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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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                          Published on April 7, 2021

                          6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

                          6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

                          Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

                          While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

                          1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

                          Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

                          If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

                          In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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                          2. They Make Everything Transactional

                          Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

                          For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

                          Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

                          A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

                          Some statements to be wary of include:

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                          • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
                          • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
                          • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
                          • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

                          3. They Criticize Everything

                          One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

                          However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

                          Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

                          • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
                          • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
                          • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
                          • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

                          4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

                          We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

                          For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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                          This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

                          5. They Socially Isolate You

                          Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

                          Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

                          This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

                          In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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                          6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

                          It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

                          Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

                          Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

                          • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
                          • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
                          • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
                          • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

                          Final Thoughts

                          It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

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                          Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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