26 Things I’ve Learned In 26 Years

Another birthday has come, and as I reflect on the past 26 years, I realize how much I’ve learned in this crazy thing called life. In its peculiar way, life often teaches you things you didn’t realize you even needed to know. I’ve learned to find the beauty in its complexity and appreciate the maturity gained through a growing perspective each year. Today I humbly share these lessons with you.

Third and Loom | Red Dress | Couture Gown

1. Forgiveness is always the best option.

We all make mistakes, and staying angry with someone will only bring anger and resentment and cause your heart to be hardened. Forgiving others is a powerful release of emotions and can bring healing and a softness back to your heart in ways you never thought possible.

2. Kindness goes a long way.

If you read my post about kindness recently, you know how I feel about the power of kindness. Every day I look for ways to show a little extra kindness, especially to the person who doesn’t always get it or the person I think doesn’t need it. It’s usually those people who need it the most.

Third and Loom | Red Dress | Couture Gown

3. Never take anything for granted.

Things can change so suddenly in ways you never expected. Because of that I’m learning to not only live in the moment, but to treasure every little memory along the way. I don’t want to look back on my past and wish I had taken more time to appreciate my loved ones or life’s endless blessings.

4. There’s no such thing as “perfect.”

As a born perfectionist, I always saw perfectionism as a beautiful thing. When life’s imperfections caused me to stress out about things out of my control, I’ve learned to just let go. I am continuing to learn to accept things the way they are, realize that imperfections are a normal part of life, and instead of perfection, I strive for excellence in everything I do.

Third and Loom | Red Dress | Couture Gown

5. Accomplishing your dreams won’t happen without making goals.

Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you or let fear hold you back. Go out, seek them, create them, and find ways to reach for everything you’ve ever dreamed about. Whatever you do, either do it with passion, or not at all.

6. Friends come and go.

I have seen so many friends come and go in my life and I’ve learned that it’s OK. You’ll find that some friends are there for just a brief moment, often to share or teach something crucial to your personal development. Treasure them in the moment. The lifelong ones will always find a way back into your life.

Third and Loom | Red Dress | Couture Gown

7. Don’t settle.

We shouldn’t settle for something less than we deserve because we are impatient. Things of high quality and value take time, and are ultimately far preferable to the hasty, cheap or easy choice.

8. Love can hurt, but it’s always worth it.

Being vulnerable and opening yourself up to a person is hard, especially when you’ve been hurt in the past. However, letting your heart truly love is worth the risk.

Third and Loom | Red Dress | Couture Gown

9. Be yourself. Always.

You don’t have to try hard to be yourself when you’re with the right person. A caring friend may gently, privately point out areas of possible improvement, but never to your shame or detriment. The people you surround yourself with should be those accept you as you are, regardless of your faults.

10. Listen to your body.

It’s amazing what your body can tell you about how you feel. If you’re tired, sleep. If it hurts, stop doing it. If something bothers your stomach, don’t eat it. Your body often knows more about yourself than you realize, and it’s trying to tell you, if you’ll listen.

Third and Loom | Red Dress | Couture Gown

11. Social media can be both a blessing and a curse.

I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I understand that it’s necessary to promote my brand and network in the fashion community, but the downside is that I am a private person and exposure has its pitfalls. Take care to maintain a healthy space between your private and your online/public life.

12. Other people’s jealousies stem from their own insecurities and have nothing to do with you.

It used to really bother me when someone was jealous of me. I thought I had done something wrong or had to change. Eventually I realized it’s not me at the core, but rather someone’s negative opinion of themselves making itself heard.

Third and Loom | Red Dress | Couture Gown

13. Having genuine friends is the best gift ever.

No one can take away the gift of genuine friendship. Choose quality friends over quantity and you will be far more satisfied with the depth of connection.

14. Nothing can beat the power of a thank you card.

Thank you cards are a lost etiquette. The joy that comes from putting pen to paper and expressing gratitude through a handwritten card is fulfilling, both to give and to receive.

15. Spontaneity is a good thing.

I am such a planner that I used to fear not knowing what is going to happen. Planning has its merits but the surprise of the moment can bring unexpected delight.

