So, 25 things I learned in 25 years. It’s my birthday, and as I’ve now completed a quarter of a century, I’m closer to thirty than to twenty and I’m halfway to fifty, I thought it would be appropriate to write something about it. The points listed below are things I’m aware of, but I’m not, you know, practicing what I’m preaching all the time and in all aspects of life yet. So, I’m telling this to myself as much as I’m telling it to you, hoping some of these things might inspire you.
1. Spend time with your family
I often feel like I’m too busy to visit my grandma, take a walk with my mum or do some other family-related activity. The thing is, though, that when I do it, I never regret it. They appreciate it, I enjoy it, and in the end it’s one of the most important and valuable things in life. For my mum and me it’s quite easy as we like similar music and we’re both into travelling, so concerts and trips are something we can do together.
2. Meet friends regularly
What social media did to us, or at least to me, is the fake illusion that we see people and know what’s going on in their lives, when in reality we only know what they choose to show. We’re all busy, of course, but it’s important to find time for the people we really care about and actually meet them in person from time to time.
3. Accept that some friendships end
As we grow up, we lose contact with some people. Busy schedules might have a lot to do with it, but often it’s simply about having different interests. Sometimes we must accept that certain friendships worked perfectly when we were kids or teenagers but ceased to exist in our twenties.
4. There’s no perfect relationship or friendship
Whether it’s a friendship or a romantic relationship, there will always be times when one will annoy the other, or there will be brief periods of bad mood. As long as they are brief, the two people are capable of sorting it out with respect and humour, there’s nothing abnormal or wrong with that; we’re all human and nobody can be perfect all the time.
5. When he/she’s the right one, you’ll know
I don’t believe that there’s only one soulmate out there for each person. I think it’s all a result of a lot of coincidence and being in the right place at the right time. But when it clicks, you know it. You can understand that with this person you get along as you never got along with anyone before. And you understand why it has never worked with anyone before.
6. Long distance relationships are possible
I always thought they were some phenomenon from Hollywood films that would never work in real life. How can you be with someone you never see? Well, you can’t; you got to see each other. You have to be prepared to spend time skyping and visiting each other, and money on plane tickets. It works as long as both want it badly enough to work for it.
7. Long distance friendships work too
During my exchange in London I didn’t only meet my boyfriend; I also met some of my best friends. Of course, it’s easier to be friends with someone who lives close to you, but it’s by no mean impossible to keep in touch with someone who’s far, at least not in this century. I still talk to my ex flatmates regularly via WhatsApp and Facebook, we skype occasionally, and we meet when time and money allow us. It’s not perfect, but it works.
8. Buying lots of things won’t make you happy
Going to shopping centres and shopping streets, and buying things I mostly didn’t need was something I used to enjoy. I bought many items of clothing that I then gave away without wearing them once. In time, I simply stopped doing that; I now buy clothes when I really need them, or really like them, and even then I try not to buy from big chain stores, but from local boutiques or second-hand shops instead.
9. Less is more when it comes to makeup
In high school I wouldn’t leave the house without eye liner. Man, are those days gone. It’s not that I don’t wear makeup now, I do. There’s just a lot less of it, it’s a lot simpler and from ethical brands. Plus, there are many days when I simply don’t wear it at all because I just can’t be bothered to put it on.
10. Money spent on travel is never wasted
I’ve never regretted a trip; even when I disliked the accommodation, the exact location or an organized trip, I still didn’t regret spending money on visiting the actual place. Travelling creates some of the best memories and opens your eyes to things you could never learn just from books, the TV or the internet.
11. Living abroad is the shit
Living abroad is completely different from travelling, and you never get to know a place that well if you simply spend a week there as a tourist. Getting to know what it feels like to use the public transport daily, to buy food in local shops weekly, and to hang out with the locals, gives you a unique experience that a short time visit never could.
12. Learning languages is one of the best things you can do
I study languages, so of course I’m going to say that, but I really think it’s enjoyable in general. Being able to understand and speak a foreign language can give you an understanding of a culture you couldn’t have otherwise, not to mention how useful it is when you travel, or how cool it is to talk to locals in their mother tongue.
13. Going to concerts is always worth it
I love music even if I don’t play any instruments anymore; I used to play the flute when I was a child but I gradually lost interest. Live music, especially if there’s a band I know and like performing, makes me feel all the feelings. I’ve spent quite a lot of money on concerts tickets and have been to quite a few countries just to see a band, but I regret nothing. Absolutely nothing.
