12 Lessons I’ve Learned by 25

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I turned 25 just over a month ago. It feels like an important age on some level. In a weird way it feels like I’m officially an adult. Like I can feel more empowered in my choices because, at this point, who really cares what anyone else thinks? I’m not saying that this age is the epitome of drinking from the fountain of wisdom. I think it’s far from it. Which is interesting, because I feel like I’ve experienced and learned a lot, especially in the past few years. But at the same time, there’s still so much left to experience and learn.

There’s a wealth of wisdom you gain when you reach 30, 40, 50, and so on. It really puts things into perspective. This (my twenties) is just one chapter in my life, one stage where all I can do is trust my intuition, try my best, and see where all of that takes me. Still, at this point in my life, I’ve learned a lot of things, many of which I’d probably pass down to my younger self if I could. Here’s 12 lessons I’ve learned by 25.

1 – Go at your own pace. They call your twenties your “defining decade” for a reason. In a way, they’re like the high school years of adulthood. You’re figuring out who you are, what you like, and the kind of life you see yourself living. It’s pretty huge! The people around you are all going to be at different stages in their careers, finances, romantic relationships, and family life. In the age of social media, it is especially tempting to compare your journey to another person’s. Don’t. Your path is yours alone. It is unique. It doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s.

2 – Milestones are optional. In some ways, birthdays bring expectations. You may feel like reaching a certain age means that you should already have your own place, a stable career, your own car, the love of your life, and even your firstborn child. I don’t think it’s emphasized enough that you are not REQUIRED to do anything at all by a certain age. There is no such thing as being a “late bloomer” in love, career, or any other aspect of life. When you reach retirement age, do you think anyone (including you) is going to look back on your life and judge you for things you didn’t accomplish in your twenties? Of course not. So just live. Take your time. Do things your way. Don’t worry about anything, just keep being better than you were yesterday. Keep growing.

3 – Foster meaningful relationships. My personal philosophy is that one meaningful friendship is better than ten acquaintances. The other side of that is that building a relationship takes time. Invest your time into good people. By the time you reach your thirties, your job, city, and romantic relationships may change a few times, but good, healthy friendships can last for life. (Sometimes friendships also run their course, and that is okay, too). But overall, investing in good friends/family members is a great thing to do for your future (and present) self.

4 – Passions can evolve. I’ve always been someone who is passionate about many things. Art, music, theater, animals, the environment, helping people, etc. People often say to “do what you love,” and many times this message suggests that you should love doing one thing for the rest of your life. While it’s important to find focus in your career, it’s okay to try different things and to change your mind. (In fact, most people do exactly that). I studied theater in college before I changed my major to English. I focused on writing for a few years before realizing it wasn’t an easy way to pay the bills, so now I’m pursuing social work. I still love theater, I still love writing, and now I can pursue a career that will allow me to help others, which is something I’ve always been passionate about as well.

5 – You don’t have to be good at something right away. This is something I feel needs to be emphasized more, especially in schools. You don’t have to be good at something the first, second, or even third time you try it. You can be terrible at something, but spend a few months or even years improving your skills. This goes for anything: math, writing, sports, and even other areas of life such as dating, interviewing, and communicating. You’re allowed to make mistakes. You’re allowed to fail. Most things you fail at in life are not going to have high stakes (i.e – it’s not brain surgery). So give yourself a break. Let yourself fail. Let yourself improve.

6 – Do things for personal enrichment. So much of our twenties revolve around “getting our lives together.” We go to school so we can have a career. We get a job so we can afford our own place, food, etc. We date so we can find “the one.” So many of the things we do are so serious, with long-term thinking in mind. And all of these things are good. Like I said before, your twenties are the foundation of your adult life. In the midst of all this, make time for things you do “just because.” Read good books, try a new sport, go for hikes, talk to strangers at happy hours, go to concerts. Do things just for fun. These are the things you’ll remember years from now, and these are the things that will keep you from being too stressed out.

7 – Don’t worry about what people think. This one is always easier said than done. But the truth is, there’s always going to be people judging you for something. More than that, people will expect you to live the way THEY are living. People who are married will expect you to get married, too. People who have kids will expect you to have kids, too. People who have good careers will expect you to have one, too, etc. But at the end of the day, no one is living your life for you. If people can’t respect the way you live, happily show them the door.

8 – Give yourself options. It’s easy to feel like you have to find one career, one life partner, one place to live, etc. But you don’t have to limit yourself, especially not in your twenties. Give yourself options for your career. Don’t settle down and get married just because others expect you to (do it because you genuinely want to). Exploring your options can save you from looking back years later, thinking, “I wish I knew I had another choice.”

