25 Lessons From 25 Years

Well, today is the day. I’m officially twenty-five. I am aware that I’m still young but I still feel like, “WHERE THE HELL DID THE TIME GO?!” I remember being, like, eight, and fantasizing about what a badass bitch I was going to be when I was twenty! (For the record, I imagined a cool apartment and lots of red lipstick and high heels – lol).

But for those who are not yet in their 20’s, or for those who are and feel crazy, your 20’s are hard. I’m sure your 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s aren’t a walk in the park either, but hey, I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

When I was a teenager I knew everything. I was a confident spitfire that you couldn’t stop if you tried. And I still have a little of that left in my twenties, but not much. Your twenties kind of take you down a peg, and you start to realize that, actually, you make mistakes all the time and your judgment isn’t always the greatest.

All that being said, there is still so much you can learn from those “hard” years. And I’m here to share with you some lessons of my own.


Lesson 1: Change Happens, and It’s Always Uncomfortable

But it’s also for the best. Don’t try and keep things the way they are because change will happen regardless and you’ll just make it more painful. Instead, just believe that on the other side of this discomfort is exactly what you need.

Lesson 2: Your Friends Aren’t That Far Away

When you’re in your twenties, everyone is trying to find their own way. And at times, that can make you feel really alone. But your friends are likely feeling the exact same way. Sure, it’s not going to be as easy as hanging out between classes like in University, but the effort is worth it. And you’ll realize you aren’t alone after all.

Lesson 3: Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees

When I was in University, I was privileged enough to have my parents support so if I ran out of grocery money, they’d lend me some money to get food. I’ve never had a budget because I’ve never really had money. But now that I’m paying rent, board for my horse, insurance, gas money, groceries, hydro bills, and so on and so forth, I realize that I can’t spend lots of money on the drop of a hat for a new outfit or a night on the town.

That’s probably why “fun” looks a lot more like a glass of wine and board games than it does shots and EDM concerts.

Lesson 4: You Can’t Do It All

These past few years, I’ve learned a lot about sacrifice. There were so many things that I wanted to do and I would not let go of them, even if the thought of them gave me an anxiety attack. I had to learn to be picky about where I spend my energy because it is not infinite. But even though I’ve had to let some dreams and hobbies go, it’s made the ones I kept more special.

Lesson 5: The Less You Do, The Less You’ll Want to Do

I used to be the queen of saying “yes” to everything. Even if I didn’t want to do it and even if it was at the expense of my health. And then I learned the importance of saying “no”, which was life-changing. But now, “no” has become more of a habit than an intention. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s more comfortable to say “no” to things, but it’s more fun to say “yes” to them. The easiest way to put it is the less you do, the less you’ll want to do. The more you do, the more you’ll want to do.

Sometimes you have to force yourself to say “yes” so that it will come easier next time.

Lesson 6: It’s Okay to Not Recognize Yourself

And I’m not talking about how you look, though I’m sure that’s changed too. For one, I basically wear no makeup anymore. And I rather enjoy it (sorry high school Emma). What I’m referring too is a bit deeper than that.

I am not who I used to be. I’ve got insecurities I never had before and I’m unsure of myself in a way I’ve never felt. But I’m also smarter. And comfortable. And doing better than I ever thought I could, even if it looks different than I imagined.

Recognize that no, you probably don’t share many of the same characteristics as the old you, but that’s not a bad thing. The important ones will either stick around or return to you in a bit, and the ones that weren’t serving you will wither away. It’s called growth.

Lesson 7: Wear Less Makeup and Never Run Out of Dry Shampoo

Speaking of makeup…I know this can be a touchy subject for some people. If you love makeup than do you. I love makeup, too. I did my own makeup for prom and killed it. I love making my friends look like movie stars when we go out. But I don’t wear much of it anymore because I’ve learned to cut out the clutter in my life that was helping me waste time. For me, that was makeup. It took too much of my money and time, and I didn’t love myself as much when I didn’t have it on. And that needed to change. You shouldn’t be afraid of people seeing what your skin looks like. It’s your SKIN for goodness sake!

On the other hand, I’ve also learned that I can’t really get away with the greasy, messy bun anymore. You’ll feel a lot more adult if your hair is clean, so fake it if you have to. Dry shampoo is bae.

Lesson 8: Quality over Quantity

Sorry guys, your Mom is right. This is something my Mom used to say to me all. the. time. And I never listened to her. Now, it’s basically my life’s mantra. Take the time to find what works for you and spend your money on things that last (whether it’s soap or a carpet). It will be worth it in the long run.

Lesson 9: Your Gut Knows Best

There are plenty of things in my life that make me tired and stressed. And there are plenty of times I imagine what my life would be like without them. But even if think about giving up something that you love, there is a reason you haven’t. Trust that your gut knows best, even if you don’t have words to express to others why you keep trucking on.

Lesson 10: Ask for Help

My first reaction to asking for help used to be, “I can do it myself”. And even though I still have that attitude towards most things, one pivotal thing has changed. I don’t HAVE TO do it myself. I have recognized that there is no point struggling with something (whether it’s mental health or Ikea furniture) when you could save yourself some heartache and just ask for help. Take some of the weight off your shoulders, you don’t have to be Atlas.

