27 Things I’ve Learned by 27

Me at 27

Cinnamon Girl dress via Poshmark, J.Crew sweater (old, similar here), Journee Collection shoes, Kinn Studio necklaceGorjana necklace

Today I’m 27 aka in my legitimate mid twenties somehow, and 27 is my scary year! Can you believe how quickly this year flew by? I know I say that every year in this annual post but I truly don’t know where the past 12 months have gone. It feels like just yesterday I wrote these 26 things I’ve learned by 26 post, but this year’s one will have even more wisdom (hopefully) and experiences to share as we enter year 5 of COVID (which is still not over yet, people!). Although 2023 has been an extremely difficult year for many people globally (we are bombarded by colonialist terror, financial difficulties, climate change, COVID, and a lack of safe and affordable housing), I’m privileged and lucky enough to not have been affected like others have been by health or financial struggles. I’ve grown and extended myself more in the workplace and in my personal life this year as I reached 27, so here are the 27 things I’ve learned by 27:

  1. There is nothing more important in my life than my meaningful, intimate, and dependable relationships with family and friends. I am extraordinarily close to my family members and my two groups of best friends, and I don’t know what I would do without any of them. I place so much value on my multiple types of relationships because they are all the best parts of me and my life. I believe we are meant to do everything in relationship with others, and I cherish my loved ones more than anything else in the world! I’m lucky to have such a wonderful group of people surrounding me.
  2. Work on financial skills as soon as possible! I’m extremely privileged to have parents who taught me about personal finances and helpful habits to adopt like paying myself before anyone else aka putting money from my paycheck in my retirement and savings accounts (another aspect I realize I’m privileged and lucky that I can do unlike many others who live paycheck to paycheck or who don’t have any money at all), paying off my credit card balances in full as soon as I can, and not missing a bill payment. My main goal in life is to not have to work, so ensuring I’m setting myself up to financially survive is essential to me at 27!
  3. You’re allowed to change your mind about your dreams, goals, relationships, future plans, lifestyle, etc. I wanted to move to New York City the year after I graduated from college (which obviously didn’t happen due to COVID), but my plans eventually changed and I’m satisfied living in my home. I used to think that I had to move away from home to a bigger city if I ever wanted to “make it” or accomplish anything, but I’ve transformed what success and happiness look like to me and I know it’s okay to be in the place where I grew up where I’m happy and loved and comfortable.
  4. Do something creative every day. This blog is my primary creative outlet, but I also love singing, playing music, writing poetry, styling outfits, and decorating my home. I’m glad that I have any creative hobbies that prevent me from becoming solely a corporate drone.
  5. Finding your style is a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes I brainstorm and style outfits that positively overwhelm me and other times I’m at a loss of how to even put a top and bottom look together. I have to remind myself that I’m always going to search for my personal style, which will constantly evolve with me and the times. Just because I can’t put a cute outfit together one day doesn’t mean my style is lacking forever.
  6. Build a daily routine of activities and stick to it (workout, drink water, make lunch, etc.). Every morning I wake up, drink one glass of water, and do 20 minutes of steps and one weightlifting or pilates workout (before work and early on the weekends). I find that if I treat my not-so-fun routine activities like working out as a chore, they’ll become one. I enjoy my morning routines because they make me feel powerful and strong and my mindset is the primary motivator behind the way I perceive my new daily routine.
  7. Wear what makes you happy! I’m positive that 80-85% of people I walk past think I’m dressed like an overgrown polly pocket schoolchild, but I love my outfits and putting the entire look together! My style is built around bold accessories and tons of color, so I know who I am and what I enjoy and every time I create a true Noelle look, there’s nothing that makes me feel more confident and like myself!
  8. Learn as much as you can from every job and leader. I always feel like I can improve myself and my work no matter how confident I am (which I truly never am), and part of that experience is working alongside workplace leaders. Sometimes one may disagree with what their leader is advising of them or how the leader behaves/acts in general, but I think it’s important to gather helpful information and network with the people you work with most in every space to continue learning and growing. I wouldn’t be the worker or person I am today without gaining experience and insight from my previous leaders, whether they were helpful or not. I’m lucky to have a confident and competent supervisor now who teaches and encourages me every day in my work, and I hope to have a similar experience no matter where I am!
