12 Lessons I’ve Learned by 25

flower yellow

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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Laurel vs Yanny

[Note: this post gets political.]

Yesterday, a clip was trending on social media where some people heard the word “yanny,” others heard “laurel,” and some heard both. People have been comparing it to that dress that appeared to be a different color to different people.

It’s interesting that we can all have different perspectives and that we can perceive things differently, even though, in most cases, our experiences of our senses seem to be similar and somewhat universal. This whole thing has made me think about something that has permeated our (United States) culture much more over the past couple years–politics.

A lot of people say that, politically, the U.S is divided. For some, this division is about republicans and democrats. For me, this division is about racism. It’s about homophobia and transphobia. It’s about Black Lives Matter, affordable healthcare, affordable education, and affordable housing. It’s about policing and controlling women’s bodies. It’s about the fact that there are states that I am afraid to live in because there is a higher chance that I will experience discrimination in the workplace or other settings. It’s about the fact that people who claim to be nationalists are more outraged about political protests than they are about homeless veterans.

It’s about the fact that Nazis and the KKK STILL EXIST. It’s about the fact that there are people who care more about displaying confederate flags than they do about respecting and protecting minorities. It’s about the fact that brown people who commit acts of violence are terrorists or thugs while white Americans who commit mass shootings are “mentally ill,” “troubled,” “lone wolves,” “isolated,” and “bullied.” It’s about the fact that gay pride, Black Lives Matter, and DREAMers being supported by mainstream media (at times) does not mean most places in this country are safe for marginalized groups.

It’s about the fact that sex workers are shamed by the same politicians who watch porn, hire escorts, and cheat on their spouses. It’s about the fact that immigrants and people seeking a better quality of life are shamed by a country founded on genocide and built on the backs of Black slaves. It’s about the fact that people of color, LGBT people, and women are astronomically underrepresented in history textbooks.

There is a division between me and the people who are contributing to the above issues. There is a division between me and the people who turn my existence, and the existence of my friends, into a political battle daily.

This is my perspective. This is my “yanny.” But the fact is, not everyone is hearing what I’m hearing. Not everyone is seeing what I’m seeing. Not everyone is feeling what I’m feeling. My values are not the same as everyone else’s. Other people are hearing “laurel.” And maybe some of us can hear both at times, just like some of us can at least empathize with a perspective that is different from our own.

We all experience life in our own way and there are perspectives I will simply never understand. And there are people who will simply never understand me. Everyone is fighting for their own existence to be validated, heard, represented, and understood. We are seeing different stories unfold. We are seeing the same dress in a vastly different color.

I want to feel safe and respected. I want the people I love most to feel safe and respected. That will always be the force that drives my perspective. That will always dictate the color I see and the sound that I hear. I don’t think divisions can ever go away while anyone’s identity is be swept aside.

At least, that’s the way I see it.

 

How I perceive each zodiac sign

[Most lists go in order of the zodiac calendar, but I’m organizing mine by element.]

Taurus – Hard-working, loyal, and dedicated. Strong-minded and stubborn. If you’re a true friend, they will stand by you forever. Selective when it comes to love, they build slowly when entering a relationship, but once it’s real, they love hard. They are true builders and will take slow, steady steps toward their goals, not stopping until they reach them. Can be lazy and loves to relish in the pleasures of the senses.

Virgo – Neat freaks. They like things to be tidy, but they can also have secret messes. Good-hearted, kind, and reliable friends. They are tenacious and tend to stick to the things they’re comfortable with. Perfectionists; hard on themselves with a tendency to critique others. They will create a stable, comfortable, clean home life. May stick to bad habits if they fall into them.

Capricorn – No one works harder than this sign. They are kind, loyal, and determined. They may have some insecurities, but they’re usually a lot more amazing than they think they are. Career may come before relationships at times.

Pisces – A very sweet sign. A bit shy, but also incredibly charming when they want to be. They need time alone to think and recharge, but they also need social fun on occasion, maybe attending a dinner party or seeing a concert or sports event. They can be directionless at times, but they need stability, especially when it comes to the comforts of home. Sensitive people with lots of feelings. They like to help people.

Cancer – The most nurturing sign. They are very kind, loving, and loyal. They are incredibly emotional and will share or vent their feelings to anyone and everyone (at least to people they trust). They like time to themselves, but they like time to be social with friends as well. They’re relationship oriented and are the most likely to be in a long-term, romantic relationship.

