Maybe I'll say this again five years from now, but five years ago, I thought I had it all figured out. I was just about to turn 25, I had college under my belt, I had a serious relationship, a steady job, a group of friends, and I felt very much like an adult. If you're 25 now, I say this only with utmost respect and optimism — you don't have it all figured out. I don't mean that in a bitter, "happiness is fleeting" kind of way, but rather a "life never stops changing and challenging you" kind of way.
At 25, you've been out of college for a few years, you've lived on your own, settled in to a job and a lifestyle that for the first time in your life, feels independent and adult. Your relationships shows promise for the future. Your job seems stable and long-term. Life seems a lot easier to swallow at 25, much more than it did when you first got out of school and felt like fish out of water.
But the thing is, your parents and a dated societal standard put a lot of pressure on you to feel sturdy at 25. Everyone will tell you that you should be feeling this way, have these things, be doing these activities and have accomplished these milestones. The truth is, it doesn't matter. If you have already accomplished a lot, good for you, that's great. But if you haven't, you're not behind. You're going to continue evolving and learning about yourself into your late 20s and by the time you're about to head out of them, you're going to realize that you put way too much pressure on yourself to be a certain way by an arbitrary age. These are 12 of the things that you think you have figured out by 25, but definitely don't:
What You Want To Do With Your Life
You'll probably have a moment where you look around at your life and think you're doing exactly what you want to be doing, and that if you work hard, everything will stay the same. The trouble is, it doesn't matter how hard you work — the jobscape will always be changing and you will always be evolving. So what might have been your absolute dream job at 25 could feel like a jail sentence by the time you're 30. Keep an open mind and never burn bridges.
Your Grasp Of Professional Etiquette
Oh, you think you're a boss b*tch because you have an email signature? Learning professionalism takes many years of existing in a professional space and meeting different types of people to master. It will take you more than one boss, more than one job, more than one scandal to get the hang of a natural professional etiquette.
You might think you do, but if you didn't have someone to help with your taxes, handle your health insurance, and hold your hand through every big decision, you'd be totally lost. You do not need to understand how to do your taxes at 25. I know people who are 55 who have no idea how it works. Don't stress — math is hard for everyone.
Your Set Belief System
As you settle into being an adult, the different experiences that life throws your way will shape the way you see the world, and beyond. While you might think you see the bounds of your beliefs clearly, over the next few years, they will probably evolve a bit more, even if the foundation of them remains the same. Never be judgmental of other's belief systems — learn about as many as you can with an open mind.
How To Gain The Respect Of Your Peers
I understand the desire to be respected by your friends and colleagues, but relax. That will come in time. The only person you should worry about proving yourself to is you.
A Fundamental Idea Of Your "Forever Career"
You don't have to be working in the job that you're going to keep forever at 25. You can do whatever you want to do. You're still young enough to take a silly job that pays well, or a fun job that brings you joy. Experiment with different kinds of workplaces and industries. Learn as much as you can. Education doesn't have to end with college.
All The Paperwork That Comes With Being An Adult
You will probably never fully understand the types of paper work you are given in your mid-20s. So don't freak out if you don't understand your contracts or bills — just make sure you know how to get in touch with the right kind of person when it's needed, like a lawyer, an accountant, or an adviser.
What You Want In A Partner For Life
What you want in a partner in your early 20s will probably change drastically in your late 20s. Figuring out what kind of partner works for you takes a lot of trial and error. You have so much time to find the right person. Don't beat yourself up if you don't know what you want. You don't need to right now.
Your Relationship With Your Family
Family relationships are complicated. As everyone gets older and moves on and away and comes back, the dynamics change. It's always best to aim for a good relationship, but sometimes it takes an entire lifetime to work on it. So don't give up if you haven't found a way to have a peaceful Thanksgiving, because there's always time for family improvement.
Your Personal Style
Don't be so quick to throw away your clothes. The styles that you think are yours to keep might become totally repulsive to you in a few years. Be open to experimentation and never give up on expressing yourself through style. The "you" you imagine at 30 might be very different from the "you" you become.
How To Make An Impact On The World
It's great to be aspirational and it's great to be ambitious. But one thing you'll learn as you head into your late 20s is that in order to make real changes, you have to work really hard and for a long time. There's no rush, you have your whole life to change the world. Make it meaningful.