  9. Never let one relationship overpower any other one. When I first started dating my partner, I inadvertently stepped back from my best friend relationships. I didn’t spend as much quality or colloquial time with my Hawaiʻi best friends as I should have, which I believe can sometimes stunt the relationship itself. If I were to go back in time, I wouldn’t overload so much attention and time on my relationship alone, and I would build upon my friendships by spending more time on them as well (like I try to do now at 27).
  10. Invest in longer lasting pieces if and when you are able to. I’m in my solid gold jewelry era, which is the priciest one one may ever hope to be in (aside from buying homes and/or artwork), and I have to retrain my mind to believe the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to gold jewelry. Most of my every day jewels are costume not fine, which is more than okay for someone of my age and salary. However, I eventually want to move more toward purchasing fine solid gold jewelry to benefit from the value, craftsmanship, durability, and resiliency. Building a collection—especially one comprised of jewelry—is always going to take time, patience, and lots of money, so I’m going to slowly add better quality jewels to my wardrobe as I age!
  11. Stop rushing through life. I was a chronic rusher when I was the age of 9 years old through yesterday(?), which is a habit I need to break as I enter 27. I was in a rush to go to college when I was in fifth grade, and then I rushed through high school to get to Baylor, and then I rushed through Baylor to enter the workplace, and then I rushed through the Office of the Public Defender to make more money, and the cycle continues. I’m trying to spend more time enjoying who I am and where I am at this exact moment so I never miss anything in life.
  12. Schedule activities outside of just sharing meals with friends (re: experiencing life together as children vs. adults). I watched a TikTok about an article about how people struggle with transitioning childhood friendships to adult friendships primarily because they experienced life together as youth (going to school and/or growing up together) and are now telling each other about their lives as adults. I sometimes find myself and my friends having these conversations where we replay the highlights of our existences between the last time we saw each other until now over meals, and I want to create more memories together outside of just eating. I want to start living life together in the form of shared experiences like playing pickle ball, golfing, cooking, going for long walks, playing mini gold, singing karaoke, etc. Creating shared memories as we grow up is essential so as not to lose the magic of what friendship actually is.
  13. Share as much as you can with others if you are able to. And by “share” I mean money, clothes, food, tools, toiletries, water, etc. People are truly struggling and need all of the help they can get (if/since the government and nonprofits don’t do this work they should be doing), which are gaps we can and should be filling. I give money to people living outside every week and try to always keep cash on hand to do so. If you see someone who needs help, just give it to them! Why wouldn’t you?
  14. Understand how propaganda infiltrates mainstream media and reconcile your beliefs outside of popular groupthink. Hello to anyone still without a stance on Palestinian struggle! If you don’t believe that indigenous and/or oppressed people have a right to defend themselves and their land from brutal colonization, you’re the bad guy!
  15. You’re never too late to do anything you want. Slightly related to point 3, it’s also never too late for me to decide I want to move to New York City (or Waco!)! I can do and be anything I want should I choose to do so! I can move to the city for 3 months, 6 months, 1 year—I can live with Brandon or alone or with a roommate—I can go when I’m 27 or 35 or 59 or 62 or even if I’m far too geriatric to leave my house! I’m never out of time and I’m always exactly where I should be!
  16. I don’t want to manage people or move up a corporate ladder! I had a 6 month trial experience managing one(1) person at work and it was my worst time ever! I am absolutely unable (at this given time) to supervise and/or manage a person in the workforce because I am a. a control freak; b. unable to delegate; c. occasionally untrusting; and d. all of the above. At least I experienced my lack of skill/talent in being a people manager under a pilot program and instead of full time where I would have to suffer a demotion or firing!
