Yesterday I celebrated my 25th birthday. I’ve been spending some time reflecting on everything I’ve experienced in my life, both good and bad, in the past 25 years. I believe that everything happens for a reason (so cliché, cringe), and I’m proud of all that I’ve learned in my life so far. I wanted to share 25 lessons I’ve learned in 25 years (in no particular order), and I hope they inspire you in one way or another, regardless of your age. I’m beyond grateful for all of my experiences, and I can’t wait to make the most of what’s to come.
1. Learn to love doing things alone. Seeing a movie or going out to dinner by yourself can be daunting and uncomfortable, but learning to enjoy your own company can prove to be relaxing and intrepid, especially when solitary moments in life become rare with the hustle of everyday life.
2. Don’t make assumptions. Especially about other people.
3. Try to find balance in everything you do. Exercise, healthy eating, hours spent working – it’s all about balance.
4. Family is everything. The rest of your life will never be in balance if your family isn’t a priority.
5. Don’t compare yourself to others. In career, relationship status, or life experience. Constantly comparing yourself to others is a miserable way to live. It can also make you super cynical, and nobody likes cynicism beyond the scope of mild sarcasm.
6. Don’t let other people’s opinions dictate your actions. It’s hard to let go of the idea that you’re being judged, but caring too much about that will make you a prisoner of your own mind.
7. Running is a fantastic way to release stress and emotions. I used to hate running, but lately I’ve been training for a half marathon and I’ve discovered that running allows you to free your mind in a liberating way.
8. Book that trip. You will never regret spending money on traveling, and those kinds of purchases are the ones you will never forget.
9. Listen harder. There’s a difference between listening to someone and actually understanding them. Especially with people who have experienced more than you have.
10. Don’t let the pursuit of money dictate your life. Money is definitely important, but if you’re spending all of your time working a job you hate solely for the lucrative benefits, you’re missing out. Money will come and go, but you can’t buy back all that time you spent working that miserable job.
11. Save your money. Financial freedom is a powerful, liberating tool that will allow you to live your life on your own terms, but it only comes with learning how to control your money and your spending habits. You don’t have to make a lot of money, you just have to learn how to spend (and save) it wisely.
12. There’s a difference between being frugal and being cheap. Don’t be cheap. If you can’t tip the waiter/waitress properly when dining out, then don’t dine out.
13. Learn to communicate logically and patiently through disagreements. This one took me a while and a bit of practice, but it’s one of the best things I’ve learned (and continue practicing) in my life thus far.
14. Learn to stop complaining about the mundane trivialities of life. Throughout my entire life, whenever I would complain about having too much homework or having to go to school or having to wake up for work at 6 a.m., my mom would remind me that there are people who have it much worse than I do. People with debilitating physical and mental impairments who cannot live the same quality of life as other more fortunate people, yet who are more grateful for their lives every day than most of us who are fully-capable.
15. Always go for it. If there’s something you want to do, it’ll never leave your mind until you try it. This is how Rise Beyond was born.
16. Wait to act. If you’re ever having a difficult time with something, whether it’s an argument or a big decision, wait to act. Take some time and step away from the situation. You’ll be able to come back with more patience and a clearer mind.
17. Take lots of photos. I don’t mean selfies. Take photos that capture moments, feelings, experiences. Especially when you travel. You’ll always smile when looking back at those memories.
18. Don’t look at your phone before you go to sleep. The light from your phone will mess with your quality of sleep- unfortunately I can attest to this.
19. Caring about your appearance is not vain or shallow. There’s a difference between vanity and self-care, and taking time to groom and primp yourself will work wonders for your self-esteem.
20. Read more books and watch less Netflix. As easy as it is to plop down in front of the tv after a long day and numb your mind to a marathon of tv shows, choosing to lose yourself in a book will keep your imagination, creativity, and vocabulary sharp and growing. I’ve been keeping a list of books I’ve finished and books I want to read to keep myself motivated and accountable.
21. You can’t please everyone. You will come across people who will dislike you even though they may not have any reason to. Why waste your time trying to change their minds?
22. Buy clothes based on quality and fit. Don’t buy clothes that everyone else is wearing just to fit in. Where’s the fun in looking the same as everyone else? Buy quality pieces that fit you well and that make you feel good, and they’ll last you years.
23. Volunteer as often as you can. Dedicate your time to helping others, even if it means you won’t get anything out of it. I promise you you’ll come out with an invigorated sense of purpose knowing that you’ve made someone’s life better, if only temporarily.
24. Learn when to let go. Details, planning, differing opinions, arguments… Learning when to let go or let things fall into place on their own is something that takes time and practice, but makes life less stressful.
25. Don’t settle. Never convince yourself that you don’t deserve the best there is. Don’t degrade your self-worth and definitely don’t undermine your own potential.
Bonus one… Never let go of the people who can make you laugh until you cry.
Born in Ukraine and raised in Chicago, Iryna takes pride in her Ukrainian roots. She loves writing, cooking (and eating) all kinds of food, pursuing new fitness trends, and exploring all things related to personal growth. She hopes this blog brings you value in one way or another and helps you to become a better version of you.