With all of the extra quality-time I’ve spent with myself due to COVID-19, I find myself constantly in reflective mode. Having a full-time job, being in graduate school and running my own side hustle all constitute the need for ongoing self-growth and awareness. I say this because in order to achieve our goals in life it takes hard work, dedication and just flat-out maturity.
In light of the many life lessons I have taught myself or been taught throughout the years, here are 25 things I’ve learned in 25 years.
1. Be grateful for the life you get to live. Oftentimes, we might envy what other people have. It’s important to remember your life is unique in many ways and there are plenty of things to be grateful for. Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have.
2. Set goals and work towards them. Without a plan in life, you are running clueless. Set goals and smaller steps to accomplish in order to achieve those goals. You will get where you want to be with motivation and effort.
3. Prioritize your relationship. Your spouse is the person you want to build a life with. This person is your rock and should be the person you turn to for everything. Never let anyone influence your relationship.
4. Love your family unconditionally. These people are your people and they will be there for you no matter what. Your parents will always have your best intentions at heart. The older I get, the more I understand why they did what they did and continue to do what they do.
5. Be financially intelligent. Set budgets for yourself and don’t spend money you know you don’t have. I only purchase on my credit card if I know I will be able to pay the balance completely by the end of the month. So in other words, don’t spend outside of your means.
6. Be passionate in everything you do, especially your job. You spend a lot of time doing your job, make sure it’s something you enjoy and are passionate about. You’re doing more harm to yourself and to whoever you serve if your head isn’t where it needs to be.
7. Remember the money will come eventually. Don’t expect to be making six figures straight out of college (this took me awhile to understand). It will take time to get where you want to be, but it also takes consistent effort and hard work.
8. Invest in yourself. You are your priority. Spend the extra cash on healthier food options and try to make sure your body gets the exercise it needs (even if it means a $50 monthly payment for the gym). Invest in all things which will benefit you in the next five years.
9. Having a handful of true & real friends is far richer than having tons of fake friends. Even if it’s one person, having a friend who you can turn to for everything beats having a bunch of people in your life who don’t have your best intentions at heart.
10. No one is thinking about you as much as you think they are. By this I mean oftentimes we feel we might be judged for the things we do; like what car we drive, the clothes we wear, the way we speak, etc. In reality, people are too worried about their own lives to even focus on what’s going on in yours. Besides, the only opinion that should matter is your own.
11. Stop rushing into things. Still trying to figure this one out. Making decisions without careful contemplation can be a dangerous thing… like getting into a three-year lease with a car you don’t love (I made this mistake with my last car and it wasn’t pleasant). Take your time because the world is not ending… at least not anytime soon.
12. Treat your body with respect. Your body is your canvas… okay, that was a bit corny. As a woman, respect for your body is necessary. Some people may not understand certain boundaries so always remember that YOU control everything that has to do with YOU.
13. Jealousy is a very ugly trait (especially in any relationship). Jealousy gets you nowhere and it sure doesn’t allow your relationship to grow in any way. If you suspect your significant other is being fishy, they probably are. Otherwise, give them the benefit of the doubt because fishy things in a relationship will eventually always surface.
14. Conquer your fears. What’s the point of being scared of something your whole life? You are preventing yourself from experiencing that one thing which could potentially help you grow as an individual.
15. Forgive your past & move forward. Bringing your past baggage into the present never helped anyone. Leave your past in the past because that’s where it belongs. If it wasn’t a blessing, it’s always a lesson learned.
16. Every failure is a lesson learned. Mistakes are what makes us strong and what teaches us lessons. After all, we’re human. We are born to learn through trial and error.
17. Be curious, not judgmental. Working in the social work field has really taught me to never judge a book by its cover. People make mistakes and enter wrongful paths (sometimes not by choice) but the importance in the lesson is learning and asking the “whys.”
18. Spend more time bettering yourself rather than binging Netflix. I can’t stress this enough. Sure, who doesn’t love to lounge around for a couple hours and binge a couple Netflix episodes? Once in a while is okay… but how is this really benefiting your life? Try coming up with a new hobby; something which will teach you or help you achieve your goals in some way.
19. Surround yourself with positive & like-minded people. You feed off the energy around you. If the people you surround yourself with do not have your best intentions at heart, you are likely going to be dragged down by them. Find people who genuinely love and support you in everything you do… those are the best kind.
20. Never hold back a sincere compliment. For my ladies. Instead of judging other women or comparing yourself to them, acknowledge what they have going on. You are beautiful and awesome too!
21. It’s okay to treat yourself sometimes. Budgeting is important but taking care of yourself is also important. Find it in yourself to budget that once-a-month pedicure or facial. It’s okay to splurge sometimes because you’ve earned it.
22. Friendships change & that’s okay. As you get older, you may grow apart from some people. You also may speak to some way less. This is okay. You are all adults now and you have some serious life stuff going on. My best friend moved to Pittsburgh with her fiancé a couple years ago and we have only had the chance to see each other about five times since. This is okay because the only thing that matters is if you know this person will be there when you need them most.
23. Speak up. Whether it’s for yourself or for someone else, you should always stand up for what’s right and what’s fair.
24. Your body will change over the years, learn to love it. Well, this is something I struggled with for a bit. As I got older, my body just seemed to be going downhill. I didn’t look and feel as toned and the food I ate really started to catch up with me. Adjusting your eating habits, incorporating a few workouts into your routine and just accepting the changes will benefit your mental health in the long run.
25. You are enough. Period.