When I turned 25 I had a sort of mid- mid life crisis. I wasn’t where I wanted to be in life. I was still working on recovering emotionally from a very abusive relationship, balancing trying to be a single mom yet still have some sort of a social life. I think in the past year I grew so much emotionally. I am more thankful now than ever for my struggle because it lead me to all of you.
Here are the lessons I have learned by 25:
1) Love yourself first- This one was huge for me. I never felt as though I was skinny enough, pretty enough, or good enough after leaving my abusive relationship. That lack of self confidence leaked over into my new relationships, work, even friendships. I wouldn’t want to go out and do things because I felt so terrible. I would constantly second guess myself at work thinking I wasn’t doing a good enough job. Leaving an abusive relationship where someone has completely taken the love you had for yourself away really damages a person. You start to neglect yourself. Remember to always love yourself- you come first. You can’t be the best mom, sister, daughter, friend, or employee if you don’t.
2) Stop Over-thinking- When we over think we manifest problems that aren’t even there. We create these massive “what if” situations in our head that just create more anxiety than we already have. Living with those “what if’s” is a very painful way to walk through life.
3) Wear Sunscreen, take care of your skin, moisturize– I didn’t really learn this until I started working at a dermatology office. I was a sun worshiper-tanning beds, outside, laying out- you name it. I never wore sunscreen, rarely even really washed my face, never moisturized. I started seeing patients come in with all of these sun spots, wrinkles, SKIN CANCER, and I completely changed my ways. Your skin will always tell your age if you don’t take care of it.
4) Always forgive, but never forget– Forgiveness is a huge part of emotional growth. Forgiving my abuser felt as though I lost a 50 lb. weight I was carrying on my chest. I had so much hate, resentment, and emotional baggage built up that I would unload on anyone who messed with me. Who ever hurt you doesn’t care about the pain they caused, they aren’t carrying around the burden- you are. Forgive them. Don’t forget the lesson you learned. Don’t put yourself in the position to let that happen again. Every failed situation is a life lesson.
5) Believe the actions people show you, not the words they speak– It’s important to understand that everyone was raised differently and have different definitions of respect. Good character and a good moral compass are very hard to come by. The fact of the matter is if someone values you, they will show it. If they care, you will know.
6) If you want something bad enough, you will make it happen– Your true passions will always make their way to the surface. Work your ass off to put the pieces together, make moves, and watch it all fall together. If you sit and do nothing you aren’t working toward making those passions a reality.
7) Never underestimate the power of music, laughter, and good friends– Sometimes on a really bad day all your need is some music, your best friends, and a good drink.
8) Happiness starts with you– If you aren’t happy internally then you aren’t ever going to be happy with anything in your life. Another person won’t change that, a new town won’t change that, and a new job won’t change that.
9) Crying is okay – Let it out, you will feel better.
10) You can always change your path in life – If you aren’t happy with your job, your friends, or a relationship- leave. So many people are settling with an okay life, DON’T.
11) Trust- Let people in, sometimes they will surprise you.
12) Don’t take things too seriously– Laugh, joke, make a fool of yourself. It’s okay to be a little childish every once in a while.
13) Talk to strangers– This is where I love my job the most. I meet new people every day. I love the random conversation, advice, and laughter. For some reason whenever I meet someone they tell me the most amazing stories. Where they came from, what they want to change, why they are changing. They could come in completely stressed and frazzled and they leave with a smile on. Someones people need to unload- be that understanding person. You can learn from anyone, anywhere. At the gas station, food shopping, even walking around.
14) Travel- You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to go to a different country. You can travel to a new nearby town, a city close by. If you have the money and the PTO by all means take it! You won’t regret it.
15) Find a creative outlet– Ride a bike, write, take pictures, crafts, paint. Do whatever calms you down. It will give you a period of time to escape from the stresses of the outside world.
16) Be Real– I couldn’t hide how I am feeling if my life depended on it. My face will always give it away. If I like you, you’ll know it. If I don’t, you will know why. People may see this as being harsh but its better than being fake and lying to people.
17) STOP APOLOGIZING– I would constantly say sorry to people. Someone was blocking the isle at the store “oh excuse me, sorry”, someone was giving me advice “Oh I’m sorry”, someone didn’t like what I was wearing I would apologize and change. There is a time and place to be truly apologetic. Don’t take away the authenticity of the words.
18) Love hard– My heart has been broken a few times in my life, but once I care about you, you are locked in my heart forever. I would go to hell and back for my friends and family. Love genuinely and love with all your heart. The people who you actually let in will deserve that love and cherish it.
19) Tell your friend and family you love them and tell them often– This has taken me longer to learn for some reason. I thought being vulnerable and saying you loved someone was weak and ridiculous. Yea I would tell my family I loved them here and there but not near enough. I almost lost my life and the last real conversation with my mom was an argument. Don’t miss a chance to tell them you love them- you won’t always get another chance.
20) Say sorry when you need to,and mean it- SOOO many arguments can be solved by just apologizing for what hurt the other person. Validate and appreciate their feelings. They are hurt because of something you did, don’t tell them they are wrong.
21) EAT THE FOOD– Starving yourself isn’t a diet, believe me. You gain it all back. Stop with the crash dieting and skipping meals, all you are doing is slowing down your metabolism. Eat healthy and eat often.
22) Age doesn’t equal life experience– I have experienced a lot of major life events before I turned 25. While wisdom does come with age, experience is different. You can learn more from a young person who has gone through life’s up’s and down’s than an older person who has had an easy life.
23) Appreciate your fears, then over come them– This may sound absolutely ridiculous but after leaving R I was afraid to be anywhere in the dark alone. The sun set and that was it for Alyssa being outside. I slept with my lights on the brighter side of dimmed, I refused to walk to my car IN THE DRIVEWAY alone, in fear that I wouldn’t be able to see him lurking around the corner. But slowly I have gotten over those fears.
24) Don’t follow the norm– When I was younger I had this life plan for myself. Married by 22, 2-3 kids done by 28, have an amazing husband and life, following the norm. I had a baby at 22, single mom also by 22, a failed relationship, survived serious abuse, went through family court, won full custody, got R’s parental rights stripped, started a non- profit, shared my story, went back to work full time all by 25. It was not the picture perfect life that society makes you feel like you need to have, but it is my life, and I love it.
25) Be okay with being alone– I can not stress this enough, being alone doesn’t mean you are lonely. You don’t need to settle for shitty friends, shitty relationships or a shitty job. Strive for better. Do not settle for a jerk who gives you attention when he wants to, wait for the guy who makes you the center of his world. Until then take time to yourself-be alone. I hate the saying that you are looking for your other half, you shouldn’t be. You should be whole all by yourself and find another person who compliments your independence, respects your drive, and encourages you to accomplish your goals.
So far on this life long journey I have learned so much. I can’t wait to see what 26 has in store for me.