25 Lessons I Learned at 25

So...this is it. I'm officially over the hump tomorrow. I'm turning 26, and right now, I'm sitting and mulling over the crazy, incredible, happy, sad and trying year this has been. Really, if the universe wanted me to learn life lessons, it really saved some of the toughest ones for my 25th year. Being that wise almost-26 year old sage that I am today, I would like to share with you some life lessons I learned in my 25th trip around the sun. Trust me, there's definitely some lessons you might learn from my experiences (emojis included because 2017):

1. Don't be afraid to walk away 🚢: Whether it's a friendship that got stale, a romance that faded away, or a job that sucks the life out of you, please ditch it. Stop trying to wait around to see if things get better. Because while things do get better, sometimes the reason for that is you letting go of the old, heavy stuff weighing you down.

2. Stop comparing yourself to others πŸ‘₯: One of the biggest things I came to terms with this year (and still constantly have to remind myself of daily) is that life is not a race. It's more of a marathon. Everyone goes at their own pace. You, however, have your own place, your own journey, and your own individuality. Stop comparing yourself to people getting married, having kids, or going on fantastic vacations. You have no idea what's going on in other people's lives, and chances are, their lives aren't exactly what they broadcast on Instagram.

3. Everything happens in its own time ⏰: In continuation of the previous point, I wanted to add that things happen when they are supposed to happen. You WILL get your dream job, you WILL find true love, you WILL be happy. When the time is right. Be patient and keep hustling.

4. Hard work pays off 1000x πŸ‹πŸ»‍♀️: No one is going to pay you for showing up on time and looking pretty. Sorry, but that's a fact of life. Everything that you want in life has to be fought for. You have to get ready to go the extra mile, run the distance, or whatever that proverb is. Because it's true. This year, I was blessed with wonderful professional opportunities just because I was willing to put in the extra work. Hard work isn't very fun, but being lazy and sitting on your butt is just downright unhealthy for you.

5. Say NO πŸ™…πŸ»‍♂️ : No is a complete sentence. You don't owe anyone an explanation for it. Enough said. If you find yourself in a situation that you don't want to be involved in, say no. Thank yourself later.

6. Find yourself in solitude πŸŒ…: Now, I call myself an impossible introvert because I actively seek out solitude. But in the midst of silence and alone-ness is where you will find the answers. Often I make it a point to just be by myself, read a book, go for a walk or run. Or just watch the sunset. It's peaceful and you only have yourself to talk to. That's where you'll get some of your most pressing answers.

7. Travel more πŸ›«: I visited three countries this year. Now, I'm not normally a travel-bug, but that summer trip gave me so much more than memories and a nice tan. I saw the world through a new lens, learning about the history of those places (such as Israel and Egypt), marveled at the human hands that built those amazing structures, and immersed myself in new cultures (the food! the language! the people!). Even if you can't afford international travel, just go and explore nearby cities. You'll be surprised at how much you'll change.

8. Find God πŸ™Œ: My year had some great highs, but also a ton of lows. It's then that I started praying more and basically rediscovered my religion. I feel safe and comforted in the fact that God is working great things in our lives, even we don't realize it. Now, you don't have to be religious, but you can embrace your inner spirituality. Whatever it is that keeps you going and gives you hope, find it.

9. Exercise more 🚴🏻‍♀️ : Seriously, do it. Set your alarm for 5 am and go for a jog. Or cram in an hour of gym time after work. Your body will thank you twenty years from now.

10. You are not your past πŸ”™ : Whatever you screwed up in the past, or whatever stupid stuff you did, it's over. It's gone. Poof. Doesn't matter. Focus and act in the present (because it's a gift, lol). But seriously, I found my life became so much more simple when I started focusing on the present rather than stupid stuff that happened in the past.

11. People's opinions don't matter πŸ™‰ : I know this is a very common struggle, and something I still find myself struggling with. But as a reminder to us all: what people think of you is none of your concern. People have opinions, let them have them! They all are entitled to what they think. Just keep doing what you do.

12. Be kind to others πŸ’• : I've learned that if I show kindness to someone, eventually it bounces back in some form. Kindness makes the world so much better rather than being bitter and hating on everyone. Try to help others out, go out of your way to do something nice each day. Even if there's nothing in it for you. Your heart and soul will grow.

13. And be kind to yourself πŸ’– : It's equally important to be kind to yourself. Have you heard the Pink song, "Perfect"? She sings, "Change the voices in your head, make them like you instead." That's very true. You have to be kind to yourself and tell yourself that it's okay to make mistakes. Bad stuff happens, and you're allowed to take your time to recover. It's YOUR life, not anyone else's. Remind yourself that happiness and success is a process, not a destination. You will take time.