Scorpio – An emotional, possessive, strong-minded sign. Filled with secrets. They only let a select few in, and they may find it hard to trust people. They like to keep to themselves, but they also like the occasional adventure. Relationships can be intense, but they are loyal. They like to be in control, and will low key manage everything around them.

Aries – A very impulsive sign, but when they find something they like, they are 100% into it, however long it may last. They are incredibly easy to start conversations with. They are fun, bold, and always down for an adventure.

Leo – These people are very strong-minded, have an unapologetic sense of humor, may be a bit stubborn, and make great leaders. They know who they are, what they want, and what they believe. They make passionate friends and lovers, but they can be impulsive as well.

Sagittarius – Such a fun sign! Optimistic, generous, and very upbeat. They want to have a good time and make other people happy. Constantly experiencing new people, places, and things. They may hide their sadness or struggles from the world, preferring to party, smile, and have a great time. So loving and exciting. They are walking, talking adventures.

Aquarius – Walks to the beat of their own drum. Very unique and individualistic. They have a lot to say and are very generous, especially when it comes to money. Free-spirited and spontaneous. Not likely to stick to a set plan for the future. Thinks outside the box.

Gemini – Creative, intelligent, and effective communicators. They are talented, especially in many creative areas, but they may be more go with the flow when it comes to career. Fun, spontaneous friends. Can be a bit moody.

Libra – Good communicators. Easygoing, easy to get along with. They create a beautiful aesthetic with everything: fashion, pictures on their phone, social media accounts, makeup, etc… Can be good leaders, unafraid to speak to or work in groups. They might not talk about their deepest feelings, but they feel a lot and will be very compassionate if you talk about your emotions.

Things I wish I knew in high school

Our high school peers can be a valuable network. 

I didn’t like high school much, I wouldn’t want to go back, and when I left I didn’t think I’d see most people again. Social media makes it easier to keep in touch, so I’m still in touch with people from both high school and college. The thing I never thought of as a teen is this: the people you know in school (whether it’s high school or university) are future professionals. The people you know will eventually work in a variety of different fields, and they’ll be the ones you can ask questions or learn more about an industry through.

Weigh your options.

When I went to college, I knew exactly what I wanted to study, but I never really weighed my options to see what else schools had to offer. I didn’t take the time to really look through all of the departments, and if I had, I probably would have found a balance sooner between following my passion and earning a living.

Know that things change.

As a teen, I felt so so so much pressure to figure out what I would do! For! The rest! Of my life! But honestly? Like the real honest truth? All of that is a myth. Lots of people, if not most, change careers at some point in their life. There are people who become accountants, teachers, doctors, or psychologists, only to leave the field and do something else.

That’s not a bad thing (even if it might sound like a waste of money from all the degrees). But it is a fact of life. People change and grow. What you want at 18 or 24 might not be what you want at 29 or 35. You don’t need to know what you want to do forever. But finding something you can see yourself doing for at least years is a good place to start. Once you have experience in one field, it’s easier to find ways to apply those skills to another.

Don’t take life too seriously. 

School and building a career is a lot of work. It’s important to work hard and study and try your best, but you want to make time for fun and good memories, too. The career path you choose in your studies might not last forever (or who knows, it just might!), but you’ll likely have relationships and friendships that last for many years. Those will be some of the most valuable things to take from your years in school.

Blaze a trail.

The truth is, there’s no “one size fits all” advice. You might have someone who chooses to study engineering and builds a career in that, or you might have another person who graduates with that same degree, only to decide, ‘This career is not right for me.’ You can have someone who studies Musical Theater and finds different jobs they like after college, then you’ll have others who study the arts and struggle to pay the bills for a while.

It can really go either way, regardless of what career path you try. You have to find the balance between doing something that makes you happy, and doing something that makes you money. For many people, this means experimenting, trying out different things, and learning more about themselves before finding a path to “settle” on. But the truth is, I don’t think we ever settle. I think we’re always evolving, and you just kind of have to be along for the ride.

Your 20s will be one big experiment. 

Very few people have their shit together in their 20s, regardless of how their lives may look on social media. People are figuring out their careers, and their love lives, and whether they want children, and where they want to live, and (for those in the U.S), making sure they still have health insurance after they turn 26. It’s a long road with a lot of (really) big decisions.

Overall, I think you just have to remember to breathe. Most decisions are not final (except, ya know, having children. That’s a bit more permanent than most things lol). But overall, you have a lifetime to learn, grow, and try new things. The time also goes by fast. It can be stressful, but try to make time for fun and to be happy. You’ll go through career highs and lows, honeymoon phases and heartbreaks, decisions you’re proud of and things you would do differently if you could. It’s quite a journey, but you learn a lot and become more You than you’ve ever been.