  17. Thoughtfulness means everything. One of my favorite qualities of my partner is how genuinely thoughtful and generous he is. He is always listening to what I and my loved ones say and he follows with extremely considerate actions like buying and cutting fruits for my grandparents, giving my grandma a selection of peach drinks she may be interested in and subsequently buying her the ones she likes most, purchasing supplemental holiday gifts for my family, helping one of my bffs with a professional task, picking up desserts I love wherever he goes, etc. Knowing that he’s always listening and thinking of the people I love means the world to me!
  18. Everything you desire can be found secondhand and vintage. I haven’t shopped firsthand for myself in quite a while (I just bought myself a birthday present for the first time from Etsy!) because I know I can find so many treasures I truly want from Poshmark or Ebay or at Savers, so why would I spend additional money if I don’t have to? If you want something specific, any of the secondhand sites can track down the exact need/want for you. Don’t waste your money on full priced clothes/accessories/home goods if you don’t want to!
  19. People will always remember how you treat them, so try to be a good memory. I’ve had to work with people in all walks of life and in entirely different workplaces and offices, so I’ve build up a thicker skin when it comes to people interactions. Sometimes my interactions aren’t the sweetest or most fun, but I always try to make people feel seen, heard, and showered with understanding. I want people to remember me as someone who always listened truly, made them laugh, and charmed their socks off!
  20. Keep a journal and write whatever you want! I’ve been writing in my huge ass leather music notebook (which I eventually called my football notebook) since I was a sophomore in high school, but I stopped writing over the past few years because I felt my blog was enough putting (virtual) pen to paper. However, I wanted to start a new journal building up to my year 27 where I can write exactly what I want to say and remember. Sometimes I forget that no one else will ever read my journal, so I can be as honest and raw as I want to be at 27! I keep letters and notes and stickers and my most chaotic thoughts in my new journal, which makes me feel 15 again and full of life and angst!
  21. (A repeated one, especially for me at 27) 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.
  22. Nothing is ever that serious (especially at work). Sometimes people can be neurotic about their work, but I don’t believe most jobs are serious to the point where you need to respond to emails while you eat lunch and go to sleep and stay on vacation. Work can wait! It’s not that serious!
  23. Celebrate yourself in the ways that feel good to you! I’m going to throw myself a surprise party for my birthday and paid-off student loan celebration, and I’m so excited to celebrate! I always feel like Carrie in the Sex and the City episode “A Woman’s Right to Shoes” where I believe that society puts too much significance solely on the milestones of traditional people like those who get married and have children and buy houses. However, I at 27 or any other age for that matter, will never reach those accomplishments and that’s okay! I will accomplish paying off my student loans and writing this blog for 10+ years and aging as a person, so I will have a party with everyone I love to celebrate just that!
  24. Don’t obsess so much over saving money that you don’t treat yourself. I debated whether to continue saving and investing and paying off my student loans and/or purchase myself a birthday present. I hope you’re happy that I chose a small piece of jewelry for my celebration of 27 since I will only be this young never again! If I’m only saving and not buying anything for myself, I’m wasting my money. Now I’m stoked to receive my jewel I’ve waited so long to see and save for!
  25. Pets are just as serious of a commitment as human children! I have 8 furry pets and at least a dozen more snail/fish/shrimp pets and my apartment has become a zoo in the past year! With 3 dogs, 3 cats, 2 rats, and even more snails, my partner and I have as many responsibilities as parents with human children. Not that I ever wanted to be a human child mother, but I’m 2 billion percent convinced that I will never have kids when I have way too many pets to care for! Pets are a commitment and they deserve to be treated as just that!
  26. Every day I realize I know less and less. I used to think I knew everything (my mom can confirm this) and now I know that I know nothing! Call me Jon Snow, eh? Sometimes when people ask me if I know or can do something, I would like to hide and say I’m just a teenage girl. I don’t know anything! And that’s okay and even more endearing than me at 16 knowing more than my parents combined and every other boomer in the world. I can’t wait to learn even more.
  27. I am far luckier and more privileged than I can imagine. I have a few unhoused friends and we’re at no shortage of houseless folks here, and I always remind myself that people I know and love suffer every day while I save and invest and sleep in a comfy bed and eat multiple meals every day and buy myself gifts. I’m luckier than I should be and I wish everyone had as much and more than I do.
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