25 things I’ve learned (up until age 25).

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So I’m 26 today. There’s something about birthdays that seem to make you stop and reflect on where you’re at in life. I went from an ambitious teenager in a tiny Texas town to a college student in Chicago to someone resembling an adult who has settled into life in the windy city.

But how things have changed. When I was 18, I aspired to become a music journalist, hopefully working for the likes of Rolling Stone or Spin, hanging out with rock stars in New York City. And while I have had the opportunity to interview bands and cover music festivals, I’m definitely not “living the dream” I had initially wanted. At least I can say this was one change that was for the better.

I’m not a music journalist working for one of my favorite magazines; I’m still editing and writing, but for a non-profit. I’m living in Chicago for the long haul, after spending some time in Austin and San Francisco. Also, a visit to NYC a few years ago (for my 23rd birthday actually) was enough to show me that I could never really live in that city.

Another big thing that’s changed: my relationship status. I never would have guessed I would have met someone like Alex just a few months before I turned 25. I was actually pretty sure I was going to be single for a long time. But here we are, over a year later. Funny how things turn out sometimes.

So to commemorate becoming a year older (and hopefully a year wiser), I thought I’d write down 25 little life lessons I’ve picked up. Some are serious and thoughtful; some are silly and a little cheesy. But they all mean something to me. It’s a good exercise to sit down and think about what you’ve learned up until now. So here we go:

1. You will date at least one jerk, if not more. It’s a necessary evil that will help you appreciate a really good guy when he comes along.

2. Vodka is not your friend. It’s the frenemy that will feign innocence when you’re left on a curb without a ride home.

3. Don’t dwell on the what if’s and the could have been’s.

4. Just because you don’t like to wear dresses and/or heels doesn’t mean you can’t have a cute sense of style.

5. Know your limits–emotionally, physically, and amount of drinks-wise.

6. Baking from scratch is one of the most therapeutic things you can do.

7. Don’t like something? Do something about it. Complaining will get you nowhere.

8. Avoid being passive aggressive. It’s not worth it.

9. Love isn’t always meant to be all-consuming, powerful, passionate. Most of the time it will be a “I love you, you are the best person I know, and I can always be myself around you” love (which I personally think is better).

10. Job hunting is one of the most trying, discouraging things you will ever do. But you have to keep trying because sooner or later, you’ll find what you’re looking for.

11. You will lose people you love and you will miss them terribly. The important thing is to not forget them.

12. High school wasn’t as bad as you think. College was as great as you remember it.

13. Never, ever be afraid to ask questions.

14. The 17 to 22 year old versions of you will do dumb, embarrassing things that you hope no one ever brings up again. But it’s all part of the process of becoming who you are today.

15. Things will most likely not turn out exactly as you planned and that’s totally okay.

16. It’s incredibly difficult to stay friends with someone you used to be in love with (and because of that, it’s not worth trying to keep them in your life if it means sacrificing your emotional health/sanity).

17. You will make new friends and sometimes, you will also lose them. Some are worth fighting for and some aren’t.

18. Don’t take things like Facebook too seriously; those Myspace drama-filled days are far, far behind you, so keep it that way.

19. Keep trying new things until you find what works. Don’t just stick to what you know.

20. If you’re having a bad day, a glass of wine, chocolate, and some TV can do wonders.

21. If you’re having a REALLY bad day, have a shot of tequila and nap it off (this gem is courtesy of my always-hilarious mom).

22. Be a little selfish sometimes. It’s necessary to put yourself before others every now and then.

23. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind or share your opinions. What you believe in matters.

24. Money isn’t always the root of all evil, but it’s definitely the root of most stress. Learn how to actually manage your money will help you avoid said stress.

25. Embrace who you are (and who you’re becoming).

And there you have it! 25 things I’ve learned. Who knows what year 26 will hold. :)

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