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25 Life Lessons I Have Learned Over The Last 25 Years

25 Life Lessons I Have Learned Over The Last 25 Years

At age 25, you already have a few of life’s biggest milestones behind you: the day you took your first steps; your first “words” (more like adorable baby gurgles, but you catch my drift); your first day at school; graduation; your first drink with your pals on the night you officially become an adult (yeah, right!)… And then comes 25. 25 is the unsung heroes of milestones: while the “Quarter Century” moniker carries a hefty sense of foreboding, it’s also the age at which most people have a little more life experience behind them and start feeling like “adults”. (If you don’t, yet, that’s totally fine, too!)

I feel like I’ve learned a lot over the first 25 years of my life, some of it wonderful, some of it not so much; all of it, I hope, of value to you. Here are my 25 life lessons learned by age 25.

1. Start saving early.

Sorry for raining on your parade and being the boring Uncle at the frat party, but you’ll thank me for this. What people (and by people, I definitely mean myself, too) tend to conveniently forget when starting their first jobs and getting their hands on their freshly-printed paychecks, is that there’s a certain thing called taxes looming over the horizon. And unforeseen medical bills. And LIFE. Make things easy for yourself and put just a little bit of your hard-earned cash away every month. It needn’t be much but it will add up over time and you’ll be so thankful for it in the long run.

2. As unmotivated as you may be, start working out early, too.

Even though it may not feel like it in the aftermath of an epic night out, your late teenage years and your twenties are theoretically the prime of your life. You will never be better equipped to handle the strain of working out. Put your youthful body to use and prep it for the wear and tear of getting older. It’s so worth it.

3. Learning how to cook a simple + delicious meal will save your life.

Because being able to serve something other than cheese on toast when you have company feels so, so rewarding.

4. Spend time with the elderly.

spendtimewithelderly

    I learned this the hard way: both my wonderful grandmothers, whose abundant love I’d been showered with as I was growing up, passed away within a year of each other recently, leaving be bereft and wanting. As we no longer lived in the same country (and hadn’t for a good few years), spending time together was difficult and our relationship, although still loving, became more distant. Looking back now, I really wish I’d made more of an effort to spend some time with my grandmothers. I feel their loss keenly. Don’t do what I did – spend time with your elderly.

    5. Get over your entitlement, stat!

    As Millenials, we grow up being told we’re the bee’s knees. In a sense, this is positive because it bolsters our self-confidence, but it also gives us a sense of entitlement that has no place in the workplace. As harsh as this may sound, being told we are special over and over again doesn’t make us so and wearing your Gold Star on your lapel certainly won’t endear you with future employers. On that note…

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    6. Work hard, stay humble.

    workhardstayhumble

      This quote is a cliché for a reason: it’s true and it’s important! Working your behind off and letting your actions speak for themselves is a surefire way to get ahead. Being full of hot air and slacking isn’t. However…

      7. Learn how to give yourself a break.

      giveyourselfabreak

        It can be hard to be kind to ourselves and give ourselves a time-off when society piles sky-high expectations on us. However, learning to give yourself a break is one of the most important life lessons you’ll ever learn. You don’t have to be Super(wo)man and sometimes, the best thing you can do both for yourself and the task at hand is press pause and recentre yourself.

        8. Some people are toxic. Stay away from them.

        toxicpeople

          It’s easier said than done, but that friend who always leaves you feeling exhausted and unhappy after you spend time with them? Cut them out of your life. Life is too short to waste your time and energy on people who make you feel like crap.

          9. Your body is beautiful. Treasure it.

          loveyourbody

            You may not feel that way now, but your body is a thing of wonder – yes, even with those (imaginary!) lumps and bumps. Your body is capable of greatness. It’s also the only one we have, so making a point of looking after this mortal coil of yours should be on the top of your list of priorities. Feed it good, healthy food. Take it for a run around the bloc. Shower it with love and affection. And remember…

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            10. Your body can only take so much abuse.

            You may be young now, but you won’t always be. (Wow, way to bring the mood down, Grandma!) While those vodka shots and super late nights may seem like a brilliant idea right now, be aware that no matter how invincible you feel, your body can only take so much before it crashes and burns. So, occasionally, trade in the party heels for a pair of slippers and a mug of tea. You’ll thank me later.

            11. Reading is NOT a waste of time.

            When you’re in school, unless you’re one of those people who devours books by the dozen (that’ll be me, then), reading can feel like a kind of cruel and unusual punishment. Often times, if you’re made to do something you don’t want to do, your first instinct when you don’t have to do it anymore is to throw your hands up shouting “F*ck the system!” and just stop. Don’t give up on reading. It’ll help you grow into a better human. Promise.

