What I wish I knew before turning 25

I’m turning 25 in just a few days, and in the last few weeks I have been dreading it and feel like I’m going through a semi-quasi quarter life crisis. I know, I know – 25 isn’t even that old. But I think there is a difference about having past an age and actually approaching an age. When I was 15, I thought, “WOW! When I’m 21, I’m finally going to be an adult. I’m actually old now.” But then 21 comes and goes and it was fine, and I’m sure 25 is going to be the same. But 25 has always been a significant number. I always thought that by 25 I would be married, or at least engaged; I would also be in a career that I love. There’s a lot of things that I thought I would have accomplished but haven’t yet. So here are 25 things that I wished I knew before the big silver year:
  1. It’s okay to not have found your passion. What I care about five years ago and what I care about now has changed. As I grew older, I began to learn more about we impact we leave in this world, the mark that we make, and our carbon footprints. I began to learn about sustainability and what it means to be environmentally friendly. I became passionate about recycling and composting. But this is just one aspect of my life that I am passionate about. I’m sure that it will change or evolved as I age as well. I still sometimes feel like there is still a missing puzzle in my life. Even though I am learning how to care more for the planet, I wouldn’t say it’s my optimal passion in life. And I have learned that maybe I will never find that “one thing” that I am passionate about, but there is also a chance that it’s more than just one thing.
  2. It’s okay to lose some friends. It’s all about the qualities than the quantities. I have learned that long ago, but it’s still hard to let go of someone, especially those friends that you thought will always be in your life forever. I learned, though, that sometimes those who are meant to be in your life, will stay in your life forever – or at least, they have a way of coming back to you. When I was in elementary and middle school, I had a really good friend who moved away. Even though she didn’t move that far away, we eventually lost touch. With modern technology and Facebook, we were finally able to reconnect…somewhat. There was the occasional and somewhat mandatory birthday posts on each other wall. When we graduated college, we found ourselves living in the same city. Yet we never met up. But after many texts and posts of “Let’s get together and catch up!” we finally did it. And it felt like no time had passed. Then she moved away to New York. After a year, she came back and we found ourselves back to being friends. True, we were never as close as we were back when we were youngsters, but we were back in each other’s lives. I believe that if we can each do our part and nurture this relationship, distance will just be a number of miles that can easily mean nothing with a simple plane ride.
  3. It’s okay to not be working in your dream job. Growing up, I always wanted to be a doctor. That was the only thing I ever dreamed about. I used to play doctor while everyone else was playing with their barbie dolls. I became especially determined when I was in a horrific car accident and when my grandmother’s kidneys failed. After my grandmother passed away, I felt a little bit lost. How can I continue when the one person that really inspired me is no longer here? I became dispassionate about school and medicine, and eventually switched my major. I now work as an Events Coordinator. Is it my dream job? Not particularly. But I think I’m rather good at it. I learned to grow out of my shell and became a people person. I’m good at my job – I can negotiate, I can make flower arrangements and be creative. I can see my vision come to live. And when I see everything coming together, I feel proud of myself.
  4. It’s okay to feel depressed and anxious. About anything, really. I think that it’s human nature to be your own critic and some people do it worse than others. Sometimes, it can lead to depression and anxiety. All of us, in my honest opinion, has a little bit of anxiety and depression, but whether you let those feelings manifest and how you handle your emotions can make all the difference in the world. This is something that is a little hard for me to share, but I think it’s important. This year, I began to suffer extreme anxiety and depression. I had blamed it on being too overwhelmed and stressed at work. However, I realized that it wasn’t just worked that made me feel stressed out and overwhelmed. It was everything else that was going on my life, too. And I also had been feeling depressed and anxious longer that I would care to admit. But it was the stress and overwhelming expectations that pushed me over the edge. Depression and anxiety are akin those buddies that people would warn their kids about because they are part of the “bad crowd.” I always thought of them as those college buddies who always just want to party all the time. But the thing is, you moved on from college and you’re trying to live your life but they won’t let you. They keep coming back and knocking on your door, and you can’t ignore them because they’re your buddies. They are familiar. So you let them in and they began to overstay their welcome.
