31 Life Lessons Learned

Hey you guys! I am in the midst of packing for our upcoming trip to Ontario to visit family & it has just occurred to me that I should probably update this blog post because a) it is my birthday 🎉🥳 and b) I just turned 31 years old. I am not sure how I feel about that tbh. Yes, three years have passed since I uploaded this blog post. This blog post might look familiar to you if you were following me three years ago because it is. This is something that many bloggers do and I figured why not go back to what already works?

Birthday Blues

This year, my birthday was a bit depressing. I didn’t do anything special and it felt like any other day. The magic that I once felt as a little kid seems elusive as an adult, which is disappointing. I still wanted to do something special on my birthday, so to celebrate, I wanted to share with you 31 things that I learned in 31 years. This list is in no particular order except for the last three points that are supposed to reflect life lessons learned from 2019 – 2022. It is important to note that each item on the list has shaped me into the person I am today.

31 Life Lessons Learned in 31 Years

1. Life is unfair. Get used to it. #tough-love  

2. Insomnia is real and can be really debilitating if you let it rule your life. 

3. Cats and dogs make fantastic friends. Lizards….not so much. You can’t cuddle with a lizard but they make great conversation starters when forced to awkwardly engage with people.

4. And you fall, and you crawl, and you break many times over. Avril Lavigne got it right. #complicated

5. Life isn’t static. It’s constantly changing, so it’s better to change along with it than to resist change.

6. Being uncomfortable is a GOOD THING. You need to step outside of your comfort zone in order for real growth to happen. And you’ll be one step closer to reaching your goals.

All credit goes to Sarah Andersen → Sarah’s Scribbles

7. Quality over quantity. The number of likes and followers does not matter in the grand scheme of things. Social media is also quite meaningless unless you’re trying to brand yourself or provide value to people. Blogging provides tons of value IMO and it took me several years to discover that I really enjoy writing for an audience.

8. Minimalism is a great concept and we can all benefit by learning how to live with less stuff. If you would like to learn more about how minimalism has positively impacted my life, you can read about it here.

“The secret to happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” —Socrates

9. Don’t treat your body like a dumpster. Respect yourself by being kind to your body. 


10. Learn to accept and make peace with yourself because nobody else can do that for you.

11. You don’t need friends to be happy and being extremely introverted is not a flaw in your character. 

12. Most people will lie to you or let you down, including family. Be prepared for friends to disappoint you as well. If anything, lower your expectations to live a happier life.

13. There is truth to meditation. We should learn to embrace this ancient practice. 

14. I am scared of aging and looking my age. I really don’t want to live to be 90+ years old. Genetics suggests that I will live well into my 90’s. A vivid dream I had when I was a little kid suggests that I will live to be 64 years old.

15. Failing at something does not make YOU a failure. It’s tough to get up when you fail, but that doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Everyone struggles sometimes, and it’s about figuring out what works for you. I know it’s hard but keep going! I never quit, I just kept trying and eventually became a nurse out of all things.

16. Not everyone is going to like you no matter how hard you try to please them.


17. There is truth to mindfulness and finding greater consciousness. Make it your ultimate goal to aim for self-actualization by referring to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. At one point, Maslow’s Pyramid was the background image on my desktop. Can you tell that I like psychology? 🙊

18. After all these years, The Amazing Race is STILL my favourite reality TV show. I watch the Canadian version as well even though it’s not as good as the original series. I don’t keep up with the latest TV shows on Netflix because TV is a HUGE time waster, but I will make a scene if I miss out on watching “The Great Race.”

19. Strong negative emotions are meant to protect you, that is if you are still living in the stone age. 

You can find my latest Instagram stories @serene_hilz

20. There is no need for cookbooks as long as you have an internet connection. You can find everything you need online for FREE! I enjoy learning how to make delicious recipes that are kinder to my body since I am intolerant to white flour, dairy, and refined sugar.

21. Sugar is highly addictive and should be considered a drug. It’s impossible to quit. I even published a post about how to give up sugar, and even I cannot follow my own advice. Hypocritical of me, eh?

22. You can grow bean sprouts in a jar. Bean sprouts are not only cheap, but they’re also nutritious. You can find affordable jars at your local dollar store. You don’t need a special lid or anything fancy to grow bean sprouts. I used a tutorial from YouTube to grow beansprouts. The whole process is very easy and straightforward.

23. If you don’t have dental insurance in Canada or the US, do yourself a favor and get dental insurance. Since the problem wasn’t resolved years ago, I’ll have to pay for orthodontic treatment and jaw surgery. I have no choice but to go back to nursing school and face that beast. These “luxuries” in life cost $$$.

24. I don’t drink alcohol and I don’t smoke. Marijuana recently became legal in Canada but I still have no desire to smoke weed. The cannabis culture does not appeal to me and actually disgusts me. NO THANKS. 👎

25. It is OK to spend money on things that bring you joy. Cats, unicorns, steeped tea, etc. Cats bring me joy so we adopted a kitty in April 2019. Steeped Tea from Tim Horton’s also brings me joy. I stopped buying steeped tea in April 2019 to save some pocket change but later decided that the benefits of saving money did not outweigh the enjoyment I get from drinking my favorite beverage.

26. Have a growth mentality instead of a shrinking mentality. Do not settle for less than you deserve in life. Always look for opportunities for growth, whether that means aiming for financial security or finding a career that will sustain you. My husband deserves credit for teaching me this life lesson.

