25 Lessons at 25 years old – Part One

I recently turned 25 and I’ll be honest—it freaks me out. I don’t usually get hung up on age. I mean, for real, we all have the same amount of time to get to being a certain age so I don’t get the weird cattiness that sometimes surrounds age.

Until I realized, it’s not being 25 that freaks me out… it’s that I am not at the place I want to be at 25 that worries me. In the last year, I’ve moved back home with my parents, am back in school and am essentially unemployed. It feels a tad like I’m moving backward.

I can’t deny, though, that I have learned a hell of a lot in my life. However much of a hot mess I still might be (I could write a list of 100 for all the reasons), here are some lessons I’ve learned during my journey on this planet.

1. There’s no end-point to messing up – making mistakes. When I graduated high school and started university, I truly thought I’d done most of my messing up, and that I was going to be fabulous in university with very little problems. How wrong I was – the anxiety, the insecurity, the self-doubt only deepened in this environment. When I graduated university and got my first job, I thought the same thing – however, the hotbed of drama-and-stress omelette that my first job was did *not* stop me from messing up. I’ve learned that I will *always* mess up and it’s okay – the only tragedy in that is making the same mistake one too many times. (Done that, too.)

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2.  No matter what, your truth will come out – when I moved to Ajax from Etobicoke for middle school, I remember telling myself that things would be different. I would be popular, people would think I was cool and fashionable, and I’d finally be happy. I made up a name for myself – Sonya – and put on my coolest clothes and jewelry (I have the diary receipts to prove the details) and went to school. I said things to my new classmates like “that ring is *so* yesterday.” Yes, my whole body does cringe at this statement.

But guess what? The other kids saw through that immediately. I mean IMMEDIATELY. It took no time for them to realize that I wasn’t being authentic, and I went back to square one – or even square negative one. It was an early, important lesson and I can honestly say I’ve been pretty much authentically myself ever since.

3. Changes come from incremental shifts more often than huge life changes. Looking back, it has taken 5 years for me to overcome some of my body insecurities, for example. It wasn’t one therapy session or even one therapist that helped.  It wasn’t a series of conversations with supportive friends and family. It was (hell no) not the internet forums with others crying about their particular issues. It took time for the changes to take place, to my paradigm and my beliefs. I went from crying for hours at a time about my body to accepting what I have and feeling beautiful the way I am. Truly. I may get threatened or jealous, but I am happy with what I have, even if there are millions of girls with much more. What a total victory. I’m proud of myself

4. Mental health is still a really difficult thing for people to grapple with. It’s this mysterious force in life. Sad, but true—no matter how many Bell Let’s Talk pictures your friends share, and no matter how well-meaning they are, many people will just not be able to handle your issues, especially when you’re in a bad place. However, think of it as a filter: the few people who stuck by you are people you can depend on, and you have to deliver for when THEY need YOU. Due to my unique personality, not everyone’s going to like me, or be there for me, or value my time, especially when I’m in a bad place. While that sucks, and I do have some resentments when people let me down, I’ve gotten to the place where I can accept it. I’ve gone through things that have made me a more empathetic person.

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 5. Shaming yourself based on looks, body, sexual past= shaming others. I admittedly just realized this recently after a conversation with someone I met during my travels in Europe. I often judge myself for things I would never dream to judge others for. Not only judge, but actively berate and engage in self-loathing about things that I can’t control, like my body. This not only hurts me, but in actuality hurts the way I view others as well. When you hear someone thinner than you complaining about how fat they are, how does that make you feel? And you know what, it’s the same whether they are lighter or heavier – It’s just a judgey, negative space to be in. It’s not just unkind to yourself, it’s unkind to others too. It’s one thing to be a feminist outwardly, to denounce body-shaming, to preach redemption rather than punishment…but you gotta apply those standards to yourself first and foremost.

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6. No matter what TV says, it’s rarely the pretty but brainless girls who get the guys/the fantastic lives. It’s the bombtastic, confident, unafraid girls/boys who are the true babes on this planet. I’ve learned this lesson so many times. For a while, it seemed like a like – like really? Looks don’t matter? Oh please. But in actuality, when it comes to attraction it’s just a part of the package, and the truly amazing people know this inherently. I’ve seen it a thousand times.

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7. Extroversion does not equal confidence – I learned this lesson before I turned 10, probably. I’m very outgoing, talkative and get energy from being around people. However, this has very little to do with core confidence. So many introverts possess the deep confidence that I can only hope to reach.

8. What you see, even when you’re giving all your attention, is still never the full picture – this is just so damn true, and a lesson I’ve had to learn and re-learn. It applies to so many situations: maybe someone gives you a funny look and it triggers you into making a thousand assumptions, or you don’t get picked for a soccer team or whatever… there are so many other factors playing into that interaction or situation. And to make the assumptions you’re making is just ignorant – we just don’t know the full matter of others’ experiences or thoughts. Honestly, they probably don’t know the root of their OWN experiences either, so how could you? People could be jealous, emotionally stunted, in a selfish mood – whatever the case is, it’s so rarely all about you that it’s not worth getting worked up over.

9. Kindness > Intelligence > Physical Attractiveness. The older I get, the more I realize what really gets me going in people, whether that be friends or guys – True kindness. It can be a rare commodity. It’s not that people aren’t inherently kind, but people don’t often value it and in turn, don’t often harness and deliver on it. Intelligence is important but ultimately meaningless if not accompanied by a kind heart, and hotness fades.

10. People see so much more than you give them credit for. I always felt like in high school, people never understood me: my sensitivities, my history, my problems. However, since then I’ve spoken to so many people who describe my experience and my situation as something they related to, or at least were able to contextualize. They didn’t show it or say it at the time, but they did ‘get’ me. People were able to put 2+2 together.

11. Dwelling on things, overthinking things never leads to a ‘better’ analysis – it ALWAYS leads to an inappropriate unhelpful mental situation. I always thought that the more I thought about things, the better off I’d be. After all, with more thinking, I would be able to come up with more scenarios and solutions for those scenarios, right? Wrong. The word rumination actually refers to how cows eat: cows chew their food, swallow, regurgitate the food to their mouths and chew again. That’s what mental rumination is: going over things over and over again instead of just accepting things and learning lessons from them.

12. Adult acne is a thing – this is self-explanatory. I didn’t really get acne til I turned 20. Cruelly, since then my skin’s been acting out and misbehaving as if it’s rebelling. It was behaving so well prior to this. A lesson in gratefulness and the short-term nature of things 😥

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Check out my next post for Part 2.

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