25 Life Lessons Before 25

life lessons ft. The Girl That Loves tulle skirt

It has been brought to my attention that the brain reaches its full potential when you turn 25. So of course, instead of celebrating with cupcakes and champagne, I am too preoccupied trying to come to terms with the above-mentioned black cloud trying to rain its negativity on my parade. {Okay, who are we kidding? My husband and I just got back from a Caribbean cruise – feel free to tune in for travel diaries, coming soon.}

Now that we've gotten past the shameless bragging, let's continue.

life lessons ft. The Girl That Loves tulle skirt

In honor of my birthday, I feel it my moral obligation to bestow on you the wisdom {for lack of a better word} that has oh-so-graciously been passed to me in the twenty-five years that I've been on this beautiful planet – or more accurately, in the past five years, because that's how long Pinterest has been around. So sit back and enjoy: 25 life lessons I learned before turning 25. Add, pin, tweet, share or needlepoint these on a pillow, if you feel so inclined.

life lessons ft. The Girl That Loves tulle skirt

And since it's about to get real sentimental over here, feel free to pop over to An Open Letter to My 18-Year-Old Self that I wrote on my last birthday {Wow, can't believe an entire year has passed!}.

life lessons ft. The Girl That Loves tulle skirt

Now, let's get down to business.

  1. To paraphrase the words of Oscar Wilde, to live is the rarest thing in the world; most people simply exist – coasting along from day to day, weekend to weekend, paycheck to paycheck. So often I find myself saying nonsense like, "If only this..." or "If only that..." What we do with our time and resources is our choice. Live your life deliberately so that at the end of it you can say you chose it – not settled for it. 
  2. Whether it’s a spontaneous trip to the beach or a three-month adventure across Europe, few experiences are as rewarding, eye-opening or horizon-expanding as traveling. Travel for a change of scenery, for a change in routine, but most importantly, travel for a change within yourself. 
  3. People will always blame their own mistakes on outside factors and others' mistakes on their flawed personality. Science calls this trait ascription bias, but even if that term means nothing to you, the sooner you realize this tendency, the sooner you will start noticing {and hopefully preventing} this behavior in your own life.
  4. Those that are the hardest to love need it the most. Learn to emphasize with others and recognize that behind their every word and action is a reason – our inability to understand that reason does not make it invalid.
  5. Doing nothing is underrated. The reality of the matter is that there are things you must do, and then there are things you, for whatever reason, feel you must do. See the difference? Stop the glorification of busy and learn to slow down and truly savor life
  6. Spend less than you earn. If you live by this philosophy, you'll be surprised by just how much you can afford. When my husband and I first got married, we decided to live on only one income despite both of us being employed. Our saving philosophy was a major contributing factor to our three-month trip across Europe. Yes, you may have to sacrifice regular stops at Starbucks and aimless wandering through TJ Maxx, and you may have to start cooking meals at home, maybe even forgo regular manicures {gasp!}. On a more serious note, you may have to buy half of your furniture at thrift stores or forgo certain items altogether. It's possible – it's simply a matter of priorities. To paraphrase someone much wiser than I, don't be like the fools who buy things they don't need with money they don't have to impress people they don't like.
  7. Let go of all expectations, especially in relationships. No one – not your husband, not your friends, not your coworkers, not your boss, not your parents, not your children, not the clerk at the grocery store, not the waiter at the restaurant, not the person in the car that cut you off in traffic – not a single person in this world owes you a thing. We waste so much time being miserable because we were somehow "wronged," when all that happened is that reality didn't match our expectations. When you expect something to be a certain way, you set up an idealized version of a person, interaction or relationship and then try to fit the reality into this ideal and, as a result, are disappointed. Strive to experience and appreciate reality as it is, because that's all it ever will be. 
  8. Sometimes it is best to keep your mouth shut – even if what you have to say is true, or valid, or just. I'll be the first to admit how tempting it is to call people out on their nonsense. I simply have no tolerance for people pretending to be something they're not. The chances of you changing that person's opinion or perspective or lifestyle are zero. The chances of drama are 100 percent. 
  9. She who sees the miraculous in the common is the happiest woman of all. Fact is, most of your life will be rather ordinary. So if you live in constant anticipation of extravagance, then you will likely live a miserable life. Everyday life is full of simple pleasures and little luxuries; don't lose them in hopes of finding something that is over-the-top.
  10. People will always have opinions about your life – some positive, some negative. If you find yourself trying to justify your life to someone, you have already forgotten your value. Don't take criticism personally – strive to be the person you've always wished to be and live the life you've always dreamed of and don't waste time on those who lack courage to do the same. 
  11. You can't correct what you aren't willing to confront. Living in denial may seem like the easier route, but you're only harming yourself because the temporary discomfort of confrontation pales in comparison to the permanent misery of surrendering to what you know is wrong.
  12. Once you embrace your God-given femininity, you will be amazed at how easily other puzzle pieces of you life fall into place.
  13. Paris is a state of mind. If there ever was a culture for whom life itself was an art form of the highest degree, it's the French. The mysterious ease, the "joie de vivre" {joy of living} attitude, the ability to savor the most mundane of experiences from the moment they wake up until they fall into bed at night – these are the qualities that make Parisians such enchanting individuals. Just imagine what could happen if you adopt a Paris state of mind and decided to live every day with the same passion and elegance, regardless of your circumstances! 
