Advice For My 23rd Year

My Look: Top | Scarf | Denim | Boots | Hat

Photos x Sarah Wolfe

For those of you who don’t know, last week I turned 23. My life is a lot different than most 23 year olds that I know. I’m not just now graduating from college, starting my career in some big city, single and trying to find Mr Right, bar-hopping with my besties every weekend – but I wouldn’t change a thing about the life I am blessed with and chose to live. And even though I am not in the same stage of life as many of my same-age friends or most 23 year olds out there, I can still relate to this age in so many ways. We are at the age when we are really defining ourselves as a woman and discovering our purpose and who we want to be. We have finally become the age when we get to make our own choices and decisions and we don’t even know it, but our life will dramatically change with every decision we are making.

I would say I’m a little bit of an ‘old soul’ for my age, but that doesn’t mean I am even close to having it all together. So, I decided to ask people who are older than 23 over my Instagram what advice they would give a 23 year old or their 23 year old self. I am just using the number 23 because I obviously just had a birthday and am that number but it really goes for anyone in this age group because we are all going through such similar things. I loved all the advice that was given because people really hit all different stages of life you could be at this time!! So this post I think will be so relatable for any of you who are around my age – no matter what you are going through. Here are some pieces of advice I got from my amazing readers!!

To the twenty-three year old:

“It’s okay to let go of friendships if you outgrow them or they become unhealthy. A hard lesson to learn but it’s helped so much.” – 25

“Embrace fear. It’s never too late for a career change or a ‘drop everything and move to a big city’ change.”

“To forgive is much easier than to hold onto anger, and a lot less work.” “Build a strong relationship with your parents because they won’t be here forever.” -26

“You don’t have to force yourself to take the ‘typical path’ of a full time career. The pursuit of passion is much more important than the pursuit of money or doing what others ‘think you should’. Follow your heart and don’t question it – there’s no way to regret your decision when you are following that.”

“I wish I would have spent more time being present and less time with my face in my phone. When I turned 23 I had several extended family members fall ill and pass away, it game me so much more perspective and commitment to nurturing relationships.” -24

“I’m 26 and just got married in September to the perfect man and accepted a teaching job in July at a really good school district. 3 years ago I couldn’t even imagine that this is where I’d be. I wish at 23 I would have known that it’s okay to still be figuring life out. It would have saved me from all the stress and anxiety I was feeling and all that acne that started to flare up because of it lol” -26

“My advice would be try your hardest to focus on your life goals while still having fun. You may have pictured your life going a certain way but it’s okay if it’s not happening exactly as you thought it would. God’s plans are way bigger than anything we could imagine. And try to embrace the unknown.” -29

“Take more chances! I just turned 24 and spent my early twenties planning so much and being afraid to go outside my comfort zone. I took more time off this year to travel with my boyfriend and decided to splurge a little on things I’ve been wanting for awhile! It’s been so fun and I’m much happier!” -24

(This last one is all from one person!!)
What I wish I would have known at 23 from a 34 year old – I wish I would have known to be open to all age friendships because most of us think we know what we want or where we’re headed based upon what others our same age are doing. We shift, we compare, we decide based on what or WHO are directly in front of us. Having older friends can put that into perspective and shed light on the subtleties. Nothing is set in stone and the gray areas can be the most rewarding if we are willing to sit with the unknown. Bonus, these treasured friends may be going through now what we WILL in the future and know: there is a wealth of wisdom there.
I wish I would have known that most of my close friendships would ebb and flow and that that is totally natural. I panicked at some of the changes (they can seem so fast and stark) happening in some of my close friendships. The true friendships weather this season with grace and autonomy. Hold space for people you love that are not where you’re at yet or won’t be or can’t be and ask those you truly care for to hold space and grace for you vice versus. Things have a beautiful way of balancing out with time.
I wish I would have known how isolating young motherhood can be without securing a couple mom friends that you don’t have to be “on” for. Like listen, there could be dog hair on my sweatpants, dried food on plates, and some annoying, possibly grating kid show on in the background, but your particular brand of crazy is welcome here in this fun house and i might (scratch that, will) serve wine at lunch. The end. Find, secure, and nurture those friendships because they will save your life and sanity.
I wish I would have known that you have permission to wear whatever you want and it’s ok to be the person at work, the mom at the playground, fill in the blank, wearing leather shorts or the loud heels and it’s nobody’s damn business.
I wish I would have known that a man who can make you belly laugh is worth everything. And that a man’s desire to be known is just as great as a woman’s and that takes time and pointed attention.
I wish I would have known how hard it is to age. In your mind and heart you’re always you which for me is always a 17 year old, but time says differently. I look at my friends, my family, the mirror and there are lines where they’re didn’t used to be and sagging of things that were once perky and that’s hard. (The opposite of hard actually). And I’m still working through it. I’m not there yet haha
I wish I would have known some people won’t like you and that’s ok. It’s hard for the reformed people pleasers (me). We bend, cater, slide. But this is truth; when you round your edge, you lose your edge. I like my edges.
<3 to my 23 year olds. We’re all messes, but lovely if we stand within ourselves.” -34
No matter what stage of this crazy life we are in, being 23 is a beautiful time of growing, learning, discovering, loving. I loved writing this post – it’s probably one of my favorites I’ve ever written and I barely even wrote anything!! I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. Please comment below your thoughts, I love hearing from you!!
Happy Monday!


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  1. 11.20.17
    Laine Zebari said:

    Thank you SO much for posting this, it truly resonated with me. I’ll be turning 23 in April and my life is about to dramatically change – I’m graduating from a university in December, moving out of state in March (away from my family, friends, and boyfriend of four years) for my big girl job and I’m terrified, yet so excited. Each piece of advice was relevant to my life in some way, shape, or form so reading this was fun for me!

    I adore the content you post and I love following along with you. I hope you had a wonderful birthday and let’s hope the saying “Nobody likes you when you’re 23” isn’t true 😉

    I’m hoping to start my own fashion and lifestyle blog (I’m VERY new to this lol) so I’m excited to continue following you!

    • 11.20.17
      Karlie Rae said:

      Wow I’m so happy you loved the post so much and found it so relatable!! You do have some big but EXCITING changes coming your way!! Embrace them all girl!! And yay you will absolutely love blogging – so many fun fun things about it!! 🙂

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