24 Things I’ve Learned by 24

24 things I learned by 24

Tularosa dress, Cole Haan shoes

I’m 24! Can you believe how quickly this year flew by? It literally feels like just yesterday I wrote these 23 things I’ve learned by 23 post, but this year’s one will have even more wisdom (hopefully) and experiences to share during the COVID pandemic. Although 2020 has been a globally traumatizing and devastating year for millions of people, I’m privileged and lucky enough to not have been affected like others have been by health or financial struggles. I’ve grown immensely over the past year in my mental and emotional health and through my organizing work, so here are the 24 things I’ve learned by 24:

  1. Find your passion and get to work (but not always for capitalistic gain). Over the past few years I’ve wanted to do PIC abolition organizing work like that of Survived and Punished and Critical Resistance, but I didn’t have a political home to call my own. After connecting with a few abolitionists (my comrades Laurel and Leilani with whom I wrote this article!), gathering even more mutual friend organizers and abolitionists, we started the Hawaiʻi Abolition Collective and are studying and planning direct actions together to further abolition in Hawaiʻi! Getting started is always the most difficult and scary part, but finding a home of people who are passionate about the same goals is the most rewarding feeling!
  2. Taking a leap of faith can result in the most incredible experiences. If I didn’t quit my job at Legal Aid last December, I wouldn’t be at the Office of the Public Defender where I’ve (mostly) been the happiest ever! My closest coworkers are some of the best people I’ve ever met and I feel lucky and happy to be where I am. And to think I was terrified about quitting last year!
  3. It’s okay to start or take a break from therapy. I haven’t seen my therapist in several months because I haven’t been struggling with my anxiety or depression like I was last year and I beat myself up about stopping for a while (especially since I’ve written and advocated so much about the importance of therapy!). However, I have to want to move on from certain experiences and people if the goal is complete healing and I’m not there yet. Until I get to that point, I’ll probably continue what I’m doing and see my therapist again when I need to.
  4. Family, friends, and other loved ones are all that matters. Since we’ve been going through COVID this year, I realized that ultimately, all I ever need in my life is the people I love.
  5. Long distance friendships can become even more intimate with effort. Jonathan, Lo, and I talk all day long every day with Marco Polos and Facetimes thrown in throughout the week, making me feel like I never even left Texas. Part of me was worried that our friendship might change a little when I moved home because I wouldn’t see them as often as when I was in Waco. Thankfully, the opposite is true, and we’re as close as ever (hopefully Yonny isn’t reading this and cringing).
  6. *TW: Weight* Set goals and put every effort in them. Back in June I decided on a whim that I wanted to lose weight and become healthier. I didn’t have a plan or schedule, but I fully dedicated myself to my goal by consistently working out every week, eating healthier and smaller portions, and eliminating desserts (when I can) and processed foods from my diet. I still have 3 pounds left to lose till I reach my goal, but I’m proud of myself for working as hard as I have to get here!
  7. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. When I was my most depressed last September, I wanted so badly to be in New York or back in Waco, but now I’m glad that I’m home for the time being. I’ll eventually get to New York (maybe after COVID starts going away and it’s safe to go outside), but I’m lucky to be with my family and friends when everything else is so scary. I don’t want to be anywhere else yet!
  8. Treasure the surprising and fun experiences while they’re happening. One of the aspects of pre-COVID life I miss most is going out with Conor and Parker on weekend nights. We always had the best time eating, drinking, (sometimes dancing), and going to sing karaoke on Friday or Saturday nights and I truly wish I treasured those weekends before it was unsure when we’ll get another one together.
  9. Intergenerational relationships are imperative. I’ve always had older friends and influential people in my life who helped me grow into who I am today and I’m still lucky enough to have people who are older than me take an interest in and teach me.
  10. Some people will love you the way you want to be loved.
  11. Celebrate small victories. I never want to brag about myself or what I’ve accomplished, but I’m learning that it’s more than okay to share my feats with my loved ones.
  12. (A repeated one) Hope is a discipline. Mariame Kaba repeats this mantra every time the world appears shittier and more doomed than ever and I’ve started doing the same. There’s no use in giving up or sitting back and watching people suffer as though there’s nothing we can do to help. We could all use a bit of hope, especially now.
  13. Resting is just as important as putting in work. The Nap Ministry on Twitter believes naps are liberatory and restorative from the capitalist society we live in and I agree (not just because I’m probably narcoleptic). American culture specifically is constantly pushing people to work until they’re fully burnt out, so we need to prioritize taking breaks and resting when we’re exhausted.
  14. Some people truly aren’t worth arguing with. If people are asking questions in bad faith or just to disagree, there’s no point in investing time and energy in those interactions.
  15. Like Mariame Kaba always says, “Everything worthwhile is done with other people.” In organizing and in life, we can’t get anything meaningful done without working together with like minded and passionate people.
  16. Expanding one’s grasp of politics and theory is crucial. Over the past year of reading and studying, I’ve learned that my politics are more Communist than the liberal favorite “Democratic Socialist,” which I wouldn’t have known without digging deeper into multiple texts. I haven’t yet read the full Communist Manifesto, but I’m learning every day about Communist theory in an anti-racist light. I used to think changing my beliefs was scary, but now I’m open to developing my politics to fit how I feel about the world now!
  17. Tied into my last point, racial capitalism and colonialism are the main causes of such mass suffering throughout the world.
  18. Finding workouts I like to do feels like I’m not working out at all. My health goal is to stay the size and shape I am for a long period of time, so I had to choose workouts that I’d be willing to do indefinitely. At first I picked walking with my coworkers (which I still love and do today), but now I’m a fan of jogging/running and HIIT—two of the workouts I do most days! Here’s hoping I won’t get tired of them and give up in the near future.
  19. It’s okay to have mixed feelings about COVID cancellations. Nothing will ever be “back to normal” because that “normal” was and still is abusive and oppressive toward marginalized groups of people. Most poeple throughout the world had to cancel at least one important event in their lives and I think it’s okay to be both happy and sad about the elimination of said event or life change. I wanted to and planned on moving to New York in March 2020. Of course, that’s not happening now, and while I’m happy about staying with my loved ones a little longer, I’m small sad I won’t get that experience any time soon.
  20. Wage theft by corporations and employers steals more money from workers than all robberies and thefts combined. Do with that info what you will.
  21. Don’t take an 11 p.m. “nap” unless you want to wake up 20 minutes before work starts face down, on the floor in workout clothes.
  22. Some people will love you and some will hate you. You’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s okay. Focus on the ones who love you back.
  23. A fantastic defense is fun to watch, but having an offense that can score is just as beloved!
  24. (Most) men ain’t shit.
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