In just a couple months I’ll be halfway through my twenties, and other than being able to rent a car, reap the benefits of lower insurance, and rejoice in the fact that my bangs-phase is long gone, there aren’t many other reasons to be super excited for this upcoming birthday.
After ugly crying into a party-sized bag of salt and vinegar chips a few weeks ago, dreading my approaching birthday and the fact that I’m turning an age that’s halfway to an age that’s halfway to 100, I decided I do have one thing I can be excited about!
I’ve spent (almost) 25 years on this earth. 25 years of numerous mistakes, regret, and heartache. 25 years I can look back on and evaluate my decisions and try and learn from them. And I’ve decided, after many “oh my gosh; I’m almost 25” tears shed, to make a list of 25 things I’ve learned. It will be like a little birthday present to me of all the things I’ve been a big-girl enough to realize about my life!
1. It’s perfectly fine to say no to going out.
I remember not wanting to say no when a friend asked if I wanted to hang out. I would tell myself if I didn’t go out that night or get together that afternoon with so-and-so, they would never ask me to hang out again. And guess what? They might not. But if that happens, they weren’t that great of friends anyways. Your true friends will understand if you need a day to yourself to binge-watch Gilmore Girls and eat a pint of ice cream. Sometimes you need to just say no.
2. But also say “heck yes” every once in a while.
This is the hard part – deciding when to say no and when to say yes — that ball is going to be in your court. But if you randomly get invited to skip school on a Friday to drive to Vegas for the weekend, that’s probably a “heck yes.” And if you get asked if you want to participate in a hot dog eating contest, that’s probably a “heck yes” too. Unless you’re vegetarian; then that would be a “no thanks.” See! You have to decipher when the heck yeses are and when the noes are. Just make sure you save room for some heck yeses because they will always make incredible memories!
3. Don’t be ashamed of solely going to the store to buy tampons and wine.
TREAT YO SELF GUUUURL! Get some Ben & Jerry’s too.
4. Call your mom. And your dad. And your Grandma and brothers and sisters.
Family is so utterly important, and they won’t be around forever. Give them a call! Even if it’s just to say you love them.
5. For goodness’ sakes, STOP PRETENDING.
If you don’t like drinking, don’t drink. If you don’t like staying out late at night, don’t stay out late. Life is too short to do things you don’t like doing, so cut it out dude! Don’t worry about what other people will think! Do what you love, and stop pretending to like things you don’t like!
6. Travel. Travel. Travel.
Hopefully saying it three times really got it stuck in your head because it’s super important! I spent a year abroad and it changed my life. Go to Ireland. Go to Italy. Go to New Zealand. Go to the Texas for all I care! Just go SOMEWHERE!
7. Never pass up on an opportunity for free food.
8. Live within your means.
If you can’t afford that floral bomber jacket, don’t get it. Even if it looks amazing on you. You don’t want to spend money you don’t have and you don’t want to put yourself in a bad financial situation because of a piece of clothing. I know how tempting it can be and how much it sucks to not always be able to afford everything you want, but splurge in moderation. If you had the choice between getting a jacket or paying rent, I think you’d prefer a roof over your head.
9. Figure out how to love yourself before you dive into a relationship.
You need to love yourself before anyone else can love you; otherwise it’s a recipe for disaster.
10. Stop comparing your life to others. STOP IT.
Seriously. Comparison is truly the thief of joy. It will only make you bitter and upset and depressed, and none of that is fun. Also, who is to say someone else’s life is better than yours? Most of the time we only see one side of someone – do you constantly post about or talk about the most difficult times in your life? Probably not. And neither does everyone else. We only see the edited version of other people’s lives. Everyone has ups and downs. Everyone has insecurities. No one is perfect, so wishing to be someone else would only bring different problems. The only person you should ever be comparing yourself with is yourself. Just work on making you your best self – not someone else.
11. Put your phone away at dinner; you’re missing out on life!
I’m guilty of this. A lot. It’s so difficult in this day and age, when technology is essentially the center of everything, to forget that we are missing the life in front of us when we engage in the life happening on our phone. We can always scroll back to previous posts later, but we can never relive a dinner with family or a moment with friends. Put your phone away for a while!
12. Read the news, and be informed!
It is always a good idea to know what is going on in the world.
13. Be as kind and loving to yourself as you would be to a friend.
Would you tell your friend they look fat in those pants? Or that they need to change everything about themselves in order for a guy to like them? No. So, stop telling yourself those things. If you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, don’t say it to yourself.
14. As you get older, your body changes. Learn to love it and learn to take care of it.
I remember my metabolism used to be akin to the speed of a Ferrari. Now it’s more like an old Volkswagen bus. And ya know what? I’m okay with that. I just know now that I need to work a little harder to maintain a healthy weight, and I can’t eat all the chips I want. Just like you need to watch your spending, monitor your intake – everything with moderation.
15. You’re never going to be able to make everyone happy.
Pick and choose your battles. You can’t make everyone happy and you shouldn’t feel like you have to. Sometimes it’s okay to put yourself first.
16. Remember to check and see that the gas pump is out of your car.
Before you start to drive away.
17. Happiness is a choice.
This is a tough one because I know I’ve been down in the dumps many times and it’s hard to change your mindset. But once you get in the habit of thinking of the positive things and thinking about all the things you’re thankful for, I promise you’ll be happier.
18. PUT ON SUNSCREEN.
Looking like an old piece of leather may be cool to you, but cancer isn’t. Lather up on the SPF. You’ll thank me later.
19. Make time for your friends.
Wine and The Bachelor is always a good idea. And so is a coffee date at Starbucks. Or a walk on the beach. Whatever your ideal friend-date is, go on one! And go on them often. Having a good set of friends and actually spending time with them is essential.
20. Make time for yourself.
Don’t get too sucked into the routine of making yourself so busy you don’t have at a couple hours of alone time each week. I love taking a bath, and I love reading books. These are my two favorite forms of “alone time,” and I make sure that I have some time each week to fulfill both of these things. Making time for yourself is difficult sometimes, but it’s always worth it in the end. Unwinding is therapeutic and it will definitely help you get through a tough week.
21. Don’t worry about what other people think of you.
If you want to mismatch clothes or dance in the middle of a street or sing to the latest Katy Perry song at the top of your lungs in a crowded room DO IT. Stop thinking about what other people will think of you. If you want to do something that will make you happy, you shouldn’t have to worry what someone will say or think. You do you.
22. Always keep an umbrella in your car.
I learned the hard way.
23. Never be afraid to ask for help.
Most people don’t know what they’re doing either. You’ll look better if you’re honest with yourself and other people if you truly don’t know what the heck you’re doing. It’s always okay to ask for guidance.
24. Being kind will never go out of style.
It’s so much easier to be friendly and kind than it is to be hurtful. Bullying is so 2014. Let’s all just be nice to each other and call it a day.
25. Life stinks sometimes, but there’s always a silver lining.
Even in the darkest moments of my life, I can look back and see where God was working his magic. I am so thankful for all my low moments because I learned so much about myself. I grew stronger. In those moments where you think you can’t go on any longer, you’re wrong. You can. You will always get through whatever is ailing you and you will be able to see the light on the other side. Life is hard. But you’re stronger. And there’s so much to be happy and thankful about.