  5. It’s okay to ask for help. And I did. I went to a therapist who helped me manage my stress, depression, and anxiety. And I can now sleep better, and it makes a huge difference in my life. I still have a long ways to go, but I feel better than I did eight months ago. I finally feel almost like myself again. Not only did I seek help professionally for my mental health, I still ask for help on my daily life. I call my mom every day asking her for the most mundane things: curry recipes, the pimple on my forehead that won’t go away…the list goes on and on.
  6. It’s okay to say no. I’ve always had a hard time of saying no. My mom raised me to be helpful and kind. But sometimes, you just don’t feel like getting Karen from Accounting her breakfast omelette, you know? Especially if she doesn’t pay you back.
  7. It’s okay to put yourself first. This is a hard one for me to pitch, mainly because I’m still trying to work on it myself. Coming from a big family, we always leaned on each other and we always put family first. But sometimes putting your family first means that you don’t get to put yourself in the driver’s seat. But this is yourself, so you need to take control of it. It’s a delicate balance trying to please others – your boss, your friend, your family. They will all tell you different things and sometimes those things contradict each other. But you need to learn what is best for you and what that little voice inside your head is telling you. Start listening to your heart and trust your gut. Your instinct is more powerful than you think!
  8. Stop being so damn apologetic. Every time someone runs into me, I’m accustomed to saying sorry. I don’t really know why. Maybe because I feel like I’m in their way. But it’s not really my fault, is it? Well, it’s not yours either! Stop apologizing for everything. Sometimes, it’s their fault and not yours. Sometimes, it’s not anyone’s faults. There’s nothing that you can do. There are things that you can’t control.
  9. Forgiveness and acceptance are necessary to maintain a sense of peace. Whether it’s accepting fate, or accepting that you can’t always control everything. To forgive someone is to free yourself from the internal hell of hatred that you are feeling. The agony and the anger. Instead, just accept what happened and learn to let it go. Try to see it from their perspective, remove yourself from the situation. You’ll learn empathy and you’ll be free from the pain that you were feeling.
  10. Get rid of the toxic people (and things!) in your life. Whether it’s that one “friend” who only hits you up when they want something from you but never reciprocates anything, or the toxic relationship you have with your on again-off again partner. Or maybe it’s that unhealthy diet of 3 cans of Diet Coke and 2 bags of Cheetos you consume during your afternoon snack time.
  11. Don’t be afraid to change. Change is hard no matter how adaptable you are. And usually as we get older, the harder it is for us to accept change. I don’t really know why. But I see it with my aunts, uncles, my parents, and even myself. You just have to take it one day at a time and know that things usually get better. And if tomorrow doesn’t get better, there’s always another day. You just have to ride out the roller coaster. And remind yourself that you have gotten through the last change, and you’ll also get through this one.
  12. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. We all get comfortable and have our own routine. But routine makes life seems mundane and boring. Instead, try taking a language class or a cooking class. Or maybe look for another job. Always learn how to challenge yourself and better yourself.
  13. Learn how to cook. And not just eggs or rice. But learn how to make actual meals. I personally love looking at BuzzFeed for recipes. They also have a new Tasty app with videos to show you step-by-step directions on how to make the recipe. And who can ever forget Tastemade? The recipes on these apps are usually delicious, fast, and easy!!
  14. Turn off your phone (and other technology!). Learn how to interact with people and nature once more. We all get so caught-up in technology that sometimes I feel people forget how to interact with other human beings in real life. They all avoid talking on the phones, or meeting up. Our world has become so reliant on technology that sometimes it’s nice to finally catch up with a friend from college over dinner with no phones, or even go on a hike and see the wonders of the world. I mean, the world is an incredible place with so many amazing views and creations.
