Twenty-five: a number that comes after twenty-four and before twenty-six. Twenty-five: an age that still offers youth with added experience. Twenty-five is an age I have, honestly, been dreading for quite some time; an age that edges the end of my early twenties and turns the corner to my late twenties. And there is never a better time than now.
I have learned some life-lessons it takes many most of their lives to learn. By this time in my life, I have learned more lessons than I can count, but I have decided to pick twenty-five lessons for my twenty-five years of existence.
1. No one defines you but yourself.
This was one of the toughest lessons I ever had to learn, and it took years and many tears for me to fully understand what it meant. But when it comes down to it, no one ultimately makes your decisions for you, and no one walks in your shoes.
The decisions that others make might have a direct impact on you and your life, but they (the decisions) do NOT make or break who you are and who you want to become. And don’t ever let it.
2. Relationships of all kinds require a lot of give and take.
This is self-explanatory; don’t be completely selfish or selfless. When you find yourself as more so one than the other, it creates resentment in your relationship. Higher expectations are brought to the table; the outcome is not usually any good (see lesson No. 5).
Learning to compromise and becoming both a giver and taker brings a better self to a more positive relationship. Find relationships that honor the happy medium.
3. Take care of yourself.
I didn’t completely learn this lesson until I was done with college to be honest. I thought I was being tough, but in reality I just wasn’t taking care of my well-being. I didn’t know how important it was to take care of yourself.
I used to go into work while I was sick, not go to the doctor until I absolutely had to, find excuses not to get a pedicure or do things I wanted, or question going out without my husband.
I believe you find a new independence when you start taking care of yourself and making decisions to do a few things just for you. It is okay to leave your husband or significant other home to go out with friends or go shopping by yourself. You’re not being tough by going to work if you’re sick. And make sure that every now and then you do things for yourself – pedicures, new jeans, facials, or even a cheesecake treat from the Cheesecake Factory. These are some of my favorites.
4. Don’t air your dirty laundry for others to see, especially on social media.
I grew up in a world without cell phones, a world that required imagination and creativity to prevent boredom and stationary behavior. When Facebook became popular, it wasn’t necessarily a place for negativity, but a place to easily access friends, family, and to even meet new people.
In the past ten years, more and more people have used their social media to complain about and bash others and to expose issues that should be taken care of in the privacy of your home. Facebook or any social media for that matter is not a diary. Airing dirty laundry on social media is one of my biggest pet peeves, and I just sit back and wonder, “What are you accomplishing?”
5. Expectations lead to disappointment.
There is a big difference in having standards and creating expectations. This was a lesson I didn’t fully understand until I was just rounding out my last year of college.
Growing up, I was so disappointed when my father didn’t tell me happy birthday or that my, now, husband didn’t have supper made for me for when I was done working, etc. The things that would make me mad were the things I would generally do for others without question, but when they didn’t do the same in return, I would become upset that others weren’t as considerate or thoughtful. I created these expectations of friends, family, and my boyfriend that they didn’t even know about, and that wasn’t fair to them. I was constantly disappointed when my expectations of myself for others weren’t reciprocated.
Once I dropped the expectations, I instantly became a happier person because I was no longer disappointed in the people I loved.
I still had standards of how I wanted to be treated and what I wanted in my future husband, but like I said, standards are far different from exceptions.
6. Everything happens for a reason.
I am a firm believer in God and that He has a plan for every single one of us before were are even conceived. Every day, every minute, and every decision we make was thoroughly outlined and prepared.
When I was growing up, I couldn’t figure out why God would put pain, suffering, and death in our lives. He was supposed to be the good guy right? I couldn’t figure out why my parents separated, why we didn’t get to state in softball after those playoff games, why “He” diagnosed someone with an illness so early in life, and even why “He” took them so soon.
Sometimes lack of patience is strong enough to keep individuals from reaping the benefits or finding the positives in those situations. I have watched some of the situations I was put in growing up come full circle, and with that I have received a wonderful gift of patience, stronger faith, trust, and love for my Creator’s plan. It truly is out of my hands, so why not ride along?
7. Give credit where credit is due.
There are going to be prettier people than you and people with talents you don’t have. If someone is pretty, has a great voice, is wearing really cute clothes, receives an award you wanted, etc., give them credit.
