I am now a quarter of a century old. I'm at the peak of the hill that is "mid-twenties" and will begin my way down next year. The countdown to thirty. I have friends who have reached this milestone birthday with sadness, mourning the loss of... youth? I'm not really sure, but I've never been one to wish I was younger. To me age has always seemed like something to look forward to, which I'm certain has much to do with the fact that just a few weeks ago I was asked what high school I attend.
I've had this post on my mind for a little while, as I've been reflecting on how different I feel now at 25 than I did just five short years ago. Without further ado, I'd like to share 15 things I've learned in 25 years (couldn't think of 25!)
1. There's no need to pretend you like something because every one else does. So you didn't like, say, the Hunger Games, so what?
2. You don't have to eat vegetables when you're a grown-up, but your body will really hate you if you don't. Sneak them in a smoothie if you hate the texture, but eat green things. Also, roasted vegetables are amazing. I wish I'd discovered this sooner in life.
3. Know your limits. When I'm around people all the time, I feel like I have to be "on", which really tires me out. Since my job is 100% about being around people, it's okay to go home and huddle under a blanket with the laptop. I don't have to say "yes" to every invitation I get and I've gotten a lot better about saying no and not feeling like I ripped someone's heart out as a result.
We have discovered that try as we might, Carson and I are not foodie people. We like good food but we want it to be really cheap or to have an experience that's super duper worth the price (example: sure it's a chain, but we thought The Melting Pot was worth it because of the experience).
4. Be intentional. Yes, definitely okay to take breaks and to carve out alone time, but use the time you have to the best of your abilities. One of the best things we've done in Cleveland is to make a "bucket list" of things we wanted to do in the city. We've discovered a lot of gems in the city this way, and when we leave, we'll feel like we saw a good portion of the city and didn't just stay in our bubble all the time or cram all the "sights" in at the end.
5. Let people in. I don't see my friends every day anymore, so I can't always tell where they're struggling, and they can't always tell with me. In order to let people encourage you and pray for you, you have to lose a little pride and open up. And it's hard. I've really only learned THAT I need to do it; still working on HOW that happens.
I will say that though I really debated it, sharing my struggles through my loss super publicly on this blog was a blessing. My initial reason for sharing was because when I got back from a supposed six weeks overseas three weeks early, I didn't want to have to tell every single person why. I'd rather let them read and not have to feel like they asked a super sensitive question if I ran into them. So many people have emailed me to say they've gone through the same thing, or with verses that encouraged them, or because they needed to be encouraged as they went through their own loss. It's opened doors to be a blessing to others.
6. Find something you love doing and practice it. I am not a musician. I cannot sing, I cannot dance, I cannot write poetry. But I love making cards and practicing lettering. Am I great at it? Nope, but those little doodles are fun and I enjoy learning how to challenge myself, even if it's a really simple way.
7. Clean a little every day. I am often exhausted after work, but I try to do at least one thing around the house. I'm fully aware that most people do more, but if I'm at least doing SOMETHING, like wiping all the counters or dusting just the living room or throwing that one load of towels in the washing machine, I'm knocking things off my list. And chances are I'll go the extra step and do TWO things. On days I do nothing, I do nothing and I regret it. Laundry gets more wrinkled the longer it sits there.
8. Make lists of things to save up to buy. There are things I'd like for my house, like a big chalkboard or larger pieces of art or a RUG (which is near the top... our poor wood floors are naked), or things that are even more arbitrary like classic Disney movies... and they all go on the list of things I'm saving for, things that I can buy by saving five dollars here and there. It works for me.
9. Travel as much as you can, even if it's in your own city. Again, the Cleveland bucket list has been a great thing, but while we're in the Midwest there are other places we want/ed to see, like Chicago, Niagara Falls, Cedar Point, and other places in driving distance. And since seeing people is important to us, we TRY to see family and friends as much as we financially can. Grad school schedules aren't kind to those sorts of visits so we take what we can get, but it would stink to end this season and realize that we did nothing here.
10. Buy actual winter boots. This is the first year I've actually had snow boots. I have some hiking boots that are waterproof, but they aren't very tall, so snow easily gets in, and the fake UGGs I had (classy, I know) did little in the keep-my-feet-warm department. This year, Carson and I both splurged on boots we actually liked and would actually wear (that part was for me) and it was a good decision. Buying things like that feels like a waste to me since they're purely functional, but sometimes you need functional shoes. Sigh.
11. Get rid of things you don't like/use/need. When we moved to Ohio, I was struck by the amount of clothing I was keeping just because I wore it in high school. Jeans with holes that I kept "to paint in", like I paint houses on the side or something. Things that were too big (I went through several years of this, I think assuming I was getting more for my money because I could grow into it, which of course I never have), or too small (reverse problem). I donated a lot while we were still in Washington, but since we've been here, we've set aside a corner of the basement as a "yard sale" pile. It's probably going to be the worst sale ever and so it will likely be donated instead, but getting rid of things and simplifying is great.
12. Make things when you can. I make a lot of craft projects and things for the house because I enjoy it. I know people who don't, and I don't understand that. I think it's more fun to look around and say "Hey, I made that!" than to have a house full of things I've purchased. Not everyone is that way, but for me it's so great to turn "I could make that" in a store to "I DID make that" (unless it's on sale; then buy it).
13. Don't buy things because they are on sale. I think this is why I'm not a coupon-er. I don't need 27 bottles of soap or a lifetime supply of Frosted Flakes. This is ALSO why I've purged a lot of my clothes - because they were four dollars. That money adds up. Don't buy something if you don't really like it. This is a hard thing to learn.
14. Take naps (or just get the right amount of sleep at night).
15. Write things down. That's reason #1 why I started a blog - most of you who read this are people from some former life of mine (Beaufort or Spokane) who wondered "what's going on with them anyway?" As far as writing, I very sporadically journal. I have two notebooks (different sizes for different bags I carry - yes) that I use mainly for sermon notes. But the pages also include ideas that pop into my head, grocery lists, and random journal entries as they pop into my head. I also keep a day planner, and I jot down things I did during the day, or what we did for our weekly date night.