25 lessons for a quarter century

“A birthday cake with candles that spell out Happy Birthday” by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

It was my birthday over the weekend. (Yay me!)

I’m not big on celebrations, but I’m big on reflections.

So, I thought I’d look back and share what I’ve learned over these 25 years.

And I’d love to know what you think! What lessons have you learned?

1. Be grateful.

I was a brat as a kid, an imp. And gratitude takes some effort on my part because I took things for granted for so long. I was never outwardly ungrateful or disrespectful, but the thought never occurred to me that I should be grateful because I was so absorbed in my world of disfunction. Thankfully, now I understand how gratitude can shape your mind and affect positive changes.

2. You don’t know anything.

I used to think I was smart until I realized what professors study and research in universities. I learned that there is more information in the world than I could ever imagine or even want to know about.

3. Be polite.

Seriously, there are so many rude people out there. Say hi! Smile and don’t give people an attitude.

4. If you can, accommodate.

Making someone’s day by putting their needs before yours can be doubly rewarding. You make someone happy, reward! They return the favor, double the reward!

5. Practice.

Seriously, some people have a work ethic engrained into them from the very beginning, but that wasn’t me. I wasn’t lazy, but I was accustomed to being talented and new skills always came easy to me. That’s not something to brag about either. After mastering the basics of anything, getting to the next level usually meant practicing, which left me frustrated and angry because I didn’t get it right away. So, the value of practicing was lost on me until college when I came across a skill which I was not very good at: yoga. They call it a “yoga practice” for a reason. Better late than never!

6. Get a manicure.

They aren’t expensive, and I find that my esteem is boosted for several days when my nails look fresh.

7. Buy indoor plants.

Seriously, my apartment feels so clean with plants around! And they are supposed to boost your mood!

8. Take care of your body.

In high school, I didn’t take my body seriously and I didn’t understand why some girls went to the gym if they didn’t do sports. Exercise and a balanced diet were unnecessary to me until I stepped on a scale one day and saw that I was almost 15 pounds over my ideal weight. That was a wake-up call for me to pay attention to my diet and to start an exercise routine. I don’t have a scale anymore, but I have a healthier relationship with my body now, so I don’t need it.

9. No one will help you unless you are prepared to receive help.

That can mean you asking for help, or accepting help when it’s offered. If you don’t ask, don’t expect a hand out. And if you don’t accept help the first time, don’t think it’ll come again.

10. Take responsibility.

If you make a mistake, don’t cover your tracks and try to justify the error. All you are doing is lying to yourself. Everyone else already knows it’s your fault, so own it.

11. Talk to strangers.

I don’t think I’ve emphasized this enough. (HA!) There are so many perspectives out there to learn from, so take a chance if it feels right.

12. Be kind, but don’t take shit.

Stand up for yourself.

13. Relationships take work.

It’s not as easy as you being you, and them being them, and doing that together. It would so nice if that’s how it worked, but unfortunately, relationships are more complex than that.

14. Relationships are a choice.

In this article, I show a situation where a choice had to be made for the benefit of all involved. Sometimes, there is no fix or solution and the best option is to walk away.

15. Be critical.

Of everything. Now, that might seem like skepticism, but I think it’s important to analyze information and situations. Especially these days when so many lies and mistruths are circulated that it’s hard to know what’s true and what’s not. So, question everything.

16. Go to a therapist.

If you are having a rough time, if you’re sad, or your relationship is stressing you out, or if your boss is making you crazy…go to a therapist. Put aside your preconceptions and understand that these are professionals who specialize in problem solving and mental health. It’s worth it.

17. Ambition is a good thing.

I had a negative view of ambitious people for a long time because I saw it as selfishness, but in reality, ambition has many forms. And lots of ambitious people only want to help others and make the world better. Getting ahead is the easiest way to do that.

18. College is an option.

I went to college, but after going through it, I realize that I didn’t really need it for the career I wanted to pursue.

19. Congratulate yourself.

Celebrate your wins! Even if they seem small, doing this holds you accountable to your progress.

20. It’s ok to drink alcohol.

I had a hard time coming to terms with my Mom’s addictions and so abstained from all substances out of fear. But, ultimately, I was only hurting myself and limiting my social literacy. Every so often, and for the right reasons, it’s ok.

21. Work isn’t the same to everyone.

My roommate and I have very different ideas of what work is. His beliefs are more limited and I can’t change that, but that doesn’t mean I have to subscribe to his idea of work.

22. Be yourself.

I grew up in a retirement neighborhood, so being myself was always hard for me. There was always an expectation for my behavior, and I obliged out of respect. But, I never really had a good sense of myself as a result. Coming back to that and being authentic has been an uphill battle.

23. Life after school is HARD.

Don’t get down on yourself if your peers seem to be more successful than you. I did that, and it’s not going to help you anymore in your path to success. Focus on what you’re doing right now, and come to terms with the fact that life sucks and it’s on YOU to make the most of it.

24. Love yourself!

Take pride in how far you’ve come. You are a superstar and if you want something, believe that you deserve it. Take a relaxing bath, get a facial, listen to music, take a nap. Love yourself enough to slow down if you need to.

25. BUT, don’t slow down so much that you don’t do anything.

HUSTLE. Gary Vaynerchuk says this enough, but I’ll say it again. It’s going to take time and patience to get where you want to go. Put in the effort everyday, and it’ll pay off in the end. I have to believe that, and I’m writing every day with that belief in mind.

SO, those are my lessons learned so far. Cheers to 25! What others would you include?

Thanks for reading! Follow my instagram @thelanecarrigan for daily posts and stories! ❤

As seen on the Thought Catalog https://thoughtcatalog.com/lane-carrigan/2018/04/25-life-lessons-i-have-learned-by-25/

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Melanie Campbell

Melanie Campbell

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Writer | Dog lover | Thought Catalog | Expert self-critic | Viva la Vida | IG: @meljcamp ❤