My life doesn’t look anything like I thought it would at 25. I don’t have a great job, my car barely gets me from point A to B, and I exercise just enough so I don’t feel guilty about that second piece of cake. On the bright side I have a beautiful fiancé, my body and mind are healthy, and every single day I’m getting closer to living out my dreams.
Twenty-five years may not seem like a lot to some people. But if you pay attention during that time you can learn a lifetime’s worth of lessons. For all of you who may be a little younger or a little older, here is some wisdom I’ve picked up along the way.
- Making mistakes isn’t the end of the world. I learned the most during the times I stepped outside the box and refused to play it safe.
- You don’t have to follow all the rules. You’re allowed to make your own path in life. The pushback will be brutal at times, but the payoff is amazing.
- True friends are a precious resource. You’ll have plenty of acquaintances, but once you find someone willing to go through the crap of life with you – hold on to that person.
- You can’t accomplish anything if you’re not healthy. Spending two weeks in the hospital because of a ruptured ulcer taught me that. You only get one body, take care of it.
- Heartbreak sucks, but it’s only as permanent as you let it be. You deserve to be with someone who sees how amazing and valuable you really are. Don’t sell yourself short because you don’t think you can do any better. Find someone who loves all of you.
- You get to pick who you call family. Surround yourself with people who treasure the real you. Because sometimes the families were born into aren’t the best people to be around.
- Don’t define yourself with job titles or college degrees. You’re a million times more valuable than your accomplishments. You are more than what your resume says so take pride in yourself.
- Some parts of you will never grow up and that’s okay. My love for Hot Wheels cars will never die and that’s perfectly fine.
- Television was better when we were kids. Future kids will never know the joy of TGIF or 90’s Saturday morning cartoons. We really had something special.
- You’ll see how human your parents are. Whether you had a good or painful relationship with your parents, over time you’ll see that they were just human too and not the super-heroes we wanted or needed them to be.
- Our metabolism really does slow down. I never understood why grownups were so picky about what they ate until I became one. And I almost can’t believe how much I use to eat.
- You matter. I know at times it feels like we’re completely inconsequential. We’re not. You, your words, your work, your life is important and chances are your making a bigger impact than you think.
- I wish allowance was still a thing and bills weren’t. I know bills and taxes are there for a reason and are a necessary part of a civilized nation. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking they are still evil.
- There is such a thing as soul mates, and they’re worth waiting for. My fiancé proved this to me. No relationship is perfect, but there are some matches that were just meant to be. I hope you find yours.
- Comparing yourself to your high school classmates never leads to anything good. It’s never a good idea to go on Facebook in between applying for jobs because you will inevitably find 37 people who have it all together.
- A positive mindset can help you overcome a lot of day-to-day troubles. In order to really change your life you have to take action. But having a positive mindset lays the foundation for your action to be effective.
- Life is hard. Some days it feels like the entire world is against you. It’s not. The hard stuff hurts, but I promise it doesn’t last forever. Keep going because it does get better.
- Reading the right books will transform your perspective and life. I can’t say enough about making reading a priority in your life. People have faced problems just like ours and have taken the time to write down how they overcame them. We would be foolish not to seek their advice.
- The world will not end if you take a vacation. I know it feels like all the responsibility is on our shoulders, but for our own sanity and health we have to take a step back sometimes.
- Don’t live with regret. Looking back at missed opportunities will only make you miss the opportunities that are right in front of you.
- Smile as much as you can. Cry as much as you need to. Don’t think that just because you’re an adult you need to hide your emotions. If you’re excited, let it show! If you’re crushed by something that happened, mourn the loss. Emotional maturity is just as important as other types of maturity.
- Make sense of your money. Money can be a huge cause of stress. But if you take the time to manage and budget, even with a small income life will seem much less stressful.
- Life is beautiful. When’s the last time you took 15 minutes just to walk through the park. We have a beautiful world with billions of unique stories being lived out every day. Never forget your part of something extraordinary called humanity.
- Hard work pays off, just not always in the way you think. We will spend a huge portion of our lives working. Do everything you can to find work that’s meaningful to you and that helps you live the sort of life you want. Because our work should be about more than just a paycheck.
- Life keeps going, don’t ever give up on your dreams. We could live 1 more day or 70 more years. Either way, I’m going to make each day count. I challenge you to do the same.
This post originally appeared on Pick The Brain on October 19, 2014.