25 Things I've Learned at 25
This post isn't exactly timely seeing as I turned 25 over eight months ago, but I've been reflecting on some things lately and thought I'd jot them down here. It was very difficult to keep this list at 25 but here we go!
1. Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.
I can't stress this one enough. I've spoken extensively about the importance of loving yourself, and what it personally means to me. If this list could only have one point, it would be this one.
2. Aiming for excitement is more practical than aiming for happiness.
We all want to be happy, but what is happiness exactly? A lot of us aim for it without actually knowing what happiness even means. The concept in itself is incredibly hard to define, and we all define it differently. The problem is, you don’t know what the "future you" wants. The future version of yourself will have different tastes, values, and goals. It's impossible to know. On the other hand, excitement is practical. If you have a goal and a life that you wake up every day excited for, then you are practically happy. In saying that, I should mention...
3. If you want to “do what you love,” you have to work three times harder than everyone else.
Ok, I made up that number, but you definitely need to work harder. You know that quote, "do what you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life." I do agree with it to some extent, but the truth is, when you do what you love, you're always going to be working. Say goodbye to work/life balance for a while. Sounds tough, right? You know what's more unfortunate? Most people don't get to spend their lives doing whatever it is they love. Most people do what they are told they should do, or what their parents/friends/society suggest they do. As such, some people don't pursue something close to their heart at all. If you want to be one of the lucky ones that get to “do what you love,” you need put in the work now, so you can live like most people won't get to later on. If you're still deciding whether to take the leap...
4. The consequences of failing are ultimately less painful than the consequences of staying the same.
If you're unhappy with what you're doing with your life, but you're unwilling to take a risk for change, then you've already failed. Taking a risk actually decreases your chance of failure.
4. Discipline and making healthy choices is choosing between what you want NOW and what you want MOST.
It's easy to take your health for granted when you're still young and healthy. It's easy to spend your 20's eating junk food, binge drinking on the weekends and lazing around on the couch on Sundays watching Netflix. Sure, it's not going to make a huge difference right now. But remember that the 50-year-old you must pay for all this indulgence in the future. With added interest on top.
5. Giving genuine compliments benefits everyone involved.
Complimenting others makes a positive impact in many ways. When you tell someone you like how they did something, chances are they will keep doing it. As such, your compliments reinforce positive behaviours in others. But not only that, giving a compliment boosts your own positive outlook. When you actively look for positive traits in others, you'll start to view your world more brightly too. Remember that compliments aren't always about looks. Tell someone how you really admire the way they handled a situation, or how you're really impressed with their work. Just remember that you are bringing so much good into the world by seeing the best in others and expressing your appreciation.
6. The more something irritates you in someone else, the higher the chances you are seeing a projection of yourself.
As I got older, I noticed that a lot of what people around me complained about in other people were characteristics, behaviours and beliefs they had themselves. When I examined it further, I noticed that I did the same thing. Pay attention to what you complain about. It's a great way to find out what you need to improve about yourself. Watch closely what others complain about. Gossip reveals so very much about the person doing the gossiping. Also...
7. Gossiping is a complete waste of time and harms you more than anyone else.
Talking poorly about someone else may momentarily make you feel better about yourself. However, that confidence boost you get from tearing someone else down is fleeting. At the end of the day, you will still go to bed with all your flaws. Instead, focus your energy on improving yourself. However, it's easier said than done because...
8. You can't grow without painful self-reflection.
Self-reflection is uncomfortable. But the only way to make real progress in our personal growth is through being honest with ourselves. Asking the tough questions (the ones we’d rather avoid) and take responsibility for our flaws. And the reason why you should take responsibility for your growth is because...
9. Personal development is the belief that you are worth the effort, time, and energy needed to improve yourself.
If you're a follower of mine and enjoy my work, then I already know that deep down you believe you deserve all the best things in life. So do the hard work. You deserve to reap all the amazing benefits of being a truly beautiful and better you.
10. Comparing yourself to others will destroy your soul.
It’s tempting to stack up all your ‘measurables’ — your job, your appearance, your income, the things you own — against everyone else’s. But the more you do this, the more inadequate you'll feel, and the less you'll think you have, and the more you'll think you'll need, even when you already have more than enough. You must determine what’s most important to you. Block out the noise of what everyone else wants. I promise you will be so much happier, content and at peace once you do.
11. Being pretty is temporary. Being beautiful? That's forever.
I grew up in a backwards thinking family that put a grand focus on appearance (for women at least). You can guess what my world was filled with: insecurities. After a gruelling adolescence battling self-doubt and body-dysmorphia, I decided enough was enough. I did my painful self-reflection (see point #9) and drowned my self-loathing with self-development (see point #10). Those who value you for your looks aren't worth keeping around. Looks will fade eventually anyway. Fill yourself up with real beauty. With knowledge and sights and adventures and experiences. And be kind to others. That's what makes you truly beautiful.
12. Trust your gut feelings.
Living in Western Society, we've grown up to believe that our inner guidance isn't a valid enough way to make decisions. Rational and critical thinking is utmost valued. If we really wanted to make the right decision, we needed the research to back it up. The thing is, your "gut feeling" isn't just something that comes out of nowhere. It's your brain gathering and processing your past experiences, beliefs, and memories, all of which is happening outside of awareness. There is research backing up those feelings of yours. If something or someone doesn’t feel right, there’s a good chance that you’re right. The most painful situations I've been in could have been avoided if I listened to my gut feelings. Conversely, the most rewarding situations I've found myself in all stemmed from listening to those feelings. Furthermore...