14. Also, be YOU πŸ™‹‍♂️ : Seven billion people on the planet and there's only one you. I think I summed it up right there. No one else knows what it's like to step in your shoes. You are unique in the sense that nobody can take your place. So stop trying to be who you're not and embrace the embarrassing, beautiful mess that you are!

15. We all make mistakes πŸ™‡ : If I could count the number of times I screwed up this past year, I would run out of fingers. Look, mistakes happen, and that's how we learn. We learn not to repeat those mistakes and they make us stronger. Allow yourself room for growth through mistakes and mess ups. Everyone does it and gets over it.

16. Failure is actually fun πŸ’© : A big lesson I learned is that you can fail when you least expect it. At a point this year, I thought I had everything figured out. I was on top one moment, and next, on my face. Failure sucks. It hurts like hell. But I've learned to embrace that. I'm stronger as a result of my failures. And they're not going to stop me from achieving what I want to.

17. A grateful heart makes the world better πŸ’ : Look around you. No, seriously, look. You probably have a roof over your head. You're (hopefully) not naked. You just ate a while back, or if you are, congrats. You're blessed. Being grateful and thankful for the things you have, not just materialistic, but in terms of family, friends, opportunities and freedoms, makes your life so much better. Before you complain, think about how much you have and how much some people would KILL to be in your place. Think about it.

18. Stick with your family πŸ‘¨‍πŸ‘©‍πŸ‘§‍πŸ‘¦  : Maybe I'm getting old or maybe I just like to spend more and more time with my parents and relatives. Family is the backbone of who you are, they are the ones who made you, you. They're the ones who pick you up when you're face down in the mud. So hold them close and appreciate your time with them. They won't be around forever.

19. Hold on tight to those that matter πŸ‘― : Aside from family, your life is filled with people who are proud to know you. Friends, colleagues, gym buddies, that random stranger smiling at you...they love you. Well, at least they like you. Actually, they tolerate you. But you get the point. Appreciate the fact that you have them in your life.

20 Everyone is a little broken πŸŽ­ : Everyone you pass daily or work with, or spend time with, has been through stuff you have no idea about. They may be just as broken, or even more so, than you. You're not alone in the journey called life. Speak to people about their issues, share your stories with them. You'll be surprised what you can learn about them and yourself.

21. Take risks! 🀸‍♂️ I keep reminding myself that I still have youth on my side. Your 20s are the time to take risks, do crazy stuff and dream BIG. And the best thing about taking risks? You'll either succeed, or fail. So it's a win-win! Don't be afraid of what the outcome will be, if you want to do something risky and awesome, do it! So go start that business you wanted to and ask that girl out.

22. Do stuff like no one cares (because they don't) 🀹‍♂️: I spent a majority of my adolescence and early 20s thinking that people are scrutinizing everything I do. Sometimes they do (in which case, F them) but mostly they don't. People don't really care about what you are up to, as sad as that may seem. Everyone is too busy building their own castles that they'll seldom see what you are up to. So do things at your own pace, your own way.

23. Stop overthinking everything πŸ€” : Let's be honest I still do this. But I'm working on this too. Overthinking gets you nowhere, but actions do. So the next time you're up at 2 am wondering if what you said to someone was the right thing or not, text that person sorry. Or go to sleep. Either way, you're taking action. Your brain sometimes likes to work overtime analyzing super minor things that hardly even mattered. The next time you find yourself overthinking, force your brain to shut off. Do something productive instead.

24. Your life is actually pretty awesome. πŸ‘ All said and done, life is not that bad. If you had a bad day at work, at least you have a job. If you don't have a job, be sure that somewhere, someone will employ you. God didn't make us to be miserable, He made us to be joyful and happy. Life is filled with moments that are wonderful and amazing, find them and cherish them. Don't linger on negativity. Remember that for every bad thing that happens, there are fifty other great things that happened to you that day. Life is awesome.

25. Choose happiness 🌈 : Finally, I learned that happiness is not an external circumstance. It's a choice. You must actively find things that make you happy. Find the light in all the darkness. Make others happy and fill the world with smiles. The world is going to burn out in a billion years, anyway. Might as well make your life a happy one. Smile, and make others smile too.

As I step into 26, not only am I closer to 30 than to 20 (wow), but I definitely feel stronger, wiser, more resilient and definitely (a bit more) mature. Well, actually, not that mature, because I still giggle whenever someone says 'butt'. So, fellow 26-ers, and all those still navigating the bizarre and wonderful decade called your 20s, let's keep pushing forward and making those dreams come true!

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