

    Thank you for all the tips , I can relate to so many of them . I’m happy to know someone else feel the same. Happy birthday 🎈

  2. Adelvi

    Happy Happy Birthday 🎉 Thank you for sharing you are such an inspiration! Wishing you a year filled with LOTS of blessings 😊 God Bless You 🤗

  3. Eli

    Ah! I love this post. Thank you for always being so honest and humble! I’m in my 20s and it’s hard not to get caught up in the craziness of this world and on what society expects of us. Thank you for putting things into perspective and allowing us to reflect on what really matters. Looking forward to your next post!❤️

  4. Happy Birthday Beautiful! Been inspired by you, your strength and loving spirit! I relate so much with all of your words! You make your own timelines & its your unique life to live! Thanks for sharing, cant wait to follow you on your journey! 💗

  5. Briseida

    Happy birthday! 🥳 I’m currently in my 20’s and I’m trying to take it all in while I can. It’s easy to feel rushed to achieve THE perfect life, so it’s good to have a reminder to slow down and appreciate what I have. Thanks for the post!

  6. Rich

    Happy birthday big sis Naty. I’ve been an admirer from far in Ghana. Your posts are encouraging. God bless you.

  7. CJ

    love it. <3 Love you.

  8. I love reading your blog! I come back every so often to see your content, and u never disappoint. I truly love your spirit, and I can relate to so much you have to say. xoxo

    • Naty

      Aw thank you so much! I definitely have to start writing and posting more this year! xo

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