25 Things I’ve Learned By Age 25


I’ll be 26 in a few weeks, & lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how much I’ve learned about life in the 25 years I’ve been alive on this planet.  I’ve read a lot of articles lately with similar titles to this one, & I’ll admit I kind of hate myself for jumping on the bandwagon so to speak by writing this.  But I really do think I’ve learned some valuable lessons in my first quarter century of life, & I’d like to share some of those today.  Most of them are fairly serious, but some of them are more light-hearted & will hopefully make you laugh.  Let me be clear & say that I fail over & over in following some of these things.  Many lessons in life we have to learn over & over again because none of is perfect.  After all each & every one of us is a work in progress, & that’s as true for me as for anyone else.

These are in particular order.

  1. There is no one right path for everyone. I for one grew up with a very black & white view of the world; in other words, a world that was full of moral absolutes.  But as I’ve grown up I’ve realized how woefully inadequate such a paradigm is for a world as complicated as this one.  I’m by no means saying that I don’t believe in any sort of moral structure, but what I do mean is that most of life is really shades of grey.  Every situation is unique & different & there are very few things in life that fall under the category of “always right” or “always wrong.”  This really isn’t as scary as it may initially sound.  In fact it is just the only logical way of viewing life on this vastly complex planet.  Once you’re grasped this concept it is much easier to understand that the right path for someone else may be very different than the right path for you.  More often than not, neither of you is right or wrong, better or worse, only different.  And that is ok.Dalai lama quote
  2. Money in & of itself doesn’t bring happiness . . . but having enough to meet your needs & at least a few wants is a huge step towards finding contentment in this life. In other words, becoming a millionaire isn’t a guaranteed shot at happiness, but working hard & ensuring that you can take care of yourself & your family is most definitely a worthy goal.  Greed can & does lead to a great deal of evil in this world . . . But so does poverty . . . Consider that the most violent, dangerous areas of this country, indeed this world, are often the poorest.  This leads directly into my next point . . .
  3. Everything in moderation really is a great standard to follow in life. Now obviously there are a few exceptions to this rule, as some things really ought to be avoided altogether (like heroin, for example).  But for the vast majority of things in life moderation really is the best road to follow.  For example, despite what I believed growing up, I now understand that it is perfectly possible to drink in moderation.  (And there is no reason to think doing so is wrong.)  Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with eating ice cream or other sweets every once in a while, but doing so every day will likely not end too well.  As another example, sex is awesome, but for a number of fairly obvious reasons, it’s clearly best to limit the number of people with whom you do it.  In the end, most things in life really are best done in moderation.  Sadly our society has lost sight of this in regard to a lot of things, which is why we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic as well why we have an epidemic of college students who drink themselves to the point of oblivion every weekend.   If only we understood moderation . . .
  4. Dogs really are man’s (& woman’s) best friend. Forget diamonds or money or beer.  Dogs provide companionship & love that just can’t be beat.  I personally believe corgis are the best, but really any breed will do.  I didn’t grow up with dogs so when we first got Chaucer I couldn’t believe the difference in my mood just from having a dog around the house all the time.  They really are amazing.  I’m determined to never be without a dog again for the rest of my life.

    Me cuddling with our adorable Welsh corgi, Chaucer  :)

    Me cuddling with our adorable Welsh corgi, Chaucer 🙂

  5. When you hand someone cash, make sure that the bills are in order from greatest to least (greatest on bottom, least on top) & that all the bills are facing in the same direction (faces up, bills not upside down).  This is just the proper way to handle cash.    If you don’t do it this way the OCD & mildly OCD people of this world, like me, will want to smack you.
  6. Approach everything with an open mind. Sometimes the things you dread the most in life will turn out to be the things you love the most.  And sometimes the things you think you’ll love end up being dull, boring, or just plain miserable.  For example, I can’t tell you how much I dreaded working night shift.  But over three years later I now love it.  I probably won’t want to do it for another 30 years (because it is hard), but for right now it’s perfect for me.  I also went into nursing school thinking I wanted to be an OB nurse because it sounded fun & happy . . . Then I got to OB clinical & realized I was bored & disinterested . . . Instead I found that I loved geriatrics & hospice, things I always thought I’d hate.  Go figure.
  7. When someone is suffering, the best thing you can do is just be there for them. As tempting as it may be, don’t offer advice (unless specifically asked), & don’t try to make the suffering person see the positive side of everything.  Doing so just implies that you are making light of their suffering.  All any of us ever really wants (& needs) to hear when we’re really suffering is just that someone cares & understands that what we’re experiencing is really hard for us.  That’s it.  I’ve been amazed time & time again at how positively people (patients as well as friends & family) respond to a few simple words such as “I’m so sorry you’re going through this right now.  I know it must be really difficult for you.”
  8. Nothing in life is perfect all the time. You will fight with your best friend sometimes.  Your husband (or wife) will sometimes make you irrationally angry.  Your job will sometimes frustrate you so much that you will want to quit.  Your kids may make you question why you ever had them.  There will be days when in fact you question your very existence.  At the end of it all, we just have to find the people & things worth suffering for, the ones who make the bad days worth enduring.  I hope this doesn’t sound excessively pessimistic because I don’t mean it that way.  I’m just being realistic & admitting that life is never perfect.  The sooner we realize that, the sooner we’ll stop being disappointed over the fact that our lives aren’t the fairy tale we think they ought to be.  And we’ll start to understand that the grass really isn’t greener on the other side of the fence.  It’s greenest where you work the hardest & appreciate it the most.
  9. Don’t marry someone who isn’t your best friend. After all, with whom else would you want to spend the rest of your life?  Relationships aren’t half as complicated as most people make them out to be.  Which leads directly into my next point . . .marriage best friend
  10. If a man really loves you, you’ll know it. If he doesn’t, you’ll always be wondering.  (Thank you, James M. Sama, for this wonderful quote.)  Actions really do speak louder than words.  Anyone with enough money can buy you flowers or take you out for a fancy dinner.  But if he doesn’t support your dreams & goals, challenge you to be the best version of yourself, spend time with you even when you’re not at your best, & be there for you during all the best & worst moments of your life, then you need to move on to someone who will.  If a man really likes you & is interested, he WILL call you.  He WILL make specific plans to see you.  And he WILL respond to your texts.  This is really just common sense.  (By the way, I believe all of these things also hold true with the genders reversed.)
  11. Go to as many concerts as you can. I’m not suggesting you spend every penny of your savings on this, but you seriously should not miss out on the ones that are really important to you.  If they’re cheap &/or you can afford it, go to a few with friends even if the bands don’t interest you that much.  You never know when you will discover a new favorite band that you’d never heard of before.  It’s definitely happened to me.  And the only concerts I’ve ever regretted are the ones I’ve missed out on attending.

