Today at 4:24 pm, I will officially be 26 years old.

I think 26 is going to be a good year. Despite a rocky ending to 25, there’s already a lot of great stuff in the works for the year ahead, including a 26.2 mile jaunt in September. I like that: 26.2 miles at 26 years old.

I confess that birthdays give me anxiety. I hate planning things for myself, and sending a mass email saying, “Come to my birthday party!” isn’t really my thing.

Luckily, I have awesome friends, and they send those emails and texts on my behalf.

This week has been really stressful and after the past few months, I just wanted to fast forward past my birthday. I’m usually a big, big, big fan of attention (What? I’m not afraid to admit that — I have a blog, obviously there’s a touch of narcissism here. Don’t judge.), but this year I wasn’t feeling it.

But when I got a call from Lauren this morning saying, “Are you home? I’m coming over,” I realized that it’s going to be a good day after all. Anxiety not necessary.

To backtrack: My first order of birthday business was sending an email to Coach Cane last night.

He wanted me to take today as a rest day.

Sometimes I think he doesn’t understand me.

I sent him an email asking for a birthday favor. It went something along the lines of this: “Hi Coach Cane! Thanks for being so nice and being my coach and answering all 36 emails I’ve sent you so far this week. Anyway, I know you want me to rest tomorrow, but it’s my birthday, and I can’t start my first day as a 26 year old without running. I hope you understand. Please grant my wish. Love always and forever (please don’t hate me yet), Ali.”

He responded, thanked me for asking permission, wished me a happy birthday and gave me permission to hit the road this morning.

But only for three miles.

And not at a fast pace.


And so I ran. And it was the perfect start to my day.

I will never get sick of this.

I came home, showered, and had a little dance party in my towel while I got ready.

Then I got a visit from Lauren, who came bearing gifts.

Amazing. They say "Love you!" and "Happy BDay Ali!"

Personalized M&Ms! Does she know me or what?

I didn’t have time (or money) to buy a fun birthday outfit this year, but I did wear a shirt I haven’t worn yet.

I hope my office is OK with some birthday cleavage… Don’t worry. I have a blazer to throw on over it. (And I brought another shirt in case I feel over exposed and want to change. I don’t really live on the edge.)

The plan for the day is simple: work, then dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, followed by drinks at one of my new favorite bars. Nothing crazy, just good friends, good food and good drinks.

So I’m no life expert…obviously. But I would like to think that in my 26 years on Earth I’ve learned a thing or two of importance.

Without further ado, I present to you my list of 26 Things I’ve Learned In 26 Years:

1. Your is not the same as you’re. Yeah, I know, you might think that’s obvious, but I know a lot of 26 year olds who are still not so sure about this one. You’re smart, but your grammar sucks.

2. A dance party — whether at a bar or in the comfort of your own home wearing nothing but, well, nothing — can almost always cure, or at least temporarily remedy, a bad mood.

3. Cuddling can also cure most things.

Little spoon, big spoon, I don't care.

4. Cheap gallons of “juice” mixed with almost any kind of clear liquid + lots of ice = an awesome party drink that will get people super drunk. Put it in a large tub with a ladle for extra classiness.

I probably drank about 60 gallons of this my sophomore year of college.

5. Cake is awesome. Ice cream cake is really awesome. But nothing screams “let’s celebrate” quite like Funfetti.

Funfetti = party time

6. If you want to feel like a kid again, throw a lot of pillows and blankets on your bed. Then jump on it.

No more monkeys jumping on the bed!

7. If you have the opportunity to study abroad in college and you don’t do it, you’re insane. Spending four months in Australia during my junior year was the best thing I ever did. I miss that country every day.

8. Your life (and posture) will be better if you wear the right bra size. This includes regular bras and sports bras. Sorry dude readers, I don’t have anything for you on this one. I guess…buy a good jock strap?

9. Listen. You will be a better person if you learn to listen. I used to ask questions, but while the responder was responding, I was thinking of the next thing I was going to say. When I started actually focusing and listening, I learned a lot.

See? He is talking, and I am listening.

10. Few things in life are better than fancy hotel beds and plush hotel robes.

This is the life.

