When I used to think about what turning 25 would be like, I naively envisioned myself as this super confident, frizz-free, grown up woman who wore power suits everyday and had everything figured out. However, with my 25th birthday just days away, I have to admit I'm not exactly who or where I thought I would be — and that's okay with me. Don't get me wrong, I'm really proud of where I am in a lot of ways. This time last year I was about to be laid off from a part time serving gig, I cried almost every day, and I could barely pay my bills. Now, I have a great day job, I get paid to write about topics I adore, and I laugh way more than I cry (though I do still cry some, because you know, hormones).
But I think the thing that surprises me the most about turning 25 — the thing I expected the least, and the thing that I'm probably the most proud of — is what I've learned about how weird, crazy, unpredictable, and absolutely joyous life can be.
Of course, I realize there's so much left for me to learn about life: I am just 25 after all. But having said that, I could not be more grateful to have learned the following 25 things by the ripe young age of 25.
1. 25 Is Not Old
I can't believe I ever thought 25 was old, but I did. When I was in my teens I would meet 25 year-olds with real jobs and house payments and spouses and I'd think — damn, they've really got it together. But now that I'm actually 25 I've realized no one has it all together, and that's okay. The unpredictability of life isn't really conducive to having everything figured out, no matter how old you are — and I kind of love that.
2. Rejection Is Nothing To Be Afraid Of
I've finally realized that you cannot become successful in life if you're not willing to risk screwing up. For years, I let fear of failure keep me from submitting my writing or applying for more challenging jobs, but now I know how crazy that was. If the worst possible result that can come from pursuing what we want is failing, then there's really nothing to be afraid of.
I got so many rejection letters before I finally got published, but it was totally worth it. Now that I've found success in writing, I don't even care about all those past rejections. I didn't let their politely-worded, dream-crushing denials keep me from submitting to other places, and it paid off. So allow yourself to mess up, because success only happens if you keep trying.
3. Adulting Sucks, But You Won't Regret It
No one likes spending their Saturdays running errands and cleaning their apartment. But you will never regret getting sh*t done. Although it may not be as relaxing as burrowing under you covers with snacks and wine, taking the time to work through your to-do list will ultimately make your life easier and your days run smoother. Your responsibilities aren't going anywhere, and Netflix is always streaming.
4. Giving Advice Is Much Easier Than Taking It
After 25 years of being on this planet, I've learned how to give some pretty spot-on advice about life and love ... but I kind of suck at taking most of it. When my friends come to me with relationship problems, I'm super quick to say, "Talk it out!" But when it's my turn to have difficult conversations in my own relationship, I turn into the biggest wimp and I almost always put them off for way too long.
5. Your Mom Is Probably Right About Whoever You're Dating
Don't ask me how, but my mom knew that every one of my ex boyfriends were wrong for me way before I did. Of course, I didn't listen to her, but if I had, I could have saved myself a lot of heartache. Don't be dumb like I was. Take your mom's advice.
6. Unfortunately, There's No Expiration Date On Insecurity
When I was growing up I used to think I'd eventually just grow out of being insecure. And while I have grown more self-assured in many ways as I've gotten older, I've finally realized that insecurity is just part of being alive. We've all got it in some shape or form, and all we can do is continue to work on it.
7. You Don't Gain Confidence Without Being Scared First
Again, I grew up thinking confidence automatically came with age. But it really doesn't. Confidence is built when you decide that being scared isn't a good enough reason not to do something. If you make choosing action over fear a habit, then you'll find the things that used to scare you don't scare you anymore.
I used to be scared of so many things; like pitching my articles, first dates, and taking charge at my day job. But eventually, I decided to do all those things anyway, and now I really don't know what I was so afraid of.
8. Sometimes Winging It Is The Right Choice
You can't plan out every single detail of your life, or even your day, and there will be times when there's no clear cut answer as to what your next move should be. At my day job, I pretty much had to "wing it" for the first six months I worked there because there was very little training available, and after almost a year of working that same job, I still come across situations at work where "winging it" is the only option.
The thing is, you're not always going to know what to do in life, but you have to do something. And if you can't be flexible, you're going to have a miserable time.
9. ... But That Doesn't Mean You Shouldn't Plan Ahead
Obviously you shouldn't be "winging" every single decision in your life. Being flexible and being irresponsible are not the same thing. Whatever your goals are, they're important, and it is your responsibility to create a game plan that will allow you to achieve them.
10. When It Comes To Friends, Less Is Actually More
Quantity is definitely not quality. Don't get me wrong, as a kid I had lots of friends and I loved it. But now, I probably have about five true friends, and I love it way more. I have no doubts that they'll be there when I need them, and I genuinely want to be there for them too.
