The 10 Most Important Lessons to Learn Before Turning 25

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I’ve made it…

I’m the big 25.

Though the years have definitely not been what I would call “smooth” and I’ve had my fair share of mishaps and confusion, I’ve enjoyed every last one of them. I’ve also learned a lot and thought it’d be a good idea if I shared what my experiences have taught me.

So here are the 10 most important lessons to learn before turning 25:

  • You still have one more year until you’re an “adult”

Every year I seem to tell myself, “Okay, this is it. This is the last year before I have to start acting like an ‘adult.’” It’s the last year I can still accidentally get a little too wild on a night out or spend an entire day lying on my couch in sweatpants watching The Real Housewives.”

This. Is. It.

I definitely had this conversation with myself when I turned 24. I figured that 25 was a milestone, a quarter of a century, but 24 was still young and fresh and I could totally get away with scrounging up rent money at the last minute or making a DiGiorno pizza at two in the morning.

Now that I’ve turned 25, milestone or no, I am definitely not ready to be a put-together adult. I’m still making mistakes, finding my way, and learning that you should pay for a haircut and not attempt to trim your bangs by yourself. So I’m giving myself (and you) another year to get things together.

By 26 we’ll totally be professional, successful, and put-together adults. Totally.

  • Cleansing is difficult but it is also necessary

It’s time to cleanse everything. Your body. Your mind. Your soul.

Ugh… so corny! I know, but bear with me for a minute or two. Let’s really think about why this is the perfect time to rid yourself of anything that may be giving you negative juju.

For your body, this is about to be your third year as a person OUT of college, and those habits of either eating takeout or grilled cheeses from your school’s cafeteria are no longer cute… Not to mention the fact that you’re no longer playing a college sport (yes, intramurals count). So even though I’m allowing myself (and you) some of those two in the morning pizza sessions, they shouldn’t occur every morning… Start focusing on breaking bad health habits and introducing good ones.

For your mind, it’s important to actually know how to use it. Employers have mentioned that one of the main traits they look for in a candidate is the ability to solve problems and think critically. That means it might be time to start moving away from the excessive amount of Netflix binge-watching and start moving toward something that will actually exercise your brain a bit. This could be anything from picking up a book to reading articles about your industry to listening to a podcast—you can’t tell me Serial didn’t have your brain working every angle and scenario possible!

For your soul, you’re too old to allow yourself to be bogged down by something or someone that’s unnecessary. It’s time to start saying goodbye to the people and things in your life that bring you down. This may be the hardest part of the cleanse, but it’s necessary. Take a moment to reflect on the people in your life, the things you’re doing, and the situations you find yourself in. Let yourself really observe how you feel in those situations. Identify when you feel heavy, weighed down, negative. Then get ready to leave those people and things behind.

Of course this won’t happen overnight. It’s going to be a process and one that will probably make you uncomfortable. But after the cleanse, I guarantee that you’ll feel amazing.

Don’t believe me? Well, maybe you’ll believe author Miki Agrawal who literally wrote the book on doing cool sh*t and has a life she couldn’t be happier with. She elaborates on the idea that “you are as good as the five closest friends you keep” in her interview here.

  • Real sh*t is going to happen and you’re going to have to deal with it (even though you’re scared)

This was one of the hardest truths for me to deal with, but it’s one that’s inescapable. In the news, with friends and family, real sh*t is going to happen and it’s going to be scary. Friends and family members will lose jobs, pass away, and relationships will fail. The world is an imperfect place and although you already knew this, as you get older it’s going to become more and more apparent.

Understand that bad things will happen, it will feel unfair, you’ll have never dealt with them before, but you will make it through. You will survive it and you will come out stronger.

  • Your parents are real people

In the post I wrote when I turned 24, I talked about discovering the fact that your parents are actually pretty cool. This year I’ve discovered that not only are my parents pretty cool, but that they’re also real people. They have flaws, strengths, fears, passions, and have lived through their twenties just like I’m in the middle of doing right now. Weird, right?

The weirdest part is realizing that although you may know them as parents (and think they’re cool at that job), you might not know them as people.

