In a month I turn 26 (cue mid 20s existential crisis). I’ll be closer to 30 than 20 and if that’s not enough to make me feel old I don’t know what is.
Lucky for me, I like getting older. I like growing and learning and evolving into the best possible version of myself. I usually reflect on each year, but this year, I’m gonna reflect on the last 25.
Obviously I can’t remember my first few years of life- but I can remember my childhood overall, and will try to draw lessons from it.
So- here’s 25 lessons I’ve learned so far:
- Don’t fight sleep: If you’re tired (and have time) SLEEP. If you’re sick SLEEP. If you’re having a bad day and have tried to turn it around and it’s just not really working SLEEP. Sleep is so important for our overall health and common…who doesn’t love a good nap?
- Smile and say “Hi”: When you make eye contact with a neighbour, say hi. When you’re at the grocery store and make eye contact with someone, smile. In a world where so many of our interactions are technology based, keeping these old social etiquettes alive is so important (and usually makes you feel good too!)
- Always say thank you: No matter what. Kindness should be rewarded- always. So if someone does something even remotely kind for you, thank them.
- Make new friends: This one is trickier the older I get because it’s no longer acceptable to go to the park and push a random kid on the swing and vow to be best friends forever. But in all seriousness, just try to make friends. See someone at the gym who you think you could befriend? Smile and say hi (#2. Coming in handy here). See someone walking down the street with a dog- ask to pet it and start chatting!
- Don’t let mean people bring you down: People who are mean are so rarely happy- remember that. Try to find compassion for them, and move on.
- Give: This is generic but any form of giving is so important. Donate to charity if you can ever afford to. Bake someone some treats if they’re feeling down. Cook your parents or friends a meal. Give as much as you can and your heart will only grow.
- Put time into your passions: Love drawing? Draw. Love music? Sing. Love animals? Walk your (or someone else’s) dog. So often as adults we get caught up in the rat race and forget to engage in what truly brings us joy. But man, it’s important that we dive into what we love as often as we can.
- Nightmares are temporary: I remember when I was 8 I had nightmares frequently. I remember feeling so consumed by the nightmares it began to affect my sleep in general. I think it’s important to remember nightmares are temporary. This can go for hard times in life too. They always pass.
- Time alone is important: I’m an introvert (an extroverted introvert to be exact). But, that doesn’t mean I always want to be alone. I enjoy being around people with positive energy! I also enjoy helping others. But, time alone is important for everyone I think. It gives us time to reflect on our days, sit with our thoughts and really dig deep.
- Go to therapy: I’m a strong believer that everyone can benefit from therapy. No matter how steady they are, we all have something that keeps us up at night. Life’s tough and there’s nothing wrong with laying it all out on the table with a professional.
- You don’t always have to be busy: I remember as a preteen I would try to fill all of my time with friends, shopping, working out, school, homework. I never just gave myself time to be, time to rest. I think it’s important to learn the balance of hard work, play and rest. All 3 Are important, but each in moderation.
- Mental illness isn’t your fault: When I was 12 I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I remember holding a lot of guilt thinking I caused it or I let it happen. It’s taken me years to realize no one asks for mental health issues. We’re all just doing the best we can. Accepting my illness was the greatest step in my recovery and maintenance.
- Not everyone has sound intentions: Not everyone you love will love you. Not everyone who claims they love you actually does. Trust your gut and if someone doesn’t value you- walk the fuck away.
- You can’t rely on anyone else to make you happy: If you do, your happiness will always be fleeting. No one else will ever care about you as much as you should. Your well-being is totally your responsibility. Yes, other people can offer comfort and support, but ultimately it’s in your hands.
- Stand up for yourself: If someone treats you badly, stand up for yourself. This can mean telling them they hurt you, or walking away. The worst thing we can do is let people hurt us repeatedly.
- Don’t assimilate to societal expectations: Don’t date a boy just to fit in with your friends who are dating boys. Don’t hide your true self to satisfy a sick society.
- Figure out what YOU want: Don’t let anyone else tell you what you should do with your life. Other people will be keen to offer opinions and input when you’re making big life decisions like going to college or moving out. But don’t let their opinions make your desires foggy.
- You can’t save people: Tragedy happens. People get hurt. People die. “You cannot save people, you can only love them” -Anais nin
- If anyone ever lays hands on you- leave: Run as fast as you fucking can and don’t look back. Domestic violence is a quiet hell.
- Be proud of yourself: Notice every challenge you’ve overcome and take the time to give yourself a fucking high 5. You’ve gone through a ton of heavy stuff. And you came out so light.
- If someone loves you selflessly- let them: Don’t be fooled by your brains addiction to toxic love. Abuse changes your brain and makes you think that’s what love is. It’s not. So if someone shows you gentle, authentic love, let it happen.
- Study hard. Work hard: Pour yourself into what you love. It will pay off. If not financially, you’ll learn that you are capable of greatness.
- Hard times happen- they don’t define you though: Falling into depression again doesn’t make you weak. Having anxiety attacks again doesn’t mean you always will. Allow yourself to feel what you feel. Find support, and work through it.
- Love hard: You’ve found someone who deserves it.
- Don’t stop going to therapy: Don’t stop challenging yourself. Don’t stop learning. Keep reaching for what you want. Challenge your maladaptive thought patterns and coping strategies. Keep bettering yourself.
Wild. I feel like I’ve learned a lot, especially in the last 5 years. 20’s are hard- you’re trying to figure out how to be an adult and honestly, I think I’ve almost got the hang of it 😉
Here’s to the next 25!