Life is a beautiful mess, and although we are all different, some life lessons are universal. So we've rounded up the 25 lessons you need to learn before your 25th birthday. Trust us; you'll be thanking us later.
1. Appreciate the people that disagree with you.
It’s guaranteed that in your lifetime, you will come across all kinds of people. You’ll make friends and enemies who hold opinions that oppose your own. Don’t disregard their perspective. Yes, sometimes they may be wrong, but other times they could be right. There's a reason the world wasn't made in black and white. It’s the vibrancy that makes it beautiful. Take these opinions and question, learn and grow.
2. Someone loves you more than you know.
There are days that are going to be gloomy, and they may last for a long while. It may seem as though you are all alone. You may not even understand why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling. But there will also be days of sunshine. They may come sporadically, but when they come, they’re as bright as can be. On those days, notice who’s there. Notice who puts a smile on your face. Notice who reminds you about something you completely forgot. Notice the small things because at the end of the day, they’re all that count. Whether it’s a parent, a sibling or a friend, you’ll notice them. Don’t forget to thank them. Don’t forget to say, "I love you."
3. The world is sort of corrupt.
As you step into adulthood, you’ll notice it more and more. The selfishness, the politics and the injustice. You’ll see it all. Sometimes your hard work will not pay off. Sometimes the person you trusted the most will hurt you the worst. Accept that that's just the way life is, but don’t stop there. A broken faucet will continue to be broken unless there is someone willing to fix it. No one expects you to change the world in a single lifetime. But you can be better and inspire a few people to be better, too. Pay it forward. Do great things.
4. Always have a backup plan.
Never assume that you are immune to hard times. In this life, there’s a possibility for anything. Don’t live your life in fear, but acknowledge what could happen when you least expect it. What will you do if you don’t get a job in your field after graduation? What if suddenly, you don’t have a source of income to pay next month’s rent? That's why you should always have a backup plan at the ready.
5. A smile goes a long way.
It could be the reason why the cute guy on the subway came over and sat beside you. It could be why your friend feels better after coming to you to vent. It might have meant the world to a stranger who was having a bad day. Believe it or not, smiling changes the entire direction of your day.
6. Direction is much more important than speed.
You may feel as though you don’t have time to accomplish your goals. You may feel as though you need to do something just because everyone else is. That is not necessarily the case. A lot of people are going nowhere fast. Take a day, a week, a month, a year or however much time you need to figure out what it is that you want. Don’t waste your time or your money if deep down you know that your major or your job is not for you. Where do you want to go? What do you want to accomplish? Once you figure out your goal, think six months ahead. What do you have to do to get there? Whatever it is, that’s your direction. Slow and steady wins the race.
7. Failure can be a blessing in disguise.
You won’t realize it at first, that’s for sure. When you fail at something you really, really wanted, it’s going to feel like the end of the world. Maybe a potential employer told you that there was just someone better. Let that drive you to work harder, to be better and to never feel like that ever again. And hey, you know that job you applied for but never got? The company probably went out of business a year later.
8. What seems small to you means a great deal to someone else.
Never take anything for granted. You hear it so often that the sentiment probably goes right over your head. You know your mom, the woman who texts you everyday to make sure you’re doing okay? Someone might have lost theirs. You know that roof over your head? The thing keeping you dry, safe and warm? Someone is sleeping on the pavement right now with nothing to keep them warm but their own body heat. You are extremely blessed. Remember that.
9. School isn’t for everyone.
Don’t waste your money doing something you know isn’t for you, just because society tells you that you have to. If there is something that you are passionate about and can honestly see yourself doing, go for it. You only have one life to live. Just be honest with yourself. Do you have the talent and drive to make it?
10. You can’t base your happiness off of someone else’s.
This is a mistake that we all make from time to time. By focusing on or yearning for someone else’s life, you loose sight of yours. You don’t need a significant other to make you feel valuable; the feeling will only last for so long. At the end of the day, only you can make you happy.
11. Sometimes you can’t be what a person needs.
No matter how much you love someone and want to be there for them, it’s never worth changing yourself to do it. It will be one of the hardest lessons that you have to learn to accept.
12. Forgive, but don’t forget.
People are going to hurt you; that’s a guarantee. Holding grudges is stressful, and you owe it to yourself to let go of that negativity. Forgive these people, but don’t forget about the lesson that you’ve learned. It may come in handy one day.
13. The best form of revenge is to have a better life without him/her.
Yes, throwing a carton of eggs at his car may feel gratifying in the moment, but what good does it do? He has a dirty car, and you have a police record and a bill for the car wash. Live your life and do all of the great things that you’re destined to do…without that person. In five years you’ll bump into him on the street with a fiancé on your arm and an established career, all the while still looking 21.
14. Don’t let change deter you.
Change will always be uncomfortable—at first. You may feel out of place, but more often than not, change happens to be a good thing. It challenges you and helps you discover new things.
15. Social media isn’t everything.
We're sorry, but it had to be said. Too many of us are experiencing life from behind a computer screen when really all we have to do is step outside our front door to live life first-hand. The number of followers you have on Instagram means nothing. How many of those people can you go on a spontaneous road trip with or turn to when you need help?
16. Save money, live better.
This Walmart slogan has got it right. We hate to sound like your parents, but SAVE YOUR MONEY. Will you even remember where that $300 dollar coat is in a few years? It’s never too early to save. One day you’ll have a house to pay for, after all.
17. It’s okay to be alone.
Sometimes it’s better even. It gives you time to get to know yourself. And don’t stress about being alone in public! The truth is, nobody notices. Everyone is too caught up in their own lives to realize you’re at the mall by yourself.
18. Appreciate your parents while you have them.
They are probably the only people on this planet who genuinely have your best interests at heart. In their eyes, you’re special beyond belief. As you grow older, you realize just why they are so hard on you and how much they really do love you. It’s not easy to find another pair of people who will care for you just like them.
19. There’s a bigger picture.
There is a world outside of your own, and it matters. Listen to the news; these events may be happening far away, but they affect you too. We only have one home, and we all share it. It’s up to us to take care of each other. So recycle, donate and find ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
20. When in doubt, act like you know.
Fake it till you make it. As horrible as it sounds, it really does work. When you act like you belong, people will think you do. Keep this lesson in mind when you’re on the way to the first day of your new job or when you’re attending your first party amongst the "socially elite."
21. Don’t undervalue your potential.
We all have the potential to be brilliant. It’s up to us to decide how we develop this potential or if we even develop it at all.
22. Never stop asking questions.
There will always be more to learn. Never take things for what they are when you don’t fully understand.
23. Networking pays off.
Your professors are right. Oh boy, are they right. Attend industry mixers, or say hello to an idol when you see them. Develop a relationship with a mentor. They have already failed and succeeded in the industry and can give you tips so that you don’t make the same mistakes. It only takes one person to get your foot in the door.
24. Never borrow money from your friends.
Never do it. It will always end badly. NEVER. DO. IT.
25. You are not invincible.
Get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water, be active, eat healthy. You’re not going to be young forever. It’s better to start now so that you can avoid more problems down the line.