11. Running is a fun, relatively inexpensive (at least at first) way to exercise. Try it. You might hate it. But you also might love it and it might change your life.

12. 16 Handles has the best frozen yogurt ever. You get to add your own toppings. Suck it, Pinkberry.

13. Celine Dion is the best singer ever. That girl’s got range, and she has her own show in Vegas and she is a total badass.

14. Celebrities are just people who happen to be really good looking. Don’t waste your life envying them or being obsessed with their lives. (It is, however, totally acceptable to watch “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” marathons every Sunday.) Celebrities get airbrushed. Remember that, too.

15. You may think you gained weight, but guess what? You didn’t. Your jeans are just tight because they just came out of the dryer. What’s that? You haven’t washed your jeans. Well then they washed themselves while you were out. You look great. Obsessing over a gained pound a half will make you crazy.

16. The Chrysler Building is sexier than the Empire State Building, but the Empire State Building still takes my breath away every time I see it.

17. Breath and breathe are not the same thing. You take a deep breath, but you need oxygen to breathe.

18. Breakups suck. There’s no way of sugar coating that. They are life-changing, devastating, and unless you truly hate the person you’re dating, they’re really, really hard. But you get through them, even though, in the midst of it all, you think your life is over. Few things make breakups easier, but close, understanding, non-judgmental friends help.

19. You don’t need a ton of friends, but you need a few really, really good friends. Like, friends who won’t judge you if you get really drunk and eat pre-made cookie dough straight out of the tub, or friends who don’t get mad if you both wear the same shirt from Limited Too on school picture day (nope, never done either of those things, I’m just saying).

20. It’s really hard to mess up making fish. Put some lemon pepper on it, throw it in the oven for a while and then eat it.

21. If you drink a lot of water, you’ll feel better. Not just during the day, but also in between pint glasses of wine at night.

22. Simple purchases can make your whole day better. This includes a new pair of underwear, a new kind of soap that smells awesome, peanut butter filled pretzels or anything from Chipotle.

23. An email that takes you two minutes to write could mean the world to the person who receives it. Take the time, send the message.

24. You should floss daily. I used to tell my dentist that I “totally floss always, of course,” but I was lying to him, and I have the fillings to prove it. I floss a lot now. Not daily, but more often than before.

25. Weight is just a number. Your pants size is just a number. This is cheesy, but you can’t measure your life that way. You know how you can measure your life? In amounts of delicious ice cream, belly-aching laughs and number of cute puppies you pet daily. (I think this is the point they were trying to make during “Seasons of Love” in Rent.)

26. Center Stage is the best movie ever. Step Brothers and Zoolander are good, too.

That is everything I’ve learned in 26 years? Crap. I need to go learn more.

Off to enjoy the day!

NOW YOU SHARE: Tell me one of your good life lessons!



0 Responses

  1. Ali – this post was amazing. I’m only 22 but because I read this, I am a full 4 years ahead 😉 Also, a birthday without running is terrible. I couldn’t run on my last birthday because of hip pain and it was awful. Always, ALWAYS run on your birthday!

  2. I just stumbled across your blog as a part of the bloggers in NYC and LOVE IT! This list is such a brilliant idea to reflect and also keep life in perspective. I’ve already put down some similar goals for my respective years and would love to train for a marathon for my 26th birthday year! Also, that yogurt shop has made it on my to-do list for this week. Totally happening

  3. Hey! We are birthday twins!!! Friday was my birthday also. And I turned 36!!! I could easily add 10 things to your list that include lessons learned about marriage, childbirth, and lots of other adventures likely in your future. Until then, enjoy and focus on making YOU happy!!! Enjoy 26… it was a good year!

  4. happy happy birthday!! i had a rough go around the time of my 25th birthday, with breakups and huge life changes, but always remember, everything happens for a reason!
    ps-i studied abroad in australia too! twice, bondi beach and sydney. SO amazing!

  5. So many favorites on this list! I love that you wrote this out. And I still think not studying abroad was one of my biggest regrets. I was on the track team at the time and I ended up quitting jr. year so I should have gone! Ughhh!

