Navy Eyelet Top from JCrew

Today is the last day before the last year of my 20s. How did I get here? Most of the time I still feel like that 18 year old girl saying goodbye to her parents as they dropped me off at college.  How has it been ten years since that day? Tomorrow, I turn 29 and I have so many feelings about my last year of my 20s.

Navy Eyelet Top (under $100!)/ High Waisted Jean Shorts / Bag / Sandals / Sunglasses/ Earrings 

In case you missed my Instagram on Friday, I am staying in Nantucket for the rest of the summer.  After a meeting of the minds (aka, Mackenzie and Patrick) during my morning coffee run, I decided to stay on the island a little longer. This is the longest period of time Patrick and I will be apart in seven years (and the pups). Saying goodbye yesterday was so much harder than I ever imagined, but being able to run to the beach this morning and watch the waves crash onto the shore reminded me of why I am staying.

Every year around my birthday I ask myself a few questions; what I’ve learned, am I living my best life, and how I plan to grow in the following year.  This year these questions are feeling extra crucial. As I was running this morning, I looked back at the last 8 years and smiled thinking about my 20 year old self. She had no worries, was an upcoming junior in college, and had just celebrated her one year anniversary with her boyfriend. I was care-free, self-conscious, and did not know a thing about the “real world.”

So, in honor of my last year of my 20s, I’m sharing a few things I’ve learned about myself, life and finding my way in this world:
Detail of Navy Eyelet Bell Sleeve Top Ali Schilling in J.Crew Top

Find yourself, by yourself. 

This is the most important thing I ever did for myself and I am still on my journey of self-discovery.

It all started when when I was 24. My favorite roommate told me she was moving to Chicago and I was going to be living on my own for the first time, ever. It didn’t really hit me until I realized that in 24 years, I had never lived alone. I had to make every decision on my own (of course, with the guidance from my family and loved ones), and for the first time I realized what kind of person I wanted to be.  If I look back at my childhood, I would have classified myself as a follower. Not in a negative way, but I definitely followed the pack, wanted people to like me, and wanted to fit in.  In that 24th year, I decided I knew what kind of person I wanted to become, I was going to be a leader, confident and the happiest version of myself.

*As a caveat, I was dating Patrick and we were doing long distance. While the distance was difficult at times, this allowed me to find myself on my own time.

Live your best life everyday. 

Before my 20th birthday, I only had three people in my life pass away. They were my great-grandparents and all over the age of 90. What I didn’t realize until the last few years is that life is fleeting and you must live your days to the fullest. When I look back at my life, I can say there is not one decision I regret making in the last five years.

Say yes (but also learn to say no).

This goes hand in hand with the lesson from above. Say yes to every adventure, every opportunity and anything you know will enhance your life. On the flip side and the harder of the two is learning to say no.  I am still working on this one and I am certainly not an expert, but I have learned that saying no can bring you happiness too!

Choose to be happy everyday

There are few ways I found happiness in my life. For the most part, I have always been a cheery, happy person. I have the best parents in the world (okay, maybe I am bias), but they always taught me to wake up with a smile on my face.  When things get hard–we all know life is not always sunshine and rainbows-choose to find happiness in everything.

*My little secret, don’t stress about the things you cannot control. For the things you can’t control, will never make you happy. You are the only one that can create your own happiness.

Find a partner and best friend

Maybe I am extra sentimental because we just said goodbye last night (for the next few weeks), but the last nine years have my best years of my life so far! I am forever grateful to have an amazing partner to share my 20s. We have learned so much together, about each other, made mistakes, and have watched each other grow.  We met when we were just 19 years old and I like to think, Patrick is a major contributor to the person I am today (and of course, my amazing parents!). I can’t wait to continue to have a best friend and partner who chooses adventure, love and happiness everyday.

For me, my 20s have been a time of self discovery, new life experiences and LOTS of growing up. I am feeling excited for tomorrow and watching the last year of my 20s unfold.  I don’t have a plan, but I have a feeling this is going to be the best year yet.

xox- a dash of details

17 replies
  1. Jess Zimlich
    Jess Zimlich says:

    Happy early birthday! I just turned 30 at the beginning of the month and so many of these things were learned by me as well. :) Up until the beginning of this year, I had never lived alone! So crazy to think about. I’ve loved the last six months of getting to know myself better. Also, I couldn’t agree more that saying no can bring just as much joy as saying yes. Doing what’s best for YOU. Cheers, Ali! I hope you have the best time celebrating!

      ALI LEIGH says:

      Thanks Jess! Still trying to figure out how we never crossed paths at KU or in Kansas City! Maybe someday we can meet up in Chicago! xox- Ali

  2. Katherine
    Katherine says:

    Ah I loved this post!! I’m always reflective on my birthday too– great insight! And oh that top! Too cute. Happy birthday! xx

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