This year was certainly a very different one for me. It began like any other year and had challenges, hurts, and disappointments of its own… yet, it literally became one of the dreamiest years I’ve ever had. Maybe I’m wrong, but this, being my 25th year (an age I’ve always dreamt would carry a sense of wonder, awe, and accomplishment) was truly something out of the ordinary. I have had experiences, feelings, and situations in the past year that have completely changed the way I think, feel, and act. It’s a year I’ll never forget, since most of it either taught me something deeply revelational about my own history, or shifted something in me that will undoubtedly impact my future.
This post may sound a little bit dorky, or maybe just plain stupid, but I think the more honest you become with yourself and with others, the more ridiculous you risk seeming. So, I’m taking the risk.
As I was saying, this world has become more and more jet puffed with superficial egos, filtered feelings and more hidden agendas than I can make sense of. We all live in a world that is so concerned with how things look… that most of us don’t even pause to think deeply enough about how things really are. Even I have been deluded by my own desire to make sure that I “seem” a certain way. That is, until this year unfolded.
I’m a social media lover, I loveeee seeing and sharing endless feeds of pictures and stories- but this year I took on a challenge to ensure that I didn’t glorify myself, my lifestyle or any of the “things” around me. I decided I wanted to literally change the way I did things and “see what would happen”. For example, I took less selfies, I stopped posting regularly on social media, I paused to listen more… I stopped to look people in the eye and read their facial expressions or body language more than before. I stopped to carefully live each moment. I tried to be more present. I tried to smell the air around me, feel the concrete beneath my feet, and take in the sights and sounds around me. I made it my mission to take in every new experience as if it would be my last, and the results were mind-blowing.
I feel as though the mental energy I gave to being more present, being more focused on what was around me and paying less attention to how things were perceived by anyone else freed me of the pressure to “seem” anything different than my truest self. I found hidden beauty in some people, and found truth in others. I saw situations more clearly, and felt less burdened.
I literally gained the most I ever have in a single year. I crossed items like exploring a new city alone off my bucket list, finished my masters, got officially certified in a few passions, won a dream trip to meet one of my inspirations, and began taking steps towards making my other dreams a reality.
Anyway, as I sit here (in a little New York Cafe, on a trip here by myself, where I’ve been able to do some soul searching away from the noise and clutter of my usual world) I’ve compiled a list of twenty-five things I’ve learned in my 25 years of life… the lessons that impacted me most, the ones I want to hold onto as I trek out upon my next 25.
I thought to note them as a reminder to myself of who I am, who I hope to become and hopefully as a note to anyone else still searching or in need of some gentle advice. These have been tested and proven in my own life, I hope that maybe at least one or two of you out there might agree or even teach me something I can add. Here they are, the 25 things I’ve learned by age 25.
1. You are never too old or too young to follow your wildest dreams.
2. Don’t complain too much about waiting. Everything really does happen in the right timing.
3. Your parents deserve a lot more respect for all that they do. Being an adult is incredibly complicated when you have a family depending on you.
4. Not everyone you meet means everything they say.
5. Laugh more. Even when you’re fuming, laughter is almost always the perfect way to deal with a situation (unless that situation is death, in which case laughing may be considered inappropriate).
6. The problems you have are often 50% because of your own mindset or attitude. Improve by adjusting accordingly.
7. Be kind to everyone you meet. It pays huge dividends and always comes back to you.
8. Let yourself off the hook sometimes.
9. Work hard. At everything. Always give 100%.
10. You’re never going to please everyone.
11. You’ll never be perfect, but you’ll always be perfectly you. Although- it doesn’t hurt to always try to do better or improve “you”.
12. Grandparents and seniors know so much more than Google.
13. Listen. Listen more than you speak.
14. Don’t be afraid to back down in arguments. You may lose the battle but may win the war.
15. Apologies should always be sincere. Mean it!
16. Look people in the eyes… and less at your phone.
17. There’s a whole world out there bigger than you, get over yourself. Learn to be humble.
18. Your passion will find you, once you know exactly who you are.
19. Spend time getting to know yourself. Who are you really? What do you actually love? What are your passions?
20. God is literally always ready to hold your hand and lead you. Just ask Him.
21. If you must spend, buy experiences over things.
22. Money is a wonderful bonus to have, it enables you to do extraordinary things, but it won’t fix your problems.
23. Try new things. (Within reason and safety.)
24. Love people with all your might, even if they don’t reciprocate or understand it, just know how much to show and give…
25. Above all things, guard your heart… for everything you do flows from it.
(Also, below are a few photos from my NY getaway, and the trip that allowed me to digest all these life-lessons while plotting my next step. Onto 2018!).