26 Little Lessons That Make a Huge Difference in How You Do Life

Having recently reached a quarter of my life, I have to admit, I’m nowhere near where I thought I’d be at 25. I thought I’d be taller. I thought I’d be wiser. I thought I’d be a few years into my career. I thought I’d know, one hundred percent, what I’d be doing with my life.

That’s the thing about the future. You never know where you’ll end up.

But, no matter where you want to go or don’t want to go, every single trip is an experience. Whether such lessons be good, terrible, or a bit of both, to say I’ve learned a lot in my 25 years is the understatement of the century.

I could probably go on for pages and pages about where I’ve gone, who I’ve been, or even who I pretended to be. For the sake of my sanity (and yours), here are only 26 (one for good luck, of course) lessons I’ve learned in my 25 years of life…

1. If it hurts, let it. There are many ways to mask pain. Drink. Eat. Sleep. Serial Date. Escapism isn’t the answer. Plus, if it hurts, imagine how great it will feel when that hurt ends. Trust me when I say, it will end.

2. Have faith in something. Whether it be religion, love, or chocolate. If you have nothing to believe in, what do you have?

3. Be the kind of person who says yes, when appropriate of course.

4. Know how (and when) to say no. If you don’t want to do it, don’t. If you know you shouldn’t do it, definitely don’t.

5. Make your significant other breakfast. There’s a likely chance you will continually fail at making pancakes and your bacon may not have the perfect amount of crisp, but the effort counts. It really does.

6. Go on the most epic date of all time with the most epic person of all time: YOU.

7. Cry. Better yet, allow the person who made you cry, see you cry. It won’t be easy, but to be vulnerable in front of another is rare. To be vulnerable in front of another is special. Even if it’s the first and last time, it’s something, it really is.

8. Admit that you care, but don’t pretend you do, if you don’t.

9. Be honest. I can’t say this enough, but just do it.

10. If he looks you in the eye and says he no longer loves you, believe him. He won’t change his mind.

11. Follow that gut feeling. If it doesn’t feel right, it likely isn’t. Nobody knows you, more than you.

12. Love your curves, but don’t neglect your health. Some people really are just annoyingly skinny. Those people are lucky. As for the rest of us, walk, bike, dance. Do something, anything, to get that heart rate up.

13. If there’s music playing, dance. Actually, even if there’s no music playing, dance. Dance wherever, whenever, always.

14. Listen to your mom. She will tell you things you don’t want, but need to hear. She will say out loud what you already know, but pretend you don’t. Listen. I promise you, she knows. She’s been there.

15. Be a good friend. While it seems like an easy task, the older you get, the harder maintaining friendships becomes. Make an effort. If that effort does little, let him or her go. People grow apart.

16. Don’t build walls. We all do it. Nobody enjoys being vulnerable, but people will only try so hard to knock those walls down, and if you don’t let them, they will stop trying. An empty room with nothing but walls is a very lonely place.

17. Pick up the phone when an old friend or family member calls. Better yet, make the call yourself! It’s easy to shoot a text, email, or Facebook message these days, but hearing a loved one’s voice on the other line is so much better.

18. Say “I love you?? over and over again. Say it and mean it. Say it so the receiving end knows you mean it. Don’t be afraid to say it. The worst thing that could happen is unrequited love, but then, at least you know.

19. Cuddle. Whether it’s with a dog, a pillow, or an actual human being, sometimes it’s nice to have something to hold onto. Sometimes, if you choose the latter, it’s nice to have someone hold onto you.

20. Get educated. If college isn’t for you, great, but there are so many other ways to learn. Take a free class, read a book, watch the news. Listen. You can learn so much about the world around you by simply listening.

21. Go to the movies alone. Trust me on this one, it feels so good to have no distractions.

22. Date lots of different people, like actually date. If the offer comes past 9:00pm, it’s likely not a date. Go to dinner. See a movie. Walk around the bay. Actually do something with someone else. You won’t like everyone. In fact, there’s a chance you won’t like anyone. But, you never know.

23. Take a break from dating, but don’t pass up a good thing just because you’re being stubborn. It’s important to give yourself time to regroup and be independent, but don’t do so just to prove to yourself you can. Do so because it’s in your best interest. You shouldn’t have to prove yourself to yourself.

24. If you’re unsure, don’t take the road less travelled. While I urge all to try something new, sometimes it’s okay to stick to what you know. Sometimes, you should stick to what you know.

25. Be yourself, one hundred percent of the time. Many won’t like it, but many will. Many won’t just like it, they will love it. Those are the people who deserve to be around you. Choose your people wisely.

26. Ask questions, lots of them. It’s okay to not know, but it’s no fun to keep wondering. Don’t know something? Ask. Lost and need some help? Ask. Don’t wait for the answers to come to you, find them.

You can learn a lot in 25 years, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I still have so much to learn. I may actually, officially, qualify as an adult at this point in my life and while it’s hard to recognize I’m not where I thought I’d be, I’m learning to keep learning. 

I’m learning to be happy. I’m learning to be nothing more and nothing less than me.

Who am I? Beats me.

What am I? AWESOME.