Today is your birthday and I have a hard time wrapping my head around that fact. Plus, when it comes to your special day, I always have to fight the urge to go all 50Cent on you with “Hey shawty, it’s your birthday. We gonna party like it’s your birthday…” We both know, I can’t help myself with this catchy tune. It’s a curse. The thing is, for your birthday, I like to go big and bold as you know. I wrote a personal letter for your Sweet Sixteen and penned a love note last year when you turned Eighteen, so what really is there left to do. How could I possibly top that?
For your 19th birthday, I want to give you some advice. Not the usual speech kids your age usually get. Think of it more like a compass, a guide if you will. Something I wish someone had told me when I was 19 (and you were 3). The problem here is that you are already such an inspiring young lady that I don’t know if it ideally shouldn’t be the other way round. But hey, in a few short months, I turn 35 and you are very welcome to return the favor. Alright, here we go.
listen to your gut. always.
Whatever you do in life, listen to your gut. As simple as that. I can honestly say, the only decisions I ever regretted were the ones I made for logic reasons, out of spite, or because I didn’t want to explain myself. Don’t! Listen to your gut and do what feels right. Trust me on this!
Life is wild and you’ll go through so many ups and downs, you will lose count. If you remember to live your life by your own rules, however the heck you want, the downs are way easier to digest.
Have an opinion and change it as often as you like.
People are keen to point out when someone (read: a woman) is opinionated and especially when she likes to change her opinion from time to time. Don’t be as indecisive as April weather but learn that opinions grow with us and that’s okay. Being opinionated and being bossy are different things. And in my book, both are valuable traits!
I guess, I’ll get some slack for that but emotionally speaking there is no safety net when it comes to love. You’re either in or you’re out. And you don’t want to be that one feisty Golden Girl at a Shady Pines retirement home who has more regrets to mourn, than adventures to share.
To be clear, I only mean that from an emotional point of view. When a significant other treats you badly (and survives the torture he’d get from me), by all means, close that door and trash the key!
But never turn your back on a chance for love and if you love, love hard.
I bet you knew, that one’s coming, didn’t you?! The thing is, no matter what you do in life, no matter what you aspire to be, nothing is an overnight success. The usual overnight-breakout star in his field hustled several years, working several jobs at once, barely making ends meet. Some call it torture, I call it a necessity and character building. It makes me proud to know that you already know and live by that. Getting up at 4AM today on all days, to work the morning shift at a job to save up money on. You rock!
If there’s one thing I am guilty of in the past, it’s overlooking my own needs far too often. Women like us always want to help others, keep a tight schedule and always make their 24/7 work (for others). There’s nothing wrong with that in general, but suddenly everything seems far more important than an extra hour of sleep, a decent home-cooked meal enjoyed at your own pace and so-called quality time with a good book and a face mask. Have a vital social life, but don’t feel bad to turn off your phone sometimes and just enjoy some good old me-time.
Have a budget and stick to it.
We both can’t be trusted around a Sephora but other than that, think twice before you purchase something. I don’t even mean the big guns, but there are so many unnecessary bits and bobs that eat up your hard-earned dough before you know it. Invest in experiences and quality over quantity. I learned this the hard way, so trust me on this!
You are enough.
The women in our family have a hard time wrapping their heads around the fact that they are truly enough! Never justify for who you are, don’t bad-mouth yourself, love your body the way it’s built and treat it kindly. Don’t eat your feelings but rather nourish your body and soul with fresh produce or some good brunch time.
Never shy away from going left, when others turn right. It’s your life and you are enough. I know it can be hard and we all have those days in front of the mirror where we absolutely don’t like what we see. That’s normal! Find a workout that works for you, that kicks your butt and makes you happy and gets those endorphines going. Change your hairstyle, pick a wild color if you like but know that in your core, you are perfect just as you are! Also: lemon water is the cure for everything. Guzzle up!
When it comes to their everyday life, people get so caught up in their struggles, they tend to forget simple manners. Don’t be one of them! Always have a sincere smile for that cashier, hold doors others smash in your face, find those extra 10 seconds to help someone who seems lost. Hate and anger spread so easily, put kindness first.
Don’t just talk feminism, live feminism.
I am proud I was able to teach you that real feminism is not about hating men but that it’s also more than an I’m a feminist sticker on your rear-view mirror. Always support women in your community. Their dreams, don’t have to be yours. Their way of handling things, don’t have to align with your idea of doing so and that’s okay. Support your sisters and speak up if you or a friend isn’t treated properly. I strongly believe there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help out other women and we won’t be sitting with them!
Travel as much as you can.
I am happy you already got bitten by the travel bug very early on. You see the world as your home and don’t have to stay in Vienna when an opportunity comes along. I love to witness that! See as much as you can, soak it all in, always use your common sense and learn a few crucial phrases in other languages to be on the safe side.
less is more.
I was always proud to know that my must-haves would fit in a single box and I could live without everything else easily. Invest in good quality when it comes to your clothes and devices and only keep things you really need and treasure. Hoarding things will make you stuck in life quite literally. Keep it simple!
Read as much as you can.
I am not sure if that’s something you’d tell me or I am telling you. I love that you love reading so much and that you also picked up on reading English books so flawlessly. Read all the books and keep your favorites near and dear to your heart. Never change!
Life will present you with so many opportunities, be open to receive them! Sometimes we don’t feel like going out but it could be a chance to meet someone new, learn something new or stumble across an opportunity that wasn’t there before. Don’t miss out on that.
Sleep on it.
When it comes to big life decisions, I am a big believer that deep inside we already know the right answer but our conscious is busy finding reasons why that won’t work. If it really pains you to decide on something right away and it’s a decision that can be made tomorrow, do so. Just sleep on it. It will not be an easy night, that’s for sure, but you’ll learn.
Have a happy song.
Personally, Mr. Brightside always works for me but I am also good with Florence and the Machine’s The Dog Days Are Over. Have one song or a few that you know will put you in a good mood instantly and make sure you have them available in a click or a swipe. A happy song makes life so much easier!
Pay it forward.
You might not feel to be in the position just yet, but when you get the chance, pay it forward. It doesn’t matter if you buy groceries on the 26th for someone who patiently awaits his next paycheck, or if you take care of the coffee order for the next person in line that looks like someone who had a rough night. Be aware of the people surrounding you and if you can spare a few Euros, have a few extra minutes on your hand or can carry something someone else can’t alone, please do so.
Laugh as much as you can.
Life is hard and serious enough sometimes. Don’t lose your smile and laugh really hard when it’s necessary. Don’t take yourself too seriously either. Life is chaotic and messy, just roll with the punches!
Never change for someone who can’t handle you.
Last but not least, if there’s is only one or two things to take from this list, let it be this point of advice: Never change the core of your being for someone else! If they don’t like your strong opinion, your look or the fact that you simply love yourself, kindly let them go. Don’t punish yourself and stay true to who you are!
Happy birthday, lil sis. I love you so ♥