I am now a quarter century old. This is old news, as it happened back in July. But a lot has been going on in my life these past few months. I’ve started to get consistent freelance writing gigs. I was a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding. It may be a quarter life crisis, but I know it’s making me reflect on the state of my life, my mental and physical well being, what’s next for me. So here are ten lessons I’ve learned so far that I hope you can take and use in your life, whether you are a quarter century, half century or full century years young.
Skinny is not the same thing as healthy. I’ve been skinny for most of my life. I’ve weighed under 95 pounds and worn a size zero pants. But I also didn’t eat and when I did it was in small amounts if I kept it down at all. I’ve battled with anxiety since I was a child and at one point food was a major source of anxiety. As much as I love cooking and exploring new restaurants and cuisines, there’s always a part in the back of my head making me not want to eat. After being in a relationship where my diet was the biggest source of argument it’s been hard to keep it under control. I weigh more now than I ever have in my life and have curves in places that didn’t exist even two years ago. But I’m doing my best to be happy with my body as it’s supposed to be. I was never supposed to be that skinny and as I started running races, I’ve learned that I shouldn’t go back to that point even if it’s through exercise.
Some things are not worth trying. I’ve always heard that you should try things just to say you’ve done it, whether it be drugs or skydiving or something else. And I have tried a few things just to say I’ve done them. But I can tell you that 99% of the time, it’s not worth it. You don’t have to hold yourself to anyone else’s standards of what makes you an experienced and worldly person. I can tell you that doing drugs and staying out all night just to cross it off your list is not a good look.
You choose your passions. No one can tell you that what you’re interested isn’t going to find you a job or is a waste of time. You are your passions, whether it be opening a store devoted to olive oil or climbing the Seven Summits. Be open about your passions and talk about them with others. You never know when you’ll inspire someone to follow their passions.
Only you know if you’re where you need to be in life. I’m at that point in my life where most of my friends are getting married or headed in that direction. They have 9-5 jobs and apartments. And what do I have? I live at home with my family and there are no signs of a relationship on the horizon. Yes, I travel a lot, but it’s easy to compare my life with where my friends’ lives are going. But only I know where I need to be. For right now, living at home is best for me as I am on the road for (so far) 100 days out of the year and when I am home, I’m juggling various freelancing projects. While my life may not sound all that great on paper, I’m happy with where I’m at and where I’m headed in relation to my goals.
It’s okay not to be okay. It took me a long time to accept this one and I’m only recently applying it to my life after speaking with a mental health professional. I didn’t feel “normal” in social situations and felt standoffish. I still have anxiety pushing into my consciousness and it’s something I can’t stop thinking about. I finally understood that while I may have many different parts of my personality battling it out, I have to be the one to determine if my methods of coping and balance are appropriate for me. And finally being able to admit that something wasn’t quite right after ten years of denial felt really good. For further reading, head over to Life Less Bullshit for her take on battling with your own head.
“Living the dream” is what you make of it. A lot of people say to me that they want my life. They want constant travel and flexibility. And while you do want it, you don’t want it badly enough to make it happen. And that’s fine. But long term travel and freelance writing are not all butterflies and bullshit. It’s not all days sunbathing beneath the Eiffel Tower and getting your name published in a big time magazine. It’s a lot of hard work, lonely nights with just you and your laptop and missing special life occasions back home. Only you can decide if it’s worth it and I can say that for me, it is.
“Having it all” comes down to priorities. I’ve always wondered if I can have it all, a relationship and a career. And I wonder if when it came down to time to choose, which one I would go for. It’s clear that right now my priority is building my name in terms of writing and blogging, but at what point will I find a balance? I don’t think I’ve found it yet and it’s something I’m working on.
Everyone moves on at their own pace. I’ve been annoyed at how long it has taken friends and family members to move on from relationships that were toxic but I’ve now learned that you can’t rush progress. I’ve been single for nearly two years but it still feels fresh enough that I’m not ready to pursue something new. There’s no equation (half or double the time you were together) or surefire remedy (a rebound fling, tequila) to repair yourself.
Fix relationships while there’s still time. I’ve met people who haven’t spoken to family members in over ten years and I don’t even know how to relate to that. Over time that argument that may have been small to begin with festers and grows with increased tension and resentment. You never know what could happen tomorrow, so take the time and make the phone call.
You’re never too old to learn and grow. If you’ve been out of school for five years or twenty five years, there’s always something new you can learn. It can be changing a tire, a new language or riding a bike or even learning something about someone. As long as you’re doing something.