Well friends, today I turn 25 years old. I’ve officially hit the mark where I’m closer to 30 than I am to 20. I’m an adult.
The funny thing is I don’t feel bad about turning 25 years old. I feel like I’m exactly where I need to be. My life is moving forward; nothing feels stagnant. I feel good.
The interesting part is that I could never have predicted where I am now. Oh trust me, I tried. I had the five and ten year plans that all 20-somethings have, but every time I thought I had it figured out–it changed.
The last 25 years have taught me a lot. It feels good to know I’ve been around the block a few times and understand some real world stuff, but there’s still so much to learn. Though this is just the beginning, I think I could share a few tips on life that might help someone out.
So in hopes of not having someone make the same mistakes I did, I’m sharing 25 tidbits of wisdom I’ve acquired over the last 25 years. I hope it can guide whoever reads this to make better choices than I did.
1. Nothing is certain.
If I had a dollar for every time something didn’t go the way I planned, I’d have my student loan debt paid off. Change is inevitable. Plans change. Priorities change. Goals change. Everything changes! The best you can do is be flexible and ready to roll with the punches. Life is just a bunch of forks in the road. Create your own adventure.
2. People will hate you.
They’ll make sure you know it too. It won’t matter how awesome you are. People will hate you for good and bad reasons. You have to remember that you can’t change their feelings. You must ignore them and keep pushing forward.
3. Your body should be cherished.
Believe it or not, when you turn 23-24ish, your body will change, and not for the better. Your metabolism slows. You’ll feel sluggish without sleep. You’ll need to exercise and stretch to stay flexible. The mattress you sleep on will matter. Remember that youth lasts only a short time. While you may feel like an 18 year old, your body does not. Eat greens, cut the sugar, and move your body. You’ll regret it if you don’t.
4. Stop spending money on piddly things.
Most of the regrets in my life involve the way I spent my money. All the clothes, accessories, and fast food was a total waste. I still make foolish purchases, but not like I used to. Someday, you’ll wish you had taken all those random five dollar bills and put them away for a rainy day. I know I do.
5. Start a retirement fund.
When you get the chance, invest in a Roth IRA or 401K. Save for your retirement as soon as possible. Something is better than nothing. Even a dollar a day can make a difference. You don’t want to end up with nothing when it’s time to quit working and relax.
6. Your college major and GPA rarely matter.
Don’t let college salesmen scare you into spending more money than you should. Get your degree for as cheap as possible and spend the rest of your time working and learning new skills. Employers want to see that you know how to do stuff. Your grades aren’t going to matter unless your degree requires a Master’s or PhD. Spend your time gaining experience in the field you want to work in. Get involved in clubs, or better yet, work for free to get real-world experience. It will matter far more than your major.
7. The people from high school don’t matter.
Sure you may still talk, but ultimately, you’ll go your separate ways and never see each other again except on social media. If you were bullied in school, forget about it. Adulthood is different. You’re a new person and you have to move on from the petty bullshit. Real life is a whole different ball game, and it doesn’t take long to realize how many people suck at it.
8. Five years is a long time.
When you’re young and naive, you think you know what the next five years will bring, but let me remind you that so much can happen in just 5 short years. As you go from 18 to 23, chances are your life will look nothing like it did right out of high school. You will have lived and learned. Don’t make a five year plan that’s set in stone. Be flexible and prepared for things to change because they always do.
9. Pick your battles.
It won’t take long before you realize that some battles aren’t worth fighting. Be the bigger person and back down, even if you know you’re right. I’ve had to do this more times than I can count to keep relationships civil at work, home, and with family. Less is more and you must be wise about your choices. Sometimes, it’s just not worth it.
10. Cherish your family.
If your family is like mine, they are your biggest support system and put up with your crap no matter how bad it gets. Cherish those people. You may not like them, but they love you and are always going to be there for you when no one else will.
11. Choose your friends wisely.
People are flaky. They lie, steal, and cheat. You can’t be friends with everyone, and like I said earlier, there will be people who don’t like you. Friendship must be earned. Pick people who you know you can trust and who put forth effort to be a part of your life. Stop chasing people who don’t give you the time you deserve.
