This weekend I turned 21, I mean 25 years old. Wow. If you had told me this is where I’d be at in life at 25 I wouldn’t have believed you but HERE I AM. While my life has been pretty good so far, I have had a lot of low moments too. I decided that for my 25th birthday I was going to share 25 things I’ve learned in these 25 years of life. Most of these lessons came from my earlier 20s. Some of them you may have read on lists similar to this but I’m going to give a little insight on to why these lessons are important to me.
1. Focus on who shows up for you, not who doesn’t: It’s so easy to focus on who didn’t go to your birthday party, or that really cool speaking event you told your friends about 10 times, or whatever else but honestly the quality of my life improved so much when I just focused on being thankful towards those who did show up instead of pissed at those who didn’t. You never know what people have going on.
2. You aren’t the center of the universe: Yes, I know this seems so painfully obvious but I will be the first to admit that I am guilty of thinking things that important to me are important to everybody. This isn’t true. Honestly with the exception of your parents (not even always), your close friends, your lover(s), and a few others, most people don’t give a fuck about you. Once you realize this, life is a little easier.
3. Do whatever the fuck you want to do while you’re young (safely): One thing I wish I had did before I had to come to the “REAL” world is have more fun. Granted, I had a lot of fun in undergrad but I know I would have had more if I told myself yes for more things than parties. I should have taken a two week trip backpacking through some random place haha. Not to say I can’t do these things now but it’s harder when you have loans to pay off and stuff. So yeah, if there is something you really want to do, DO IT. (except smoke crack, pls don’t do that.)
4. Don’t doubt your greatness: If I had a dollar for every thing I didn’t do/apply for because I didn’t think I was capable of doing it, I could retire and live a lavish life full of travel and mojitos. Okay I might be exaggerating but I could buy something nice. Honestly, I’m still learning to embrace rejection and not feeling inadequate.
5. Therapy is not just for “crazy people”, it’s for everyone: One thing I want to do this year is find a therapist. Now that I know I will be living in Vegas permanently, I want to get a therapist who meets my qualifications here. Often in minorities communities seeing a therapist is for “crazy people” but there is only so much “venting” your friends can take from you. Sometimes, you need to see a professional.
6. Avoiding being vulnerable will do more harm to you than it will protect you: This kind of ties into my fear of rejection as well. While I don’t believe I missed out on anyone I was destined to spend my life with, I know many of my past relationships were damaged by me being afraid to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness.
7. Being judgmental of others doesn’t make you any better than them: This is a straight-forward lesson. Don’t judge others.
8. Sometimes the way people act towards you is usually about them, not you: This is a relatively new lesson I’ve learned about others and about myself. This simply put in the quote “Hurt people hurt people.” Usually if somebody is unwarrantedly rude towards you, they have some other shit going on.
9. Letting yourself feel your emotions is important: There is a growing culture of “good vibes only” and while I do believe it is important to focus on the positive, you still have to let yourself feel the not so good feelings when they arise. They key is to not dwell on them.
10. Tell people how you feel about them: If you’ve ever had somebody randomly acknowledge you and all you do out of nowhere then you know how good that makes you feel. Do that for others. Also, if someone did something to upset you, let them know. Harboring those feelings will just lead to resentment and frustration.
11. Don’t loan people money you can’t afford to never get back: No matter HOW much you trust someone or how little bit of the amount, DO NOT lend people money if you NEED them to pay you back for your finances to be okay. You never know if people will be able to pay you back so just don’t lend it if you can’t afford to never see it again.
12. Find a workout you love to do and never stop doing it: In our younger years it is really important we focus on living a healthy lifestyle to try and avoid consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle in our older years. Exercising releases endorphins and those make you feel good. You will be more motivated to consistently workout if you love the workout you’re doing.
13. Call your grandparents often: When my grandfather passed away last year one thing I could be at peace with was that I talked to him regularly. I can’t say I called him every day and sometimes a week or so would go by but I can say when he died I didn’t have a guilty conscience about not talking to him enough. I was the last person who spoke to him on the phone the night he passed.
14. Make sure you call your friends just to see how they are doing not to talk about yourself: Don’t be the self-centered friend who only calls people to vent about their problems. It’s annoying and people will eventually get over your one-sided friendships. Call (not text because sometimes that shit takes too long) your friends and see how they are. Check in with them. You’d be surprised what people are holding in until somebody asks “how are you?”
15. Always return phone calls and reply to your e-mails: It’s the professional thing to do. You want to build these habits before you enter the actual work force where an e-mail that isn’t responded to can lead to being reprimanded.
16. Sometimes all you need for a better mood is a good night’s sleep: “I’ll sleep when I die” is tired (no pun intended.) Get some damn rest. You would be surprised how much more pleasant your days are when you getting enough sleep. If only somebody had told me this in undergrad (or if I had listened).
17. Unless people ask you for your advice don’t give it to them: Honestly, save your breath. People are going to do what they want to and sometimes unsolicited advice can be annoying. If people don’t ask, don’t tell them what you think they should do. I still struggle with this one.
18. It’s okay to remove yourself from one-sided relationships: I used to be the person that felt I needed to be there for everybody but when I evaluated tough times in my life I could count on two hands who was there for me. Focus your energy on those relationships, not people who always take.
19. Go to the doctor at least once a year for a check-up: DO THIS, no explanation needed. You gotta stay on top of your health, even if you hate the doctor’s office like me.
20. Be mindful of what you say and do in front of children, they are always watching: I hear the craziest things when at work (as a substitute teacher and day camp counselor). You would be surprised how much kids soak up from adults and repeat.
21. Perfection doesn’t exist, just try your best: Don’t beat yourself up about not being perfect, literally NOBODY is. It’s okay. (Mostly a note to self).
22. Don’t get caught up on planning something and the small insignificant details, make a choice and focus on execution: As a creative this is one of the most important things I’ve learned. Nobody gives a shit if you use font one or font two, just pick one and move along.
23. Procrastination is self-sabotage, cut the shit and get it done: Calling all undergrads, grad students, and creatives: Don’t procrastinate. If you “work well under pressure” think how great something could have been if you gave it the time it deserved.
24. People can love you even if you don’t love yourself but you won’t be able to accept their love: I’m sure I’ve had many people who loved me or at least cared about me deeply that I couldn’t handle at the time because I hadn’t learned how to love myself and think I was worthy of it, thus pushing them away and making it a self-fulfilling prophecy.
25. Love yourself: Self-love is important. Love yourself, flaws and all and forgive yourself for anything you need forgiveness for.
I hope you enjoyed reading the things I’ve learned about myself and others in my 25 years on planet Earth. If you related to any of these or found it helpful, please share it on your social media!
Is there a lesson you think every twentysomething should know that I left out? I’m always open to learning more. Share it in the comments!