Third and Loom | Red Dress | Couture Gown

16. It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.

Don’t be afraid to tackle new and interesting things that are outside of your perceived abilities. When you surround yourself with people who are smarter or more experienced than you, you can always learn what you need to know and be successful if you utilize it.

17. Don’t worry about tomorrow.

Each day has enough trouble of its own. Avoid adding up all of tomorrow’s worries today. Take it one day at a time, moment by moment, and face the challenges as they come.

18. Be kind to yourself.

Too often, we can be our own worst critic when we should be our own biggest cheerleader. Start each day with affirmations that encourage and build you up toward becoming the person you want to be.

Third and Loom | Red Dress | Couture Gown

19. People change.

Change is inevitable. If you’re not changing, you’re not growing. When you realize that change is a part of life’s normal cycle, even though it can be scary at times, it can be a very good thing.

20. Having a filter when it comes to honesty is necessary.

I am all about being honest, but I’ve learned that discernment plays a key role. There is a time and a place to be brutally honest, and recognizing the need to apply a filter for the moment is vital. Knowing your intended audience with a critique is crucial, and balancing a constructive suggestion with a genuine compliment is helpful.

Third and Loom | Red Dress | Couture Gown

21. Don’t take life too seriously.

It’s great to be business-minded, purposeful and driven, but it’s equally as important to laugh and be silly. Find humor in life’s daily snafus. If you’re not laughing, you’re not living.

22. Take care of yourself.

It’s not selfish to think about what you need. Exercising, eating healthy, getting good sleep, and finding time to relax will not only affect your current condition but also your future.

Third and Loom | Red Dress | Couture Gown

23. Do what you love.

There’s always the need for doing what’s necessary, but long-term happiness depends on finding what you love and committing to it.  Work doesn’t quite feel like “work” when you do what you love.

24. Live without regrets.

You are not defined by your mistakes. In fact, each blunder is an opportunity to discover more about yourself and grow into the person you want to become.

Third and Loom | Red Dress | Couture Gown

25. Your smile is your best accessory.

Smiling is universally understood and it’s scientifically proven to elevate your mood. When you get dressed each day, remember to “Keep smiling, because life’s a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about!” -Marilyn Monroe.

26. You’re never too old to learn more about yourself, continuously improve on past mistakes, and achieve the things you want most for your life.

I don’t know how many years I have in front of me, but the twenty-six behind me have taught that life can be unpredictable, difficult and humbling. And like each of you, I have unique talents and passions to share, and dreams to grab hold of – all the more reason to tackle life with a smile – and with style!

Third and Loom | Red Dress | Couture Gown

I’m so thankful for anyone along the way who has been a part of helping me achieve these invaluable life lessons. Thank you to any of you who are a part of my life now and supporting my growth. I appreciate you more than words can describe!

Keep smiling!


What I’m wearing: Third & Loom // Photo Credit: Rachel Birkhofer Photography

Molly Lawson

I’m Molly Lawson! I live in Seattle and am an optimist, adventurer, and bold lipstick wearer. I created this space to inspire and empower women with words of encouragement known as #MollysWords and share inspiration through my personal style. I always want my readers to leave with a smile and I hope you do!

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook



  1. Casey
    May 6, 2016 / 6:44 am

    Love this post! They are all so true. I especially love the spontaneity one – I’m definitely a planner so it’s hard for me to be spontaneous but I’m working on letting go of my need to be in control:) Happy belated birthday, dear.

    PS – you are just STUNNING in that red dress!

    Casey | http://www.frenchblissme.com

    • May 23, 2016 / 11:13 pm

      Casey, I’m so with you! We are a lot alike! Spontaneity is tough for me, but the times I’ve learned to let go and just have fun I definitely don’t regret it! Thanks for the birthday love! Keep smiling!

  2. May 6, 2016 / 7:05 am

    This really made me smile! I agree with so many of these, and I think it takes us growing into our 20s to discover them 🙂 I need to work on the perfectionist one, but I’m getting there. Happy birthday Molly and you look so stunning in this red dress!