9 – Be honest. Be honest with yourself and the people you care about. If you’re going through a hard time, talk to someone. Don’t feel like you have to do everything on your own. The more authentic you are in the way you live, the easier it will be to find the right opportunities for you.

10 – Forgive, but don’t forget. By the time you reach twenty-five, you’ve already gathered your fair share of “shoulda, coulda, woulda’s” and regrets. You may look back on your life and wish you had chosen a different college major, a different romantic partner, a different city to live in sooner, etc. The sooner you learn how to forgive yourself, the more inner peace you’ll have. There will also be other people who may have hurt you or betrayed you, sometimes in more extreme ways than others. Forgiving other people is a personal thing, and sometimes it’s too hard. But taking care of yourself and being patient with your journey is a good start. If something from the past is affecting you in the present, consider talking to a loved one or working through it with a therapist.

11 – Do activities you enjoy. When you’re trying to pursue your career goals, it can be easy to let other passions, like music or fitness, fall to the back burner. Try to make time for personal projects. Join groups that share your interest. Take an enrichment class or two. Nurturing your talents is a great way to boost your confidence and do things you can feel proud of.

12 – Help others. Whether you support your friends when they need someone to talk to or donate to a good cause, it’s important to give back. You have unique gifts you can use to help others or brighten someone’s day. Knowing you can make a difference, even a small one, can give you a sense of purpose and keeps you motivated. In addition, being there for others often means having people who will be there for you as well. You give love, you get love.

These are some of the lessons that I’ve learned by 25. Life is a journey, and we all pick up different nuggets of wisdom along the way. Learning new things means that you are growing and evolving, and that is always a reason to feel proud of how far you’ve come.

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What I learned from eating vegan for a day

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Yesterday I decided to eat vegan for the day. This is something I’d thought about doing, eating vegan for a day or a meal, but I didn’t have the tools I needed to get started. I had some inspiration over the weekend after watching a video on YouTube, where one young woman talked about the kinds of plant-based foods she kept in the house. She also talked about how she planned her meals for the week, and based her grocery shopping off of that.

Lastly, she said she would make her meals in bulk so that they would last for a few days. This video really clicked with me, and so the next day, I decided to eat vegan for the day. I had made a list of groceries for breakfast, lunch/dinner, and snacks to really get an idea of what should be on my plate. And that morning I planned out my meals in my journal before I went to get breakfast (Food is the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning 🙂 ).

So how did this experiment go for me? Was I able to do it? I did! All my meals and snacks were vegan. I started my day with fruit and peanut butter. For lunch I had brown rice, lettuce, tomatoes, lime, and vegan meatballs from Trader Joe’s. (It helps that I’m a vegetarian, so I already had these things in the house.) For dinner I made tacos with similar ingredients to what I had for lunch. And for a snack I had raisins.

I was aware of the foods that I couldn’t include in this meal plan, like cheese, sour cream, Little Debbie snack cakes, the sliced bread and English muffins we happened to have, honey, and butter. I especially noticed excluding some of these things in my tacos. A part of me was a little bummed out, but another part of me was glad to be eating more raw, fresh food.

I did find myself eating much healthier. I ate more fruits and veggies. Being a vegetarian, usually if a meal has protein, then I feel like I’m all set. But this made me realize I want to include more fruits and veggies in my meals!

Eating vegan certainly doesn’t have to mean missing out on your favorite foods, because there’s veg-friendly substitutes for everything, like cashew cheese, almond milk, etc… However, if you want to try eating vegan for a meal, a day, or longer, I think it’s good to substitute things not only for flavors, but for nutrients. Like if you’re not getting calcium from cheese, be sure to eat lots of dark, leafy greens like collard greens and kale. (For a list of awesome protein sources, see my previous post 🙂 ).

I also recommend planning your meals for the day, it’s super helpful. I think all in all though, be gentle with your relationship with food. You don’t have to be perfect. Just remember that it’s all about taking small steps to take care of yourself. Celebrate those small steps, and love yourself. You are good enough!!

So what are my take-aways from all of this? Do I plan on going vegan anytime soon? Probably not. But I do want to plan out my meals some days. I already planned mine for today. This is about progress, not perfection. I also want to add more fruits and veggies to my meals for sure. And I want to include more plant-based foods in my diet. This was a nice, little experiment.

