I Just Turned 25. Here’s What I Learned After Living Another Year

There’s no escaping it. I am officially in my mid-twenties.

In the past year I’ve learned a lot, and in the spirit of being another year older and hopefully another year wiser, I decided to scroll through my notebooks, journals, Tumblr posts, tweets, and random scribbles, and consolidate some of those things into one place.

While some of these lessons were prompted by quotes or books or whiskey-induced conversations with friends, I can assure you they have all been validated through personal experience.


  • Most life decisions come down to the choice between courage and comfort, offense and defense, acting versus being acted upon. The best choice is almost always the former.
  • The Golden Rule is a lie. Don’t treat people the way you want to be treated, treat people the way they want to be treated.
  • Before you get angry about anything, first ask yourself: “How long has it been since I ate or drank anything? And how long has it been since I worked out?” It’s amazing what 25 pushups and a large glass of water can do to improve your mindset.
  • Being happy makes you want to own less stuff, while being unhappy makes you want to own more stuff.
“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”— Eleanor Roosevelt
How people think things are
How they actually are
  • Embrace the power of “I’ll Go First” - “I’ll Go First” is an attitude that encourages you to be the one to initiate in social situations. For example, if you just got to a party and your friends haven’t arrived yet, instead of playing with your phone in the corner, go find someone interesting and introduce yourself first. Amazing things can happen if you decide that it’s your responsibility to take the initiative.
  • How food makes you feel is just as important as how it tastes.
  • In kayaking, as in life, when navigating a tricky path, it’s tempting to lock your gaze onto the big scary rocks in your way. The solution lies in the ability to quickly survey the landscape, recognize the obstacles, and then focus on the spaces in between. These spaces are your opportunities, and they will guide you through.
Obstacles will always be there to distract you. Fuck ‘em.
  • Relationships cannot be evaluated by their length or their outcome.
    Shitty relationships can last a lifetime. The best relationships can happen within a span of two weeks. Don’t turn people away just because they won’t be around long enough for it to “go somewhere.” Spending time with someone you care about should be worthwhile enough, independent of the promise of some future outcome or reward. Love is not a transaction.
  • Watching TV and sports are actually a tremendous waste of time
    …relative to what you could be doing instead. Reading, writing, and working out will energize you and make you sexy and awesome. Do more of that.
  • Never date a girl who takes more pictures of herself than of other people and places.
Don’t try to win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer.” — Brené Brown
  • The Law of Fuck-Yes or No
    In relationships, if you’re not saying fuck yes to someone, the answer is no. It really is that simple. Why would you ever choose to be with someone who is not excited to be with you? This logic also applies for the way they feel about you— if she’s not saying fuck yes to spending time with you, do not proceed. Everyone deserves to be with someone who’s crazy about them, and that includes you.
  • “Move in the direction of your fear” is far better advice than “Do what makes you happy”
    “Happiness” is vague and nebulous and is often confused with terrible words like comfort and complacency. Anyone who tells you to “do what makes you happy” doesn’t know what they’re talking about and you should distance yourself from them immediately, lest you want to end up eating Cheetos and watching Netflix for the rest of your days.
  • Technology is great, but when it comes to building and sustaining a relationship, there is no substitute for physical presence.
The “I love you” that counts most isn’t whispered with great ceremony on a hilltop in Tuscany. No, it slips out casually, spontaneously, in the produce section or over the dishes, amid the drudgery and detritus of their routines.
— Ben Wiseman, The Myth of Quality Time
  • Disposable cameras are amazing for four reasons:
    1) Getting only one shot is exhilarating. With a limited number of exposures, you can’t afford to take the same picture twice, so you learn to make every shot count. This is a skill to cultivate in life.
    2) Delayed gratification can be fun. You won’t see your photo until months after it’s taken. It’s like giving your future self a present from the past!
    3) You get a break from digital. It’s a beautiful and — unfortunately — a rare thing to take a photo and get it back as a hard copy, knowing the image is exactly how you captured it. No filters, no edits, no pressure.
    4) Disposable cameras are cheap, durable, and easy to carry. Buy them in bulk and take them everywhere. You will thank yourself.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • For women, it is not about the nail. Don’t fight it.
  • Make sure whatever (or whoever) you’re waiting for is worth the fucking wait. Hey, life is short.
  • It’s OK to want to race home and put on pajamas after an hour at a party. It’s OK to dread small talk. It’s OK to need quiet time. There is nothing wrong with you. You do not need to be cured.
“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.”
— Pema Chodron
  • If you find an opportunity to do something you’ve always wanted to do, just do it and course-correct after. Don’t think about it too much, don’t put it off until “someday,” and definitely don’t wait for the “right moment” because for the most important things in life, there is never a “right moment.”
If you pass on an opportunity to do something awesome,
the universe does NOT owe you second chance. So…
The thing. Do it.
  • Life is right here, right now. It’s not a trip away, it’s not a promotion away, it’s not a year away, it’s not a million dollars away. This, right now, is everything. If you can learn to appreciate that, you will find it is more than enough.

Until next year,

Sean
September 21, 2015

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