    I think my biggest life lesson in my 29 years is that a positive attitude will get you through most things in life. That and if you exude confidence, others will believe you have it too. : )

  6. Happy birthday! And those are some AWESOME things to have learned in 26 years 🙂 #1 and #19 are my favorites and quite high on my list!

  7. Happy birthday!! I went to Australia my junior year too, and I miss it every day too- it really infiltrates you in some weird way.

  8. Happy birthday! 26 was a great year for me — I know your year is going to be absolutely amazing.

    I LOVE that your first life lesson was about your/you’re. This can’t be said enough, at least until people start learning it! Alis = grammar nerds 🙂

    Life lessons so far: it is never too late to start over or try something new; a dog will make you laugh every single day; treat people with kindness — that includes yourself; you’ll never regret wearing good underwear.

  9. I hope you have a wonderful day! One lesson I’ve learned is that the best way to deal with difficult people is to be nice to them. I am nice to everyone and it is so easy and freeing! I am studying abroad in New Zealand right now, and sometimes it is so hard, but I’m glad that you are reminding me that it’ll change my life forever!

    Happy Birthday!

  10. One of my good life lessons is an add on of your # 13. Don’t forget that 16 handles tastes best with scooter crunch (i kid kid…ok maybe) but for real. Don’t forget to tell the people you love that you love them and don’t forget to laugh and enjoy the little things.

    Happy 26! Hope you have an amazing day!!

  11. happy birthday!!! those are all amazing life lessons, and so true! this post really made my day. i hope you have a wonderful birthday!

  12. Happy Birthday!

    I would add one of my favorite life lessons, but you said it all with #26. I looove Center Stage! That “Canned Heat” routine is the bomb!

  13. You know we wore those Limited Too shirts on purpose so we could lie to the photographer and say we were twins and our parents wanted a picture if the two of us! At least we had a good cover for why we had different last names 🙂 Happy birthday to my real best friend!

    PS I am looking into Celine tickets for a belated b-day present, I’ll let you know if I win them haha

  14. Happy birthday! I hope 26 is an incredible, fun, exciting, rewarding year for you. These life lessons are awesome and just totally made me smile. Have a wonderful day and an even better year!

  15. Happy Birthday! I hope that 26 is the most amazing year of your life so far. You have such a nice coach, letting you run for your birthday. Being forced to RUN 3 miles on my birthday wold be a punishment:)

  16. Awww! Happy Birthday! This is going to be a GREAT year for you! I can feel it! 😀

    I recently turned 21 back in April and I didn’t realize that I learned so much about myself. I learned that I can do ANYTHING I put my mind to. Run over a 5K? Check! Run a Half-Marathon? Check! Run a Marathon? In October! 😉

  17. Happy Birthday! Friday birthdays are always fun – sucha great way to end the work week. I loved this list – especially #’s 5 and 9. Have a great day.

  18. Happy birthday, Ali! Where did you study abroad in Australia? I studied in Sydney just last semester and can’t even describe how much I loved it.

    1. I was at Bond University in Surfer’s Paradise, and we traveled almost every weekend. Sydney was incredible and Melbourne was my favorite. I could go on and on and on. So glad to hear you had an amazing experience as well!

  19. Happy Birthday! thanks for sharing this list. I relate to many of the things on here.
    16 handles -DUH; . You don’t need a ton of friends, but you need a few really, really good friends; The Chrysler Building is sexier than the Empire State Building, but the Empire State Building still takes my breath away every time I see it

    My lesson learned: Sleep is as important as oxygen 😉

  20. HAPPY BIRTHDAY GIRL! I love your 26 things – they are all true! Some funny.. some serious.. all spoken from the heart! I hope your 26th year brings you TONS of happiness, laughter and love!

  21. HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALI!! I love all the lessons, especially the one about a few good friends. I know who my real friends are because they’re the ones that don’t get mad at me when I drunk ransack their pantry and leave visible nibbles in their cookies.

  22. I’m so glad you liked the M&Ms!!! I think being neighbors is the best ever. I laughed very hard at the pic of us and Dee jumping on the bed. Thank god Steve was there yo document it for us with photos! Love this post!! Happy Birthday, see you later!!

