I recently turned 25 this summer and I know that is technically young but boy do I feel old. It might be because I have a child and now my life is measured on how old he is. I already calculated it out that I will be 40 when he graduates from high school. I could also be feeling old because I now am making 5 year goals when before matching my socks was the most responsibility I was going to have for that day; but now, I have a tiny person’s life in the palm of my hands and their future is deeply impacted by my daily decisions.
I love my life and where I am at but I wish that I could write a letter to myself that I could have read when I turned 18 so I could have avoided many potholes in the road. Instead of a letter, though, I’m going to make it easier to read by listing 25 things that I wish that I knew before, that I well know or I am trying to master as of right now.
It’s okay to change your career choice….as many times as it takes: I think decades ago this wasn’t so much a problem for everyone being that there was only limited careers to choose from, but today, come on, there are jobs of jobs. With so many choices it is so hard to pick one, go to school to learn, find the job, and then stay with it for the rest of your life. This is just like throwing a kid inside of an ice cream shop and telling them they can only pick ONE topping and for their ice cream and they have to stick with that topping for the rest of their life…and have you seen the choices at Yogurtland??
Brush off harsh and mean criticism: Most people are jerks, they will criticize you in whatever you do. If the criticism comes from a trusted and beloved friend and is spoken out of love, listen to every word. As for the people who say things just to hear themselves speak, give them a good show 🙂
Eat the cookies: Your body is going to go through so many changes like it already has been. Especially if you become a mother or even a father, your metabolism isn’t what it used to be but as long as you are balancing out the good and bad food and really trying to exercise you can go ahead and eat that cookie, and don’t feel bad about it!
You don’t have to earn everything: America has deeply rooted in us that we have to do something to get something. This isn’t always true, if you are walking with the Lord, He will bless you just like when your significant other shows up with a gift “just because.” Since you didn’t do anything special to deserve it just accept it and be grateful.
Be grateful…for EVERYTHING: As your years alive increases so will the chances of heartbreak, loss, suffering and mourning. Not only to be grateful for the people in your life(though that is most important) but for the little things too. Each time your car starts, Starbucks :-), having clean clothes, a phone, and all the small things that help us with our daily chores.
Learn how to cook: it is so essential for the rest of your life to know how to make a damn good dish. Holidays, family get together’s, BBQs, your kids’ lunches, bake sales, and meals just for everyday. You will be eating at least 3 meals a day for the rest of your life you mind as well invest time to enjoy that time. Not only to make it taste good but for it to be good for you. Invest in knowing what works well for your body, it’s going to be with you for a while.
401K: Not to get all financial on you guys but this really is important. The earlier you start the better. If your company does a match TAKE ADVANTAGE! This is absolutely free money, and you need to take care of the future you. Not only is it going to help you it will help those around you so they don’t have to worry about who is going to take care of you when you age and can’t wipe by yourself anymore.
Be healthy minded: Same concept as the lesson above, take care of yourself. Not only for you but for those that love you. I think it hurts the person more to watch someone go through pain than to actually go through the pain yourself. For your kids’ sake, lovers’ sake and anyone else close to you: go to your yearly checkups, get your teeth clean, get routine eye checkups, blood work and whatever else. The best way to catch a disease is before the symptoms start to show.
Be an encourager: I have been working on this as of late. The people who I remember the most clearly in my life are the ones who were encouraging in every stage that I went through. It’s thoughtless to pass on criticism, anyone can do it, it can be a career. The challenge is to encourage people when there isn’t much you can work with to encourage. It’s easy to praise and glorify people who are on a winning streak with, “Keep it up!” “You’re doing great!” But what about the ones who just lost their spouse and are in a deep depression? This is the lesson that I am learning right now, I want to have such smooth and soothing words that no matter what.
Quality over quantity: I specifically am talking about friends. In high school I had more friends than I could count but now it’s less than what I can count on one hand. I have learned that friends can be so fickle and what my leaders told me about how your friends determine who you are as a person is true. You can easily be influenced by a friends’ bad habits so if you are vulnerable it’s best to stay away from that friend. You need friends who are going to stick with you through thick and thin. Also, your friends may change from year to year, not because you don’t like each other but because you went onto different paths, you moved, you don’t work together anymore or countless other reasons.
Age doesn’t matter: There is such a tight timeline on everything that each human being has to accomplish. If you aren’t married by a certain time or haven’t yet achieved an admirable job, people are asking well what have you been doing? Truth is that there are a million roads to success, and whichever one you are on is the one that you are on no matter how long or how not so long it takes for you to get where you are going.
