As I enter my 26th year of life, I reflect back on the lessons I learned at 25. 25 was a pivotal point in my life. It marked the end of my early twenties and paved the way for the new chapter in my life that begins today. 25 was a rocky road for me, but it was also one of the most fun.
I learned that you should never stay at a job that makes you unhappy, no matter how pretty the benefits or the title. You can only fool yourself for so long until you finally realize that you’re going through the motions, and that sooner or later, your productivity will match the amount of enthusiasm you have for said job.
I learned that every single solitary moment in your life happens for a reason. No matter how big or small, everything that happens to you is the cause or reason of something else, and eventually, you’ll discover why.
I learned that what you think you want for yourself is nothing in comparison to what is actually meant for you. So many times I found myself frustrated at things not working out in my favor, or my dreams not going in the direction that I wanted them to, only to be presented with new opportunities that blew everything I planned for myself out of the water.
I learned that it is always worth it to travel. I traveled maybe a little too much during my 25th year of life and I regret none of it. Every single penny was worth the memories I made on those trips, and if I had it my way, I’d spend my very last dime on experiencing new places, people and things.
I learned that you never have to settle for surrounding yourself with people who don’t see your value. Millenials are always told that we’re not special snowflakes and that not everything that we do needs to or should be praised 24/7, and it’s easy to believe that, but you shouldn’t. Why? Because we are special, we are talented and we deserve to be praised for it. Everybody does. If you’re in a situation where people don’t recognize your worth, get out. You’re too great to not believe that you are.
I learned that I invest too much time in people who don’t do the same for me. This one I’ve struggled with for years. I give a lot of myself to people who hardly do the same in return… and it’s exhausting. My need to be liked by everyone around me often outweighs my need to care for myself. I have a big heart; one that’s full of love to offer those who I genuinely care about, but when that isn’t reciprocated, I’m left feeling deflated. It’s unhealthy. If you’re someone who I find important enough to invest time into, just know you’re really, really special to me and I can only hope you feel the same in return. But if you don’t, #byefelicia.
I learned that making others smile is my absolute favorite. I think this year, above all, I’ve made more people laugh or smile than ever before, and that’s something I’m so proud of. If I can brighten someone’s day even just a little bit by cracking a joke or offering them a smile, my work is complete. Nothing makes me happier than seeing somebody else happy.
I learned that my 20’s are the best years of life (so far). I say this often, but I pity those whose lives peaked in high school. If the best years of your life were lived out at a point in time where grades determined how smart you were, popularity was based on how many people you ate lunch with and success was measured by how many sports games you won, your life never really took off. It wasn’t until after high school and throughout college that I began to come into myself-- and my life has become gradually better every year since then. Life should be about progressively improving yourself, not reaching a peak.
So I learned a thing or two last year, but 26 begins today and I intend on making it even more memorable than 25. Here’s to 26 very blessed years of life and the lessons that come with it.