Do not dis someone because they are prettier than you. You become more beautiful when you can outwardly complement people for things others would be jealous of.
8. It is okay to NOT have your life together.
Life is a learning curve; life revolves around change. It is a chance to find things you like and don’t like and talents you may find along the way. So it’s okay to change your mind, it’s okay to not have your mind made up, and it’s okay to work towards something on one path and turn down another.
So many people are up your butt telling you to pick what you want to do for the rest of your life at the age of 18 when you go to college. So many people, myself included, get caught in the societal expectations that they don’t allow themselves to grow and find those talents because they are too busy sitting in cubical because someone told them to.
Live your damn life! Go travel, make goals and crush them, then find something new! Make mistakes and learn lessons.
9. Every person you meet has something to teach you.
I believe with all of my heart that God directs individuals into and out of your life for a reason. There is something to learn from EVERY single person you meet.
When I graduated high school, I wrote my senior presidential speech based on living the life you live with the people He put in your life. I went down my class list and I named one thing I learned from each person, even if I wasn’t particularly involved with them on a daily basis.
10. Fear is not a place to live.
If you live in fear, that is the biggest way to constrict your life. It will prohibit you from walking through some of life’s greatest experiences.
Don’t let the negative issues of our world keep you from attending concerts, traveling, or doing what you love to do. If you do, “they” win. You are merely existing, and I don’t want you to live a life, year, week, or even a day with regret.
11. Wear your heart on your sleeve; let down those walls.
I am the queen of wearing my heart on my sleeve; I am an emotional individual. I have been hurt and disappointed so many damn times, but honestly, I wouldn’t be who I am today if I wouldn’t have worked through those experiences. But walking through those pains doesn’t make me hesitate to show who I am. It makes me want to be myself even more.
It’s okay to be dangerously personal. It is the definition of raw personality. As far as I’m concerned, if you can’t allow yourself to love, to fight, to live, to lose, you aren’t living YOUR life, you’re living the life of a lie.
So let down those walls; it’s okay to be hurt. I didn’t say there wasn’t lessons to learn from those pains. But let those scars be exposed. Humans love to be relatable and to have someone in their life to share the good and the bad with.
12. Do NOT let ANYONE jeopardize your integrity.
Your integrity is all you have when you leave this earth; you don’t leave with your money or materials. People will remember you for who you were, not what you had.
Most right and wrong decisions are common sense. Money doesn’t make you a good person, and although you might get away with wrong decisions here on earth, the Big Man Upstairs never makes a wrong decision in the end.
So spend your money, travel, and allow your life experiences to mold your life. Be a prophet to those who aren’t as fortunate at you, and be kind.
13. Don’t let your hobby become your job.
Coming home from college, getting a job, and starting a new chapter with my husband has made me realize that settling down really does mean settling down. I don’t have ball games four or five nights a week, I don’t have hours of homework, and I don’t have another job to work after I make it home from my first job. My nights are generally open to do what I’d like; I didn’t know how to work my TV remote until about a week ago.
I have started a few hobbies that allow me to keep busy. I know I could probably use one of them as a full-time job should I want to, but that’s the thing about hobbies – they are for free-time.
When a hobby becomes a job, it can take the fun and enjoyment out of whatever it is that you’re doing. So when you make a hobby a job, find another hobby. Everybody needs a get away, something they can can call their own. Whether it be running, blogging, making crafts, quilting etc., find something that doesn’t come with the stress of living means.
14. Never forget where you came from.
This is pretty self-explanatory. Don’t allow where you are now to change you to the point where you can’t appreciate and own where you came from.
I absolutely love where I grew up, how I grew up, and who I grew up with. All of these things made me who I am, and influenced my upbringing. I have and will forever appreciate my youth. I use those experiences to my advantage, and I almost feel bad for people I meet who haven’t had the chance to enjoy what I had growing up.
15. Family is love.
My family is the center of my life. Words cannot express how thankful I am that God put me in my family. I have not loved more than I love my family and never will.
It hurts my heart to know there are some people that don’t have anything close to what I have, because I couldn’t live without them.
I am truly blessed – that’s all I can say.
16. You do you!
Individuality is the best trait one can have. It would be so boring if we were all the same person, but if we were all like me, then at least someone would laugh at my funny jokes.