My Career Goals Over the Years

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

We all get asked this question at various stages in our lives. What no one tells you is that adults still feel as though they are wandering, and they still ask themselves this question. I think the U.S has an especially career-centric culture, in some places more than others. I live in New York, and while I live in the suburbs, I feel like there’s still a very fast-paced atmosphere where “What do you do?” is the first thing someone asks you.

I definitely know of people who say they don’t need a career that defines them. They feel a job is just a job, and it allows them to put food on the table and that’s all that matters. I sort of envy people who genuinely feel this way. Having a career that I can be passionate about has always been important to me. And I want to surround myself with people who feel passionately about their work as well. I don’t think people who value their careers are necessarily happier, in fact I think people like this are never satisfied, but I do think they’re the ones who blaze trails. I want to blaze a trail and leave my mark on the world.

Still, I wasn’t one of the those people who’s always known what she wanted to be. When I was a kid, the first career I remember aspiring to was wanting to be a pastry chef. I told my mom that I would open a bakery and make cupcakes for her all the time.

When we played the game Life (ya know, that board game that takes a hellishly long time to complete), I always was excited when I was able to pick the artist card for my career. Instinctively I knew I just NEEDED to be some sort of artist. And in many ways, I’ve done that for the past few years. I’ve written a bunch of poetry and fiction, wrote for a magazine, made lots of art, and I’ve been very poor.

No one tells you how lonely and challenging being an artist can really be. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it. But I realized that being able to support myself and having something to fall back on is super important. I can’t rely on getting a job by chance, like my parents many other Boomers did.

When I was a little older, I decided I wanted to be an interior designer. I thought that sounded like the funnest job ever (and I still do!), and I used to draw designs in my sketch pad.

Sometime around middle school, my aspirations became more social. I went through a phase where I wanted to be a massage therapist, and I would give massages to people in my family. By the time I reached high school, I’d decided that I wanted to be a pediatrician because I wanted to help kids.

Through all of these ideas, the arts were still very important to me. They were my passion. I still liked to draw and write poetry. I liked singing in my music classes. I didn’t always like high school, but my arts classes always kept me going. Things really changed for me in the tenth grade when I started acting.

I performed, took acting classes, did shows through my church, and took every opportunity I could to stay involved with theater. During my senior year, I attended an arts high school alongside my regular one and was a drama major there. I was surrounded by lot of other people who planned to study theater in college, so it inspired me to pursue theater in college as well.

By the time I’d taken my SAT’s and applied to college, I’d decided that I wanted to pursue a career as an actress. I went on auditions, and got accepted to a few theater programs. It was all really fun! But by the time I’d gotten to college, I felt really pressured to have a plan for my life, and I just didn’t have one.

I had way too many passions that I wanted to follow my career. I wanted to act, I wanted to write, I wanted to sing, I wanted to help people. I wanted too many things at once, and it gave me a lot of stress. By my sophomore year, I’d changed my major to English so I could focus on writing, but I still had a lot of ambition with no real plan.

It’s not that I thought a theater or English degree would get me a job. But I did think that, like most people I knew, I could get a job unrelated to what I studied. I imagined myself working in an office somewhere while I pursued my art on the side, or maybe working in advertising or publishing. I didn’t realize how hard it would really be to get a job in the communications field.

Now, I’m back to having goals in more social careers. I’m pursuing a master’s degree in social work, and I have a plan to be a mental health counselor, or to work in higher education as a career counselor, professor, or some sort of program director. It’s good, because it fulfills that desire I’ve always had to help others.

As for the artist in me, she’s still there, burning with lots of passion but not much direction unfortunately. I’ve done a lot of writing, but it’s not all I want to do, and it’s not all I want to be known for. I want to keep writing, but I also want to make visual art. I want to perform. I want to use the arts to address social issues as well. This is an area where I don’t have as concrete of a vision, probably because it’s much more self-motivated than other kinds of work, and it’s motivated by something other than money.

I learned a few years ago that my career types are artistic, social, and investigative. This makes a lot of sense, and it fits in with everything I’ve ever wanted to do. My personality type is also INFJ, and being an artist and social worker fits well with that as well. It feels good to know that there’s different types of work that can fit each of us.