    Rachel xx

    • May 27, 2016 / 7:47 pm

      Rachel, you are so right! I definitely learned so many of these things over the past few years! Have a great weekend lovely! Thanks for the love!

  3. Greta Hollar
    May 6, 2016 / 8:31 am

    All of these are so important. You’re wise beyond your 26 years! Happy birthday pretty girl!

    Greta | http://www.gretahollar.com

    • May 27, 2016 / 7:52 pm

      Thanks Greta! Glad you agree with them. They are so important to me!

  4. May 6, 2016 / 9:11 am

    Happy birthday!! These are all such wonderful (and sometimes hard) things learned!

    • May 27, 2016 / 7:52 pm

      Rachel, you said it! Sometimes hard – so true, but that’s how we learn them best!

  5. May 6, 2016 / 9:25 am

    Wow! This is such a moving post. I agree that quality friendships is more rewarding than quantity, and that accomplishing your dreams requires making goals. Happy Birthday! I’m glad to have met you through social media–in this case social media is a blessing :). Also, you look s t u n n i n g in these photos.

    xoxo Kylen | Kylen Every Wear

    • May 27, 2016 / 7:52 pm

      Kylen, thank you so much for reading. I am glad to have met you through social media and continue to get to know you better. You inspire me!

  6. May 6, 2016 / 9:43 am

    1.) This dress is stunning 2.) I LOVE THIS POST! Probably my favorite one. Happy birthday love!!!! I love your bit about forgiveness. You have such a big, beautiful heart. <3

    • May 27, 2016 / 7:53 pm

      Chelsea, Thank you for your support. I feel so thankful for our friendship! Hugs to you my friend!

  7. May 6, 2016 / 9:55 am

    Every word in this post is so true! And you’re so gorgeous in these photos!

    • May 27, 2016 / 9:22 pm

      Thank you Audrey! I’m so thank for you kind words!

    • May 27, 2016 / 9:22 pm

      Thanks! I hope it will be one of the best years of mine 🙂

  8. Shell Peterson
    May 6, 2016 / 2:29 pm

    Wow! What an excellent post Molly!
    Happy birthday beauty! I hope this year is the best one yet!!!
    Xo, Shell

    • May 27, 2016 / 9:23 pm

      Aww wow thanks Shell! You’re such a dear friend and I’m so thankful to have connected with you along this blogging journey!

    • May 27, 2016 / 9:23 pm

      Wow, thanks Taylor! You bring such a genuine smile to my face!

  9. May 6, 2016 / 4:30 pm

    I can’t help but comment on a lot of your posts recently, they just really speak to me. Firstly Happy Birthday!! These photos are just stunning and that red dress looks fabulous on you! I agree with so many of these statements too, in fact number 1 and number 6 (which go hand in hand for me) really made me smile, it felt a little like another little poke from up there on a matter I’ve struggled with for a few years but am managing to do better now, it made me so happy to read these lessons, I couldn’t agree more with you on them all. Thank you 🙂

    Ellie – Maple Syrup & Teacups

    • May 27, 2016 / 9:24 pm

      You have no idea how much your kind words mean to me. It is so sweet of you to open up in the way you do and I feel like each time I get to know you better. Thanks for sharing your heart. You are a treasure! Keep smiling!

  10. May 6, 2016 / 4:57 pm

    This is such a fabulous post, gorgeous. The 26 things are all so accurate! And girl, you are SLAYING in that dress. Red is definitely your color and that dress is absolutely incredible. I think I’m slightly obsessed! Happy birthday, doll <3

    Stephanie | drunkonvogue.com

    • July 25, 2016 / 5:23 pm

      Sorry I’m late on comments lately! But I just wanted to say that your kind words mean so much to me. I love wear although I am always hesitant about wearing it, so your words sure did cheer me up! Thank you!

  11. May 6, 2016 / 8:57 pm

    What a beautiful post and lovely photos! Happy birthday! I agree that gratitude and genuine friendships go a LONG way!

    • July 25, 2016 / 8:38 pm

      Thank you Autumn! Sorry for the late reply. I’ve been so grateful for the genuine friendships I’ve made over the years! Keep smiling!