  15. Be healthier. Just learn to take care of your body in general. Maybe learn how to cook a delicious salad. Or an easy breakfast you can eat before you rush out the door in the morning.
  16. Learn to love documentaries. There’s so much to learn from watching documentary. I recently watched a couple of documentaries about the meat industry that left me heartbroken. It encouraged me to think twice about eating meat products. Even if they are labeled as “cage-free,” or “free range.”
  17. Do what you love. I used to love cooking and baking, but as time went on, I’ve stopped. Maybe it was the depression, or the lack of energy after a long day of work. But recently I started cooking more often and I started re-reading my favorite books. I learned that if I just carve out 30 minutes a day doing the things that I enjoy, I feel happier and more content. Of course, you can always start out small. I used to cook everything from scratch, now I do semi home-cooked meals, with almost-ready to eat meals from Trader Joe’s or one of Sandra Lee’s semi home-cooked meal recipes.
  18. Learn something new. Maybe it’s a new language, or maybe it’s learning how to do basic coding. There are so many options and resources out there that you can use to do this. Duolingo is a popular app that many people – including myself – have used to learn a new language. There’s also Coursera, Code Academy, or FutureLearn if you want to take a more structured online course that you can do on your own pace. They have everything from anthropology to economic to history course.
  19. Learn how to manage your money. Including retirement funds. What the heck is a 401(k)? Or a 403(b)? Or what’s the difference between a Roth IRA and a traditional one? Maybe get a savings account. Start out small, like saving up $10/week. After a year, you’ll have $520! By the time you turn 50, you’ll have $13k – that’s not including compound interest that you’ll be racking up in that 25 years!
  20. Have better posture. This is probably the hardest thing for me to accomplish from this list. Ever since I can remember I have always had bad posture, which is a little bit ironic because when I was younger, I used to be a ballerina and they always emphasized on having good posture. Now, I look like The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  21. Be more involved. Whether it’s at your church, temple, or local government office. Or even just by learning about who your city council is, or who your mayor is. What proposition are coming up in the next election? What is going on in the world today? I recently found two really awesome subscriptions: What the Fuck Just Happened and the Skimm. They break things down to something that I can understand easily, and it takes me 5 minutes to catch up on what’s going on in the world today.
  22. Take the time to meditate. Focus on your mental health. Taking 20 seconds out every hour is better than none at all. There was an article recently that went viral about a woman who asked her boss for some mental health day, and the response from her boss was nothing short of encouraging. There’s a lot of going on right now about how important it is to take a mental health day and just give your brain a break. If anything, it helps people be more productive. Read this article from Huffington Post on six reasons why you should take a mental health day.
  23. Get enough sleep. Stop spending so much time going out to bars or watching Netflix. Instead, get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night. It’s like hitting the reset button and waiting until everything is rebooted again, and if you don’t wait enough time, then the reboot isn’t complete. Getting enough sleep helps improve your mood, increase your metabolism, helps with stress, and more. Lack of sleep are often attributed to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
  24. Go to the doctor. And the dentist. And the optometrist. These are the three big honchos that you should see at least once a year, if not more. Get your yearly physical. Ask your doctors about that headaches that you’ve been having. Floss your teeth. Stop eating that Reeses’s Peanut Buttercup instead of going to the dentist, and get your eyes checked. Taking care of both your physical and mental health are two fundamentals of being an adult.
  25. Learn how to take care of yourself. As in also learn how to defend yourself. Maybe take a self-defense class. Or carry a pepper spray. Especially if you are living by yourself, or coming home at night. But not only that, learn how to take an Emergen-C before getting that cold, or the proper way to make yourself a chicken noodle soup when you actually get that cold. Learn how to do your own laundry by separating the colors from the whites and delicate. These are little things that you need to learn when you live by yourself and to officially be a grown ass adult.
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