I’m 24, and I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. But I have more clarity than I did before, I’m more knowledgeable about my opportunities. I don’t want a job that’s just a job. I want something I can be passionate about. My ambitions have changed a bit over the years, but one thing hasn’t. I don’t want to settle. I want to find work that is right for me.

Childhood Memories and Reflections

When I was a kid, I used to go to my grandma’s house every day after school. And I was usually there in the summer, when my parents were at work. I’d always bring a book to read, or my sketch pad, or one of my poetry journals to pass the time. I’d also play outside with my cousin and other kids in the neighborhood. I was never a kid who felt popular or social or well-like. I was teased or bullied a lot. But the older I’ve gotten, the more I learned that you don’t need to have a lot of friends or be liked by everyone. A few good friends are far more valuable.

I’m only 24 years old, but it’s amazing how much has changed. When I was younger, there were no smart phones, and most kids didn’t have a cell phone until they were thirteen. I didn’t use social media, most of it didn’t exist yet anyway. I never had a MySpace page. The most I used a computer for was to play games on Nick.com. When I did get my first cell phone in middle school, it was a silver flip phone and I only used it to text my mom.

My grandma was a smoker. She drank coffee every morning, and her favorite foods included shrimp, avocado, scrambled eggs with bacon, and crab cakes. She watched soap operas every day, so me and my cousin were very familiar with General Hospital and The Young and the Restless. She watched the news a lot. She wasn’t always easy to get along with, which is something only my family (and a handful of nurses) could understand, but she still did a lot for the family. She used to take my cousin and I to the park, and would make us sit at the kitchen table until we finished eating our dinner.

We also had to eat our food before we could have juice so we wouldn’t fill up on the drink first. My cousin and I used to take our food to the trash, one forkful at a time, if we didn’t want to finish it all, and were too scared of getting caught if we dumped the whole plate. We used to draw with crayons under the coffee table in the living room, playing tic tac toe, but it wasn’t discovered until years later, when she got a new table.

Grandma liked opera music. She used to sit in her car for a while, just to listen to it. She used to make the best lemonade I’ve ever had, and she also made really good spaghetti and meatballs. She used to drive me crazy when I was younger because she would never. stop. talking. Even when I was trying to do my homework. She used to to say she loved me, and that she thought I always sounded so sweet on the phone.

When I was still figuring out my career, she said she thought I would make a good school teacher. It’s kind of funny. A part of me regrets not being certified to teach, even though I don’t want to teach k-12. I have an interest in teaching at the college level, though, and I’m pursuing my master’s degree in social work. I may still end up working in a school after all.

She always liked when we would go to her son Frankie’s house for Thanksgiving because he lived in a nice house out east. There was a lot of peace, quiet, and nature, so she liked to spend some time outside to look at the trees.

I always liked writing and art classes. My cousin liked playing basketball and dancing. I don’t have siblings, but I was always at their house, so we basically grew up together.

In a lot of ways, I’m still the same person. I still write poetry and make art. I still sing and love expressing myself. I’m still patient and want to help people. But I’m also more confident, at least I’m trying to be.

I had a good childhood because of my family. I always had people there to help me, and to take care of me. I know that I’m blessed with a lot of love. My journey has been shaped by everything I had when I was younger, all of the things I didn’t have to work for.

Now that I’m older, the future can feel really uncertain. It feels like I have to figure everything out on my own. I still have my family, of course. But I feel like I’m always worrying, always feeling like I’m not doing enough. When I was in school, succeeding there was enough. I’m hoping I’ll be able to find that kind of focus again in grad school.

I’m turning 25 in one month, and I find myself feeling like a failure again and again, because I want to succeed in everything all at once. I feel like I’m being pulled in so many different directions. I look to the future and feel uncertain. I look to the past, and I feel regrets. But I also feel blessed, and loved. The good moments of the past will always belong to me. They are treasures I can carry on my journey. I am blessed, and I can’t see the future, but I’ll be fine.

Things I’ve Accomplished In My Twenties (so far)

twenties 1

To speak like an elementary school kid, I am 24 and a half. It’s easy to look back on this decade in my life and feel like I’ve gotten literally NOTHING done. I’m “between” jobs, I’m single, don’t have my own apartment, and I don’t drive. It’s easy to feel like I’m not getting anything I want done, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t accomplished anything in the last four and half years, right? Of course not! Here are ten things I’ve accomplished in my twenties (so far):

I Graduated From College: This is probably the first big thing that comes to mind. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in English just a few days before my 22nd birthday. I completed it in four years, which not everyone does, so I guess that’s pretty awesome?? I graduated with honors, cum laude, and all that fancy stuff. And I made friends I still chat with today!

