25 Lessons From 25 Years (a.k.a. My Birthday Just Happened and I’m Feeling Sentimental)

So, dear friends, This past Thursday, November 28, 2019 (a.k.a. Thanksgiving 2019), I turned 25. Tbh, it feels a little surreal to me. For the first time in my life, I feel like others might see me as somewhat legitimately “adult”. (Then again—is anyone “legitimately adult”??? Asking for a friend…) It’s been a kinda weird transition. But turning 25 and finally feeling like a *cough* “legitimate adult” *cough* has also made me reflect a bit. I feel like I’ve had such a big life and what’s crazy is, I have so much more life ahead of meIt’s so trippy to think about! But regardless, I do have some amount of life under my belt and, after 25 years, I think I’ve learned quite a few lessons. Like, always wear your seat belt! And—peanut butter does NOT get gum out of your hair!! Okay, okay, I’m kidding! (Kind of! I mean, those are valuable lessons too haha!) What I’m actually talking about is life lessons I’ve learned over my years on this funny little planet we call home. Anyhow, I wanted to take a moment to share some of the more important ones I’ve learned with you!

1. It’s totally O K A Y to fail. Really, I promise, it’s okay. Generally it’s actually a good thing to fail—it means that 1) you tried and 2) you’re about to learn something.

2. To paraphrase the song, “You can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need!” Sometimes you want to go in one direction, but Life yanks you in another. My advice? Go with the flow. I know it can seem disappointing and/or scary to have things not go as planned, but Life knows what it’s doing and will guide you the right way.

3. Always listen to your heart and follow its instructions carefully.

4. If you want to make friends, you gotta be willing to put yourself out there and not have a care about what others might think of you. Seriously! Take a chance and say hi to someone standing in line with you or tell a joke to the person sitting on the subway seat next to you! Nine times out of ten, it’ll work and you’ll have made a new friend (at best) or at least have had a nice little encounter.

5. Be unabashedly yourself. Never change yourself for others. Have the bravery to believe in yourself and who you are. Besides, if others don’t like your genuine self, why would you want them in your life?

6. Try new things. You’ll thank me later for this gem, trust me.

7. Stop taking everything so seriously! I’ve lived what many people might see as a “difficult” life (though I prefer just to refer to it as “a life”) and they often ask me how I got through it. A large part of my secret is humor. Learn to find the funny in every situation, learn to keep a smile on your face, learn to be happy in spite of what’s happened/happening to you.

8. Kindness means nothing if you’re not brave enough to use it when it really matters.

9. You can be a victim or you can be a person who happens to have had something unfortunate happen to you. And trust me, it’s much better to be the second of those  two options. Being a victim means making your entire identity and life about the traumatic thing/s that happened to you. And at that point, all you’re gonna be doing is making yourself miserable long after said traumatic event has ended.

10. The most important person to ever love you is youSometimes we spend so much time chasing other people’s love and approval that we forget that the most important person to love us is…ourselves. Loving yourself can be one of the hardest things to do—after all, no one is as intimately aware of our own flaws as we ourselves are—but I truly believe that it’s the most important thing you can achieve in life.

11. You’re not in control and that’s perfectly fine. … Besides, control is overrated haha!

12. Always be open to learning new things, even when it’s uncomfortable. One thing I’m still learning is that the process of learning is oftentimes, well, not easy. That may seem obvious to most people, but for the majority of my life, learning new things has come easily to me. But as I’ve gotten older and the things I learn become more and more complex, I’ve found that learning means being okay being uncomfortable—because you will be. Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean you aren’t capable. And just because something doesn’t work out now doesn’t mean you can’t come back to it later and try again.

13. Challenge your perceptions. Our minds are tricksy little f*ckers. And yet we tend to take all of our thoughts as the truth??? And what’s even crazier is that sometimes reality is completely different from what we think! I’ve learned that especially as someone with anxiety and depression, it’s really important to question my perception and challenge myself to see the truth of situations beyond what I think.

