It isn’t much to be 25. some people tell you that you are young, others look at you as an adult. No one is necessarily looking at you with jealousy. Twenty-five is the same distance from birth as it is to early retirement. Now what?
I am now 26, but looking back at my last quarter century I can tell my next 25 years will be spent more wisely, more healthfully, and without the complete self-criticism. Well, at least I can hope they will be.
Considering my most recent memories are of young adulthood, that may be the best place to start. Anything before are just memories, and anything after is speculation. The past 3 years I have found these connections.
My mother was right, don’t believe everything I read on the Internet. Luckily the majority of spam-esque emails have stopped. Unfortunately they have been replaced by real-life trolls, manipulators, and con artists. Catfish. The Internet is the very source that everyone seeks information from, and is also the well that anyone can dump their own filth into. Even this letter. The aggregation of information has quickly led to a filtering process of those who can discern shit from real meaning.
Everything is grey. You will be able to see both sides many issues. However, now you have experienced enough to make informed decisions for the future. People will come to you for help, guidance, and advice. Knowing how to stay out of certain issues, but still be helpful to others is the delicate balance you are beginning to master.
Keep a strict code of ethics and apply to #2. It’s easy to bend rules due to emotions. Stay strong and carry your moral code close to your heart. “To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” - Teddy Roosevelt.
Try to do the small things. The short-term gratification will not exist, but the long-term results can change your life. You have acted recklessly and maturely and can clearly see the results of both. Being spontaneous and carefree certainly has its advantages--at times--but staying the course you have set out for yourself will make you happier on a more consistent basis.
Learn the skill, apply it to where you give a s**t. You can’t say much about the professional world. It means a lot, but at the same time, you feel tethered, not bolstered by much of what you do. You have found a skill that provides benefit to a lot and now need to focus on applying that professional side to companies you care and believe in. Passion is not the correct term for it, but “belief” may be the closest derivative. Believe in what I am, who I am helping, and what it produces.
Listen to you core principles, but adjust for your life. You always knew the type of life you would demand, but what are the costs? Stability versus spontaneity is consistently a major inner turmoil as I adjust from my younger to later twenties. It’s the internal growing pains that will confuse you the most, but they are not harmful. Keep in mind that with change comes growth.
There will always be someone better off than you, and someone always worse off. You have known this for a long time, but keep remembering it. Remind yourself of this to keep you on solid ground away from the constant emotional peaks and valleys.
Be persistent, but gentle with yourself. Ambition can be a clouded dream. Fight off the definition of yourself to others by setting up a strategy and be as specific as possible. This will occupy your time better than comparisons. Definitely don’t compare yourself to others and what they have done by the time they were 25. Everyone’s path is different. Keep a steady aim and calm focus on what you want to be. “How we spend our days is how we spend our live.” - Unknown
Make more calculated decisions. Do the math. You + late nights/close quarters/water parks/cruises/sitting for a long time/not exercising/not writing = an unhappy you.
Travel and say yes to almost everything. You have always carried the opinion that you should never say “no” to a new experience. And although your experiences brought wisdom to pick and choose more wisely now, I hope you never lose the lust for new adventures.
No matter where I come from, I am my future. Families are hard, high school was the worst, and nothing ever seems perfect while you are living in the moment. Move on. The only way to get past imperfect decisions, comments, and attitudes is to try and correct them and then do better in the future.
Come to terms with getting older. You are only 26 now. Still a baby in most people’s books. Old to others. To yourself you are in a yearless wasteland. Are you 25, 26 or 27? It doesn’t matter. What matters is the trajectory you are on and knowing that at any time you can change it, but now is the opportune time to set the pace for the rest of your life.
Also published in Thought Catalog.