As a true Pisces and someone who has the Portuguese word “saudades” tattooed on her foot, it’s no surprise that I get sentimental pretty often.
Anyone who knows me or follows my blog knows that my life has changed drastically over the past couple of years. I quit my job in Austin, backpacked solo through Southeast Asia, ended a significant relationship, and moved to Madrid.
I also learned a few things along the way.
On the week of my 25th birthday, I reflect on what I’ve learned in my first quarter-century of life—a list that will undoubtedly grow each year.
1. Only you can make it happen.
My mom taught me to go after what I want at an early age. Whether it’s as big as moving abroad or as small as talking to that guy at the bar, there’s no point waiting for life to come to you. Go for it.
2. Now is the time to be selfish.
When I decided to move to Spain, my older friends all told me a variation of the same thing, “Do it now before you’re tied down.” Before marriage, kids, or a mortgage, you should be selfish with your time and desires.
3. Being honest is hard, but worth it.
Whether it’s in your career, friendships, or dating life, beating around the bush is a waste of everyone’s time, most of all yours. No one wants to be ghosted, so do unto others.
4. Texas is alright (alright, alright).
After moving to Brazil as a teenager, I was confronted with a lot of negative stereotypes the world has about Texans. I swore I would never stay in Texas, but I ended up going to school at The University of Texas. Needless to say, I love my home more than ever, even if I don’t always like it.
5. It’s not your job to make others feel comfortable.
Ladies, we all know how this goes: behave, don’t make a scene, just smile, blah blah. It’s okay to clap back when a guy says something inappropriate. It’s okay to yell “NO” when a guy is being pushy at a club. It’s okay to react.
6. Change is a good thing.
A new city, new friends, a new job. Change can be scary no matter how big or small, but it’s also the greatest opportunity for growth.
7. Your 20s are more about figuring out what you don’t want than what you do want.
I first heard this from one of my favorite journalism professors and mentors Wanda Cash in relation to your first job. It can also be applied to most things in your 20s. Bad dates? Bad bosses? Bad decisions? Learn from them.
8. Hangovers do, in fact, get worse with age.
I remember bragging about being hangover-free at 17 (hey, I was living in Brazil). Yeah, that’s over. However, you also learn some necessary things about your relationship with alcohol. I now know that Fireball and I are no longer friends.
9. Some friendships are forever. Some aren’t.
Navigating the post-college, adult world of friendships is far from smooth sailing. People grow in different ways, and sometimes that’s apart. A friend breakup can be just as devastating as a romantic one.
10. Your relationship with yourself is the most important.
Possibly one of the cheesier things on here, but so true. If you can’t be okay on your own, you’ll never be okay with someone else.
11. Women aren’t catty.
Growing up with close guy friends and never wanting to join a sorority, it was easy to pin women as catty and competitive. As I get older, I learn that nothing could be further from the truth. I have cultivated a strong, loving group of women in my life and we are each others’ biggest cheerleaders.
12. America charges way too much for cell service and data.
Verizon can suck it.
13. Guilty pleasures are just pleasures.
The idea of a guilty pleasure is dumb. Like what you like and own it. I like belting out Blink-182 songs on my “Middle School Emo” Spotify playlist. I love every single outrageous reality dating show. Try it.
14. Bodies are confusing.
I was diagnosed with endometriosis at age 19 and have had three surgeries to manage its painful symptoms. When it feels like your body is working against you, it can be easy to paint it as the enemy, but our bodies are also pretty freaking incredible.
If you want to learn more about my experience with endo, check out my Facebook fundraiser for the Endometriosis Foundation of America here.
15. Choose joy.
When I get anxious about my decision to teach English abroad and delay a normal career path in the U.S., I do as the Europeans do: work to live, not live to work. Choose what makes you happy right now.
16. Music is a gal’s best friend.
Music has been such an important presence in my life, ever since my brother introduced me to Death Cab for Cutie when I was 10. My iPod was my first love, going to concerts was my favorite college pastime, and music journalism was once my passion.
Here’s what I’m currently listening to.
17. This too shall pass.
This was my Nany’s favorite phrase, and one that I’ll probably get a tattoo of eventually. Even when it seems impossible, the absolute darkest, most painful times end. One of the most difficult years of my life led to one of the greatest. This too shall pass.
18. It’s okay to ask for help.
Despite having the amazing support of friends and family, I went to therapy a couple of years ago when my struggle with anxiety became too much. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
19. Home is where the heart is.
I’ve called many places home: Austin, Rio, Houston, Madrid. There’s no secret formula for deciding when a place becomes a home. Rather, it tends to happen over time without you really realizing it. It’s a special feeling; hold onto it.
20. Writing is hard.
I love writing, and sometimes the words flow onto the page. But it’s often a constant struggle of deciding what’s worth writing about, getting past mental blocks, and wondering whether anyone actually gives a shit.
21. Don’t get drunk the night before an early flight.
You’ll end up either missing the flight or throwing up on it. Will I do it again? Probably. Do I recommend it? Nope.
22. Cherish your family time.
My parents continued to move around as I stayed put. Once they returned stateside, I left. Christmas is now my favorite time of the year because it’s the one time we’re all together, and I don’t take any of it for granted.
23. Long distance sucks.
24. Pay attention to what you pay attention to.
Don’t know what to do with your life or what to spend your time on? I’ve found this little piece of advice helpful.