25 Life Lessons I've Learned in 25 Years

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What is 25 supposed to feel like anyway? Because all I’m feeling is mild neck pain from sleeping in a funny position. In all seriousness though, the mid-twenties is a very confusing and anxiety-inducing period of time. With the big 3-0 looming closer and closer each day, we can’t help but feel like we’re not where we thought we’d be in life.

I didn’t expect to figure everything out by the time I hit 25, nor do I anticipate doing so by the time I’m 30. But I did learn plenty of lessons along the way that I hope will help me and others ascend into adulthood more gracefully (or at least less stressfully). So I present to you all 25 lessons (in no particular order) that I’ve learned in 25 years!

  1. Sleep is NOT something you should skimp on. A friend told me that you do irreversible damage to your brain – among many other things – when you deprive yourself of sleep. No exam, project or Netflix series is worth that.

  2. Creative hobbies are worth the time and investment. They’re excellent ways to relieve stress while also flexing those creative muscles. And don’t let the fear of not doing something perfectly stop you from starting that thing at all.

  3. Don’t let others convince you that your interests are a waste of time. I just want to go back and tell my middle school self that those classmates were wrong and that I should keep on drawing instead of waiting over a decade to pick up a sketchbook again. Unless what you’re doing is harmful, immoral or illegal, just keep doing what you enjoy.

  4. You might not have the travel bug like everyone else, and that’s okay. It’s a joy and a privilege to explore the world and all the sights and cultures it has to offer, but never let anyone make you feel bad for being unable or not desiring to travel often.

  5. Unnecessary competitions are immature and tiring. It doesn’t matter who’s having the worst day; you’re both having pretty crappy days. Nor does it matter that you’ve seen or done something before everyone else. Not everything needs to be a competition.

  6. Spend less time with people who are only concerned about numbers. GPAs, salaries and social media followings can determine a lot of things, but they shouldn’t stop you from being a decent person.

  7. You gain nothing worthwhile from cutting others down. You can still be happy and successful without intentionally hurting others. Shocking, right?

  8. Health should be a priority. We can plan ahead and hustle all we want, but if we don’t take care of ourselves first, that’s not going to matter. Learn how to cook healthy meals, try to stay active and schedule that long overdue annual physical.

  9. And that includes mental health as well. Depression and anxiety can manifest in different ways and at different points in our lives. Know the signs and resources, not only for yourself but for your loved ones as well.

  10. Even if you don’t have a skincare routine, at least put on some sunscreen. One sunburn was more than enough to scare me into wearing sunscreen religiously. Slather it on before you go outside or if you sit next to a window all day – your skin will thank you in the future.

  11. You start enjoying the foods you didn’t like as a kid. Try the foods you used to hate because, like you, your taste buds might’ve matured too. I’m so glad I gave arugula, balsamic vinegar, and Greek yogurt each another chance!

  12. It’s good to have a solid routine, but it’s also important to make exceptions for the people and things that matter. Having designated time blocks for work, play, and self-care can help you feel like you’ve got your shit together. But when your friends invite you out or your family stop by for a visit, be flexible and allow yourself to have fun.

  13. As you get older, you start to care less about what others think. And it’s so liberating. This gives you the freedom to express yourself however you want without anything or anyone holding you back. What they think is their business, really. Just do you as long as you’re not hurting anyone else.

  14. Have an emergency fund. It’ll come in handy in case of sudden unemployment, medical emergencies and other hurdles life will throw at you.

  15. Don’t underestimate genuine kindness. It’s one of those things that won’t change regardless of how wealthy, successful or conventionally attractive you are.

  16. You can’t live under a rock forever. Have some idea of what’s going on globally, politically and economically. While ignorance is sometimes bliss, you should at least be informed and know how the fragile political climate, especially in this era, will affect you.

  17. Support a cause you’re passionate about, get involved with your community or volunteer. You can complain about the problem or be a part of the solution. Or you can be like me and do both at the same time – just as long as you’re pushing for a positive change.

  18. There are usually multiple ways to do something. Keep an open mind and be willing to think outside of the box.

  19. People suck sometimes, but that’s not your problem to fix. Their close-mindedness, personality, and behavior are not your responsibilities. And it’s only frustrating for everyone when you’re dealing with someone stubborn. Sometimes, all you can really do is move on and not let their actions ruin your day.

  20. Not everyone is willing or able to cut toxic people out of their lives. There are a handful of people that I know I’d be happier without, but unless they do something absolutely unforgivable, I don’t have it in me to completely sever ties with them just like that. As I said earlier, there is more than one way to do things. In my case, I either confront them or gradually distance myself.

  21. Lots of people in their 20s sell themselves short. We tend to be our worst critics. And while there’s always room for improvement, you have to give yourself credit where credit is due.

  22. Don’t get too comfortable. In the comfort zone, the only thing that moves forward is time. Life’s too short not to take small risks that could lead to growth.

  23. You don’t need to hustle 24/7 to be happy and successful. Being burnt out isn’t a badge of honor, and constantly burying yourself in work takes time away from the people and things that bring you joy. Make time to recover and reflect so that you are in your best mental and physical shape to take on the world.

  24. The time spent with family and close friends is the time that’ll matter the most. Make sure you get plenty of it. I probably don’t need to say this, but time is so limited. Spend it with the people who mean the world to you, and never go to bed angry because you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow.

  25. 25 isn’t a deadline. Up until high school, there’s always been some sort of timeline that almost everyone stuck to – talk by age 2, read by age 5, enter middle school by age 10, graduate high school by 18. But after that, everyone’s just off doing their own thing at their own pace. There usually aren’t deadlines for milestones, and some aren’t even required. At 25, many people are still figuring things out, so take your time but don’t waste your time.

I can’t say that I’m excited to be closer to 30 than I am to 20, but at least I know that I’m more prepared moving forward. And who knows, maybe I’ll be back in 5 years with 30 more lessons. I hope you enjoyed reading my list of things my 25 years on Earth have taught me. Which ones resonated with you and what have you learned over the years?