14. Learn to see the good in everything. Call me a Sagittarius (after all, I am actually a Sagittarius), but I’m totally a silver linings and glass half full kinda gal. I tend to think that there’s always a positive to a situation, always at least something to be learned.

15. There are many shades of kindness. Story time! I once dated a guy who said to me, “I don’t know if I’m that kind. I mean, I’m not always nice and polite…” I told him that I don’t think kindness is always being nice and polite. Yes, sometimes kindness involves being nice or polite, but sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes kindness is quiet and sometimes kindness roars. Sometimes kindness is fierce. It is kind to get angry sometimes, to stand up for what is right and just. It is kind to be sad, to feel empathy or to allow yourself a moment of grief so that you can move on stronger and/or with more compassion for others and/or yourself. Kindness comes in many varieties.

16. You deserve compassion too. I’m a textbook empath and I often find myself putting myself last. But I’m learning that I deserve the same compassion I show others too. After all, I’m a human being deserving of the same amount of dignity, respect, and kindness as others.

18. Drink water, for christ’s sake!

19. Be generous with your kindness. After all, it’s not like kindness is a limited resource.

20. Give yourself permission to feel sad, scared, and/or angry. Feeling emotions that we typically percieve as “negative,” such as fear, anger, or sadness, is not only perfectly normal—it’s healthy! There are plenty of situations where those feelings are appropriate responses to what is going on. I always try to remember that it’s not the feeling that may be negative, it’s how you choose to handle it. And also, bottling your emotions up can be just as harmful as overreacting in response to them. For me, living an emotionally healthy and well-balanced life means recognizing and acknowledging my emotions and finding a constructive way to deal with them.

21. If you’re given the opportunity to dance, you should always take it—even if you dance like a dork, be joyful in your silliness!

22. Dreaming and planning are great, but don’t forget about the part where you actually do the damn thing.

23. Happiness lives in the magic of the ordinary. Sometimes we get so lost in chasing after our Big Goals that we forget that every day is a blessing full of a multitude of beautiful, extraordinary, magical things. I mean, think about it. The universe has conspired to cobble together the slim mathematical possibility of every moment you experience. Every moment is one of an ininite number of possibilities and yet here we are, living it out. And isn’t that just amazing?!

24. Everything you need to survive and thrive in life you were born with and nothing and no one can take those things from you.


25. You are more loved than you realize. I always thought that I was the person who faded away one day, no one would remember me or miss me or even notice that I was gone. Turns out I was massively wrong about that. Earlier this year, after five to six years of separation, I reconnected with my best friends from high school. One day, one of them just called me up and invited me out to coffee with them. I was shocked to find that they’d actually really missed me! Ever since then, we’ve all hung out regularly and just picked up where we left off. Having such amazing friends who love me so much has shown me that all of us are so much more loved than we perhaps ever realize. I’ll just leave this one with the following tweet:

So that’s all for today, dear friends. It’s strange being another year older and I don’t know if I’m any wiser, but I do look forward to growing and changing and learning in this coming year and all the years that hopefully follow. All I can say for sure is that I’m so glad y’all have stuck with me through it all.  I truly hope you enjoyed this little birthday post and that you were able to get something out of it. And I hope that wherever you are, you have a wonderful day/night full of love and laughter.

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Lila is a 25-year-old college student studying physics and a lover of literature. When she's not busy reading or saving the world through science, Lila can be found singing jazz and blues and obsessing over hedgehogs (a.k.a. the cutest animals in the multiverse!)

5 thoughts on “25 Lessons From 25 Years (a.k.a. My Birthday Just Happened and I’m Feeling Sentimental)

  1. Happy birthday Lila! This is such a precious post ❤

    I especially relate about different shades of kindness haha as I'm not someone who appear "kind" and I don't think I'm a kind person anyway as I don't always be nice and polite. But apparently people always think of me as a kind person, which really surprises me! It's something that's true but also I still have to learn haha.

    Liked by 1 person

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