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25 Things I Learned in 25 Years

I saw this trend on YouTube and wanted to try it, especially since I recently turned a quarter-century old.

  1. “Your feelings are real, but that doesn’t mean they’re true.” My friend Lauren said this to me, and I’ve always remembered it. This phrase calms me down whenever I’m worried about something.
  2. “Quietness is not weakness.” Growing up, I wanted to be louder. I thought loudness reflected confidence, and I was nowhere near loud. By my mid-twenties, I learned to be confident in my quietness. Now, rather than trying to change this quality, I use it to be a better listener and a better friend.
  3. “Third-wheeling is a lot more fun than people think.” The same is true for fifth-wheeling. I enjoy getting to hang out with my friends and their significant others. I gain a new friend, and I get to watch my friends fall in love. They also let me make ridiculous couple names for them. (Shout-out to #BriTy and #Brennaaron.)
  4. “Doing yoga over a waterfall is as magical as it sounds.” It’s worth the four-mile run to get there.
  5. “Writing a strong female character is not difficult.” Don’t get discouraged by the formulaic heroines that either hold themselves back or try too hard to prove they’re worth rooting for. Don’t let these formulas make you believe writing a strong female lead is difficult. Believe in your character. Women are awesome, you are awesome, and your character is awesome.
  6. “Don’t deprive yourself of your own agency.” While several things are outside of your control, you have more control over your life than you realize. Don’t just let things happen. Make things happen.
  7. “Don’t narrow down an entire human being into one action, one line of dialogue, or one mistake.” Remember this next time someone cuts you off in traffic. (After you honk your horn.)
  8. “Everyone on this planet, including yourself, is a spiral galaxy.” We’re complicated beings with contradictory traits. We’ll never understand ourselves or each other fully. Never make assumptions about others, and never stop learning about yourself.
  9. “You are a transparent person.” You feel what you feel, and it shows on your face. That’s completely fine.
  10. “You don’t have to finish a book you don’t like.” Whew.
  11. “You don’t have to laugh at a joke that you don’t think is funny.” Especially if the joke is offensive.  Once, in middle school, I made a joke that I didn’t realize was harmful. Instead of laughing, my friend told me this was a serious issue that I shouldn’t take lightly. I was thankful someone pointed this out to me, and I never joked about it again.
  12. “You don’t have to smile when strangers tell you to smile.” You don’t have to look a certain way for anyone. Scowl at that man in the grocery store parking lot who asked you to smile. You’re carrying a fifty-pound grocery bag, not walking the runway.
  13. “You don’t have to look like anyone else on this planet but yourself.” Your face and form are beautiful because they are yours. Don’t try to change them. They are already perfect.
  14. “Buy an entire pizza just for you.” Trust me; it’s one of the best feelings in the world.
  15. “Drink more water. Please.” You’ll be healthier and you’ll get fewer headaches.
  16. “Try Vitamin E Cream.” It feels like an oasis on your face.
  17. “Know which terrain is your favorite.” Your favorite terrain includes an abundance of trees, mountains, and rain. If you’re surrounded by these things, you’ll feel at home no matter where you move.
  18. “Wearing makeup means you like wearing makeup.” Wearing makeup is not a reflection of insecurity, nor is it of a desire to impress people. Anyone who judges you for wearing makeup is basically judging you for wearing fuzzy socks– fuzzy socks and makeup are comfortable clothing items that express your personality. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.
  19. “The 90s was the best decade for cartoons.” This one is subjective, but it’s a popular opinion I agree with. I’ll always remember Hey Arnold!, Doug, Rugrats, and The Wild Thornberries. Especially since they all showed up on Hulu twenty years later.
  20. “To my ten year-old self: hold on to the reason you write.” You write at home, on the bus, and at school because you love it. In the future, when writing seems less fun, it will be helpful to remember what writing felt like when you were younger.
  21. “To my thirteen year-old self: you are so, so, so important.”
  22. “To my eighteen year-old self: you are a great writer.” Yes, you’re getting Cs and Ds on some of your literary analyses, but don’t get discouraged. Something just isn’t clicking yet.
  23. “To my twenty-two year-old self: you are a great writer.” Congratulations on being accepted to graduate school! You’re going to love it.
  24. “To my twenty-four year-old self: try writing comics.” The thought of writing a 60-page thesis of comics seems daunting now, but trust me; it will be one of the best decisions of your life. Suddenly, it will all make sense why writing became a lot less fun after you stopped adding illustrations.
  25. “To my twenty-five year-old self: you have to grow up now.” You don’t have to stop watching cartoons, wearing footie PJs, or buying noisemakers on your birthday. (Because, well, you did all these things on your 25th birthday. And all these things are fun.) Continue being a kid at heart, but stop holding yourself back. Persevere in your creative goals and adulting goals. Win NaNoWriMo. Finish writing your first book. Don’t keep dishes in your room. Do the things you need to do, even when you don’t want to do them. Don’t be afraid to try new things, meet new people, and move to new places.

I can’t wait to see where, and who, you’ll be, one year from now.