Play the video game: Meaning to enjoy your down time. I used to feel so guilty when I would relax, when my to do list was long and I had due dates. Of course get your crap done but if you can afford some down time, take it! And enjoy it!
Take time to breath: Make a list of what is important to you to do everyday, if one day you can’t fulfill everything that is on that list, you’re too busy. Keep the main things the main things, all the other miscellaneous stuff that comes can wait.
Volunteer: There is nothing else that will keep you more humble than to give your time to help. During this time you will probably see people who are less fortunate than you are and that automatically will cause an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.
Listen more than you speak: What can you learn from what you already know? Nothing. Why not listen to someone else and their experiences? I grew up not talking much because I was rather shy, but during this time I listened a whole lot and I think that I learned more than the next person who just wants to be heard. Especially when you are speaking to someone who is older, more educated or has a life that you want to mimic. Shut your trap and listen up more! We have two ears and one mouth for a reason 🙂
Leave room for change: We have this grand plan of how our lives should go, but most of the time how we end up is not what we pictured. Throughout your life you will change your mind about different topics, lean more one way than the other and then sway back to where you were or more so. I envisioned my life to be full of music, I wanted to be a famous singer, I’m not saying that that couldn’t still happen but I imagined by the time I was 25 that I would have had at least 3 albums out and be married to Orlando Bloom 🙂 I definitely had to leave room for change in this 🙂
Give blindly & anonymously: If you see a guy begging for change on the side of the road, give him the change if you have it, or more. I hear this all the time about why people don’t give to those people and it’s because those people will use it for drugs or alcohol. That’s not up to you, whatever they do with the money is their choice, if you give your money, you did your part. If it concerns you so much then go buy them a happy meal. Give blindly so that you don’t see what they spend the money on. Also, I have found that giving anonymously is very humbling and it comes straight from a pure heart. Not taking credit for something is very hard to do; but, I don’t want that person acting different around me because they now know that I helped them. Whenever someone has helped me out, I felt like I had to tip toe around that person to not make them upset about anything because I was so grateful for their help.
Put your phone down: I don’t think this needs much explanation, but seriously put the freaking phone down at least for an hour a day.
Over love everyone: We watch these movies about revenge and who can do more wrong to the other person. Why not flip it? Why not over love/bless the other person? Make it a competition of who can bless who more, and this doesn’t have to all be about money but of anything that could bless someone. Help to watch a mom’s kids for free while she catches up on errands, walk dogs, mow lawns, anything really counts as a blessing when it’s from the heart.
Don’t talk crap: This will only rot your soul. It’s so hard to do, especially when feelings are on fire and someone really wronged you. If you have a problem with the person and/or what they have done, tell them, if they get mad and unfriend you on Facebook, good. At least you did your part in not rotting your soul.
Keep clean and organized: For the sake of everyone around you take care of your hygiene. Keep clutter to a minimal in your car, purse, house, etc. A less cluttered life leaves room for growth. It’s hard to move forward and get things done when your life is disorganized.
Have a good reputation: It is crucial for companies to have good reviews on their products or services. Once word goes around that a product has a defect in it, it would be a tough survival for the company to savior that product and keep their buyers. Same thing with people, if you hear word about someone having whatever character flaw your going to think twice about everything with that person. Even if what you heard is false, those words are going to be in the back of your head. Keep such a good reputation that if someone were to spread rumors around about you that another friend shoots them down immediately because they know the truth about you.
Let your no’s be no’s: Be a person that you don’t have to add: I promise, I swear, you can trust me. Be a person that is firm on your word and when you say something that everyone knows that you mean it and that there is no room for doubt.
Keep your commitments: A fickle friend/family member just really sucks. If you say you are going to be somewhere, help someone or do something then do it. Don’t be a flake, because when the time comes that you need help and you flaked on you previous engagements, there will be no one to help you out…unless you pay them…
Knowledge is key: Read, read, read! I think knowledge is the most powerful thing you can have. You take it with you wherever you go. It can be used in every situation and can save your life.
***BONUS*** Your attitude: This can make or break your life. I think this is the most important lesson that I have learned so far. Your situation may not change and it may be out of your control, but you know what you can control? How you react to that situation, at times it might feel that we don’t have control over how we react towards a situation but that’s completely false. The emotions might be really strong and that we can’t bare to make another move without screaming or crying; but, we still have that choice. A stinkin’ attitude can be smelt across the room, seen on someone’s face or heard in their voice. It is so obvious when someone needs an attitude change. There are always two choices given to us when an unfortunate circumstance arises, we can use it to be bitter or to be better.