The other day I had an interview for a volunteer position at UCLA and arrived a few minutes early. While waiting in the lobby, I ended up striking small talk with the girl next to me. We introduced ourselves and talked about why we were interested in the volunteer position. Then, mid-conversation, she abruptly asks me: “So, like, how old are you?” I let her know I was 25 and she responded “Oooh, yeah, I thought you looked old.” I was a bit taken aback by her blunt remark but then I took a moment to realize that she was probably 20 or 21 and at that age, 25 does seem a lot older. What a wake up call. They say age is nothing but a number but it really isn’t. It signifies so much about who you are, what you should be doing, and what you should have accomplished by now.
25 is an awkward age. You’re definitely not a child anymore but you’re still not an adult. You’re waking up every day with one goal and that goal is to survive and get through the damn day. You’ve been out of college for 2-3 years now and hopefully started some sort of career. And your peers? You’ve never seen a more confused group of people. Some of your friends are CEOs at their own start-up while others are still bumming it off of their parents. A few are knee-high in debt from going back to film school while others are getting hitched and having babies.
I find it hard to gage my own progress in comparison to my peers. Am I doing OK by society’s standards or am I a disgrace to my parents? How much should I be making? What should I be doing? And most importantly, why do I care? I could just live off the grid and run naked into the wild, gathering nuts and berries whilst singing Kumbaya My Lord. LOL. Problem is I don’t want to live off the grid and I do care about what other’s think and you probably do too. It’s our animal instinct kicking in, telling us, “I need to survive and I can only do so by getting ahead!” So, in an effort to analyze my 25 year old self, I decided to create a list of 25 things I’ve learned from my 25 years of being alive in this dog-eat-dog world.
- YOU NEED YOUR OWN ROOM
This one seems like a no brainer but with rent as high as it is in Los Angeles, we’re forced to get creative with our living situations. Stick someone in the living room to knock off a couple hundred or lease your parking spot to off-set the cost of utilities or stick four men into a 2 bed 1 bath apt… My friends never cease to amaze me in their creative and insane living situations. I had my best friend live in my living room for a year and I quickly realized that my sanity was more important than the money. Home is the only place where I can be myself: completely naked while eating ice cream in bed binge watching episodes of Shark Tank. To sacrifice the one place where I could do that drove me insane. If you don’t have the money, consider moving somewhere cheaper or picking up a weekend job.
2. EXERCISE OFTEN
At least 3 times a week! I’ve never regretted working out and I know this one’s obvious but it’s important! No matter what line of work you’re in, it’ll only help your cause if you look fit and healthy. It shows that you can take care of yourself past brushing your hair and it helps your brand as a whole.
3. EAT HEALTHY
This goes hand-in-hand with exercising often. I used to not give a shit about what I ate but I’ve found the older I get, the more food impacts how I feel. If I have a burger at lunch, I’ll K.O. by 2 or 3 PM and my performance at work declines. Eating healthy helps me feel better and it also increases my productivity.
4. NURTURE YOUR BODY
Once you move out of your parents house, no one will care whether you’ve brushed your teeth or not. As full grown adults, we need to be completely responsible for our own up-keep and maintenance but this proves to be a lot harder than it sounds. When was the last time you got a check up or had your teeth cleaned? Regularly visiting your doctor and dentist, taking vitamins, going to bed before 1 AM, drinking tea, stretching, eating 3 meals a day, taking care of your skin, brushing and flossing, not OD’ing on drugs (jk), and the list goes on and on. Consider the amount of maintenance and cleaning that goes into your car and multiply that by a thousand. That’s how much work you should be putting into your body because we’ve only got one and unfortunately it’s a depreciating asset.
5. BE KIND TO OTHERS
How sad that I’ve only just learned to be kind to others at 25? And I still find it to be a constant struggle everyday. I get annoyed with slow restaurant service, I get annoyed with retard drivers, I get annoyed with inadequate CVS cashiers, I get annoyed with people who hog LA Fitness machines, and the list goes on and on. I need to remind myself that everyone is human and trying to get through another day. How I treat others is a reflection of myself and becomes a part of my personality and identity.
6. MAKE MONEY
I’ve quickly discovered that the only thing I need in order to survive in LA is money. I need to be capable of making money and preferably lots of it. This means not only hustling harder but hustling smarter. I need to constantly improve and upgrade my skills in order to increase my value in this ever changing, fast-paced, dog eat dog, I-don’t-care-if-you-die society. The amount of money you make is a measurement of your significance and impact to society. Increase your importance to society and you increase your earnings.
7. SAVE MONEY
Making money doesn’t mean sh*t if you have nothing to show for it. The minute I receive a paycheck, I race to find stupid ways to spend it all. Rather than spend all my hard earned cash, I should put a little bit away and watch it grow. Maybe even invest in something?
8. BUY NICE THINGS
It’s important to save but don’t be a scrooge. Buy one or two nice things a month for yourself that are investment pieces and high quality. Whether it be a nice pair of leather boots or a new laptop, make sure it adds some sort of value to your life. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself throwing it away in a year wondering why you bough it in the first place.
9. TRUE LOVE IS REAL
I’m a firm believer that there is someone for everyone in this world. Maybe not in the traditional sense but you can still find true love somewhere somehow: in your relationship with a friend, your relationship with your mother, and even possibly with an abandoned dog. I know it sounds ridiculous but once you find true love, you’ll never want to let go. You’ll do anything in your power to protect that love and it’ll be the best feeling in the world. So if you haven’t found it already, sit tight. It’ll come and when it does, you’ll be on top of the world.
10. GO WHERE YOUR HEART TAKES YOU
I moved back home to AZ after living in Los Angeles for college. It was easily the worst year of my life for multiple reasons and I accredit a lot of my misery to just being in Arizona. I missed LA and all of my friends. I was unhappy and it didn’t make sense for me to stay so I decided to move back even though it wasn’t the smartest financial decision at the time. Looking back, it was probably the best decision I’ve made in my life and I’ve learned that people really can and do rise to the occasion. We somehow miraculously find ways to get through difficult situations and I’ve learned it’s better to rough it out than to stay in comfort. Push yourself, do something you’ve always wanted to, go where your heart takes you even if it might not be easy… in the end, you’ll be a lot happier and learn a lot more.
11. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH GOOD PEOPLE
Life’s too short to be friends with assholes. Cross these people off of your list and find good, down-to-earth people to surround yourself with. You’ll feel a lot better and realize who your true friends are.
12. TRAVEL WHENEVER YOU CAN
Even if it’s just to Joshua Tree on the weekend. You’ll be tired but you’ll learn a lot more than just chilling in bed watching Netflix all weekend. I think travel is probably the easiest way to learn because it’s exciting and you don’t have to read a book. It offers you new perspectives, new experiences, and maybe even new friends. It’s 2017. If you’ve always wanted to go somewhere, just do it! And do it now before you actually have any real responsibilities like taking care of a little human.