Lesson 11: Competition Won’t Serve You

Unless you are an athlete, ditch the competitive streak. I am still a very competitive person, but I’ve recognized when it is no longer serving me. Instead of isolating yourself and pinning yourself against others (hello, job market), focus on building genuine relationships with the people around you. Even if they are your “competition”. You can learn a lot from other people if you take a second to be on their level rather than scrambling over them to the top.

Lesson 12: Be Nice to Other Girls

Even if they are prettier, smarter, more fit, more successful, more whatever, be nice. I’ve found that the people I am the most intimidated by are usually the people I end up being close friends with. They are human, too, even if they’ve got a Kardashian booty or wear a smokey eye every day. Instead of finding faults in other girls to make yourself feel better (because, yes, that’s what you’re doing), celebrate who they are with them. The world is cruel enough to girls as it is, don’t add fuel to the fire.

Lesson 13: Travel

I always imagined I’d live in a far-off land and travel the world, but sometimes our dreams don’t become realities. But I’m not upset about it. My twenties have taught me that there is more than just “throw-yourself-into-a-foreign-country-and-deal” kinds of travel. There is also “explore-where-you-live” travel, and “weekend-getaway-to-the-cottage-for-ice-cream-and-bike-rides” travel. There is also “lay-around-in-the-sun-because-you-needed-a-vacation” travel and “let’s-go-see-some-history-with-just-a-backpack” travel. If travel is important to you, like it is to me, you will find a way to do it. Even if it’s not how you imagined.

Lesson 14: Don’t Make Decisions in Indecision

If you feel like your world is spinning around you, don’t make life-changing decisions. If your world is spinning because you made a life-changing decision, that is a different story. What I’m talking about is that feeling like you need a change but you don’t know what so you go on a rampage of changing everything but then end up regretting it.

If you are feeling indecisive about something, wait until you can pinpoint what that something is so you can make a change that makes sense. There is no point quitting your job if it’s actually your relationship that’s making you unhappy.

Lesson 15: Nobody Gives a Shit What You Eat

Seriously. Order a big-ass pasta on a first date, have ice cream for dinner, eat a smoothie bowl for lunch–do whatever you feel like! Life is too short to be unsatisfied.

On the flipside, stop judging people for what they eat! So dumb! STOP IT.

Lesson 16: The Only Way to Stop Obsessing, is to Stop. Obsessing.

Coming from someone who is a liiiiiiittle neurotic about certain things, you’re going to have to trust me on this one. If you’re obsessing about your running routine or how organized your room is, just stop. The less you obsess about something, the happier you will be about it.

Lesson 17: Practice Really Does Make Perfect-ish

I say perfect-ish because you will never be perfect. You will always have something to work on or work for, so stop chasing perfect and start chasing better.

That being said, “better” isn’t just going to happen. If you want to master calligraphy or run a 5k, you’re not just going to figure it out in one try. Practice, improve and then practice again. Eventually, you’ll learn to love your mistakes because they help you learn.

Lesson 18: You Don’t Have to Be Anywhere

I can’t imagine that I’m the only one who feels this way. I feel like everyone has an opinion on where you’re supposed to be. If you’ve been with your significant other for a certain amount of time, people (and sometimes complete strangers) will bug you about marriage. If you’re twenty-five and still figuring life out, people start asking what you do for a living. Unfortunately, we can’t change other people. But we can know that there is nowhere we have to be other than right where we are. Don’t rush it for the sake of reaching a milestone.

Lesson 19: Be Vulnerable

Being someone who avoids vulnerability is really romanticized. It’s like you’re supposed to wear it as a badge of honor–“I have walls and I don’t cry”. Well speaking as someone who literally recoils in vulnerable moments (working on it), let me tell

Lesson 20: Wear What You Like

Similar to lesson 15, you need to stop caring what other people think. There are a million style bloggers out there, and even more “style” magazines, but the only person who can decide what you feel good wearing is yourself. I love patterns and bright colors and I probably will never be someone who has a monochromatic wardrobe. I hate white shoes and I love hoodies. Wear what you love and screw what’s “in”.

Also, who cares what brand it is. You’re allowed to wear no name.

Lesson 21: Journal, Journal, Journal

I’ve always been a writer (if you haven’t already guessed that), and journaling has been something I’ve used to get through some heavy moments in my life. But journaling doesn’t have to be about your dark days. It can also be about what you’re grateful for, what your dream wedding dress looks like, why you love your friends and notes to yourself to remember that one restaurant that gave you food poisoning. Even if you’re not much of a writer, try a sentence a day. I bet you’ll look back and have a better understanding of who you are.

Lesson 22: Wear Matching Socks

It will actually make you feel cute. Trust me and try it.

Lesson 23: Spend Your Money on Groceries, Learning, and Travel

Instead of on new shoes or fancy face masks. Buy good, wholesome food (and a few junky snacks!), take a few classes to learn something you are interested in and take trips. Do this and your life will never be dull.

Lesson 24: Buy Cute Underwear

Yes, even if no one but you is seeing them. Make sure they fit (even if that means going up a size) and check yourself out in as many mirrors as you can. Maybe do a little twerk. Follow your heart.

Lesson 25: Stay Excited

Even if life is beating you down at the moment (hello from the bottom!), stay appreciative and excited for tomorrow. Every day your life changes a little bit and one day you’ll look back from where you came and be like, “Emma was right, everything does happen for a reason!”