- Posted September 28, 2013 by
Harlem, New York
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The written word: Your personal essays
25 years, 25 lessons
- katie, CNN iReport producer
When I was 18-years old, I fantasized about life in my mid-twenties. I imagined I'd live in the south with my husband, a kid, a car and a vacation home. I also believed I’d have my PhD. in Psychology (yep, by 25) and a salary that would cover monthly visits to see my grandmother in Mississippi.
None of these things have happened.
Although this scenario describes some of my closest friends (congrats :- ), I’m not in a position to chase after that person from my adolescent fantasies. I turn 25 in one week and there is no way to buy a house, get married, or pay off my student loans in the next six days.
I'm okay with that.
If I could speak to my 18-year old self (obviously through discovery of a portal or by utilizing the latest time travel technologies), I’d say, "It’s okay life hasn’t turned out the way you thought."
Here are 25 things I've learned in my first 25 years of life.
1. Stop comparing yourself to Beyoncé.
I understand she's gorgeous, a billionaire, has a fantastic career, a husband who adores her, a best friend named Kelly Rowland and a child who looks too much like Jay-Z-- but that doesn't make your life a failure. Take pride in your own accomplishments. Besides, Beyoncé is only successful because she realized her gifts early and made career moves that capitalized on her strengths. I'm sure if she decided to be a neuroscientist, the outcome would be quite different. Take solace in that.
2. Be happy with your soft belly.
It's been six years and you still haven't toned up. Accept it. Move on. Stop complaining.
3. When someone says, "If you don’t like it, you can leave." LEAVE.
I've stayed so many times and it NEVER turns out well. People who present this ultimatum don't care about you. In fact, they think you're disposable.
4. You don't need to learn French.
5. New York smells horrible.
6. People will underestimate you because you're a woman.
You're also black. Being a black woman is cool, but it makes things a little harder.
7. If a guy tries to convince you he's a "catch” simply because he is educated, has a job, and can put a sentence together-- LEAVE HIM ALONE.
He's delusional and you do not want to be caught in his grandiosity.
8. Your parents are right.
9. In those rare moments when they're off, it's usually in the details...
10. ...you should clarify.
11. Try asking married people for dating advice.
Going to your single friends for dating advice is like asking a blind person for directions. They can't describe where to go, they've never seen where you're headed.
12. Stop talking about your faith, no one believes you.
13. A friend who deserts you at your lowest isn't a friend.
14. Get (and keep) friends who are wiser, smarter, more successful and more attractive than you.
Yes, yes, yes everyone has value. But realistically someone will always be "better" at certain things. DO NOT SHY AWAY FROM THIS. People like this rub off on you. Think to yourself, "I want friends who are strong in the areas I am weak."
15. If it weren't for The Dark Knight, Tropic Thunder would have been the hottest movie of summer 2008.
16. It's okay to change your mind.
17. It's okay to be consistent.
18. Don’t be a liar.
If someone asks for advice, just tell them the truth. It won't work if you're always concerned about other people's feelings.
19. Be intentional about your choices and your actions.
Don't use your twenties as an excuse to do things for “the experience." Your twenties go by really fast, so you shouldn’t waste your first adult-decade floating by without a strategy or vision for your future. With every choice ask, "What's my next step?" and "How will this benefit me?" If you can't answer these questions, perhaps you should reconsider doing it.
20. Fall in love.
It won't work out but OMG does it feel great when the relationship is at its peak. Totally worth it.
21. Be very careful who you share your dreams with.
There are two reasons for this:
1) If you tell everyone your dreams, you'll start to look like a dreamer. Dreamers are the worst kind of people because they’re not grounded in reality. You can dream crazy, but don't let people know that’s what you’re doing.
2) Believe it or not, no one will get excited over your dream. People are disgusted by them and their cynical reactions WILL discourage you from pursuing it further. People will rarely build you up. You have to be your greatest cheerleader.
22. Lost is the worst show.
Just because everyone tells you something is "great," doesn't mean they're right. The majority can be wrong. Remember when everyone thought the world was flat? Please don't waste an entire weekend watching Lost on Netflix. (I know you will, but you can't say I didn't warn you)
23. Buy Glade PlugIns.
When your house is scented, you seem put together. Even if there's a mountain of dirty clothes in your living room, take time for your apartment to smell like Cashmere Woods. This says a lot about you. Please don't sleep on Glade PlugIns. Smell is the first thing people notice when they walk into your apartment. It's a nice touch.
24. You don't like the club. Stop going.
25. You can ALWAYS change your life.
As I enter my quarter-life crisis, I'm starting to obsess over the mistakes I've made and opportunities I’ve turned down. I should stop doing this. Time is a key ingredient to success and I have enough to turn things around. I can still buy a house, get married, and earn my PhD. Maybe not tomorrow, but I have time.
Here's to you, 25th year of my life! Please do your best to impress me.