I Made Friends: Ya know, I spent a huge, and I mean huge chunk of my life believing that I was bad at making friends. Starting in elementary school I had bullies, in fifth grade I moved to a different school district (you know what THAT does for a kid’s social life), and it wasn’t until middle school that I started having “best friends.” In high school I had a few best friends, and then in college I had even more.

I have one or two friends I’ve kept in touch with from high school. And about four or five I still keep in touch with from college, so you can see how things improved! And it only took like a quarter of a century! Seriously, I hadn’t thought about making friends as an accomplishment until this moment, but it is one, isn’t it? You’re lucky if you can find good, kind friends. But it’s also something that requires effort and good habits to keep in touch.

I Embraced My Sexuality: This is a multi-faceted, complex one, the main part being that I embraced being bi/pansexual with a preference for women. I still have some anxiety here and there, but ultimately I feel really good about who I am, and I couldn’t be prouder to be queer. Learning and connecting more with the LGBTQ community has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

But there’s more to sexuality than my orientation, so it’s kind of like I’m working on phase two of my sexuality confidence. For me, this means learning to feel more comfortable in my body, and feeling sexy, beautiful and confident by own standards, not by society’s. It means conforming sometimes to my culture’s standard of beauty for women (i.e- shaving my legs), while also needing to love my body for everything it is in its natural state.

This is a big thing to work on, and honestly, it’s a no wonder it feels so daunting. The U.S has to be one of the most sex negative countries in the world. Especially if you’re a women, it can be hard to unlearn all of the toxic things we internalize. Like needing to be “pure,” waiting until marriage, slut shaming, etc.

Sooo this is a work in progress for me. Maybe I need to watch more French films. The French are cool with sex, right?

I Wrote Things: One thing I’ve definitely focused on since I graduated from college is writing. I self published six poetry books and a book of short stories, and gave a book to one of my favorite bands. I wrote articles for a magazine in Manhattan, did freelance work for a marketing agency (short-lived and under paid, but it still happened!), I started (and maintained) this blog, submitted poems, articles, and stories while facing rejection, persevering with my work like a BOSS, and I worked on bunch of other projects that only my eyes have seen.

I’ve also seen how my words have been able to move, comfort, and inspire people, whether it’s in my poetry books, or something I post on the internet. It’s confirmed that words have power, and that this is one of my gifts in this life. I’ve learned that it’s hard, I mean really hard to make money as a writer, but I’ve also learned how satisfying it is for me to take a DIY approach to this craft, and other artsy things as well. It’s a huge part of my life, and it’s one of the best things to come out of my twenties.

I Went To Vegas: It was rad. First time on the West Coast ❤

I Voted For A Woman For President: Okay, we all know how this one turned out. But still, I got to vote for a woman! How cool is that?!

I Applied To Grad School: Applying to grad school is something I considered doing for a long time. I thought about applying for something related to my current degree, like English or creative writing, but it didn’t create more job opportunities like I wanted, and needed. Eventually I decided to apply for a master’s degree in social work, and if I get accepted, I’ll be starting school next fall. Fingers crossed!

I Went To Concerts: I’ve gotten to see a few awesome artists in concert. Demi Lovato (got a photo with her, too! Thanks to my cousin), Miley Cyrus, Tegan and Sara, Kesha, DNCE, Kristen Chenoweth, Christina Perri, Kiesza, and Little Mix. Here’s to many more!

I Learned How To Navigate The NYC Subway: For reasons I can’t explain, I had this weird thing where I associated being an adult with being able to navigate the NYC subway system. I guess I felt like, if I can learn my way around Manhattan, I can learn my way around anywhere. Hit me up if you need directions to the Financial District.

I Celebrated Samhain: I didn’t do much, just made some art and had my own little dinner. I’ve been learning more about witchcraft, paganism, and other forms of spirituality. I’ve been meditating with crystals, and following different thought leaders like Mastin Kipp, Gabby Bernstein, Oprah, Tony Robbins, and the Dalai Lama.

This is a super important path for me, because I’m pursuing my spirituality on my own terms without worrying about anyone else’s dogma or approval. I’m finding my own path, and I’d say that’s important for any twenty-something.

So there it is, ten things I’ve accomplished in my twenties (so far). I’m four and half years into this decade, and I truly hope more good things are to come. I may not have everything I want, but I’m on my own journey and moving forward at my own pace. Your accomplishments are treasures. I hope you collect many on your own travels.

-Ashley