14. Reading books is one of the best past time activities
Books allow you to live another life, to learn languages and vocabulary, to engage your mind in the most enjoyable way, to boost your imagination. I’m determined to work hard on giving myself more time for reading books; the pile next to my bed is getting too big.
15. Use an agenda
Planning, writing things down in my agenda and sticking to it makes a big difference, even if I don’t manage to do everything I had planned for the day. I’m lost, and I forget things if I don’t write them down, plus this sort of gives me motivation, not to mention the satisfaction when I cross things out once they’re done. I usually spend a couple of minutes checking what I have to do every morning, and I also plan the week every Sunday evening.
16. Limit the amount of time for every activity
I try to make myself stop doing a particular thing even if it’s not finished: this gives me the opportunity to do other things, and to do more of different things daily. I’m bad at this, though; I often find it hard to stop myself from doing something that’s unfinished.
17. Have a sleeping routine
If I’m completely honest, I still have a lot to learn in this department, but I noticed that when I do manage to go to bed and drag myself out of it at approximately the same time for a few days in a row, I’m more productive. For me it would be ideal to go to bed at 10, read until 11, and then sleep until 7.
18. Limit phone use
Checking Instagram or Facebook before bed is the worst idea, at least in my case; it makes me not even touch the book that’s lying next to me, and it makes me stay up too late. I try to check emails and read some news in the morning before I start working and browse The Gram after lunch. I’m sort of out of the habit of checking Facebook daily, anyway. I think that’s now my mother’s and her generation’s thing.
19. Watching lots of TV series is a waste of time
And the same goes for shitty films. I used to do both on an almost daily basis a couple of years ago. Now I barely watch anything; I mostly only do if there’s someone else with me. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with watching good films or TV series. On the contrary; I think it’s beneficial as it can teach you a great deal of language and culture. It’s just that it’s often hard to find enough time for it. When I do watch something, I try to make sure it’s beneficial for me in some way (languages), or it’s something I really want to see.
20. Quality over quantity when it comes to going out
I used to party and drink much more than I do now, and I think I sort of got it out of my system. I still enjoy going out and having a few drinks occasionally, and especially when I’m abroad and with I haven’t seen in a long time or with new people (maybe these are just excuses for my partying in Spain this summer). But generally, when I’m home, I prefer to just hang out without drinking, and I do less of that than I used to. I drink for special occasions like my birthday, New Year’s Eve or some other party that feels special to me. A good night’s sleep and no hangover are much more important than they’re used to be (getting old, I guess).
21. Doing sport daily is beneficial
But if, and only if, I don’t feel too tired; there are days like this too, and when they come, I rest. Most of the time, though, moving my body from 40 minutes up to an hour, or sometimes an hour and a half, makes my day so much better, whether I go for a run, for a bike ride, for a long walk or even if I just exercise in my room with the help of YouTube.
22. Healthy in general with occasional treats when it comes to food
My friends say I’m a food wanker, but I do like my occasional chocolate. Otherwise, they’re right; eating whole foods, mostly lots of veggies and fruit, makes me feel good. I also find it easier not to have junk food at home; if it’s not there, I won’t eat it.
23. The taste isn’t worth the harm animal products cause
Oh, come on, I mentioned 22 things before getting to veganism. Once I got over the fact that most of the people in my life don’t understand my way of eating or agree with it, and once I stopped missing certain foods I loved before going vegan, this lifestyle became one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It makes me feel good in relation to so many things: animal welfare, the environment, my own body.
24. Accept yourself as you are
I used to hate certain things about my body and my personality that I’m slowly learning to accept. That doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement, it’s just about not feeling less worthy because you don’t look like or behave like someone else. Loving yourself and your life and wanting to be exactly who you are is one of the most valuable things you can learn to do.
25. Dream big but be practical
I’m sort of doing that, and I’d like to think it’s a good plan. I want to publish a book one day, but that doesn’t mean I’m closed inside my room focusing on that only. I’m working on my writing, but I’m also studying languages because I know I have to keep my options open, and a translation-related job might come before a writing-related one or anything even remotely close to a best-seller.
And I thought I was going to have trouble coming up with 25 things I learned in 25 years; I could come up with another twenty. Anyway, congrats if you got this far, I know it’s a lengthy post. Thanks for reading and I hope some of the points were useful to you in some way. 🙂