25 Things I’ve Learned in 25 Years

Years ago, when I was but a wee angsty teenager, I asked my mother if life was always going to be like this.

She told me something that I thought about at least once a week from that day forth: “Nah, you’ll even out and start feeling a lot more mature when you turn 25. That’s when it happens.”

A couple of weeks ago, I finally turned 25. And my mother was right, indeed. It was like a switch flipped and overnight I was more mature, reasonable, not so easily thrown by stupid situations and drama, and cognizant of what I wanted in life and how to achieve it. Or at least, drastically more so than at any point in the preceding years.

So to celebrate my transition into adulthood, here are 25 things that I’ve found to be helpful in navigating life, presented in no particular order:

1) Talk it out.

If you have a problem with someone, go to them and try to clear the air. Yes, even if they were the asshole and they’re the one who should be apologizing to you.

2) Realize that you won’t always be portrayed favorably.

Everyone has their own version of events. Sometimes it’s a genuine difference in viewpoints, sometimes they’re straight up lying about you. It doesn’t matter. With apologies to Hamilton, accept that “You have no control who tells your story.”

3) You’re allowed to have your own unfair opinions.

Just because you judged someone too harshly once upon a time doesn’t mean you have to make the effort to revise your opinion of them now. You’re allowed to not like someone, and you don’t need a good reason.

4) Trust your gut.

If some person or some situation gives you a bad feeling, get out of there. As someone once told me, “If a cat hisses at you, don’t wait around for it to scratch you.”

5) It’s okay to cry.

It’s okay to cry in front of other people. It’s okay to cry for no reason. It’s okay to cry for a stupid amount of time. It’s fine. Life can be upsetting. People cry. It’s not a big deal.

6) Don’t commit to things you don’t want to do.

No one is obligated to your time or energy. You have the right to let other people down.

7) Quit.

Try out everything that you want to do. Don’t feel like that means you have to stick with it. Once something stops feeling worthwhile, stop doing it.

8) Speak your mind.

Knowing you should’ve said something but didn’t is a bad feeling.

9) Be accountable for your actions.

If you do something shitty, own up to doing it. You don’t have to apologize and you don’t have to explain- but if you’re not going to, you better be prepared to admit and acknowledge that that’s who you are.

10) Don’t hold grudges.

I know you’re mad. I know it hurts. I know it feels like the worst thing in the world. But it isn’t, and in a few years it’s not going to matter. You might as well just let today be the day it stops mattering.

11) Don’t let anyone lie to you.

If someone is playing games with you, call them out. Tell them you don’t believe them. Tell them you know that’s not the truth. Tell them that’s not the same thing they said before. Don’t just listen to their bullshit.

12) You don’t need a reason to end a relationship.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a girlfriend, boyfriend, best friend, employer, or your hair stylist. If you’re not happy, that’s the only reason that you need to say goodbye.

13) Have as much or as little sex as you want.

Some people are going to call you a prude or a pussy. Some people are going to call you a slut or a douchebag. It doesn’t matter. Do what makes you happy and don’t let anyone pressure you into changing your attitude.

14) Don’t try to stay friends with your exes.

Trust me.

15) Unplug.

Just because we live in the interconnected modern age doesn’t mean you have to be constantly available to everyone at every time. You can turn off your phone. The world isn’t going to end because you took a little while to like a Facebook post.

16) Ask stupid questions.

Teachers like to say there’s no such thing as a stupid question. That’s a lie and we all know it. A lot of questions are perfectly idiotic. If you want to know, ask anyway.

17) Read the news.

Read actual news from various sources, not just things that you already agree with. Don’t get stuck in your own echo chamber. Find out what’s actually happening in the world. Be informed.

18) Memento mori.

That’s Latin for “Remember that you have to die.” It’s going to happen. Maybe in eighty years, maybe tomorrow. Death is going to happen to you, and it’s going to happen to the people around you. It’s fine. It’s silly to be worried about it and even sillier to be afraid of it. It’s coming.

19) Think before you speak.

Don’t censor yourself, but choose your words carefully. People will remember what you say. Sometimes they’ll get fixated on it. You’ll fare much better if it was what you actually meant to say and not just something you blurted out.

20) Assert yourself.

No one else is going to stand up for you. If you don’t want to be walked all over, the onus is on you not to be a doormat.

21) Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Nobody’s perfect. Say “oops” and get on with your life.

22) Peer pressure isn’t real.

Nobody can make you do anything that you don’t want to do. Period. Remember that next time you’re making excuses for your behavior.

23) Carry extra tampons.

Even guys. Better to have a tampon and not need it than to ever, ever, ever be in the inverse of that situation.

24) Allow for change.

It’s good to have a plan, but it’s even better for that plan to be flexible. You can’t anticipate everything that’s going to happen. Leave yourself a little bit of wiggle room. Don’t freak out when things go off the rails a little bit. Readjust.

25) Relax.

Whatever it is, it’s probably not as bad as you’re making it out to be. Take a deep breath and get your shit together.

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