25 Lessons to Grasp By 25
I celebrated my 25th birthday on 3/16 (Pisces gang, wuddup?!). It's mind-blowing to me because I can vividly remember turning 17 years old like it was a couple of years ago - but here we are. As someone who takes birthdays pretty seriously, I knew that I wanted to dedicate some time to do some major reflection this year; being alive for a quarter-century is pretty cool and should be celebrated as such. Thus, I wanted to make this post very personal, yet very relatable.
And as I went back and forth about what exactly I wanted to do, I literally had an out-loud conversation with myself:
Me: "Jasmine, girl. You are really about to be 25. How do you feel?"
Me: "Happy. No, whole. Kinda."
Simple, right? Well, it's not that simple. It had just hit me right then and there that this feeling of happiness, so intense and so pure, had taken years and years to build. A quarter-century, as a matter of fact. It wasn't an overnight transformation into happiness or a sense of wholeness - and trust me, there are days where I still don't know which way is up or down or how to even begin to get my life together - but this feeling is the result of one million little things and lessons that have built up this woman that I'm falling in love with every single day.
I won't say that I don't have the time to tell you the one million things, but I'm sure that you don't have the time to read them. So instead, with full transparency, I'm choosing to share the top 25 lessons that have gotten me to 25 & how I'm applying them.
1. Address Your Anxiety
I always knew that I spent entirely too much time thinking out a scenario or a problem. However, during the last two years, I really began to notice how debilitating those thoughts would get at times. I’d psyche myself out from going to the gym because I didn’t want people looking at me trying to learn my way around. Going to movies or restaurants alone was a huge no-no. I’d be lying down for a nap and mundane things that weren’t even urgent would press on my brain and I would feel like I had to do them immediately or I’d be restless for the rest of the day.
My anxiety looks different though. You can’t usually notice that I’m freaking out, even though in my head, I probably am. This might be why it took me a while to recognize that I was actually experiencing anxiety, but one day, when I could not even put into words why I was freaking out so badly, I decided that I really needed to address these feelings and I sought help.
Best decision I ever made, although it was extremely hard.
If you feel like you’ve been experiencing a lot of emotions lately, not even anxiety specifically, and it feels like you just cannot get a grasp on things, don’t ever be too ashamed or nervous to seek help. You’re human and you’re hardly the only one going through it.
As women, we’re often wearing many hats: Mom. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Therapist. Student. Employee. Boss. Girlfriend/Wife, on top of just being a woman in this society and dealing with all of what comes with that. The list goes on and on and on.
Somewhere in there, you’ve still got to figure out what it feels like to just be you – no other roles included. This is usually a plug for self-care and reflection - things that I definitely stand for. But this is also a plug for simply figuring out a system so that you can be everything that you need to be for you and for everything else you’re obligated to.
3. Be Attentive to When You’re Being Toxic
In 2017, I lost two of my grandparents within 4 months of each other. I was devastated. It is a pain that forever endures, though I’m learning how to function through it. The weeks and months following their passing were unpredictable. I would break out in tears at a moment’s notice, not even being able to identify the trigger. More than that, I was mean. I was angry. I’d lash out with my words or become upset when I felt someone wasn’t responding to my grief in the way that I wanted them to. I shopped entirely too much in an effort to make myself feel better or to keep busy. I was only making myself more miserable.
It took time and some serious journaling for me to recognize how toxic my grieving process had become. I realized that I would never heal if I kept going like this and, even worse, I’d push away people that truly loved me if I could not address my anger.
I’ve come a long way in my process since then; I’m much softer and aware of my emotions and needs during periods of grief. However, if you find yourself picking up some bad habits during a hard time – whether it be substance abuse, lashing out, overspending, etc. – check yourself. Listen to your friends/family if they check you. And of course, never be afraid to ask for help.
4. Be the Partner That You Ask For
In any friendship or relationship, it is so easy to point the finger or to identify the flaws in your partner. Have you ever used that same judgement on yourself? It’s hard and sometimes it sucks.
I think, especially as women, sometimes we’re allowed to be a little extra and less compromising. I can confidently say that the person who compromises the most in my relationship isn’t me, although sometimes I talk myself into thinking that it is. We all love the slogan “relationships are give and take” but if you find that you’re doing a lot of the taking, it may be time to ask yourself what you can you give.
Doing this often has not only made me into a more self-aware girlfriend, but also a self-aware person in general. My check-yourself game is getting stronger every year.
5. Be Transparent
Sometime last year, I decided that I was going to share. A LOT. A huge portion of the decision was done to spite my anxiety and show myself that I can put myself out there just as I am.
It’s truly one of the most humbling and rewarding things that I’ve ever done. I get to be me, with all my feelings and experiences, and I can share them unapologetically without feeling the need to “dress it up.” It’s a freedom I’ve never known before but that I wouldn’t trade now that I have it.
There is always at least one person that needs to know that someone else feels the way that they do.
