Hey, It’s My Birthday! 31 Lessons I’ve Learned in 31 Years

by | Apr 26, 2021 | Happiness, Mental Health, Personal Growth, Relationships, Self Love, Wellness, Writing | 2 comments

Wowza… I’m 31. Would you look at that?

I look at myself in the mirror and see wrinkles outlining the corners of my eyes and the curvature of my cheeks. I see gray hairs sprouting through my roots and my skin becomes more like my mother’s with every passing day.

On April 23, I turned 31. And I think it’s time I share something pretty intense with you all because this turn of age means more to me than just another celebration of being born or drinks far into the night with friends.

One year ago, when I turned 30, I almost took my life.

Ya, that’s a pretty bold statement. True nonetheless.

I wrote In Body I Trust about my experience with suicidal ideation, with depression, my eating disorder, and anxiety driven decisions. I wrote the book as my debut novel specifically because I wanted to do something so unbelievably vulnerable it would shake up my life for good. Because quite honestly, I almost didn’t have a choice.

Turning 31, to me, means everything. It’s celebrating a second chance at life. It’s celebrating the fact that I can wake up every morning, roll over, and snuggle my Luna girl. It’s celebrating a walk outside listening to music. It’s celebrating that I can once again, have another year to pursue the things I want most in life. To keep writing books, to find a partner in life, to build a family, to travel the globe, to be with my family in the most present way.

So I wanted to share with you 31 lessons I’ve learned in 31 years of living on this planet. While I’m no wise sage or someone with seventy years under my belt, I like to think I’ve learned a thing or two that are worth sharing with you.

Here goes nothing…

31 Lessons I’ve Learned In 31 Years:

1. Lean into the people who add value in your life. They want to support you, you just have to let them in long enough to do it.

2. Listen to your friends. They know you better than you know yourself sometimes and can see things you don’t.

3. Love as hard as you possibly can. Experiencing heartbreak means you’re living. And if you continue holding yourself back because of your past, you’ll be missing out on opportunities at relationships you would’ve never had otherwise.

Lauren Dow is an author, self-love & mental health advocate

4. Find your faith. I’m not preaching that you should believe in a certain something. I’m saying, find your higher power. Whether it’s the universe, science, God, all the gods, a tree you walked by earlier last week and thought it spoke to you. Find your faith. It will guide you home.

5. Jobs do not define you. They never will. I can call myself an author all day and you can call yourself an accountant till the cows come home. But those things that bring money into your bank account do not speak about who you are as a person. How you choose to live, love, learn, grow, and be. Those are the things that make you who you are.

6. Music will change your life. So make sure you’re listening to music that fills you up.

7. Therapy is cool as hell. Do more therapy. Even if you think you don’t need it.

8. Dogs are reincarnations of humans. This is just my belief. I’m almost positive Luna might be an old man from Asia who’s sole purpose is to help other people carry their emotions.

9. When life gives you lemons, make sangria. Shit will be sour at times, but you just have to make the most of it. And there’s nothing wrong with having a glass of sangria every once in a while to cool you off.

10. Family is everything. No matter where in the world they are in relation to you, they are your blood. And when the blood has run thin and the relationship is no longer there, extend the olive branch every so often. Maybe one day the arms will open back up to bring them home. They are a part of you and you are a part of them. That means something more than what you’re thinking right at this moment.

11. Speaking of the olive branch, forgiveness starts and ends with you. An apology is only meant for you, whether you are on the giving or receiving end. Don’t expect a thank you. Don’t expect an apology before you forgive. What matters is where you stand on it. Holding grudges carries a weight on your heart that is meant for something better.

12. Let go of things you can’t change. Try as you need to, but if the mold never breaks, it’s okay to say, “Thank you for serving me in the way you did,” then let it go.

13. Money doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t buy you happiness. But it does make life easier. So if you’re going to make some, make it doing something that adds value to your life. You rule the money, don’t let the money rule you.

14. Home is not a place or destination. It’s a complete state of being that makes you feel full. Home is a state of mind, you’ll see.

15. Books are lifesavers. Grab a vest and dive right in.

16. Hard things are meant to be hard. Hard things are things we can do. We can do hard things.

17. Feel every single one of your feelings. Feel them to set them free so you can make space for all of the good that is to come.

18. When people tell you that you can’t do something, don’t listen to them. If it’s something you want, you’ll find a way. It’s an opportunity to prove everyone wrong. Petty, but it still feels pretty damn good when you can say, “Oh, what was that again? I CAN’T be an author? Funny.”

Self-Love Quote, Lauren Dow, author and mental health advocate

19. Stamp every moment onto your heart. Memorize the finite details because one day, your memory might not be all there. That person you love might no longer exist. That fleeting moment on the drive to nowhere will eventually end. Stamp every moment onto your heart. Like a passport, traveling through life and taking inventory along the way.

20. Depression or any other type of mental illness does not make you broken. It makes you a mother effing warrior. And we are constantly in battle every single day. We are stronger than anything that could be broken.

21. Being vulnerable is one of the most terrifying things we could ever experience as human beings. It’s also the most life changing. It’s worth giving yourself the chance to be vulnerable. Remember, feeling scared means you’re living.

22. Freedom means something different to every person. Fight like hell for your freedom. Fight alongside your brothers and sisters for their freedom. Fight to give every person on this beautiful planet their chance to be free.

23. Judging others solves nothing. Compassion is the only clue you need to finish the puzzle.

24. Discover your creative outlet. Eventually you’ll be old, sitting at your house, wondering what the heck you’re supposed to do now after all of those years of becoming a slave to your job, your relationship, to undeserving situations.

25. Self-worth does not come from others. It comes from within. The catch to this overly said phrase is you have to believe it. Truly, honestly, down to your core believe it. Because you are worth it. Every. Damn. Ounce. Of whatever “it” is.

26. Never settle for less than what you deserve. Because you deserve the absolute world. Find a partner in your life that will complement you like colors. Blue and orange are beautiful the way they are. But when put together, they accent the other ever so perfectly, never dulling, only bringing out something in the them you would have never seen otherwise. Find your complementary color, and do not settle for less.

27. If you need a day of rest, take it. The world will continue to revolve and will most certainly be there when you are ready to come back, rejuvenated with the ability to conquer the world how you see fit.

28. Trust is scary. Scary is debilitating. Remember that whoever comes into your life next is not the last person to have exited. It’s okay to have a wall, healthy even. But it’s also okay to send down the drawbridge. Trust is scary. Scary can also be momentum.

29. Marie Kondo your life of toxicity. Toxic people. Toxic places. Toxic things. Toxic habits. Toxic thoughts. You’re not saying goodbye to anything, you’re saying hello to everything.

30. Stop telling yourself, “Tomorrow is a new day.” Start telling yourself, “Now is a new moment.”

31. Above all else, love yourself. Love yourself unconditionally. You are allowed to exist on this planet exactly as the human that you are. There is no rule book that says you can’t or shouldn’t exist as yourself. We’re the only ones who have made up this rule for ourselves. Love yourself always, in all ways.


  1. Annie A.

    Love, love, love your words of wisdom, Lauren Dow. Thank you for sharing them.

    • Lauren Dow

      Thank you so much Annie! I truly hope you find something good from at least one of them. Like I said, I’m no wise sage that has it all figured out, but 31 years seems like a long time to not have learned a thing or two. <3 Sending all my love!


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Meet the Author

Hey, I’m Lauren Dow. Author, podcast host, advocate, and feeler of the big feels. I’m here to provide a safe space to normalize the conversation about mental health and share about my journey of healing. Thanks for joining me on this wild ride.


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