Lessons Learned by 25

It’s hard to believe that I turned 25 a week ago. It honestly feels like just yesterday that I was living in my college apartment, getting ready to go to the bar on $1.50 well-drink night for my 24th birthday.

I’ve been through a lot in the past year, and it’s been hard on me. There were times that I didn’t want to get out of bed; I just wanted to give up. But everything I’ve been through has taught me some invaluable lessons.

Here’s some nuggets of wisdom I’ve learned, mixed in with some of my favorite pictures of my 24th year:

1. You can’t depend on anyone else for your happiness.

You may think someone else controls your happiness, but it’s all up to you. If you want something, you have to go and get it; you can’t expect anyone else to do it for you.

2. Money and friends rarely mix.

I had a friend lend me a large-ish sum of money (not entirely by choice), and it ended up ruining our friendship. She was upset that I hadn’t started paying her back right away, even though I wasn’t working and had zero money, and she threatened to take me to court over it. Honestly, I would have rather taken a loan out from a bank and owed them back.

On the flip side, I also borrowed money (more willingly) from two other friends, and they were completely understanding that I had other financial obligations that I needed to address before I could pay them back. I am still friends with both of them. It depends on the person and the situation, but proceed with caution.

3. Choose your roommates wisely. And be prepared to possibly say goodbye to some relationships after living with someone.

4. Only you can get your life together.

During my post-grad job search, and in the midst of complete broke-ness, I had the mentality that it was all on the employers. It was up to them to be interested in me, call me, schedule an interview, hire me, and pay me so that I could get it together. To an extent, yes, that is the case. But it’s also up to you to put in the effort.

You need to put in the work to tailor your resume; to apply for every job, even if you’re not 100% qualified; go to job workshops and career fairs; and take whatever you can get.

5. No matter how bad things get, things will always get better.

6. You need a way to relieve stress, something that works for you.

Whether it’s yoga, walking the dog, reading a book, or going to your favorite coffee shop for a warm drink. You need a go-to for when you’re stressed out and need to clear your head. It’s not healthy to be worked up, and you need to have a way to let go of everything, even if it’s just for a couple minutes.

7. Monogamy isn’t for everyone.

Growing up, I wanted the white picket fence, mini-van, husband and kids scenario. But after a couple of relationships, I’ve learned that it isn’t for me. Neither is being with one person.

I’m not saying I want to sleep around. I’m saying I often feel attracted to multiple people, so why should I have to hide that and limit myself to only one person? Why should I have to choose?

8. Homemade gifts, if done well, can be better any store-bought gift.

9. Being healthy is the best gift you can give yourself.

10. Setting smaller goals and reaching them is just as fulfilling as larger goals.

I used to think that you could only be successful by setting larger than life goals and reaching them – graduating from college, getting your dream job, etc. 

I think Sophie says it best. You don’t always have to think about what is going to happen next year, next month, or even next week. What can you do to ensure that you make it to tomorrow?

That’s not always the case. It may take you longer than usual to graduate from college, but what about just focusing on passing one semester at a time? You didn’t land your dream job, but it’s a job that will pay the bills for right now. Start small, and soon all of the small goals will add up to a big accomplishment.

I’ve been slowly learning that – I may not have lost 5 pounds, but I picked an apple over chips. It’s the little steps that count.


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