10 Things I've Learned by the Ripe Old Age of 25
My 25-year-old daughter, Lacey, is my guest blogger this month. I know you will thoroughly enjoy her perspective on 'life'.
Born and raised in Virginia, Lacey Bonner has since spent the beginning of her adult years at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in Honolulu, HI, and Korea University in Seoul, South Korea, but most recently graduated from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom with a master’s degree in Social and Political Thought. When she isn’t studying, she is working odd jobs and figuring herself out in her tumultuous 20s. She enjoys reading, going to the cinema, traveling, and pondering the universe all with a large iced coffee in hand.
Gone are the days of just the mid-life crisis, because now the new verbiage coined around the water cooler, as they say, is the “quarter-life crisis”. A time when you reach your mid-twenties and realize you’re suddenly an adult, with adult responsibilities, and are tumbling head first towards your thirties. You feel you’re too old to be “hip” and can’t quite drink anymore without suffering a horrendous headache the next morning, but you also are young enough to struggle with abstract adult concepts such as Roth IRAs, asset allocation, and amortization. So, as you ask yourself, what on Earth can I learn from a 25-year-old? Maybe nothing. But hopefully, I can help in giving a different perspective on things, or at the very least, earn a chuckle or two. So here it is- 10 things I’ve learned by the “ripe old age” of 25:
10. Happiness is a life-long journey.
As an adult, life can be very stressful, and especially- very lonely. When once upon a time, we could just walk up to a random kid at recess and become friends, is now replaced with more responsibilities and more isolation that can easily get in the way of creating happiness for yourself. I learned that you must carve out the time and the effort for these things, whether it’s trying to arrange a dinner with a friend or buying that book you like at the bookstore, happiness is something you must work for. Finding happiness can be hard, but we must make the time for it and cherish it as a high priority. Or else, what is life really for?
9. Never take anything for granted.
This can be as simple as assuming something is true without questioning it or as deep as not properly appreciating someone who has always been there and assuming they will always be there. If things are always there, we tend to undervalue them with time. Whether it’s a life-long friendship or your favorite Chinese takeout down the way- always maintain an appreciation for the things that exist in your life. Because some things, we only realize were so precious and so integral to our lives when they’re gone. This can also go a long way to contributing towards your happiness.
8. Read. Read. Read.
Carving out the time or the interest to read can be difficult. At the end of a hard day, all we would rather do is kick our feet up and watch some TV. But reading can be quite invaluable, regardless of what kind of book it is. It opens up new worlds to us, new ways of thinking and seeing things. And it can help us understand ourselves, our emotions, relationships- our very own lives. Even if it’s just a couple of pages a day, I assure you that the feeling of accomplishment when you finally flip the last page is worth it.
7. Always be open-minded and willing to try new things.
As we age, it becomes harder and harder to change our ways and accept other ones. I’ve had the privilege to live in Hawai’i, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. I’ve also traveled to a dozen other countries all the way from Australia to Slovakia. I’ve come across countless ways of living, thinking, and doing and it has been integral to how I’ve developed as a person. I’ve come to realize that there’s certainly no one right way of doing things and it has helped me grow as a person. I’ve tried everything from kangaroo meat to live squid tentacles (much to the dismay of my mother). Always make the time to try something new. Once you make that first step, it’ll open you to make another step and another. And even if you don’t like it, now you know you don’t like it and you can have that experience in your treasure trove of experiences.
6. Be open to changing your mind.
I’ve had the privilege of meeting a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds and life experiences throughout my life thus far and this has been key in developing my outlook on life and how I interact with the people, places, and things in my life. Remain open to other people’s thoughts and opinions, even if they wildly differ from your own. You may learn something new. Or you may change your own mind. To close ourselves off is to deprive ourselves of a wealth of experience that exists out there from the billions of people we live alongside.
5. Never say “tomorrow”.
Okay, you can say the word “tomorrow”, but never assume it will always be there. People always say “I’ll do that when I retire”, or “I’ll do this eventually” and to that I say- not tomorrow, now. Life is too short to put everything off. Obviously, there are plenty of goals you can set for later down the line. But never forget to sprinkle some of it throughout your life, because you’re never guaranteed the future! Life is for the living. Not just for when you join AARP.
4. Teach the old dog new tricks.
Maybe in an age of such rapid technological progression, I just have a fear of being left behind, but never tell yourself you’re too old to learn something new. This can be anything ranging from the new smartphone to a new recipe that uses ingredients you just learned how to pronounce. Less about being “hip”, learning these new skills can be ones you carry with you throughout the rest of your life as well as become important for personal growth. I am always rife with ideas of grandeur that I’ll pick up a crocheting class or learn glass-blowing. Always wanted to learn how to smith? There are definitely classes out there for it!
3. Everyone has their own timeline.
It’s easier to compare yourself to those around you than to not do so. Growing up in the age of social media, this has been especially difficult for me not to do. At the age of 25, half of your friends are unemployed, living at home, and have dubious partying habits while the other half are already out there with two kids and curing cancer. It’s a strange time. From this, I’ve learned that everyone has their own timeline with which to accomplish things in their lives. It’s okay to fail and take multiple steps backward. As long as you have your eyes set forward, you’re moving in the right direction.
2. Don’t be afraid to choose yourself.
Sometimes, we must let go of friendships or relationships in order to take care of ourselves. And that can be hard. You think of all the great times you had with somebody and feel that may outweigh the bad times. Or maybe it’s just easier to keep a relationship rather than to let it go. It’s important to keep your relationships, not in the hindsight- and to let relationships go if they aren’t good for you. The hardest part can be deciding whether or not they are. Your mental health is important. Choose yourself if you can.
1. It’s okay not to know.
One of the hardest lessons I’m still learning as I grow is that adults really don’t know everything. We’re all kind of just stumbling along, learning as we grow. We make mistakes, and we learn, and we add it to our arsenal for next time. As humans, most of the time, we don’t like not knowing. We tend to fill in the gaps ourselves when we may not know. But it’s okay not to know. Living is full of lessons for us to learn. If we were born knowing, then how would we go about living? Each age we reach, a lot of times we may tell ourselves that at this age we know a lot, until later down the line we realized we didn’t know much at all. You grow by knowing that at no matter what age, you will know more later than you do know now. This is natural. It’s okay not to know.