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Lessons 27 taught me


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by Anna Ervin
Photography by Ginny Dorsey | The Herb Chronicles

I cry every year on my birthday. I know this might sound a little dramatic, but as far back as my
17th birthday, I can’t remember a single year that tears were not shed on this supposedly
celebratory day. And while I rarely find myself in mourning or despair all day long, I can’t help
but take a moment to just feel the weight of another year of my life passing by.

Until recently, I didn’t really understand why I felt this way. I thought it was just fear, but through
further investigation, I’ve found that the heaviness which claims me has much more to do with
feelings of love, gratitude, and deep compassion for the experiences I’m granted in life.
It all just feels a bit overwhelming at times.

Twenty-eight should be no different, as throughout the last year I have witnessed myself grow
and evolve in ways I never imagined I would be capable of. Some of the memories from this
past year are painful to look at, but those moments also brought the most empowerment and
light into my life, so I will honor them nonetheless. On the other hand, many of my memories
have carried frequencies of love and joy into my existence and still do, even today. They will be
the hardest for me to let go of. It’s difficult for me to even think about it now.

In a way, though, it’s sort of like spring cleaning. I have to allow myself to let go of the moments that no longer serve me, no matter how magical or powerful they felt. It’s all part of my process, spending the day fearfully yet courageously cutting ties with the person I’ve spent the last 12 months nurturing, in order to step into a greater version of Her. A version that’s a little closer to understanding her destiny. To do that, however, I must first honor the lessons I have gained over the last year.

If you know me, or if you’ve read any of my past work, you’ll find that I’m pretty adamant about writing sh*t down. Much of the enlightenment I have found throughout my twenties has come
from reviewing old journals and musings of earlier years. It’s something I believe passionately
in, turning my own voice into something tangible, something nearly permanent. So whether
you’re still reading this or have skipped to the end, I have chosen to share those words here
today. Not because I feel they might resonate with you (though I hope some of them do), but
because I will continue to return to and reflect on them for years to come. Despite the emotional
responses they may have invoked at one time, these are the memories that I will allow myself to
carry into the rest of my adult life, and I hope to embody the truths they have revealed for years
to come.

Lessons 27 Taught Me

1.) Pour yourself wholeheartedly into the things that you love. The last thing you want to do
is look back on each day and wonder what would have happened had you given more of
your time and energy to the matters you hold closest to your heart. I’m not just talking
about the people around you, but the work you take on, the hobbies you entertain, and
the mundane tasks that help you curate the life you want for yourself. Give those areas
of your life as much passion as you would your family or a romantic partner… This
brings me to my next lesson in strength and love– self-love.

2.) It’s not only unselfish to take care of yourself first, it’s actually quite necessary if you
want to bring positive change into the world around you. I don’t feel the need to reiterate
that you can’t pour from an empty cup… we’ve all heard it, and that’s not the point I’m
trying to make. The point of putting yourself first is not to be able to readily give back to
the people in your life, but to give yourself the space you need to take on the passions I
mentioned before. I believe that most of us will make the greatest impact by simply doing
the things that make us happy. For example, I never would have imagined that spending
hours turning words into stories would open the hearts of so many, or that sharing my
favorite hobbies would inspire exploration and curiosity within my audience (check out
my piece on Tarostrology).

3.) A bad decision is just a decision that carries undesirable consequences. You’re not a
bad person for making a mistake, and it’s time to stop beating yourself up for being
human. Nobody is perfect, and our missteps in life challenge us to grow and become
better far more than our successes might. Brush yourself off and make your amends,
and know that life is never going to “just be easy.” At times, you may feel like you’re
invincible while at others, you find yourself humbled. I think the trick to this is teaching
yourself to find gratitude in both the good and the bad.

4.) Nobody is ever going to love you the way you have the potential to love you. You have
all the tools you need to give yourself empathy, compassion, and tenderness. It’s okay to
be alone sometimes, utilize that space to learn empowering things about yourself and
respond to your deepest emotional needs. Write yourself love letters, set the mood in
your home, take yourself all the places you’ve ever wanted to go with someone else.
You might be surprised to find that sometimes the best company is your own.

5.) Let those who speak over you wonder what they might have learned had they chosen to
listen. Stay true to yourself, banana. You have come so far in the last year, and you will
continue to blossom into the person you are destined to be, so long as you choose to
stay committed to your truth. Your intuition and logic have brought you this far, please
don’t start doubting them now.

I love you.