25 Things I’ve Learned in 25 Years

A month ago I turned twenty-five. This makes me feel like I am the human embodiment of the old lady emoji, especially with all the quarter-century jokes. Maybe the difference is that now I can’t really get away with saying I’m in my early twenties as the “mid-twenties” are officially here. And it’s scary. I’m still not sure if I’m ready for this whole “adult” thing, but here we are.

Twenty-five has actually been my favourite number since I was six-years-old. Weird, right? My explanation was that it was my class number (I was the 25th student in my class alphabetically), Christmas (my favourite holiday) is on the 25th, YTV (the channel that played all my favourite shows) was channel 25, and I really liked the way 25 looks on a digital clock.

So naturally, I’ve always had this expectation for age twenty-five to be the best year of my life. When I was really young I decided I would get married at twenty-five, but as I got older I thought maybe just engagement would be acceptable. I had decided I would have at least one book published by that age, have my own house, and be travelling to some of the places that have always been on my bucket list. Overall I had big plans and just hoped that all the good karma I’ve earned up until now would build up and release itself from May 8th 2016 to May 7th 2017.

And here I am, 1/12th of the way through that twenty-fifth year and feeling like I’ve kind of let the younger version of myself down. Maybe that sounds kind of harsh, but it’s a thought that has crossed my mind a few times. Logically, I know twenty-five is not going to be the best year of my life. I’ve learned that I have to let some of my hopes and dreams go, and postpone some other ones for awhile while tackling some more practical bucket list items. In this post I will share with you some of other things I’ve learned about life and myself in the past twenty-five years that I can take with me for the next quarter-century and beyond. Hopefully there’s something in here that will help you too! 🙂

  1. Everyone comes into your life for either a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I talked a little bit about this in my Mother’s Day post, but this is something my mom said to me after a few friendships in my life ended in my final year of high school. It is still relevant today, and I always keep it in mind when looking at the different relationships I have.
  2. Get a good phone case. You won’t care how cute it looks when you drop your phone and the screen shatters.
  3. Straight bangs aren’t for me. Sure- they look nice but do I really want to go for a trim every two weeks to keep them out of my eyes? (The answer is heck no).
  4. Invest in a good coat, well-made boots, nice concealer, and great-smelling hair products.
  5. Drink lots of water.
  6. I’ve proven enough times that I definitely CAN write an entire term paper the night before it’s due, but it’s still good to avoid those all-nighters when possible.
  7. Not being in a romantic relationship does not mean I am unloved. Even if I am without the kind of love that results in walking down the aisle to him with tears in his eyes, there are so many other kinds of love to live for. For me, those kinds of love are found in my fourth-grade pen-pal, curled up beside me on her wedding day with her arms wrapped around mine telling me how I was the best bridesmaid ever and how happy she is and that she can’t wait to make my wedding just as perfect. And even though she was pretty drunk, I know she meant it. It’s the girl I co-wrote Secret Agent Time Travellers with me in 1999 laying beside me in her brand new house after we spent the day moving her in. We talked for an hour about a friend that screwed her over, and I kick her under the covers and tell her that she’s stuck with me to which she replied that I’m the best friend in the world and no one will ever come close. And then I apologized for kicking her so hard, I misjudged the distance between our legs and then we both laughed so hard we cried. It’s the girl that sat beside me in grade eight math who I now have a 434 day snapchat streak with and say good morning, goodnight and I love you to every single day. She held my hand when I started tearing up in the middle of a coffee shop and later stayed up all night with me talking until I fell asleep. It’s the two-year-old who said ‘HAPPY BIRRDAY AUNTIE DRANA’ and the four-year-old who follows me around, crawls into my lap and tells anyone who will listen that I (Neena) make the BEST cookies in the WHOLE world. It’s the neighbour across the street who sneaks me some yorkshire pudding every time she makes it, invites me over for tea and rant sessions. Another neighbour (my “other father”) calls me his only daughter and always gives giant hugs. It’s the brother who took me on a soft pretzel date on National Pretzel Day and said HECK YES when I asked if he wanted to go to Connecticut just to see a musical with me. It’s the other brother who I haven’t had a relationship with in nine years, coming over and giving me a hug upon witnessing me burst into tears after he asked ‘how are you?’. It’s my parents that bring Tim Horton’s Steeped Tea home for me… My mom who surprised me with a bed full of new pillows and cushions, some she made herself. It’s my dad who waited for me in my room after a really bad day just to give me a hug and tell me how proud he is to be my father. So yeah, having my heart broken was a excruciating lesson to learn, as was discovering how jaded and hopeless I could feel but it all taught me that I’ve got a whole hell of a lot of love coming from a whole lot of people who don’t ask anything of me in return. And that’s a freaking great lesson to learn.
  8. It’s okay to go through school at your own pace. Not everyone gets their degree four years after high school graduation. Slow and steady wins the race. Eventually.
  9. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Thanks, Thumper.
  10. Use conditioner.
  11. Actually having and utilizing a planner is a total game changer.
  12. I am not defined by my depression, nerve disorder, or bad skin. I am not weak or lesser because of those things that I cannot control. I am strong because I deal with them and the mental/ emotional toll they take every single day in a healthy, non-destructive way.
  13. Just because it has a Kate Spade logo on it, doesn’t mean I need it. Yes, that means those napkin holders.
  14. Gel deodorant is the way to go. For some reason I am incapable of using bar deodorant without getting white marks on all my clothes, no matter how careful I am.
  15. Sometimes you just gotta leave the credit card at home. You may say you won’t detour to the mall, but the commercialism pull is strong.
  16. Tip well. Especially the lady you entrust with your eyebrows.
  17. Don’t burn bridges but it’s okay to cut ties.
  18. Complements take little effort but can have a big impact.
  19. Don’t make people wait for you. If you have an appointment or if someone is giving you a ride… be ready early.
  20. Colours? Whites? Darks? Brights? A shirt with black and white stripes? Just make sure the washing machine is on the coldest setting to be safe. And when in doubt, hang to dry.
  21. Don’t do things you don’t want to do just because everyone else is. Conversely, don’t stop doing things you love just because no one else does.
  22. Put yourself out there. Even if “out there” just means posting that story onto the Internet to get feedback.
  23. Take as many pictures as you can. You might think you’ll remember it all, but it’s good to have a backup.
  24. Baby steps are better than not moving.
  25. A year ago I would have ended this kind of post with “be yourself”, but instead I’m going to say “fight for yourself”. Yes, it is important to be yourself and I admit that I take pride in myself as an individual because I had to work hard to be okay with everything I am and everything I’m not. I don’t change who I am or how I act based on who I’m with. I’m certain of who I am and I like that person so I don’t have to go and “find myself” after I graduate university. I know what I want in life. However, more recently I’ve learned not to make concessions on any of that to suit other people or situations. I need to fight for myself and my goals and my dreams, even if it means fighting alone. You know the whole, “treat others the way you want to be treated”, I didn’t stand up for myself in order to avoid conflict so I learned that I have to start doing the reverse and treat myself the way I would want others to be treated and expect to receive the unconditional love and kindness in return for that which I give. I have learned that I need to surround myself with people who treat me the way I deserve to be treated and appreciate the things I do for them, without trying to change, lessen or ignore parts of me that they may not like or understand. I may not be where I dreamed twenty-five-year-old me would be, but I am proud of who I am and the things I have accomplished up until now. Maybe this year won’t be the best of my life, but I’m going to make it the best that I can and who knows what the next eleven months will bring!

What are the most important lessons have you learned up until this point in your life? Thanks so much for reading this post and I hope you have a great day! 🙂



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