6. Be Uncomfortable
I found that I was most uncomfortable with myself than with anything else. It was my anxiety that kept me from trying out a new restaurant by myself. I would wait until I had a friend available to eat lunch with me or to go to the movies with me. I’d literally sit in the house bored all day instead of taking the time to explore an area that I really wanted to because I felt awkward alone.
I had to literally talk to myself and tell myself to SNAP OUT OF IT.
Some of the most rewarding experiences that I’ve had recently came out of me being uncomfortable in the beginning. Push through it.
After college, I took a break and I picked up bills. And more bills. And more bills. I really had to take the time to learn how to budget and how to save. There are so many blogs, podcasts and journals out here that will help you figure out your budget style. Choose one and start.
8. Don't Limit Your Relationships
Cliché but true: You’re never too old to make new friends.
Sure, it can be hard at this age because you feel like you’ve already got your tribe or everyone else already has their squad. But No. You absolutely can still make friends at this age, even best ones.
I met one of my best friends in 2016 after college. Talk to your coworkers, someone in your class, shoot your BFF shot in the DMs. Seriously, don’t limit yourself. And please, chill out with the “my circle is so small” and “I’m cutting everybody off” mindset. Friends are important, everyone has the potential to serve you something that your soul needs. Go for it.
9. Get a Hobby
This right here is probably the biggest key to my newfound happiness. I graduated college for the first time in 2015 and I took a break afterwards and worked full-time at a job that I hated. Let me tell ya’ll, working 8 hours at a job that you hate and coming home drained and uninspired is a recipe for depression.
Get you a hobby. Soul & Substance was literally born out of a scenario just like that and it has been one of the most rewarding things in my life over the last year.
Try something new or pick up something that you used to love to do and haven’t done in a while.
10. Get Closure
You cannot move forward until you have addressed your past. Whether there is a past relationship or incident that is still following you, you have to take time to address it and get the closure that is necessary for you to move forward. Unresolved issues show their residual impact in little ways – sometimes so little that you don’t even realize that they still bother you.
If there is someone that you need to have a conversation with and you can actually reach out to them, do it. If you need a neutral 3rd party there so you can do it, do it. If reaching out is not an option, try journaling it out or a therapist.
11. Have a Life Outside of Your Relationship
When you’re involved with someone romantically, it is so easy to become so wrapped up in your love life. When you live with that person, the dynamic becomes even more intertwined. It is extremely easy to lay up in the house every night or abandon friends and hobbies for some extra quality time.
I learned the HARD way. When your entire world becomes immersed with a person, things can get messy. You may start to feel like that person, alone, is responsible for your happiness. If you’re wondering whether that’s okay, it isn’t. It’s a recipe for interdependence, toxicity and feeling suffocated.
You absolutely can have a life outside of your relationship and still have a strong relationship. Make room for regular outings with your friends. Keep taking your classes or doing your hobbies.
Also, do not feel guilty for having friends that fulfill you in ways that your partner does not. You can get what you need from other people in your life. Your partner is not perfect and will not have every single thing that you need to be you. Again, friends are important. Get some.
12. More Things, More Stress
Last year, I added some minimalist practices into my life. No regrets. Adopting this thinking pattern that emphasized that more things did not necessarily mean more happiness was life changing. Taking the steps to only keep what I value and to only purchase what was necessary, functional or valued changed the game for me.
If you want to learn more about minimalism, check out BrownKids on Instagram or look for Roe’s episode on the “Hey, Girl” podcast.
13. Normal is Okay
For whatever reason, our generation values entrepreneurship over everything else. There seems to be this (false) consensus that having your own business is the ideal goal and anything other than that is “the man’s work.”
Uh, no. I’m a social worker, honey. And I am lucky to have been surrounded by people who work “normal” jobs that keep everything going – teachers, fireman, police officers, store clerks, secretaries, dispatchers, etc.
Taking it a bit further, let’s look at social media, where everyone is chasing the big houses, the fancy cars, the big bucks. I’m not impressed – and I’m not even being rebellious. I’ve just never wanted all of that and it’s not because I’m not ambitious.
It’s because I’m comfortable with who I am, what I want and what I’ve seen for myself.
It’s because I know that “normal” is just fine and that you can still be really fucking happy.
That job you hate? The one that is literally draining the life out of you? Leave. Chances are, if you’re that miserable then you’re not giving this place your all and you’re wasting your time and theirs.
“What about that check though, Jasmine?”
Do the math. Save what you need to get you over if you can and quit. If that’s not an option, then take some time to really reflect on what you want for yourself. ONLY apply to jobs that fit that vision. ONLY make moves after work that will get you towards that goal.
I quit my job that I HATED without having a secure job or a place to stay. It worked out and I found a job that I loved. Then I quit again – there was no room for growth and I knew I wanted more. I went back to school full-time and I am UNEMPLOYED ya’ll and I am POOR.