  14. The minute you stop learning and expanding your mind is the minute you start deteriorating. So often people feel limited to some sort of unspoken rule that once you graduate from a university {or a more recent example: once you turn 25}, you have reached your peak, and it's all downhill from there. Nonsense! Do you want to be a self-absorbed, uninteresting waste of space with nothing intelligent to add to a conversation because – let’s face it – you know nothing outside of your tiny little bubble you’ve built around yourself? {Hint: The answer is no.} So regardless of age, keep your mind open to new ideas, new experiences and new people {just not so open that your brain falls out.
  15. Pain is good, because it provides clarity and stimulates personal growth. Misery, on the other hand, is a useless, destructive and self-inflicted choice. You can choose to be a victim of your circumstances and continue pitying yourself, or you can choose to learn a lesson from the pain and move on with your life. It's okay to be sad. It's okay to be heartbroken. It's okay to cry. But cry it all out just once and then never cry about it again.
  16. Speaking of choice, you are the only person in charge of your mood, so the most simple way to be happy is to choose to be happy. When you look for happiness outside of yourself then the second that item, or job, or relationship, or lifestyle is taken away from you, your happiness disappears. Let your happiness be proactive, instead of reactive. Let go of all negativity – whether it's doubt, or unhealthy habits, or the tendency to complain, or people that suck the last drop of positivity out of you. Look that joy-kill in the face and say, "Not today, buddy! Today I choose happiness." In the words of Martha Washington, "The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances."
  17. "I always wonder why birds choose to stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on earth. Then I ask myself the same question." The lesson here is to stop complicating life. Either accept your circumstances or change them. Everything else is a waste of time, energy and health.
  18. You will never be completely ready for change. If people waited until they were 100% ready, most of us wouldn't even be here {i.e. if people waited to have children until they were 100% ready}. The secret is in learning to tolerate the uncertainty, vulnerability and discomfort that come along with change. The sooner you learn to accept these feelings and emotions as part of the journey, the faster they will lose their ability to intimidate you.
  19. Since we were little babes, the message of practicality, sensibility, level-headedness, rationality {and all other no-nonsense words} has been hammered into our little heads. But practicality never leads to adventure. So go ahead and burn the candles, use the fine china and wear the sexy lingerie! Don't wait for a special occasion to celebrate life; otherwise, you'll find yourself waiting for weekends, holidays and vacations to start enjoying that which you can enjoy this very second.
  20. Comparison is the thief of joy. Just because your friends are having a third child and you are single and not even ready to mingle does not make you a second-rate human being. One stage of life is not better than the other; it's just different. And if your friends cause you to believe otherwise, it's time to find new friends. 
  21. Don't take yourself too seriously. All I hear these days is how being an adult sucks all the fun out of life. Yes, bills, accountability, goals and rationality are far from my idea of fun. But again, you're the one that makes the choice of whether you view these things as burdens, or whether you take them as matter-of-fact part of your journey through life. When you learn to laugh at yourself and not take every situation to heart, you become a much more pleasant person to be around. It's a win-win scenario: you win because you're awesome, and people around you win because you're, well, awesome.
  22. If you want to receive, then give. Next time you find yourself wondering why no one ever calls you, or invites you over for dinner, or plans elaborate surprises for you – or whatever the case may be, instead of complaining, initiate the action yourself. Call the friend that you think has been avoiding you. Invite that couple for dinner that never invites you. Plan a surprise for the person that you wish would plan a surprise for you. Make others' happiness a higher priority than your own, and you will live a happy life. 
  23. What you say about someone says more about you than it does about that person. Similarly, how you make others feel about themselves says a whole lot about you.
  24. Don't just blindly follow what you're told in school, in church and especially in the media. All these sources of information present an idea for us to conform to, but God gave you a sound mind so you could analyze and question all information that comes your way. 
  25. Life is a learning process, and contrary to what it may seem like, neither you nor I have it all figured out. And that is perfectly alright. Albert Einstein said it best, "The more I learn, the less I know." 

life lessons ft. The Girl That Loves tulle skirt

SHOP THE OUTFIT » 

Top, TJ Maxx // Skirt, c/o The Girl That Loves // Shoes, heels.com // Sunglasses, c/o Sunglass Warehouse // Lipstick, Maybelline // Watch, c/o Three Twenty Three & Co. // Bracelets, Betsey Johnson, TJ Maxx, and c/o Mint and Lolly // Clutch, DailyLook

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7 Comments

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  2. I’m 48 years young and I can absolutely say that this post is spot on! You have real wisdom at a young age. I love your blog and cannot wait to read more.

    • Hi Alison! Thank you oh-so-much for your sweetest comment and for taking the time to write a word of encouragement! I’m curious to know how you found my blog!

      I wish I could say I always follow my own advice. Unfortunately, wisdom is typically a result of a screwup (or two, or three, or ten). I’d love to hear if you have any lessons to add to the list!

      XOXO, Oksana

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    • Thanks for your input, Irina! Number 8 is a major one… Still struggle with it to this day, but as the saying goes, you live and you learn, right?

      Any topics of interest you’d like me to cover in upcoming posts?

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