There is still much to learn and to look forward to but a quarter of a century on earth has taught me a bit.
So here are 25 things I learnt by 25, some of which may be obvious to you and some of which may hopefully comfort you or provide some insight.
- People care more about their lives than they do you. Not in an egotistic way (although these types exist!) but most people are more worried about the way they look, what they said, how they present themselves, their relationships, their finances etc. They really don’t have much time to care about you so there’s really no need to fret about what other people think of you. Chill.
- For those who are petty enough to speak badly of you, remember that people project onto you their own insecurities. Therefore, how they see you or the world is more a reflection of themselves than it is of you. Don’t take it personally. Just don’t take a lot of things personally.
- Before the age of 25, you are mostly dating just for the sake of dating. Which is great for personal development and can be fun but after a big heartbreak and some experience, you start to really ask yourself why you want a partner and what you want in them. You also start to truly value yourself and what you have to give.
- Speaking of giving, you give a lot less freely. Not because you’re selfish and cynical but because you realise that not everyone deserves your kindness. After all, a common misconception is that the more I give, the more people will appreciate me. Wrong. Scarcity increases value.
- But you’re not resentful of those who took advantage of you because you take responsibility for every decision you make in life and its consequences. Not everything is your fault but you recognise your part in the situation, no matter how small.
- Constantly blaming others and/or the situation makes you a victim. It also makes you look immature. Taking responsibility gives you back your power and control. You made a questionable choice this time, but now you know better so next time you’ll do better!
- So going back to the users and the abusers of the world, pity them. They are coming from a place of lack. But be careful when you extend a helping hand for the drowning man will only pull you down with him. People rarely change and cannot be saved unless it is of their own free will.
- This concept is especially important in romantic situations: Girls! Do yourself a favour and fall in love with how a man is and not with his potential.
- This one is so obvious but don’t ignore the red flags. Our intuition is probably one of our greatest gifts and too often, we choose to ignore it. Once in a while you might meet a gifted con artist but sooner or later, his true colours will show. They say three things can not be hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.
- So when the truth slaps you in the face, your mission is to ditch him when he crosses the line and to do so fearlessly. This applies to friends as well. Even family, unfortunately.
- Where is the line? Where are the boundaries? Well, this is a great time to draw up some relationship deal breakers. These are things that you simply will not allow or accept in a relationship. No matter how many other good qualities this person may have, the answer will always be ‘no’. For me, those include lying, cheating, entitlement, egotism and violence just to name a few. If I see one, I am GONE.
- The crucial part (and the hardest part) is following through. No amount of negotiating, pleading, begging or crying should win you back. Remember we said people rarely change?
- And unlike what you think, too much kindness is like spoiling a child because too much of a good thing is a bad thing. This man with this funny name (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) once said, “The greatest firmness is the greatest mercy.”
- If you cannot be firm, prepare yourself for the most dramatic, soap opera worthy toxic relationship in your life which I believe, we all experience at least once if we’re smart. More than twice if we’re not. Learn not to let anyone take your kindness for weakness.
- This includes emotional vampires in the form of fake friends. These people use up your time and energy but never seem to have time for you or ask about you. Your relationships with them are like one way streets. Eventually you will hit a dead end and feel trapped or even worse, resentful.
- Before they lure you into this dead end alley, call them out on it. Learn to say no. Learn to remove fear of healthy confrontation and call people out on their bullshit. This can be done in a non-aggressive, fair manner. How people react can tell you a lot about them. (Don’t use the word bullshit, though. Haha.)
- If all else fails and people persist with their unacceptable behaviour, practise feng shui and do so often. Rid yourself of people, things and situations that are no longer beneficial to all parties involved. Let go of your fear of lack. It is just an illusion holding you back.
- Take your time. This is not to say you can slack off but good things take time. Discovering yourself takes time, your career takes time, loving relationships take time. It is not a competition so stay in your lane and stop comparing yourself to others!
- Know that confidence comes from the understanding of self. Once we understand ourselves, we are no longer easily swayed or persuaded. Gone are those feelings of emptiness and being lost in life. Sadly, most of us don’t know ourselves as well as we should. When you do start this process, you will realise that perhaps you were not as patient, or as laidback etc. as you once thought. However, you will also realise you are more resilient, stronger and more talented than you thought yourself to be.
- As you grow older, you realise true ‘wealth’ lies in your connections. We are only as ‘rich’ as the people we surround ourselves with. So surround yourself with people who reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel. Be part of a flourishing support network!
- You stop using the phrases, “Yes, but…”, “You always…”, “He never…”. Just because you know that’s not how you win over someone in a disagreement and moreover, it sounds juvenile.
- Instead of doing most of the talking, you learn to listen more. A lot of crucial information about a person’s background, mentality and perspective of the world can be heard by just listening to what they have to say and watching how they express themselves. This one is tough for me as I’m such a chatterbox but I’m making slow progress!
- A common phenomenon in parenting, I think, is telling your child he/she is unique. Yes and no. We are truly no more unique than the next person beside us who also just entered society and is trying to find their first job. You realise we are all facing the same struggles and all have more or less, the same worries. Over-drilling the idea that “I am unique” can sometimes put enormous, unnecessary pressure on individuals to achieve and to make something of themselves. Worse, it can create a nasty sense of entitlement. But that’s just my opinion.
- Remember that plan we had for our lives? The one we drew up when we were 18 and dreamers? Where we were supposed to get a job straight out of college, get married by 28 and have a baby before 30? Yeah, throw that out the window. All plans are just a loose point of reference, totally subject to change. Do not resist change and hold stubbornly onto this plan for it will be the root of much heartache. Instead, roll with the punches and adapt. With that being said, continue to make plans anyway! Keep those lists coming. A goal without a plan is just a wish, after all.
- Ignorance is bliss. With age comes tolerance. You no longer bat an eyelid at the things that used to bother you. Not everything needs to be pointed out or said aloud. A quiet, mental note to lessen contact with certain people, or to avoid certain topics of conversation is made and you’re back to going about your day again!
So there you go! This wasn’t an easy list to come up with and took a good two days of writing. Which were your favourite? Which would you add?
Let’s check back again in 10 years. Until then, much love to you all. Especially those who made it to the end of this post.