27. I believe that there is a soulmate for every person on this planet. Ladies, if you are still single, consider this as a plausible reason:

“Someday my Prince Charming will come. Mine just took a wrong, got lost, and is too stubborn to ask for directions.” —Unknown

28. It is OK to be yourself even if people don’t always get you. For example, I am hypersensitive to noise and a little neurotic at times. My automatic response to loud noise is to cover my ears and cry. I have cried at a loud football game, I had cried at a loud pub full of drunk people when I was 3 years old and when I was 23 years old. Oh, there ain’t no other way because baby, I was born this way!


29. Comparison is the thief of joy. Most people agree that they are their own person and should never compare themselves to others. There is nothing better than embracing your individuality. Remember, there is only one YOU!

30. Stick to what you know works for you. You could always experiment with new products., and end up spending a significant amount of money OR you could only purchase brands that actually work for you. Doing this will allow you to always get the most out of things. This applies to pretty much anything in life.

31. Friends can be unreliable and break your trust. This might not come as a surprise, but it’s important to be careful because people who you considered to be good friends can turn out to be shitty in the end.

Well, there you have it. I could keep going but I am feeling 31 right now. Which life lesson(s) did you relate to the most? Please join the conversation and leave a comment below ↓

Thanks for stopping by!

great-vibes.regular (1)


39 thoughts on “31 Life Lessons Learned

  1. buddy71 says:

    a happy VERY belated birthday to you!!!! while i dont like making a big deal about my birthday, i try to make it a big deal to those i care about. a great list!!! i hope that your vacation is or has been a great time. you are a complex and interesting woman and thanks for the insight into you by sharing your list.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hilary Tan says:

      I need to redo one of the points because I accidentally mentioned this point twice: “Failure does not mean that you are a failure.” I haven’t had a chance to fix it yet, and probably won’t until I’m back home.

      Thank you for the belated birthday wishes. My birthday kinda sucked this year (plans were cancelled) and it was very low key, but at least I had 2 cakes this year. It means a lot that you care more about my well-being than most people (incl. family) do – sad but true.


      • buddy71 says:

        I would leave the points/post as it is and maybe just do a mini post about the topic. I think we all have had and will have b- days that suck. It is the nature of the beast. Lol. As I aged, I prefer to keep my own holidays low key. I’m sorry that yours was not as nice as you wanted or expected. If we can’t wish happiness and want others to be happy and well, then what are we good for? You have plenty of problems to deal with in your life, if someone outside of your life can bring a smile to your face, even if it is a brief moment, isn’t that what humanity is supposed to be? Have safe travels back home.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        I never did get a chance to upload the photos from my birthday. The cake was quite lovely and it came from the same bakery I got my cake from last year. A birthday is not complete without cake lol


      • Hilary Tan says:

        I don’t recall being happy since I’m generally a pessimistic person, but I do remember looking forward to the cake. It rained on my birthday and I wasn’t upset about it, whereas in the past I used to pray that it wouldn’t rain on my birthday. As an adult, I actually enjoy the rain. ☔️


  2. Daily Poetry says:

    I relate to what you say about your birthday being different than when you were a kid. I had mine last month. It seemed a day like any other. I didn’t get birthday wishes. My dad acted mean around me. And my grandmother didn’t eat or drink anything. What made me worry. Your life lessons are all golden tips but that about trusting yourself is probably the most important. I put a lot of trust in friends and family and got terribly disappointed. I hope you may have many happy moments now you are 31.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment! I am late responding to comments d/t jaw surgery last week and a rough recovery (still recovering). The pain meds were making me sleepy 24/7. Now that I am trying to get off the strong pain meds, I am in pain 24/7….

      I am sorry that your family let you down on your birthday. 😓 I am sorry that you didn’t get birthday wishes. Honestly, I hardly get birthday wishes either and extended family never wishes me a happy birthday. Yes, I agree that people will end up disappointing us one way or another so now I have extremely low expectations.


  3. WanderingCanadians says:

    Happy belated birthday!! It’s funny how as we get older, our birthdays just feel more and more like regular days. These are all good life lessons. I have a cat and couldn’t agree more about how they make fantastic friends! It’s always good to treat your body right and carve out time for self-care. Safe travels back to Ontario. Take care. Linda

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Julie says:

    Happy birthday! I have mixed feelings about my birthday too. I feel excited I’m another year older and I have goals coming into my next birthday…I told my husband to not make a big deal out of my birthday three years ago because honestly, none of my other friends throw celebrations for their birthdays channeling their inner 11-year-old. Since then, not having an all-out celebration has been liberating. Side note: my birthday tends to fall around a holiday. Instead of throwing birthday dinners, I prefer to use that long weekend to go out of town.

    Also, I like looking at cookbooks. I go for the photos :-).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Thank you for the birthday wishes, Julie! Same here, neither my husband nor I throw big birthday celebrations. If anything, we have cake. I always insist on having cake to celebrate my birthday. And if I don’t get cake, I will through an 11-year old temper tantrum lol

      P.S. I am late responding to comments d/t jaw surgery last week and a rough recovery (still recovering). The pain meds were making me sleepy 24/7. Now that I am trying to get off the strong pain meds, I am in pain 24/7 🙄


  5. Stuart Danker says:

    The Sarah Andersen comic may seem like a jest, but that’s exactly how to confront fear and expand your comfort zone, lol. And yes, mammals make for the best friends. My doggo always get involuntarily hugged by me 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Her comics are so relatable, aren’t they? She has a Twitter account specifically for her comics and she follows me on Twitter which is such an honor 😅 I reference her comics a lot because so many of them hit home.

      Btw, thank you for reading and commenting. I am late responding to comments d/t surgery last week and a rough recovery (still recovering). The pain meds were making me sleepy 24/7 Now that I am trying to get off the strong pain meds, I am in pain 24/7 🙄

      Liked by 1 person

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