13. It's completely ok to change your mind.
It's okay to pivot. It's okay to stop going down a path that was once your truth and no longer feels aligned. It doesn't mean you were wrong. I mean, maybe you were wrong. But maybe it wasn't right for you either. You don't have to stick to something that no longer fills you up and lights your soul on fire. Don't feel guilty for changing your mind. What you have to do is listen to your heart and trust those gut feelings, girl!
14. Everyone has a difficult job.
As a travel blogger, I meet a lot of people who don't take my work seriously. What I've learned over the year is that there are different types of labour. Office workers may not have physically demanding jobs, but they can be mentally taxing. Models may look like their day-to-day responsibilities are glamorous, but their jobs can be remarkably encumbering, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally too. Additionally, just because we as a society treat work done by marginalised people as worthless doesn’t mean it’s true. I’m not more intelligent, more skilled or worthier than a cleaner or an employee at a fast food chain.
15. Having a following on social media comes with serious downsides.
I can understand why so many young people want to be a social media influencer these days. Having a voice to reach a large group of people to make a positive impact, the sponsored travel, free products, attending all the coolest parties. But along with that, comes serious hard work, patience and some pretty dark downsides. Experience -- both my own as well as those of my friends in the influencer space -- has shown me that self-doubt, body-image issues and glaring fakeness run wild in this industry.
As an influencer, you have your own personal brand that you treat very much like a business. As such, the lines between being "real" and branding are very, very blurry. Some brands are more authentic than others, and some are straight-out unethical and will lie and cheat. Those that choose to go down that path will negatively impact every single person in the ecosystem. This includes you. But this is not the worst part. The worst part is losing touch with who you really are. It's questioning if you're good enough to deserve other people's admiration. It's about wondering if all these little crumbs you spread across on the internet will mean anything at the end of the day.
16. Relationships are complicated.
People are complex. People have emotions and feelings that can be hurt. The good news is that we all want the same thing. We all want to be loved. We all want to know that we are enough. We all want to belong. Always do what you can to give people those feelings. It really shouldn't be that difficult because...
17. You can find something in common with everybody.
We’re all human. Our humanity is the cake. Our race, religion, beliefs, preferences, and personality are just the icing on top.
18. You define your own success.
Don’t let someone else define success for you. Success is not a thing, a reward, or a point in time. It's a feeling. It can be felt wherever and whenever you decide, on your own terms, in any moment you choose to feel “successful.”
19. You think you own your stuff, but your stuff actually owns you.
The pursuit and purchase of physical possessions may give you temporary joy. But the happiness found in buying a new item rarely lasts longer than a few days. Shortly after you'll feel like you need to get something bigger and better to make yourself feel good again. New car, bigger house, more shoes. Consider whether you really need something before you purchase it. In the last few years, I've donated and sold most of the things I don't use. I've never felt more free.
20. Sugar is a demon.
It's just not good for you (other than its potentially redeeming quality of making foods taste delicious). Damn you sugar for making me say that. Do your best to limit it.
21. Everyone is just as self-conscious as you are.
As we all connect with each other via social media, it's easy to assume great qualities about people without ever knowing them. They look so successful so they must feel confident. The truth is, everyone is assuming the same thing even though everyone is struggling with their own insecurities. This includes me. I hope that knowing this will ease you and increase your confidence.
22. Contemplating the universe is the best therapy.
Ok, I'm not sure if all of you can relate to this one. For me, looking up to the stars and thinking about the possibilities (and cool shit) in the universe completely fill me up with awe and wonder. The universe is 13 billion years old compared to my measly 25. This activity always reminds me that I am all but a tiny little speck on a ball of molten rock, orbiting a star in a limitless expanse of time and space. My problems don't seem so significant anymore.
23. You simply can’t please everyone.
Please, please, please don't do this. Trying to make everyone happy is a thankless, soul-sucking endeavour that will only leave you drained and miserable. The harder you try to be liked/approved of/popular, the further away all of these things will get. I've also learned that doing things to make your family, friends or partner proud is not any better. It's still the same people-pleasing behaviour. When you do this, your happiness and measure of success end up being based on what they think of you. Additionally, trying to prove other people wrong or trying to be successful to get revenge is also toxic. You must find your motivation from within. That's the only way you're going to get to the finish line. Besides...
24. You don't need everyone around you to support your dreams.
Very recently, my in-laws showed me that they didn't quite agree with my life decisions. At first, I was taken aback, but then I realised who cares if they disapprove or think I'm crazy. Remember, it's not your parents or your friends or the world's job to understand your dream. It's not your responsibility to get others' approval or make them think you're not insane. It's also not their obligation to believe in you and make your dreams happen. It is your dream, which means it's your duty to pursue it. Nurture it, protect it, fulfil it.
25. Everyone will have something to say about the choices that you make but nobody actually cares.
What does that mean at the end of the day? Go ahead, be you.
So I could go on forever about all the things I've learned but I tried to fit this to the title of my post. (However, I sneakily added #4 twice, did you notice? 😛)
If you guys want to read more about the lessons I've learned, just let me know in the comments and I'll write another list!
Also, what are some of your favourite lessons you've learned in your life?