  23. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I am sad I did not address this when I saw you at the gym on Monday. BAH.
    Your list of 26 is brilliant.
    I hope you have a ton of fun tonight! <3

  24. Happy 26th Birthday, Ali!!!
    This post made me smile – I love all 26 things! I love that you started your birthday with a run, and that you’re being so open with your coach. Give him a little time, he will get to understand you 🙂 I especially love the “weight is just a number.” I am still learning that, but I know it’s true. Your outlook on life really inspires me, and I wish you the best for the 27th year of life. You definitely have a lot to celebrate!

  25. Happy birthday!!! Have a wonderful day!

    My life lesson: Have fun, play fair, and do your best. My parents have told me this since I was little and it’s still an important lesson to remember today!

  26. #26 is my favorite. Center Stage is definitely the best movie ever! I thougtht I was the only one who felt the same way. I can watch it over and over and still never get sick of it 🙂

    Happy 26th Birthday!

  27. Happy Birthday!!! This was so fun to read. Center Stage is the best movie everrr (sadly, I only have a VHS copy and no VHS player anymore…). Hope you have a great day 🙂

  28. Happy Birthday! I would not have pegged you as a Celine fan, haha. I used to love her mid 90’s stuff. “Its all coming back to me now…..”
    My birthday is next week, and I planned to do a list of things I’ve learned too. Its such a great idea.

  29. Oh, I forgot to mention that I love Center Stage! The sequel was such a disappointment. I think there was a failed attempt at a TV show, too.

  30. Happy birthday, Ali!! And I agree that a night filled with Funfetti and Chipotle would be a DREAM. 🙂
    Here’s what I’ve learned lately: smile at a stranger and say hello – it could just make their day (and yours!).


    PS how has it not been discussed yet that we are both OBSESSED with Celine?! Our friendship gets better every mother effing day.

    Also, remember how the other day I commented on your facebook picture and used the wrong your/you’re. Um yeah. I was humiliated, mortified and swear I NEVER usually do that. I’m a grammar lover and usually use it correctly. I SWEAR.

    Okay, done.

    have so much fun today girl! i’m glad coach realized the need to run on your bday. i mean really. i ran my first marathon on my 23rd birthday. i know there are crazy people who don’t want to run on their bdays but I’m glad neither of us are those people.

  32. Happy Birthday! Have a wonderful day and a glorious weekend.
    You’re so funny about taking rest days. Good thing you have a coach to keep you online as your training progresses. 🙂

  33. Happy Birthday! I ran my first marathon at age 26 too 🙂 I hope 26 is the most amazing year for you, Ali! You deserve it!

  34. happy birthday! my 26th year was probably my best of my 20’s [with 1.5 to go ;)] – so enjoy it for all it’s worth!

  35. I LOVE this list so much – it’s so you!!! I especially love numbers 1 and 17. And I love you! Happy Birthday!

  36. LOVE this list ~ Thanks for sharing the wisdom! Happy Birthday and many, many more! Hope your day is great!

  37. Happy birthday beautiful! I’m so glad we became friends this year! Another important lesson? Its IS NOT the same as it’s. I have a feeling 26 is going to be pretty awesome for you.

  38. love this!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALI!!!
    hope you have an extra special day on this gorgeous Friday in nyc!

    fave life lesson thus far… forget the insults, remember the compliments 🙂

  39. Happy Birthday!

    My favorite life lesson is that when you meet your life partner, he/she may not be at all what you were looking for, but seizing the day will change your life, for the better.

  40. Happy birthday!!! I looooove #15 and #25…especially the dryer part. hehe. You’re a riot!
    I hope you have an awesome birthday celebration tonight, enjoy it!!!

  41. That dancing picture is the best! Because of you but also the people behind you!!! You have so many fun pictures of yourself, I love it!


  42. Happy birthday! I love lists of things people/I have learned. I find that by the time I finish writing one, I’m already at the next year and need to start again!

    Have a great day!

    i love the 26 things! especially the dancing one 😛
    one of the best life lessons i got from my mum is: always cleanse, tone and moisturise!haha!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

listen to the podcast

about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
  • Post Date

related posts



Answering questions about my dream home, dream podcast guests, and dreams for the future.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.