    eric church concert

    I’m going to see Eric Church for a third time next month . . . And I can’t wait!

  12. Read as much as you can. There is no better way to broaden your horizons & open your mind.  And there is no better way to escape from the humdrum of daily life.  Reading will make you smarter, more articulate, & more well-rounded.  Just do it.
  13. On a related note, be suspicious of anyone who doesn’t read at least a little bit for pleasure or who isn’t passionate about at least one kind of music. There is just something seriously wrong with these people.  If nothing else, they are incredibly boring.  Sorry, I’m not sorry.
  14. If you don’t like how your life is going, start making different choices. As adults there is no one else we can blame for our own mistakes or circumstances.  No, we can’t control everything that happens to us, but we can control how we react to it.
  15. Do the best you can with what you have where you are. (Thank you, Teddy Roosevelt, for that brilliant quote.)  I built my senior salutatorian speech around this quote, & I find it just as relevant now as I did seven years ago.  We’re all born into different circumstances & it goes without saying that some of us are given unfair advantages & disadvantages to start out with in life.  But if we make the best of what we have, it’s amazing how far we can go, no matter how meager our beginnings may be.teddy roosevelt
  16. Life isn’t fair. The sooner we come to terms with this, the sooner we can make peace with the injustices of life & work to make the world a better place.  We will never understand the reason some things happen, but that doesn’t change the fact that they happen.  For example, young people suffering from terminal illnesses is horrible & completely unfair.  But if we spend our time obsessing over the unfairness of it, we’ll never be able to help these people.  I volunteer with hospice because I know that people are suffering & dying whether I’m involved or not.  But I enjoy working with people & their families at the end of life, & if I can do even a few small things to make the process more bearable, I’m happy to do it.
  17. The best music is rarely on the radio. Go to YouTube & play around for a while.  Go to live concerts & discover new bands.  If you want to listen to something more interesting than songs about incessant partying, drinking, & dating, you have to work for it (sadly).
  18. The best food in the entire world is Indian food. Curry is the answer to all boring recipes.  Just try it.  (If you’re in the Raleigh-Durham area, try India Gate in Durham.  The lunch buffet is heavenly, & the price & service can’t be beat either.)indian_food
  19. Whatever physical “faults” you’re most self-conscious about, the rest of the world probably doesn’t even notice them. Seriously, we are all our own worst critics.  No one is paying half as much attention to your big forehead, crooked nose, or acne as you are.
  20. Never pretend to be something or someone you’re not to make someone else like you. If you’re being fake, you will inevitably be found out & it will never work anyway.  If someone doesn’t appreciate you for who are really are, you don’t need them in your life anyway.
  21. High school is barely a blip on the radar in the course of your lifetime. (Thank goodness!)  Seriously, the cool kids in high school are rarely all that cool past high school.  Who you were in high school won’t, or certainly shouldn’t, define who you are afterward.  If the high point of your life was high school, your life is really sad.  Trust me, real life isn’t half as bad as everyone says.
  22. Emotions are just emotions. There is no bigger waste of time than feeling guilty over being angry or sad or experiencing some other “negative” emotion over something.  Quite often these emotions are just natural human reactions to events in our lives.  The only thing that really matters is how we handle & respond to these emotions.avoidance
  23. We are all hypocrites. No matter what we believe or don’t believe, we are all hypocrites sometimes.  It’s ok.  None of us is perfect.  The important thing is to keep trying & to stay humble.
  24. Never judge people based on superficial things such as dress, tattoos, piercings, or accent. Or at least don’t be so indecent as to dismiss people entirely based on these kinds of superficial things.  In doing so, you will often miss out on the true nature of the person.  However, as unfair as it is, we do need to be aware that the vast majority of the world does judge others based on these things.  I’m not saying we should change these things about ourselves to appease others.  I just think we all need to be aware of the fact that, for better or worse, our outer appearance & demeanor are the first things people notice about us.
  25. The only thing we can really be certain of in life is that it is uncertain. And the only thing that never changes is that life is always changing.  I talked about this on here a few weeks ago.  This doesn’t have to be depressing.  We just need to realize that we’re never promised tomorrow.  And we’re certainly never promised a tomorrow that looks anything like our past or the present.  Thus we need to appreciate all the little things in life & make the most of every opportunity & experience that comes our way.  Life is far too short to do anything but have as much fun & do as much good as we possibly can.change quote gb shaw
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