There are many realizations that will come to you once you turn 25. One of them is that as it turns out, even at this age of technology, you still can’t simply yell, “Alexa, help me figure out my life.” Congratulations, you can now officially begin your quarter-life crisis.
Being 25 is weird. It’s like you’re in this limbo where you’re still basking in the glory of your twenties and at the same time panicking because you’re halfway to your thirties and there are a lot of things you thought you’ve had figured out by now.
So I think it seems appropriate to make a list of the lessons I have learned at this age. This way, instead of reaching for the panic button, I can look back and think about all the valuable learnings and experiences I’ve had along the way. Let’s turn this quarter-life crisis to a quarter-life pivot, maybe even an axel jump.
Here are 25 lessons I’ve learned so far:
1. Almost everything will begin to function again if you just unplug it for a couple of minutes, most especially yourself. Don’t forget to take healthy, mindful breaks.
2. It’s okay to redefine your dreams and reinvent yourself. Don’t be afraid to start over if that’s what it would take for you to find who you are.
3. People wouldn’t always understand why you do what you do. Oftentimes, the people closest to you are the ones who would question and won’t understand the path you want to take. Nevertheless, if your heart says so, follow that path anyways.
4. Though it’s easier said than done, train your mind to worry less. I am a professional over-thinker. I even overthink my overthinking. But in each case it was just a waste of my mojo, time, and energy. Don’t go down anxiety-shaped rabbit holes.
5. Trust your decisions but most importantly, stand by them.
6. Your early 20s are a time when building your career is at its prime. Your work should be directly proportionate to your happiness; the more work you do, the happier you become. When work itself is the reward, you’ll find your days more meaningful.
7. Have a great support system. The valuable connections in your life will be the strings that’ll keep you afloat during your drowning moments.
8. Be aware of your daily habits. Small things repeated everyday leads to big impact results.
9. Be interested in others, you won’t get anywhere just talking about yourself. Connect with people, ask questions, see from their perspective. You’ll find it hard to understand a lot of things if you can only relate to the person in the mirror.
10. Once you decide to try something new, today is best day and now is the best time.
11. “Do it today so you wouldn’t have to worry about it tomorrow.” There are a lot of things you can be an expert on, but don’t let procrastination be one of them.
12. Learn how to handle failure. You will fail in small ways and you will fail in a grander scale. By the time you reach 25, chances are you have encountered your fair share of setbacks, failures, and heartbreaks. Instead of seeing it negatively, use it as a weapon. As J.K. Rowling said, “The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive.”
13. Seek mentors, not just in work but in life. You will feel less at lost when there’s someone who sees your potential and believes in you. You will learn a great deal from them and it’ll be priceless. The only way to return the favor is to pay it forward. When the time comes, mentor someone too.
14. Set your own life standards and it certainly must not be based on what you see on Instagram. Don’t live your life through a filter.
15. Be comfortable in discomfort, it’s necessary for growth. When you’re in the pursuit of personal greatness, you will always feel awkward and out of place. Embrace it.
16. Give yourself value. It won’t come from your employer, from your peers, or your partner, it comes from you. One of the greatest source of frustrations in life is the illusion of needing other people’s validation. You are not a parking ticket.
17. Learn generously. Just because you’re already out of school means you’re done learning. Learn from books, experiences, and people. You are an eternal student and classes are never dismissed.
18. Find your tribe, a community of like-minded people, who thinks, creates, and acts similarly. They will be “your people.”
19. Three cups of coffee do not compensate for two hours of sleep. It does not make you a productive person, it makes you a zombie dressed in civil clothes.
20. Don’t let a day pass you by without accomplishing something no matter how small it is.
21. The best gift you can ever give someone is your time and undivided attention. Volunteer for a cause, teach someone something and listen when a friend is talking, and I mean really listen, not just occasionally nodding while checking your phone.
22. Just because the label says waterproof doesn’t mean it really is.
23. Just because you wanted something so badly doesn’t mean you’ll get it. And it’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes a rejection is a redirection.
24. You can’t know for sure what others think, you can only speculate. And spending a great deal of your time speculating is wasteful. Unless you’re a detective solving a crime, then speculate away.
25. Your life experiences are like your Amazon shopping list – perfectly curated, customized, and shows a great deal of variety. So if an experience brings you joy, excites you, and won’t break the bank, go ahead and add to cart.
Despite being a lengthy list, these are just are just a few of the lessons a young adult can learn.
Life’s a pretty tricky thing as it turns out. Just when you thought you have all the answers, the equation changes. And I don’t even like Math. So as I enter a new phase in my life, I will keep these learnings by heart and make room for new ones.