But seriously, enjoy being unique, wear the clothes you want, cut and dye your hair however you want. The most important thing to remember is that change is inevitable. If you don’t like your style, your hair, where you’re at in your life, change it. That is the beauty of living where we live.
17. Take time to reflect, renew, and pray.
It is so necessary to take time for yourself; set time aside to run, read your bible, do yoga, meditate, and/or just go for a walk. Breath and let yourself relax.
My husband makes fun of me, but I wake up to workout at 4:30 am. I can spend an hour or two watching Good Morning America, drinking my morning coffee, blogging, reading my bible, or sometimes even cleaning the house before I leave for work.
I thoroughly enjoy my alone time. It almost puts me in a mood when I don’t get that time. So take time for yourself.
18. Nothing lasts forever.
I don’t like to take advantage of things in my life, but I am grateful for the things I have, people I meet, my family, and so much more. But just like beautiful flowers, nothing last forever.
And just like the good things, the bad things don’t last forever. The storms we face in our life too will pass.
19. God has his own plans for you.
There is no such thing as control over your life and what happens; give it up now. Wherever you are in your life, or wherever you have been was all planned before you were even born. There is nothing you could have said or done to change the plans He has for you.
Enjoy every up and down. I praise God for every day He opens my eyes in the morning. I know that He will help me through any situation He puts me in. If I am unsure about where I am or what I am doing, I remind myself that God wouldn’t have me in the situation I am in. I trust He will get me through.
20. Be grateful.
There is always someone who has a life worse than you. If you don’t have anything to be grateful for, be grateful that He opened your eyes to start another day.
Everyday I thank the good Lord above for the blessings I have in my life. I don’t ask him for anything because I couldn’t fathom having anymore. He has blessed me more than I could have ever imagined.
21. Happiness is a choice.
This stems from being grateful above; I truly don’t think you can be happy if you don’t know how to be grateful. It can be the smallest of things in life.
And how is it that people with minimal opportunities, minimal sources of income, or minimal materials and resources are the happiest? Simplicity generally leads to smiles. But regardless of what you have in life, happiness is a choice.
You can either be happy for each day and what you have or you can dwell with whatever negative thoughts you have. But I can guarantee you that negativity isn’t going to gain you anything.
22. It’s okay to not know the answer to every question you’re asked.
It’s called research and using your resources, and sometimes that could include your peers. I have learned that people respect you more as a person for not acting like you know it all and giving them false information.
Do your research and use your resources to learn and apply. We live in a world where google can basically answer any question you might have. Use that to your advantage; research is a great power. It’s okay if you don’t know the answer to everything.
23. You can be spontaneous without risking invincibility.
In the past seven years, I have become less and less risky with my decision-making and more and more spontaneous with my day-to-day plans.
I used to plan out my day, make lists for my lists, and pay close attention to them throughout the day. There was no such thing as spontaneity in my life, and I didn’t want there to be.
When I gave up my control to God, I started enjoying life a little more, but i became more appreciative of the life I was given. I couldn’t understand why anyone would put themselves in a position to jump out a plane when they could easily keep two feet on the ground and not risk dying.
I, now, love random road trips and weekends without plans, but that doesn’t mean I need to go bungee jumping or rocking climbing up a cliff.
24. My pup is my saving grace.
My dog saved my life, not physically, but mentally. Having to take care of her made me focus on something other than myself. She loves me for who I am, and she is always excited to see me. I know those days are limited, but nothing will compare to the love I have for her and the lesson she has taught me. Get yourself a dog.
25. Love yourself.
God put YOU on this earth. He made a you and a me, and the fact that He thought it was important to make you and put you where you are should be you first inclination that YOU ARE ENOUGH.
Whenever you feel unloved, unimportant or insecure, remember to whom you belong. — Ephesians 2:19-22
Each experience, each trait you have is all individualized to you and only you. You might share an experience with others, but the way you will react and let it influence your life is individualistic to you.
Love who you are!
All of this being said, I have learned a lot of lessons, and most of them have revolved around loving yourself, loving what you have, and loving your Creator. That basically sums up my life thus far.
I have so many things to be appreciative for, and I suppose being twenty-five could be added to the list. It truly is the little things in life. I think twenty-five will be my best year yet. I hope you come along for the ride; it should be an interesting year.