Just to reiterate, always educate yourself before making changes to your diet, whether it’s for a day, a week, a few months, or longer. The key is to have balance and to show your body some love by giving it the proper nutrients it needs ❤

Anyway, I hope you have a wonderful day, Lovelies. This girl’s gonna go eat!! 🙂

xoxo.

Plant-based diet

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I want to incorporate more plant-based meals into my lifestyle. I’m already a vegetarian, but I want to eat more organic, fresh foods. Right now my ideal meal plan for breakfast includes fruit, like bananas, plums, peaches, and cherries, oatmeal, cashews and mixed nuts, peanut and almond butters, and maybe on occasion spinach with apples, berries, and sliced almonds.

For lunch and dinner, I’d like to have healthy grains, like brown rice, quinoa, and whole grain bread, muffins, and crackers. I want to include more veggies, like sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, and corn, and great sources of protein like chickpeas, red beans, black beans, nuts, seeds, peas, quinoa, chia seeds, and sun-dried tomatoes. For snacks, I wanna keep dried fruit handy, as well as dark chocolate.

Like any lifestyle, I think it’s important to be relaxed and not put too much pressure on yourself to be “perfect.” But educating yourself and making small choices each day makes a big difference over time. I find that planning my meals for the day, and maybe even for the week, especially when it’s time to buy groceries, can be a great way to achieve small goals.

Life is a journey, and doing small things to take care of yourself along the way tends to feel really good 🙂 Even the things you achieve today are worth celebrating ❤

On Gym Class

The thing about gym class is that it has so much potential. It has the potential to teach young people to fall in love with fitness and self care. It has the potential to help teens appreciate their own strength and abilities. It has the potential to help young people who may be dealing with struggles no one else knows about to have some time to let go and have fun.

Unfortunately, gym class did none of these things for me. I have memories of being made to play dodge ball (a game I never wanted to play), only to have usually harmless balls fly by my head at a ridiculously fast pace and smack into the wall, leaving me to think, ‘That could have been my face.’ I was a pacifist with a dislike for team sports, and I had no interest in hitting anyone with a ball. This usually meant no one wanted to hit me either, so I stood there awkwardly until the game was half over and let a rolling blue or red ball touch the tip of my sneaker, allowing me to finally walk away to the sidelines.

Some days we were made to play my least-favorite sport– volleyball. I never found it fun. If you’re not good at it and hit the ball so it flies in the wrong direction, people look at you as though you have three heads. I have my strengths like anyone else, I didn’t care that volleyball wasn’t one of them. The judgement is one reason I didn’t like high school. Being in a classroom should be about growth and improvement, but in most cases, people were judged for the skills they already had, not for their ability or potential to improve in those skills.

This leads people to believe false things about themselves. It leads people to believe things like, “I am not a math person,” or “I am not an English person,” or in my case, “I am not a sports person.” I realize now that, quite frankly, that’s a load of crap. You can be any kind of person you want to be. The key is realizing you are not defined by natural abilities alone. You’re defined even more by the things you actually put work into. Skills are like seeds. If you nurture them, they are likely to grow.

On other days in gym we’d have to run around the track. There’s nothing wrong with having access to a nice, beautiful track. But these days always felt unstructured, no one ever wanted to do them, and people like me, who had asthma, had to walk more than run anyway. It was just another day of class that perhaps some people liked, but many people dreaded.

By the time I was an upperclassman, it was easier to choose the class I wanted, so I usually ended up going to the weight room. As far as weight rooms go, I think our school had a nice facility. I rode an exercise bike, walked on the treadmill, and used a couple other machines to pass the time. I wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about being there, but it was better than being stuck in the middle of a dodge ball game.

Perhaps my dislike of most sports meant I wouldn’t have enjoyed gym, even if it were structured a little differently. The sports or related activities I do like include hockey, yoga, climbing, biking, and skating. I suppose the last two aren’t the most feasible in a class setting. I think it’s good we got to try different things, but as with most high school courses, I feel the overall purpose of the class (to help students be healthy and active) is lost in the fact that many of us were put into situations that only made us feel uncomfortable or inadequate.

Don’t even get me started on the locker rooms. I never had a problem changing in front of other people. Maybe I felt a little self conscious, but overall I didn’t care. But (and I can only speak from my own experience), I think in a time when our bodies as young women and people were changing, and as we were getting to know ourselves and our identities, I think the locker room of all places is a space where body positivity should be promoted. The idea that all bodies are beautiful should be plastered on posters all over the damned place. No teen should be made to go into a locker without first being taught the most important thing I feel gym could/should ever teach you: love your fucking body.

