25 pieces of wisdom I have acquired at 25 (part 1)

"Owl scarves are great." is number 26.

"Owl scarves are great." is number 26.

25. There is no point in comparing yourself to others. Each of us is an individual, the sum of thousands of lived experiences, big and small.

24. Similarly, we, this collective group of twenty-somethings, are the ones who enforce the pressure to fit in. If we each decide to be less envious and more affirming, our culture can breed cooperation instead of competition.

23. It is too easy to say “no”. Make “yes” a priority when it comes to experiences that will stretch you. It feels incredibly difficult at first, but each time you will see results and the “yes” will come to your lips and gut more easily the next time.

22. Do not look for absolute fulfillment in one area of your life. Your career may not be your chief creative outlet, and that’s okay. Your friends may not share all of your interests, and that’s okay. Your significant other may never fully understand every part of you, and that’s okay. If you need multiple outlets/support systems, you are probably living a dynamic and complex life, and that’s great!

21. Each new “adult” task will seem impossible at first, but eventually, you’ll develop problem-solving skills and have a lot fewer surprises. That initial stress will drive you to seek and cultivate preparedness.

20. It’s so hard to make quality friends after college, but placing yourself in certain situations will help you to discern who you need in your life. If you have deep interests/causes that comprise a large part of your personality and motivations, relationships forged within these will have stronger foundations. Shared goals are a good way to sustain relationships as well – it’s much more difficult to justify putting off seeing someone when something concrete is shared between you.

Be open to acquaintances and “bad” friends too – sometimes you need someone who is silly, doesn’t require a lot of pressure or commitment, and makes you do things you normally would consider yourself too much of an adult to do.

19. Try to be as real as possible. When you begin to unpack the things you do and say, it can be a little frightening how many of them are reactions to what others think/do/expect of you. The more real you are, the less energy you expend maintaining barriers between yourself and others. This is a process that will make you feel vulnerable but also much better understood and strong in your sense of self.

18. When you are confronted with criticism, do your best to assess it as if it were for someone else. There are things about yourself you will never know unless others tell you, and if you can, you should thank them for it. In the same vein, accept help when it is offered to you – don’t take it as a slight but rather that someone has seen more than you have and wants to make things easier for you.

17. At this point in your life, you are laying the foundations for habits, interests, goals, and direction for years to come. These are not things you should just allow to happen – be an active participant in the creation of your life. Decide whether what is there works for you or if it needs to change.

Obviously, some things are bigger and require more planning than others – whether you want children, to buy a house, travel, etc. But others, like your eating habits, personal taste in décor/amount of space you need, whether you want to be an entertaining/gathering point for your social circle, and even your work/life balance are all less tangible things that can take some effort to analyze.

16. Explore your philosophy. Very few of us have black-and-white views on issues in our lives, but we all have broader philosophies and values through which we assess what we find morally/socially acceptable.

These include questions like: Are you socially minded? Are you fiscally conservative? How do you feel about the impacts of technology and social media? Does it matter where your food comes from? Do you believe everyone should make their own decisions or should the good of the many take precedence in some cases? Are you patriotic and why? Does spirituality impact how you view life and deal with hardships? Do you value creativity? It is essential to critically assess these thought structures.

15. You don’t have to love every aspect of adult life, but there are some things you should know how to do. You should understand how and when to pay bills, what your recycling schedule is, how to prepare for guests/make them feel comfortable, and how to make a few healthy meals from each category of food. Knowing even these few things will make you feel a lot more prepared.

14. When it comes to education, don’t expect to pick one thing and stick with it. Even if you’re lucky enough to work in a field that interests you, that may not always be the case. As you grow and change, you might find you’re pulled in another direction or that your first love is better suited to a different sphere of your life.

13. In your education, try to acquire both mental and physical/technical skills that are portable across many different areas. Even in the most academic fields, the day-to-day tasks involved will almost certainly also require technological aptitude and strong communication skills. Job duties will vary, but a friendly manner and willingness to learn always make others more willing to teach you.

(Continued in Part 2)

On mapping the soul.