  12. May 7, 2016 / 1:47 am

    So much lovely! First, Happy Birthday!! You are so young and vibrant and these pearls of wisdom are so true!! #4 alone led me to the name of my blog. Wishing you many more reflections and lots of joy in your 27 years! xo

    • July 25, 2016 / 8:39 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! I love how #4 led you to name your blog. You are a kind soul and i’m so thankful to have connected with you!

  13. May 8, 2016 / 7:42 am

    Such a beautiful post, Molly! You are so kind, inspiring, generous, intelligent and beautiful inside and out! I feel so lucky to have met such a beautiful soul even if it is just through social media. ❤️❤️❤️

    • July 25, 2016 / 8:40 pm

      Kimberly, your thoughtful comment nearly made me cry! Thank you for your sweet, sweet compliments. You mean so much to me and I have never even met you, but I know you are a kind and genuine soul and I’m so thankful for that!

  14. May 8, 2016 / 8:57 am

    This post just brings a smile on my face. Loved it.
    You are never too old to learn about yourself. So true.
    You look stunning in this dress. Hope you had a great birthday!
    Richa | Fancier’s World

    • July 25, 2016 / 8:41 pm

      Awww sweetheart! I’m so glad it brought a smile to your face! I agree, you are never too old to learn about yourself. I continue to learn every day!

  15. May 8, 2016 / 4:57 pm

    Love this! I have learned a lot of these lessons over the years too 🙂

    xoxo, Jenny

    • July 25, 2016 / 8:42 pm

      Thanks Jenny! I sure have learned a lot. Can’t wait to see what the next 26 years brings! 🙂

  16. May 10, 2016 / 7:09 pm

    Molly!!! Love this! I saw the title and I was like “I need to read this immediately” (lol)! Turning 25 soon and hoping I’ve learned a few things 😉 Yes yes yes to #1, I totally agree. And #5 is definitely important – I’m a big proponent of setting defined goals for everything you set your mind to because it helps decision-making! (aka will this help me achieve my goal or deter me from it?) Also – you are literally a vision in that dress! Another important life lesson – have fun in life and wear RED!

    Xo Lauren

    • July 25, 2016 / 8:48 pm

      Lauren! I feel so bad I’m really behind on my replies, but I just wanted to say thank you for your kind words and so many thoughtful comments. You are truly such a genuine person and I feel so thankful to have connected with you in the blogging community. Much love to you my friend!

  17. May 12, 2016 / 1:39 pm

    What a lovely post. Everything you’ve expressed that you’ve learned in the past 26 years really resonates strongly with me! This year has been a year of self discovery for me as well, and I think everything you said is spot on! Lovely post, and what a lovely dress too. Thanks for sharing such a personal post with us! and a very happy birthday to you as well! 🙂



    • July 25, 2016 / 8:50 pm

      That is so amazing to hear Jess! I love to hear that it has resonated with you 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed the personal post. I hope to share more and more as the years go on and I continue to learn more about myself!

  18. May 12, 2016 / 5:03 pm

    I feel your pain when it comes to being a private person in the age of social media. I’m naturally a very private, introverted person myself and when my Instagram account started rapidly growing two years ago I made the decision to launch my blog. It’s been hard to find a balance between “brand promotion” on social media and just sometimes stepping away from the screens and being myself (which is what grew my account in the first place).

    So grateful for your beautiful words of wisdom — I wish I’d known half of these when I was 26!


    Ashley || Sed Bona

    • July 25, 2016 / 8:53 pm

      Ashley, I love how easily you can relate to me. I’m introverted too and struggle to find the balance between being open and public about things on social media. It seems like you are doing an amazing job of finding the balance yourself! Keep smiling!

  19. June 21, 2016 / 8:07 am

    This is a beautiful list, Molly! You shine so bright, girl! And these photos!!!!! Oh my gorgeous!! xoxo

    • August 7, 2016 / 12:09 am

      Oh my friend! Sorry I’m so late on my reply, just seeing this. I am so thankful to have met you in the blogging world! You are always so uplifting to me when I need it the most!

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