It’s the year of 25! I celebrated my 25th birthday a month ago, and Kristen turned the big two-five just yesterday. (Pop open the champagne!) Come to find out, we’ve learned a few things in the last two-and-a-half decades of being alive. If we could go back ten or fifteen years, here’s what we would tell our much younger selves:
1. We don’t live in a world of black and white. Steer clear of extremes.
2. There’s a time to speak your mind, and a time to keep quiet. Learn to tell the difference.
3. Don’t put your phone in your back pocket, lest it fall into the toilet.
4. Anyone who claims to have it all figured out is lying. There is no “perfect balance,” only finding joy in the chaos.
5. Diets don’t work. Listening to your body does.
6. Your mother is (usually) always right.
7. Except when she tells you it’s acceptable to wear a white dress to your cousin’s wedding. Never wear white (or off-white or cream or even beige) to a wedding that isn’t your own.
8. Small victories are still victories. Celebrate them.
9. Take any chance you get to travel. You’ll never regret the money you spend on a plane ticket.
10. Eat the dessert. Jump in the cold water. Kiss the cute stranger. YOLO.
11. If you constantly have to wonder how he feels about you, let him go. You won’t get that year back.
12. Strive for grace, not perfection.
13. Meet new people and stay in touch. You’ll learn a lot about the world by listening to the wonderful people in it.
14. Learn how to take care of your clothes. (Hand-wash your lace underthings. Dry-clean your silk blouses. Air-dry your nice jeans.) A little effort = a lot of money saved.
15. Speaking of clothes, fashion is not for everyone. Leave $300 designer handbags and 6-inch diamond-studded heels to the rich and famous. Wear what makes you comfortable, confidently.
16. The only way to get good at something is to keep doing it, even if you fail the first few times.
17. The people who seem more successful (by any definition) struggle just like you. No one’s life is flawless—regardless of how Instagram makes it seem.
18. Start experimenting in the kitchen. There’s no better skill than knowing how to put together a delicious and nourishing meal. (Hint: Sweet potatoes are the perfect food. Eat ’em.)
19. The older you get, the more you’ll want to do with your time. (Take up interior design! Bake a cake! Write handwritten letters! Learn to speak French!) You’ll read and research and plan and procrastinate, but the key is to just get up and get at it.
20. Stop worrying about how you appear on social media. Your life is messy and imperfect and lovely, and no Facebook timeline could possibly capture its true beauty.
21. You’ll have like three people in the world you tell everything to, and you’ll realize how damn lucky you are for that.
22. Stay hydrated.
23. Feminism is not a dirty word. (And while we’re on the subject, femininity is not a weakness.)
24. Wear sunscreen. And reapply. Even when it’s cloudy.
25. If someone ever implies that you are not enough for them, turn and leave. That kind of thinking will destroy you.
And one to grow on:
26. You won’t end up where you thought. And that’s more than okay—because where you wanted to go isn’t all it’s cracked up to be anyways. Lean into the unexpected.