            12. Hating things isn’t cool, nor does it make you look mysterious and attractive.

            It just makes you look like a hater. And while you’re at it…

            13. Don’t be a Negative Nancy.

            I get it: it’s really, really easy to get caught up in other people’s negativity, often even without realising! But what you don’t know, is how pervasive negativity is and how deeply it impacts your life. What starts out with a little “innocent” gossip at the water cooler and a few unkind comments between friends can quickly transform into a horribly pessimistic outlook on life. As hard as it may be, choosing positivity is so much better for the soul.

            14. Time heals MOST wounds.

            timeheals

              Another cliché, another nugget of wisdom. As crap as you feel now, you will feel better over time. Have patience and have faith.

              15. Being in nature is good for the soul.

              naturegoodforsoul

                Most of us live hyper-connected lifestyles in busy urban environments, without much opportunity to unplug and slow down. However, spending more time in nature is something that we should all strive for, as disconnecting from the frantic world around us for even just a couple of hours is a surefire way to recharge and return to our occupations refreshed and relaxed. Plus, it’s a wonderful way of reconnecting with our natures as human beings! Give it a try.

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                16. It’s not worth hanging on to clothes “just in case they fit”.

                If your clothes don’t fit and all they do is make you feel cramped and uncomfortable, do. Not. Keep. Them! Trust me on this: keeping a pair of “motivation jeans” will not encourage you to lose weight; all they will do is make you miserable and take up space. Do your self-confidence and your closet a favour and give away the clothes you don’t need.

                17. It’s OK not to be OK.

                oknottobeok

                  Like I mentioned before, no one expects you to be a superhero all the time. We are all human; we all have emotions and sometimes, life just gets to us. It’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to give yourself a break. It’s okay to surrender to your feelings and have a good old cry, if you need to. No one will think any less of you (and if they do, they’re the toxic people I talked about earlier and it’s time to cut them out of your lives). Also…

                  18. You are not alone.

                  youarenotalone

                    No matter how isolated and desperate you may feel, know that everyone around you is fighting their own hard battle. And guess what? More people are experiencing what you’re experiencing than you think! Those problems and snags you keep running into? I’ll bet there’s a Facebook group or a forum or a community that can help with that. Try reaching out; you might be surprised at the outcome!

                    19. Being blind drunk just isn’t classy.

                    It really, really isn’t. Learn your limits early and respect them.

                    20. It really is best to be yourself. (Promise.)

                    beyourself

                      They say that imitation is the best form of flattery but always trying to be someone you’re not is no way to live – no matter how popular, beautiful or successful the person you’re trying to emulate is. Not only is it impossible to be exactly like the object of your admiration; pursuing this unattainable “ideal” will only make you frustrated and blind to your own, unique beauty.

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                      21. Never stop learning.

                      Just because you’re out of school, it doesn’t mean that you should stop educating yourself. Making a point of keeping yourself up to date with what is going on in the world and keeping abreast of the latest developments in your industry will both give you an edge. Plus, learning keeps your brain sharp!

                      22. Work-life balance isn’t really a thing.

                      There will be times when you’ll be working yourself to the bone, and others when you’ll be twiddling your thumb (but trust me, there will be fewer of those until you retire). Chances are, your work-life balance will be totally out of sync most of the time. And guess what? It isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it just means you’ll have to prioritise and manage your time effectively and that, my friend, is an invaluable tool!

                      23. You never get unless you ask.

                      People aren’t mind-readers (unfortunately), so ask for what you want! Only those who ask get what they want. What’s the worst that could happen?

                      24. Keep an open mind (and an open heart).

                      openheart

                        Be open to new experiences. Let new people in (even if you’re scared of getting hurt). Say YES. Live life with open arms, because before you know it, it’ll be too late and you’ll be filled with regrets.

                        25. YOUR opinion of yourself is the one that matters the most.

                        youropinion

                          At the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is what you think of yourself; how you perceive yourself, whether you value yourself. People come and go, but you’re stuck with yourself for the rest of your life. Learn to listen to your intuition and your opinion of yourself before tuning into others’. Everything else is just white noise.

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                          Last Updated on March 30, 2020

                          What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

                          What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

                          Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

                          You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

                          This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

                          What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

                          According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

                          Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

                          There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

                          How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

                          When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

                          Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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                          1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

                          One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

                          The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

                          Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

                          2. Be Honest

                          A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

                          If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

                          On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

                          Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

                          3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

                          Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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                          If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

                          4. Succeed at Something

                          When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

                          Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

                          5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

                          Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

                          Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

                          If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

                          If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

                          Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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                          6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

                          Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

                          You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

                          On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

                          You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

                          7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

                          Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

                          Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

                          Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

                          When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

                          Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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                          In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

                          Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

                          It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

                          Final Thoughts

                          When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

                          The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

                          Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

                          Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

                          Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

                          More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

                          Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

                          Reference

                          [1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
                          [2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
                          [3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
                          [4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
                          [5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
                          [6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
                          [7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
                          [8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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