Back again. An Ode to 25 on the eve of my 26th birthday…

Listen to your brain. Your mind is not your enemy. On the contrary, it is your best friend. Pay attention to what it is telling you…and not telling you even when you know better for yourself.

Listen to your body. It’s always talking to you and it’ll curse you out if you don’t take care of it. You may have been able to stomach a night of pre-gaming, getting to a club early enough to catch open bar, taking shots until 4am and then after the party it’s…the food truck…but at 25 you may only be able to to have a few drinks and a palito de queso if you make it til 4am. You’re not boring, you’re just maturing physically. Forgive yourself for tweeting that “washed” selfie and go drink some water.

You become who and what you surround yourself with. I’ve heard the saying before, but it never meant more than it does now. The range of characters in the world of twentysomething’s spans the gamut. There are the people who are going nowhere fast and the people who are peddling slowly in the right direction. You choose where you would like to be in your thirties by the people and environments you surround yourself with in your twenties.

Family’s got your back like chiropract. Whether it’s family that you chose or  family you were born into, you’ll find your way back to them. Friends that you thought you would keep forever suddenly aren’t in your life anymore. Maybe you shared some differences, maybe you just don’t vibe on the same frequencies anymore, or maybe you just slowly drifted apart…whatever the case, family will always have your back.

Trust your own judgement. Just because your family has your back, doesn’t mean they know it all and/or you should allow them to have a final say in your decisions. Your loved ones should love and respect you regardless of your life’s path. Go to them for advice, but have confidence that you know what’s best for you.

Money. You’ll learn to stretch it like it’s a hamstring before an olympic game. Some twentysomething’s are fortunate enough to have landed fabulous careers that allow them to splurge on any given event, but some twentysomething’s, like myself, aren’t. Either way, you’ll learn to ball on a budget. You’re not a kid anymore. If you want to go on that lavish vacation with your friends, you’ll find a way to make it happen and whip your account back into shape.

Happiness in the workplace is everything. We’ve all been at the age where working just meant getting a paycheck so that you could survive the week’s activities and maybe pay your cellphone bill. This is not that age. The importance of wanting to be somewhere you have to be will become evident if it hasn’t already. CLICHÉ CLICHÉ: Doing something you love never feels like work.

Thing I Learned at 25 Years Old

Burning bridges only sounds good in songs. We’re all in the race towards our goals, so who knows - maybe Marcy from 10th grade who’s an HR Manager might be able to help you in your job search. If you must hoard, hoard contacts.

Don’t get TOO discouraged. Any race gets tiring, especially when the finish line isn’t it sight. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Tap into your gifts and use the resources and contacts you’ve gathered thus far. And if those aren’t getting you anywhere, make new ones! Don’t give up.  

Opinions EVERYWHERE. Someone says something and you start to feel this burning-like sensation in your chest. It feels like your chest is in going into labor. WHAT IS THIS?! Oh. It’s just an opinion. You have enough years of experience under your belt to actually know (or look like you know) what you’re talking about. You’ll either learn to express opinions wisely or you’ll become a mockery on someone’s social network timeline. Expression is key.

Do whatever the f*ck you want…but make sure you don’t look stupid doing it. Seriously. You want to start that business? Do it with dignity, yes, but make sure you can back yourself up. Don’t depend on others to show the world why you’re worth taking a second glance at, or even more crucial, investing in. Locate your passion and sprinkle it over your project. Only you know what you want your final product to result in.

You’ll meet people who seem to care more than the people you’ve known for years. Don’t be upset about the people that don’t share in your gripes and successes, be grateful for the people you’ve met that year that do. The saying that begins with “it doesn’t matter how long you’ve known someone…” gains significance once your passions are involved. Appreciate them and remember what I said in #3.

It’s okay to not be okay. 25 felt more like a sequel to my teenage years at times. Instead of pushing it away and hating myself for feeling helpless during the defining moments of this year, I had to learn to embrace my feelings. Embrace the feelings of wanting to sing on mountain tops. Embrace the feelings of wanting to jump off mountain tops…with no parachute…or bungee cord. Embrace them all. They are all equally as defining.

You’ll exhaust your tolerance for relationships that don’t serve you. Not just romantic relationships, but affiliations with people who generally make you question their purpose in your life. Whether it’s the heartbreak of a lifetime, or a betrayal by a friend, it’s normal to lose interest in extending people’s warranties. There’s nothing wrong with wanting the best for yourself.

What you won’t do, you’ll do for love. Whether you’re happily in love or broken up about it, learn from it’s lessons and move forward.

You can plan a pretty picnic, but it could quite possibly thunderstorm all over your sh*t. I had to learn to let go of the blueprints I drew up for myself as a child. I thought I knew where I’d be at each stage of my life, but at 26, things aren’t what I thought they’d be. Learning to accept when life has brought you down a different path is key to keeping the faith. Adjust your sails and weather the storm.

Spending time alone doesn’t have to feel lonely. CLICHÉ CLICHÉ Part II: Your twenties are for finding yourself. So find yourself in a book, at a museum, at dinner or even on vacation. Let moments of solitude become moments of solace. Sometimes, you are your own best company.

Comfort zone, shmomfort zone. What is growth without new experiences? Learning to detach myself from the things and spaces that felt like home base was essential to finding new things and spaces I would’ve never known would work for me.  Break away or find yourself in situations where…you kind of have to.

Learning to let go. Of the things I can’t control. Of the entities I was attached to. Of the people I called home. Easier said than done, but necessary and always possible.

Some people will still judge you based on your exterior, background, race, age. Don’t justify their negative feelings. WOW them. 

Comparison. The confidence killer. There I stood. Face to face with the mother of one of my elementary school classmates and former best friends. I could feel the anguish weighing me down as she relentlessly bragged about how wonderful her daughter was doing in her career and marriage at the tender age of 25. In the split second in which she asked me how life was, I thought, WHY WOULD I LIE? I’m on a totally different place than her daughter, but my life is just as great.

Spirituality versus religion. I don’t like to publicly speak about my religious beliefs, but for the sake of this post, I was brought up on Catholic faith. At 25, I still retain my Catholic beliefs, but have been intrigued by the spirituality of different cultures. Religion is believing, spirituality is being. Every faith looks up to a higher being - how you choose to practice those beliefs is completely up to you.

Communication is the foundation of LIFE. How something is communicated, received and understood is the basis for just about everything. Being conscious or what you’re communicating and who you’re communicating will save you a lot of time and effort.

Hey taste - YOU’VE CHANGED. And it’s going to keep changing. At 25, I started loving vegetables, men with dreads and wearing sneakers. Who knows what sorts of daring things I’ll begin to like at 26! TO BE CONTINUED…

Reminder: You are strong, brave and awesome. You will be reminded. If not because you refresh your memory via daily affirmations, then because the universe will conspire to remind you itself. You were born with everything you would need within yourself. The world will try to bring you down, but it can’t take away your sufficiency. Be yourself…in the strongest, most beautiful and most unapologetic ways you can. 

…with love to all my twentysomething’s. Keep blooming.