I don't consider myself a sage by any means, but it turns out as of Friday I've been alive for a quarter of a century and I think I've picked up a thing or two along the way. Here are 25 life lessons I would give to my younger self if I could:
1. Everything you think about life can and probably will do a complete 360 between ages 20 and 25. Be flexible.
2. Networking is actually really, really important (and doesn't have to be scary or fake as you previously thought). Embrace your sorority, clubs, events and stay in touch.
3. Baking cookies from scratch is not that difficult and they always taste better. Same goes for most meals. Step away from the microwave.
4. Having a dog is really fun, but it's a LOT of responsibility and costs more than you ever thought possible. Once you realize this, the dog has already stolen your heart so there's no going back. Adopt cautiously.
5. Your life will not end if you stop eating cheese. In fact you'll feel a lot better when you stop inhaling dairy products daily. Put the everything bagel down.
6. Sometimes a degree is just a piece of paper. Think outside of your major.
7. Doctors, teachers, parents are real people and people are not always right. Ask questions and don't accept everything you read.
8. Sometimes you have to speak up even though it's hard. Ask for what you want.
9. Dating the wrong people sucks, but it makes for good stories and it helps you figure out what's right. Don't settle.
10. Some friends will be there for you always, even when you live 3,000 miles away from them. Cherish them.
11. Some friends are meant to be seasonal and that's okay. Enjoy the times you had and move on.
12. You start to need your parents more than ever once you move far away from home. You're really lucky that you have ones who are willing to forgive all those years when you pretended you didn't. Call often.
13. Traveling changes the way you think about everything. In some ways that makes you feel grateful, disturbed, claustrophobic and excited. Make it happen.
14. Making money is important but it's not the most important. Be crafty.
15. Trusting your instincts sometimes leads you to a weird place, but trust them anyway. Sometimes the weird places are the best ones.
16. Live music makes you feel more alive than almost anything else. Even more so when you're sober. Just buy the ticket.
17. Say yes to adventures. When someone asks you to climb a mountain or sleep in a tent, you're not going to be comfortable or prepared. Do it anyway.
18. Other people are figuring it out too. Sometimes you have to be patient and sometimes you have to walk away. Being alone can be awesome.
19. Time goes by really, really quickly, and all you can do to make it slow down is pay attention and be grateful. Embrace it.
20. Exercise makes you feel better every time. Even though you forget every time. Never stop.
21. Getting your heart broken is one of the worst feelings there is. Remember this when it comes time to break someone else's.
22. The healing process is arduous. Don't give up.
23. No matter how angry your family has made you in the past, they're the ones who are rooting for your future. Treasure them.
24. Reading is cool. Keep doing it and don't let anyone make you think differently.
25. Fitting in is not going to pay off in the long run. Being true to yourself--even if it makes you an outcast--will. Be you.
I'm sure I've learned 25 life lessons just in the past year, and perhaps I'll contradict all of these in the next 25, but for now this is the best I've got. Cheers to a quarter century!