21 Things I've Learned in 21 Years | Liv Lyszyk Photography

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Grand Rapids, Michigan Wedding and Portrait photographer. Specializing in capturing LGBT love in Michigan and beyond. Obsessed with everything non traditional and diverse!

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21 Things I’ve Learned in 21 Years

On the eve of my 22nd birthday I find myself reflecting on all that I’ve learned, accomplished, and failed at so far in life. I figured since I love lists so much I might as well compile one and share it. So here we go, 21 things I’ve learned in 21 years.

1: Age is just a number

It might surprise you, depending on how well you know me, that I’m only turning 22. I’ve often used the “twenty-something” descriptor in order to be taken more seriously and hide the fact that I’m so young. But honestly, screw that! I’ve accomplished a lot in my 21 years and that number doesn’t determine my worth or legitimacy.

2: Find your voice and use it

This year I’ve been very vocal about my shift into being a visibly equality minded business. As a queer woman (see point 6), it’s important to me to use my voice and stand tall for my beliefs. It does no one any good by keeping quiet.

3: Sometimes you still need your mom

My mom and I have had a shift in our relationship as I’ve moved away, and even though we don’t talk constantly (mostly because my life is pretty boring day to day) I still find myself needing her. We took a mother daughter trip this summer (see photo below) and it was such a fun experience! No matter how old I get I know our bond will be special!

Mother Daughter trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes

4: Taking a day during the week to refocus is key

Wednesdays are generally my days where I don’t look at work stuff. I focus on recharging during the middle of the week and quite honestly it’s what keeps me somewhat sane.

5: It’s ok to let go of toxic relationships

I’ve learned that letting go of relationships that do me more harm than good is the best act of self care. I need to be the best me in order to serve others well and if I find myself worrying over a situation in a relationship for too long I let it go. Not to say I stop talking to friends without reason, but if I feel in my gut that it’s not serving me in any way then it’s ok to move forward.

6: Identities shift and change as we age

When I first came out in middle school I had no idea that my identity would shift and change so much. Essentially I’m back to where I was when I first came out, but I had to remain open to myself and my identity as it changed. There is nothing wrong with growth!

7: It’s ok to have Taco Bell breakfast if you’re having a bad day

8: Even if you don’t like wine now eventually you’ll probably find one you love (St. Ambrose Cellars Secret Beach)

9: Holidays are still the best time of the year

10: Learning your Love Language is life changing

If you haven’t heard of the 5 Love Languages drop everything and google it! My love language is acts of service (I literally asked Maxx to clean the house for my birthday present). It helps me communicate my desires and needs better as well as understand where I might be missing the mark for my partner’s needs.

11: Get a good night of sleep every night

I’m already over the stage of staying up late and sleeping in. I’ve learned I’m most productive in the morning (see next bullet point) so it’s way healthier for me to be going to sleep at the same time and waking up at the same time every day. I feel refreshed and know exactly how to plan out my day.

12: Have a morning routine and stick to it

My morning begins with the same things each day. It helps me prepare myself for the day and get the most important things out of the way first thing.

13: You will “fail”

14: You will “succeed” 

15: No matter what find a lesson in all that you do

16: Sometimes you’ll be scared

If you feel scared to do something, most likely it’s super worth it. Take chances on life and do the things that terrify you. Obviously don’t put yourself in real danger, but my best moments were often the scariest! I have an amazing support system so the scary things become pretty easy. Even if it doesn’t work out perfectly, refer to bullet point 15.

17: Don’t compare your life path with anyone else

I often find myself wondering when I’ll be able to go full time into photography, when I’ll get married, have kids, but I have to remind myself my timeline in life is different than everyone else. The internet makes it nearly impossible to stop the comparison game, I’m getting better, but it’s often a daily struggle.

18: Mental health isn’t something to be ashamed of

As someone with an assortment of mental health “issues” I’ve learned to not be afraid of it and embrace it. Will I always have some sort of level of depression? Maybe. Will I always have anxiety? Most likely. I’ve tried to learn my triggers and combat them. One thing that I struggle with a lot is the changing of seasons. I got a sunlight lamp for my desk and I’ve noticed it helping already!

19: Always say thank you

I’ve gotten further in life by saying thank you than anything else. Sending thank you notes for referrals, treating someone to coffee, sharing photos with vendors, the list goes on. People recognize kindness and gratitude and it will come back to you ten fold.

20: Always say “I love you” at the end of phone calls

In my life I’ve lost a handful of close family members, some very unexpectedly. I always end phone calls with an “I love you” because I don’t know when it will be the last time I say that.

21: Celebrate everything

It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day things, but I try and remember to celebrate victories, no matter how small. This year I graduated college, jumped into my business head first, celebrated 3 years with an amazing partner, made so many new friends. All of these things are celebration worthy! I think that’s why I love birthdays so much, it’s a time when everyone remembers to celebrate!

So if you’ve made it to the bottom of this list kudos to you! I’m thankful for the space to share my thoughts and even more thankful that people read it! It’s been an incredibly exciting year and I have so many fun things planned for my 22nd year of life. I hope that you’ll stick around for the journey and share in all of my celebrations!

  1. Sydney

    November 9th, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    I absolutely love this list, be your best self and stay true to those you treasure the most! Happy birthday!

  2. olyszyk

    November 9th, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    Thank you! Grateful for your friendship and wisdom!

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