Birthday Reflections: My Biggest Lessons of 27

Today is my birthday and I’m turning 28 years old. I can’t believe everything that’s happened during my 27th year.

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I graduated with my master’s in communication in Digital Media from the University of Washington. I got engaged in the fall and started wedding planning. I traveled to Japan for the first time with Brandon. And took Brandon to the Philippines for his first time. And in the last few weeks of being 27, I launched the Content Creatives Podcast with my friend Maddy.

With the peaks of 27 also came the valleys. While I celebrated and cried tears of joy this year, I also cried tears of stress and frustration.

Here are my biggest lessons of 27:

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1. I’m capable of more.

As finished my master’s degree this past spring, I realized that I could truly handle more than I thought I could. I didn’t give up my blog, I took on two classes for 4 out of 6 quarters, and I powered through my full-time job.

I realized that my limits were further than I thought. As I was squeezed for time, I got better at time management. As I managed the homework and the midterms, I still figured out how to create blog posts and social content.

Instead of giving up my creative passions, I grew them. At the start of 2019, I was driving about 10,000 monthly page views to my blog Emma’s Edition. At the end of 2019, I hit my goal of driving over 40,000 monthly page views to Emma’s Edition. My capacity to grow was one of my biggest lessons of 27.

2. I can give myself permission to change my dreams.

If you had asked me at 21 or 22 years old what I planned to do with my career, I would have told you that I would have wanted to climb corporate America. I used to see myself working and leading with a team of people. I used to envision myself working up the management chain.

But this year, I gave myself the permission to change my dreams. In my last year of my master’s program, I realized that my dreams aren’t aligned in corporate America. I had an interesting promotion experience that forced me to reflect if I truly wanted a career in aerospace. And I’ve decided I don’t want to climb the corporate ladder anymore.

I want to turn my creative passions into my career. I want to pursue my blog, Instagram, podcast, and other social channels full time. I want to create content, write, take photos, work with brands, and create my own career.

Giving myself permission to change my dreams still has me feel a little nervous. In fact, I feel my heart slightly racing as I type out these words. I’ve spent most of my life pursuing what I thought I “should do” verse what I truly wanted to do.

But I also give myself permission to change my mind later down the road. If I take the leap of faith to create content full time and find that it isn’t for me, I’ll give myself the chance to pivot and make a change. If that means I go back to a full-time job someday, then so be it. As long as I flow into the job, I’m going to allow it. And right now, being a content creator is flowing into my life.

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3. I have to bet on myself.

I’ve spent most of my life investing in myself. I got my undergrad and then my master’s degree. I’ve listened to podcast, read books, and watched TED talks. I continue to invest in my education, even outside the classroom.

As I say goodbye to 27 and say hello to 28, I know it’s time to bet on myself. I’m typically very risk averse, but now I know it’s time to preparing myself to leave my full-time job in the next few years.

I’ve realized that I’m going to look back in next decade and regret it if I don’t take a chance on myself. I don’t want to regret; I want to know. And if I bet on myself and I fail, then I know I failed because I wasn’t good enough, not because I didn’t try.

4. I can re-write my financial narrative.

At the beginning of 2019, I set two personal financial goals: turn my 3-month emergency fund into a 6-month emergency fund and pay down my student debt. At 27, I achieved these two goals. I have around $12,000 left on my student loans and I built a 6-month emergency fund.

(At 22, I graduated with over $30,000 in student debt and I had $1,000 in savings. I couldn’t even imagine a 6-month emergency fund at that age or that I would be on track to pay off my student debt before 30.)

Most of my life, I lived with a scarcity mentality. My family lived paycheck to paycheck. We were also hit hard during the 2008 financial crises. My family struggled with money and I took those negative beliefs of money with me through college.

But these last few years, I’ve recognized my negative bias towards money and have been intentionally turning my attitude around.

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5. I need to focus on bringing my stress levels down.

These last 6 months have been incredibly stressful for me. My work environment at my day job has been challenging. I haven’t had a job stress me out to badly that I my immune system gave up and I was out for an entire week. I also haven’t cried this much in a job since I was working at Pepsi out of college.

This day job, plus planning a wedding and a 10-year high school reunion, launching a podcast, plus trying to keep up with everyday life has pushed my stress levels to new heights. So much so that my blood pressure has been running consistently high for the last few months (don’t worry my doctor is aware).

I thought I could handle this workload, especially since I was juggling my master’s program the last two years. But I’ve realized that I’ve reached my limits and I need to focus on bringing my stress levels down to a manageable state.

Two of my health goals this year are to get back into running 2-3 times a week and also bring meditation into my everyday life.

6. I’m learning to listen to my intuition.

As I learn how to bet on myself and allow myself to change dreams, I’m learning how to listen to my intuition. I’ve realized these last few years that there truly is a difference between the chatter of your mind and the deep knowing of your intuition.

I’ve realized that the more I surrender my fears and listen to my intuition, the more clarity I see in my career. I felt like I was swimming upstream for the first years of building my blog and Instagram. But as I learned how to listen to my intuition and follow my gut to continue to build content and relationships, my blog and audience grew. One of my biggest lessons of 27 is to let my intuition guide me.

My goal this year is to continue to listen and build a stronger connection to my intuition.

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7. I’m still optimistic and excited about the future.

I was born an optimist. And with each passing year, I find that I’m still excited about the future. One of my biggest lessons of 27 is to continue to embrace my optimism and joy of the future.

I’m excited to build the Content Creatives Podcast from the ground up. I’m excited (and a little nervous) to say that I want to drive 100,000 monthly views to Emma’s Edition. I’m excited to get married to Brandon this year and start a new chapter in our lives. I’m excited to create more Instagrammable places guides.

Whether it be personal or my creative passions, I’m excited to see what’s in store for my 28th year around the sun.

What are some of your biggest lessons of 27? Or the age you’re celebrating this year?

Thank you for reading my biggest lessons of 27! I’ll be sharing the 28 things I want to do at 28 soon!

For more birthday related blog posts, you can also check out:

27 Things I want to do at 27

26 Things I want to do at 26

Love,

Emma

P.S. Thank you to Gentle Fawn for gifting my birthday dress!

Photos: Holly Phan  

3 Comments

  1. February 23, 2020 / 2:29 pm

    Happy belated birthday Emma! I hope you had a wonderful time celebrating your special day. I love what you are doing and what you plan to do. I love that you are making your goals a reality and I am 100% behind you.

    Maureen | http://www.littlemisscasual.com

  2. February 23, 2020 / 4:43 pm

    Happy belated birthday Emma <3 🙂 Loved the thoughts that you shared about all that you've learned! Truly an inspiration!

    XO, Elizabeth T.
    BLOG | YOUTUBE | INSTAGRAM

  3. Mackenzie
    July 13, 2020 / 6:25 pm

    I stumbled upon your blog post today on the eve of my 28th birthday, and a lot of your lessons really resonated with me. I have learned that I don’t need to do everything myself when I am surrounded by a great support system- I don’t need to be an island! I am still fiercely independent, but it’s okay to ask for help. Xx

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