When people ask me how it’s like to be 25 and have it all together, I could never settle for a definite answer. So Instead, let me share with you 25 life lessons that I have gained from my journey so far.
1. When presented with an opportunity and you are unsure if you can do it, say yes and learn how to do it later. I got promoted 3 times in 8 months right after graduation, all because of this strategy.
2. Don’t do it for the money. Do it for the experience. During your 20’s, it’s best to focus on growth, learning and building the right relationships. The money will come later, believe me. Work hard and work smart. Grow your network first.
3. Pick a movie and see it all the way through. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is being all over the place. Focus on one goal at a time. It took me 3 years for my CCNA. I failed my first ICND exam. It felt awful and it took me a long time to try again. Just because it doesn’t work the first time, doesn’t mean that it’s not for you. Failing is nothing but a test to see how bad you really want something. Remember: every expert was once a beginner.
4. If you feel stuck, move. You always have a choice. You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot have both.
5. Never take anything for granted. I remember the day I became a Network Engineer, my brother said to me,”I always knew you’d make it, the challenge for you now is to not take all of this for granted.” That advice helped me overcome the days when I don’t feel like working or studying. Because it won’t always be lovely. There will be times when your work will require you to stay awake for 3 days straight; times when it will require you to really stretch yourself. Be grateful still. Appreciate your work, appreciate your boss, appreciate your team.
6. Being “Busy” is not equal to being “Productive”. Working overtime does not necessarily mean you are a dedicated and hardworking employee. It simply means you don’t manage your time well while at work. Leave your laptop at the office.
7. Fail. Fail often. Fail fast. Fail better. If you’re not failing, you’re not growing fast enough. Learn to move on quickly from setbacks. You can’t change the direction of the wind but you can adjust your sails to get to where you want to go.
8. It’s all about you. Learn you. Learn how you love. Learn what shaped you. Learn how to communicate. Learn your tender spots. Learn your triggers. Learn all of this, and hold compassion for it, so you can do the same for another loving, tender human.
9. Relationships should be intentional. I’ve been single for 21 years. I only dated 2 guys before getting engaged at 25. Set very high standards. This will keep you from a lot of unnecessary headache and heartache. Don’t play around; most especially with feelings. Be intentional with what you want out of a relationship. And be straightforward when you no longer see a future with the person.
10. Work on the relationship by working on yourself. “The best thing I can do for you is to work on myself and the best thing that you can do for me is to work on yourself.
11. Pray for your partner. When I was still single, whenever I feel lonely, I would look up at the sky and pray to the Lord that I know somewhere out there the love of my life is also looking up at the same sky. I would pray that wherever he is and whatever he is going through, God would protect his heart and guide him to me. I would pray that someone would take care of him and love him for me while I grow and work on myself so that I can give him the very best of me. And when we meet, we will be sure of each other. You will know he/she is the one because he/she is an answered prayer.
12. Make God the center of the relationship. Never stop praying for each other. Continuously seek God for wisdom, guidance and compassion. Because no matter how passionate you are for each other, there will be times when you will not see eye to eye, you are individuals with different experiences and upbringing. During times like these, you need to remind yourself of your intention for the relationship. Do you want it to be a safe haven or a battlefield? If you still can’t decide, ask yourself this question: What would Jesus do? How would Jesus love this person?
13. You don’t fall in love. You rise in love. Be with someone who supports your growth. Who never looks at your journey with judgement. Someone who will put you and the relationship first.
14. One thing love is not is unsure. Be with someone who will never allow you to feel alone. Who is sure of you and wants a future with you. You should never have to question where you stand in his/her life.
On Spirituality and Faith…
15. My first encounter with God was about 3 years ago. It was the usual, sunny day, the kind that you see in movies where the lead actor is riding in the backseat of a car, windows down, wind through hair. I remember looking at the tunnel of trees above us and just feeling this immense admiration to everything that I was seeing. Which I found unusual, I’ve been seeing trees all my life. Yet I couldn’t explain the joy and connectedness I felt at that moment. As if someone else was looking at it through my eyes; like seeing it for the first time. Then it dawned on me, “You are a portal through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself”.
16. Me as a kid: “God lives up there in the clouds always watching and ready to punish us when we do bad things”.
Me as a teenager: “God is always behind me. Ready to catch me each time I fall”.
Me as an adult: “God is in me and everywhere around me”.
17. Jesus Christ is God’s way of demonstrating to us the fullness of our being. Jesus was the bridge for us to experience the unbounded, overflowing, limitless love from God. He modeled for us our capacity to be holy and to share in the Kingdom of Heaven. All of us are meant to be the second coming of Christ. 1 Cor 12:27
18. Ten years from now, make sure you can say that you chose your life, you didn’t settle for it.
19. What is my definition of success? the answer is Peace. Being at peace with where I am; at peace with where I came from; and at peace with where I’m headed. To me, that is success.
20. Beware of destination addiction: the idea that happiness is in the next place, the next job, or even with the next partner. Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, it will never be where you are.
21. Friedrich Nietzche once said, “No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life”. Which also translates to “You can’t make someone do your pushups for you”.
22. The person you’re becoming will cost you people, relationships, spaces, and material things. Choose “you” over everything.
23. It pays to trust your instincts. Build real confidence by learning how to honor your instincts with action. Have a business idea in mind that you really believe in? Make it happen. Feel like it’s time to quit your job and explore new horizons? Do it.
24. Not everyone/everything deserves your attention. Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.
25. Recognize when a phase, job, a life stage, or a relationship is over and let it go. Allow yourself to gracefully exit situations you have outgrown. Moving on doesn’t have to be a catastrophic dramatic event. You can simply choose to move forward with peace and clarity.