On Sunday, I’ll be halfway to 50.
This birthday comes with a healthy dose of reality. While my friends are buying houses, getting married and settling into their careers, I’m single, working part-time online, living with my mom and don’t have a vehicle (or much else to my name).
Luckily, a good friend reminded me that it’s all relative. While I may not have fancy objects to show for my 25 years on earth, I have a wealth of experiences. While I may not own any property, I’ve stepped foot on 33 different countries. And while I may not have a stable career, I absolutely love my job, and I am actually getting paid to write travel articles, which has been my dream since I first went to Europe at 11 years old (14 years ago!).
I’m not claiming to be old and wise just yet, but I have learned a thing or two along my journey. Here are 25 little life lessons I’ve had to learn over the past 25 years.
1. Just go. Renew your passport. Book the plane ticket. Don’t wait to travel on a bet that you’ll be able to do it later – you have no idea what the future has in store.
2. Do what you love, and monetize it. I know it sounds crazy, but there are thousands of people making a living doing what they love. You don’t need to be stuck in a job you loathe.
3. Life is about people, not things. Pour more into your relationships than you do into your possessions.
4. When you go, you go alone. Your body is the only thing that goes in your coffin – not your car, your cash, or your expensive clothes. Stop worrying about things so much.
5. Eat healthier. You will feel better in the long run.
6. Exercise. Ditto.
7. Drink less. Okay, I’m still working on this one.
8. Read. I know it’s not cool, but it’s important to exercise your brain as much as you exercise your body.
9. Learn something new every year. German, French, guitar, saxophone, tap dance, hula hooping, latte art. Whatever it is you want to be able to do, shut down Netflix and learn.
10. Be happy on your own. Don’t settle for someone because you’re afraid to be alone.
11. Ask for what you want. And if you really want it, keep chasing it, even when you’re rejected. People who land their dream jobs rarely get hired on their first try. Motivation, perseverance and patience pay off.
12. Network, and be nice. You never know who could end up in a position to help you out (or choose not to). Forge professional connections and keep them current.
13. Instagram likes say nothing about your value. What really matters is the people that will pick up the phone when you need them.
14. Take care of your skin. Wash off all your makeup. Wear sunscreen. If you don’t, it’ll show.
15. Have real conversations. Move past recounting drunken escapades and talking about cute boys. Most people are afraid to open up, but if you dig deep, you’ll find a lot of similarities at the core.
16. Let go of old grudges and rekindle old friendships.
17. Let go of negative people that bring you down. Life is too short to be pessimistic.
18. Surround yourself with people who inspire you, push you, support you, motivate you and bring out the best in you.
19. Tell the people you love that you love them. You never know when they could be taken from you.
20. Forgive. Yourself, too.
21. Get off the couch and dance in the rain. Jump in the water. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.
22. Participate. Don’t worry about winning or looking cool; do it for the experience (and the crazy stories you’ll have after).
23. You’re stronger than you realise. And sometimes, the bravest thing you can do is ask for help.
24. Go easy on yourself. You’re still young. You’re still learning. You’re going to make more mistakes, and that’s okay.
25. Never be stagnant. Life is a verb. If you’re not constantly moving, growing, changing and learning, are you really living at all?