We did have one interesting day in gym class where two men (I believe they were both Indian) taught a session about breathing exercises and meditation. We were young, and not everyone took the session seriously, but I know that’s something that stuck with me. I knew they were there because they cared about what they were teaching us. They taught us coping mechanisms. They taught us a way to practice self care.

I remember other days in gym where people (who were able) were encouraged to donate blood and the way it helped many people. Days like that were good. They were important.

Unfortunately I associate most days in gym, especially before I started going to weight room, with just being unhappy. I felt out of place and awkward. I feel like it’s something that was supposed to be fun, but it was hardly ever fun for me.

I remember having teachers say that being on your period isn’t an excuse to sit out of gym. While I’m sure there are people who would abuse this as an excuse, I hardly see how pain, nausea, dizziness, or headaches aren’t an excuse to rest while loud basketballs are dribbling and sneakers are squeaking across the court.  You can’t put an ultimatum on something that affects different bodies differently.

There are things I liked about our gym classes. We had nice facilities, the weight room was good, the locker rooms, as far as I remember, were clean and I felt safe. We had several teachers to go to if we had questions. If I could change anything about how the classes went? It would probably be the same thing I’d want for any class: Stop treating all students as though they learn, or play, in the same way, at the same pace, at the same time. Students shouldn’t have to feel like they are better or worse than anyone else in the classroom. They should feel like they can always improve and be better than they were yesterday.

 

 

Apps to Help You Stay Hydrated

Summer time is here! And between balancing work, family, chores, and vacation-planning, it can be easy to forget to make our health a top priority. As the days get hotter and we spend more time outdoors, an important part of staying healthy is to drink plenty of water. Not only is staying hydrated a basic way to help us, well, NOT die, but it also helps us to have healthy skin, hair, and nails. It improves our circulation, helps us to cool off, helps us to take a moment to relax, keeps our lips from getting super chapped, and helps to cleanse our bodies of toxins (you know what they say, to avoid a hangover, drink water).

In addition to being super busy, it can also be hard to stay hydrated when our first instinct is to grab a beverage that doesn’t do a great job of hydrating us. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t crack open that can of soda or poor yourself an ice-cold glass of juice from concentrate. It’s all about having things in moderation. If you enjoy a sugary beverage, but you feel you could use more refreshing water in your life, here are a few apps that can help you stay hydrated all summer long:

iDrated. Based on the name, you can tell that this app was created by Apple and for iPhone, iPad, and iTouch users. After including some basic information about yourself, iDrated helps you to track how much water you drink throughout the day, gives you some insight into how hydrated you are, and allows you to set reminders for when you should drink water next.

WaterLog. This app is available for free in the Google Play store. It allows you to keep track of how much water you drink, lets you set reminders to drink more throughout the day, and allows you to keep track of how well you’ve reached your daily hydration goals.

Drinking Water. This app is also available for free in the Google Play store. The concept is simple. You set a goal for how many cups of water you want to drink each day, and you set times for the app to remind you when to drink a cup. If you turn your phone horizontally, the app will show you how many cups of water you drank each day. The description in the app says you can also use it for beer.

 

These are a few of many apps that can help you to drink more water. Keep in mind that while notifications can provide you with good reminders, no one can know what your body needs more than you do. There may be days where you need to drink more (like if you spend hours in the hot sun), and other days where you might not need to drink as much (like if you spend the day in an air-conditioned room binge-watching Netflix and napping).

The point of all of this is so that you can be your healthiest and best version of yourself. If you need extra reminders to take care of yourself, like with anything else, there’s probably an app for that. And above all, listen to your body. Because at the end of the day, it knows best.

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[Disclaimer: I am not certified to give any kind of health-related advice. This is simply an informative article to provide apps you may use at your own discretion].

 

The Beauty of Living Out of a Suitcase

One thing I love about traveling is having to pack a suitcase. There’s something so wonderful about the minimalism of it. It lets you focus on the bare necessities, and something about that is so freeing. As I fold my clothes, pack my toothbrush, and think about the journey ahead, I feel content. I only have to have the most important things with me. I can let go of the clutter that’s weighing me down in the form of material things, and consequently, I can let go of the things weighing me down mentally as well. Travelling as a way of life is a wonderful thing to aspire to. I hope I can travel as much as possible. But for now, I take the little opportunities as they come. And I bring just a little of what I own, so that I can experience a whole lot of the world.