Take some time to get to know them as the latter. Talk to them. Ask them questions. Find out about their twentysomething life. Recognize their fears and imperfections and understand that it doesn’t make them any less “cool.” It makes them even more awesome!

  • Your accomplishments are real even though you feel like you have so much left to do

Sometimes I have full-on panic attacks thinking about the future. Especially now that I’m 25, I feel like I have so much left to do and no time to do it!

Often it feels like I’m in a race but starting four yards behind everyone else. How am I ever supposed to become a grown-up if I am still such a child? What have I done with my life so far?

Whoa. It’s times like these that I need to slow down and remind myself that even though it may not feel like a lot, I’ve done quite a bit of growing up already. I’ve graduated from college. I’ve traveled to different countries. After conducting informational interviews and working on some side hustles, I got an internship in my desired industry and moved to a brand new city.

So even though on a day-to-day basis, it can seem like my biggest accomplishment is taking out this week’s (more like month’s) trash, there is a lot that I’ve done and I am ready for what comes next. And so are you.

  • You’re young enough to still ask for help

You are never too old to ask for help BUT I’m going to be honest and say that it makes it easier when you look the part of someone who doesn’t know everything yet.

Take advantage of being in your twenties. Ask as many questions as possible. Now is the time to be inquisitive, to try things out, make mistakes, get stuck, and ask for help!

  • It’s time to start figuring out what makes you tick

Whether you attend a workshop like I did or try out 50 different jobs, start figuring out what it is that makes you tick. This is the time to do some exploring! You’re in charge of your life! No more undergrad classes to take. No one career that you have to have. There’s no restriction to the location you live in. If you want to move to a foreign country, you can. Want to write a book? You can.

Find out what you want to do and who you want to be and start making that happen.

  • You’ll truly understand the beauty of coffee

Some people may never be coffee drinkers and that’s fine, but for everyone else, this is the time you go from coffee drinker to coffee enthusiast. Why?

Well, if we can return to the first point of this post for a moment, I’ll explain. That’s right. You’ve given yourself one more year of non-adulthood. BUT even though you and I have given ourselves permission to still act like a kid at times, the rest of the world hasn’t quite accepted that.

This means that you have to be able to show up on time to a job interview, complete assignments at work, meet new people, and maybe even make it to the gym despite having stayed up until three in the morning drinking wine and chatting with your roommates.

The only realistic way to accomplish this is by drinking coffee—and a lot of it. So you might as well appreciate it.

  • It’s your turn to help people

Remember when your older cousin was giving you advice about high school, then college, then moving to a new city?

It’s your turn now.

Now that I’m older and have been living on my own in San Francisco for a little over a year, it’s become my turn to answer questions, give job search advice to my little cousins who are about to graduate from college, and discuss what it’s like living on the “mainland” (I’m from Hawai’i).

I never thought I’d give advice about anything. Ever. I’ve always been the one who was kind of lost and looking for guidance. But here I am, the 25-year-old cousin, ready to help the next generation of friends and family make the transition from student to recent graduate. I also spent time helping high school students complete college applications and essays. Even though I was terrified about doing this (I really did not feel qualified), it ended up working out fine and I was way more ready to mentor these students than I thought.

  • You will meet people your age who have it WAY more together than you. You will meet people who seem like complete messes. But you are all adequate and you are all okay.

Here’s one of the strangest parts about being 25.

You’re going to meet a lot of other 25-year-olds and some of them are going to seem WAY more put together than you do. I mean, I wear jeans and a T-shirt to work and will occasionally grab drinks with another girl my age who wears a button down under a blazer with a matching pencil skirt. And while her main concern is finishing up some work before meeting her fiancé and mine is finishing up the eight piles of laundry I’ve left sitting at my house, we’re both the same age.

On the other hand, I know my fair share of 25-year-olds who are still looking for a job and spend most of their time in bed laughing at last year’s viral YouTube videos.

But here’s what you need to know about all of these people (yourself included): You are all perfectly adequate (in fact better than adequate) 25-year-olds.

That’s what is so great about this year/time in our lives! It’s transitional. We’re still considered young but on our way to getting older. So it’s time to be exactly where and who we are. We’re allowed to be at completely different stages in our lives because that’s what being this age all about!

Have any other insights into being or turning 25? Leave a comment below.

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