Point is, you don’t have to be miserable. You have all the tools and faith to do more.
15. Say No
I am a social worker/daughter/sister/friend/girlfriend/dog-mommy/student/granddaughter/niece/etc. and I used to say “YES” to everything.
I was exhausted. So I started saying “NO.” But then, people really didn’t respect my no’s and they would try to convince me that I really didn’t mean it or they just assumed that I didn’t mean it. So then I had to get people to put some “respeck” on my no’s by sticking by it and remaining unmoved.
Do only what you have to do. Choose what you want to do. Compromise when necessary.
Note: Don’t abuse your no’s to limit yourself out of fear. Don’t even think about it.
16. Self-Care Can Be Abused
You can read my blog post on this but pretty much, sometimes self-care is doing what you don’t want to do but taking care of things because they have to be done. Don’t overdo the self-care and then end up being careless in a negative way. Check in often to make sure what you’re doing for self-care is actually working.
17. Social Media is Not Real Life
Stop comparing yourself to the Instagram model bodies with flat tummy tea and lipo. Stop comparing yourself to the girls who are always on vacations and eating fancy dinners. Stop comparing yourself to the person you know who seems to be living the life that you want right now.
Remind yourself that you are only seeing the highlights. Remind yourself that your journey is YOUR journey and that your time will come. Literally, social media is NOT real life.
You have the power to make your feed into everything that you need it to be. Unfollow toxic people. Unfollow those who you find yourself always comparing yourself to. Follow what you need to keep pushing through or unplug altogether.
Personally, this is why I am so transparent on my social media. Give yourself reminders of what reality is still like for a lot of others.
16. Stop Planning So Much
One of my biggest vices is my need to plan. I don’t plan just a week ahead or two weeks ahead. No, I’m planning years ahead. Meanwhile, the universe is always laughing because she’s about to throw me a whole curveball and humble my expectations.
Life happens. As my grandmother would say, “Just Keep Living.”
You cannot control for everything and you will be extremely miserable and disappointed if you tried. Sometimes, and I’m learning that it’s actually more often than not, you just have to go with the flow and ride it all out. What is for you is for you and nothing will derail that if it is indeed yours.
17. Take That Class
If there’s something that you want to learn to do, take the class. Online or in-person. Just go. It’s never ever too late to learn something.
I’m currently learning hand-lettering and it’s pretty much everything that I didn’t know I needed. Meet new people with similar interests and you’re even making new friends.
18. Talk to your Parents
The older I get, the more I understand my parents. I’m blessed to have been raised by my parents and to have the relationship that I have with them. At 25, it’s something that I don’t take lightly and something that I encourage everyone to tap into. Talk to your parents, hang out with them. Do the same with your grandparents.
19. Trust Yourself
As a Pisces, my intuition is pretty spot on. However, that doesn’t mean that I always listen to it. That little voice in my head and that flutter in my stomach is sick of being ignored, okay? I’ve had way too many “I told you so” moments with myself about things that could have easily been avoided.
Learn to trust yourself and your judgment. If something doesn’t feel right, show attention to it and explore it. If you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up about it and use it to affirm the fact that you need to get more in tune with your intuition.
20. You Can Choose Your Mood
Major. Major. Major. I am the queen of trying to blame things for my moodiness. It really was not until recently – and I mean like last week- that I really grasped that the ONLY person who was responsible for my mood was me. I choose to let things get me angry or to hold a grudge. Likewise, I can choose to be happy.
Choose happiness every single chance that you can.
21. Be Intentional
Going along with the “choosing” theme, I really learned what being intentional meant for me over the last year. Basically, I have the power to make decisions that clearly impact my life. Even the smallest decisions can have purpose. That alone is mind-blowing to me and makes me feel like a badass.
Tap into that. Be that badass who makes decisions solely because they have chosen to.
24. Transform for You
I do not consider myself very religious and have been really exploring my spirituality this year. Doing so has gotten me in tune with a lot of other elements of myself and it has been transformative to say the least. However, when going through this transformation, I had to make it a point to affirm to myself that this was for ME. Not for man, a friend, validation – but for ME.
Anything that you do, needs to be for you first. All of the work that you put into yourself flows through you and out into the universe. You will attract what is for you regardless. Do not make transformations of yourself solely for the validation from someone else. Before you know it, you’ll have broken yourself into so many pieces while you’ve made someone else whole.
25. Little Things Add Up
We all place value on the big things. The material things. The huge gestures. Do not forget how much value there is in the little things because, when added up, they truly are the foundation of your happiness in your day-to-day life.
I sometimes find it hard to be grateful for everything that I have, big and small, and recently I decided to commit to naming 1 thing each day that I am grateful for. When I review them, they’re all little things that somehow have managed to mean so much.
Don’t take it for granted!
Whew! That was a lot. And to think that there’s SO much more for me to learn and grow through. Here’s to 25!