11. People Are Different — And That's Okay
I used to spend hours arguing with my dad about politics and religion — and for the life of me, I don't know why. Being open and honest about your beliefs is good, but you shouldn't feel like you need to change people's minds. They're going to think what they're going to think and it's really none of your business anyway.
12. Lube Is Your Best Friend
For real though. Whether you're sexually active or just taking your needs into your own hands, you really should keep this stuff stocked and readily accessible. Even if you think you don't need it. Trust me, your body will thank you.
13. We Create 90% Of Our Own Stress
I've realized over the years that most of the things I worry about never happen. And, although anxiety is often uncontrollable, sometimes worrying is a choice we make simply because not worrying is really hard work.
14. Youth Is Not An Excuse To Be A Selfish Idiot
Maturity may come with age, but that doesn't mean you can blame poor judgment on youth. Whether you're 23 or 73, you are responsible for yourself and your actions. So don't think you can explain away bad choices by saying, "I was young."
15. Romantic Comedies Are Total Bull Sh*t
Relationships are really, really hard work sometimes. Incompatible couples don't magically work out just because they love each other and are super attracted to one another. Despite what every rom com tells you, love is simply not enough to keep a relationship healthy, and love is not a good enough reason to stay in a relationship that doesn't work.
16. You're Always Allowed To Change Your Mind
Don't feel obligated to stick with a major, a job, a person, a hair color, or anything else in your life that ceases to be good for you. People change, and life is both too long and too short to be unhappy.
17. Sometimes Mistakes Lead To Something Awesome
Right after I graduated college I got a copy writing job, but I was so intimidated by it that I quit after a week. A week! I beat myself up for that for about a year and a half afterwards, but now I really wish I hadn't, because I love where that decision has led me. Although I don't plan on working it forever, the day job I ended up landing in healthcare has made me a better, more confident person. Plus, I know if I were writing copy all the time I probably wouldn't have the time and energy to write and pitch the nonfiction stuff I truly enjoy writing about.
18. When In Doubt, Google It
You probably don't need me to tell you this, but seriously, there's no easier way to get answers to whatever questions you may have. I just got back from a trip to Chicago and I honestly don't know how I would have gotten around without that beautiful little search engine. It's also an excellent resource for those times in life when "winging it" isn't optional.
19. Some Things Are Worth Spending Your Money On
I'm not saying you shouldn't spend sensibly, but don't feel guilty for spending a little bit extra at the grocery store to stock up on healthy foods, and don't do your back the disservice of buying a cheap bed. Being healthy costs more, but it is worth it.
20. ... But Saving Money Is Important too
You don't need 15 shades of lipstick or 10 pairs of jeans. Eight dollar wine tastes perfectly fine, and Starbucks should really be an occasional indulgence, not a daily treat. Do your bank account a favor and invest in a good coffee pot. (Oh, and try not to make Amazon purchases when you're drunk on $8 wine.)
21. You Are Responsible For Your Own Happiness
After I graduated college and was neck-deep in my quarter life crisis, my sister told me this, and she's right. No one can create happiness for you, you have to create it for yourself. Figure out what you want, or what you think you want, and launch a plan that will help you get it.
22. You Will Not Regret Safe Experimentation
I tried a lot of fun stuff when I was in college, and I still don't regret any of it. If you're being safe, you're with people you trust, and you don't let the fun stuff affect your professional/academic life, then there's no reason not to go for it. Life is all about experiences, and when I'm 80 and gray I doubt I'm going to teeter around saying stuff like, "I sure wish I hadn't smoked all that delicious weed with those awesome people" or "Man, I shouldn't have made out with that beautiful woman when I was drunk off of blackberry wine."
23. Not Asking For Help Doesn't Make You Strong
The summer of my junior year in college I was severely depressed, and I didn't try to get help because I was too afraid of what people would think of me. I could have been so much happier and healthier so much sooner if I'd gotten help. Fortunately, it passed with time, activity, and lots of support from friends, but it could have been dangerous — and I'm really lucky it wasn't.
24. You Should Wear Whatever You Want
For most of my teens and early twenties I was so self-conscious that I didn't always wear what I wanted to. But now, I wear whatever strikes my fancy — no matter how quirky or revealing it is. You don't have to have curves to rock booty shorts and you don't have to be thin to rock bikinis. Fashion is way too fun to have so many rules, so wear whatever you want. It's really no one's business but yours.
25. Take Time To Get To Know Yourself, Because You're Stuck With You
Literally dozens of people have already filtered in and out of my life so far. It's made me realize more than ever that I have to love myself, and, more importantly, I have to be the kind of person that I can love. Because the only person who you can absolutely depend on to stay in your life forever is yourself.