12. Looks aren’t that important.
I don’t want to say looks don’t matter, because they do. You can’t go into a job interview looking unkempt, but when it comes to relationships, stop searching for people based on their looks. My future husband and I considered each other unattractive when we first met. As our relationship developed, our personalities enhanced the way we looked to each other. Now I think my fiance is one of the most handsome men I’ve ever met, and he feels I’m one of the most beautiful women he’s ever seen.
13. Skills and experience are what matter.
When you walk into a job interview, they’re not going to give a rat’s patoot what your GPA is or where you went to school. They want to know what you did at your internships and past jobs. They want to see your real-world skills. Whatever job you apply for, be prepared to talk about what you know you can do for their business at that moment.
14. Cooking is a money-saving skill.
The more you cook, the more money you save by not grabbing fast food. You can save hundreds of dollars a month by cooking your meals at home, especially if you have to pack a lunch every day for work. Leftovers are awesome and go a lot further than a Big Mac from McDonalds. It’s also better for your body.
15. Don’t let people’s judgments affect how you feel.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about 25 things I don’t care about anymore, and people’s opinions of me is one of the biggest. At least one person is going to hate your guts. You can’t let that person affect how you live your life. You must do what is right for you, no matter what others say.
16. Find a hobby.
And I don’t mean binge-watching Netflix marathons. Find a real hobby. Something that will improve who you are and give you something productive to do when you’re not building a home or career. Find a solid hobby and love it.
17. Exercise in some form every day.
Moving your body is so important. A stale and stagnant lifestyle is depressing and horrible for your health. If you hate taking out time from your day to exercise, learn to multi-task. You can easily do circuits in your home while watching tv. You can read on a treadmill. Make time for exercise. Don’t wait until you’re climbing stairs to realize how out of shape you are.
18. Read every day.
You’ll find that if you work a traditional 9 to 5, reading for pleasure becomes harder to accomplish. I can’t stress enough how important it is to continue reading after you graduate college. Whether its reading blogs, the news, or books, you need to keep reading. It keeps your mind sharp and informed.
19. Throw stuff away.
Don’t be afraid to throw stuff away. Do not let yourself accumulate a ridiculous amount of crap over the years. Take some time at the beginning of every season and clear out clothes you can’t wear and stuff you don’t use. Purge. Your home will look better and you’ll feel more energized.
20. Travel as much as you can.
You can learn so much about who you are and what you want by travelling. You may think moving to NYC is the best thing for you, but if you can’t handle the winters, you’ll be miserable no matter how much you love the city. You may hate crowds. You may hate rain. Travel and take it all in, and use it to learn more about yourself. Not to mention, the beauty of this earth is ridiculous. You must see it for yourself!
21. Never settle.
Never settle for what people offer you the first time money-wise. You can always negotiate prices, salaries, and benefits. However, when it comes to relationships, please don’t confuse settling with accepting someone’s faults. No one is perfect and relationships are hard work. It’s okay to love someone who doesn’t “measure up” to unattainable standards, despite what friends and parents may say.
22. Continue to count your blessings.
Never stop being grateful. Horrible things can happen to anyone in the blink of an eye. People lose jobs and never bounce back. Houses burn down. Family members die. Accidents happen. Be thankful for all you have and understanding of what others don’t have.
23. Tanning is really bad for you.
Stop tanning. There’s no reason for it. Your natural skin is your most beautiful and healthiest. Leather hide isn’t pretty. Cancer is NOT fun. Just stop.
24. Money isn’t everything, but it is necessary.
You can’t let money rule your life, but you have to continuously think about it and manage it. Without money, life can be really hard. That being said, make the best money you can in the least miserable way possible, and you’ll be alright.
25. Cut the crap.
Whatever persona you have put on, take it off. Shed it. Be real. Stay transparent. No one likes a liar, and when you put on a fake skin, that is what you become. Be someone of high morals. It will serve you far better in the long run.
These may sound harsh, but good advice is rarely easy. I hope these life lessons will help you. I wish I had learned them sooner.