I feel that 25 is the first of those big numbers that make you question the meaning of life and purpose of existence. What am I doing with my life? Where is this going? I can't believe I have to start working out to stay in shape! Slow down! Time flies! Poop.
For better or for worse, I turned 25 at 3:46 a.m today. And instead of asking myself these questions that I won't have the answers to anyway, I decided to list 25 things I learned in these 25 years of my life. Warning: this one's going to be long.
At the risk of sounding too preachy and boring you out of your skulls, I'm going to go on a rant here. I feel we should self-reflect every once in a while and a 25th birthday seems like a good time to do it. Moreover, isn't this how you grow as a person? I don't know how useful any of the ramblings below are going to be to you, but there has to be something to show for all those years of attending Chemistry tuition only to score a 56% for my board exams right? So here goes:
Parents fuck up sometimes. They'll fight with each other, say mean things to one another in your presence, say mean things to you sometimes and they might even give your younger brother an extra piece of chicken for lunch. That's okay. It happens in almost every home. They still love you a lot and you're still their number 1 priority most of the time, so move on.
Teachers are not always right. Some of them are mean, some are bitter, and some are just plain delusional. One of my teachers from school told me to my face that I would never make anything of myself because I didn't go into science. Well, shit.
You're lucky if innocent unbiased friendships from your kindergarten last into adolescence. Mine didn't because we kept moving every three years but when I look back at my childhood and think of some of my very first friends, I wish they'd been a part of my life growing up.
When your body is slowly developing in your teenage years, you'll never be perfect in the eyes of others. You're going to be either too tall, short, thin, or fat. You'll either have too many break-outs on your skin or you'll get accused of doing "something" (read: make-up) to hide your blemishes. If you have even one tiny thing that separates you from the "norm", people will constantly point that out. And that's okay. It's just because they're also victims of low self esteem like yourself, so this is more of a coping mechanism for them.
Sleep while you can. There will come a time when "adulting" might require you to sacrifice sleep. So burning the midnight oil to study for an exam is one of the most pointless things you can do. My mother used to wake me up every morning at 3 a.m to study for my 12th standard board exams. I just slept with my head rested on the textbook and my life didn't end because of that.
Time management is a life saver. Burning the midnight oil to study for an exam becomes unnecessary if you have a healthy routine and you stick to it. So yeah, reading up a few weeks before the exam is exactly what I'm talking about.
Exams do not suck. Exam time does not suck. In fact, I used to LOVE exam season. It used to be the most productive time of my life. It was when I got most sleep and got shit done. I stuck to a routine and the best part was, people left me alone because they probably assumed that disturbing me during my exam preparation could result in death. Whose death, I'm still not certain.
Results, ranks, marks, and grades mean NOTHING. Literally, nothing. I scored 56% in Chemistry during my 12th boards. My life honestly doesn't suck because of it except when The Husband easily gets what's going on in Breaking Bad and I don't. I got one of the highest CGPAs in the college during my degree. I don't even remember how much it was but no, that's not what landed me a job anywhere.
Failure is overrated. Taking it seriously is the dumbest thing you can do. I started pathetically failing at science tests in school from the age of 14. My applications got rejected from multiple universities on the basis of the silliest things like "you clicked on OBC when you belong to the creamy layer". And some other university entrance exams, I just failed because I didn't make the cut. Hell, the first episode of the podcast had to be recorded 6 fucking times before we finally got it right. And each recording took at least 2 hours. Thank God I didn't sit in a corner moaning about how much I sucketh.
Try not to force things. If you realise that something isn't for you, then maybe try to let it go and move on. I could never pay attention in any science class and honestly, I didn't put in a lot of effort to improve that and that saved me a whole lot of trouble (and time). My first boyfriend and I were constantly fighting because we were immature kids with too many expectations from each other. I held on to that relationship and in turn, lost a bunch of time that could have been dedicated to just being happy.
Sometimes people will treat you like shit in order to feel good about themselves. It's an old trick that very few learn about and unfortunately, I learned the hard way. You see, when someone breaks your self esteem with back handed compliments or even upfront mistreatment, we silly humans tend to fall to the ground and worship the asshole. Don't fall for that.
Move on. From people, I mean. Everyone's not for you. Most people are not for you. At the end of the day, you'll be left with a select few so try to identify and cherish them. As for the others, just move on.
You're no one to forgive anyone. If someone does you wrong, just refer to point 12 above. Move on. Sending them "compassion", "love", "pity" or even "forgiveness" doesn't benefit you in any way because it just means that you're still thinking about them. Which in turn means that they're still walking all over your mind with their dirty feet. The best way to move on is by making a farting noise with your mouth (or your bum if you're traditional) and actually moving on by erasing them from your mind.
People sense self respect the way dogs sense fear. If you truly love and respect yourself, chances are that people won't mess with you. And even if they do, your love for yourself won't let them get away with it. Protect yourself the way you'd protect your child, or parent, or sibling, or spouse. Thinking of yourself the way you think of the people you love the most in this world puts things into perspective.
Call people out. My biggest mistake was that I stayed quiet and took shit for a majority of my life. I've learned that calling people out for the rubbish they keep throwing at you actually makes them afraid of crossing you again.
That said, don't go looking for a fight. During my phase of discovering this voice that was capable of telling it as it is, I made the mistake of picking some battles that weren't worth it. You never need to go start something. But if someone acts funny with you, you stand up to them and shut them up.
Call even your loved ones out. If someone you truly love and care for is saying or doing something that doesn't align with your values, never hold back from telling them how you feel. It's only for the future of your relationship with that person.
Never talk about your loved ones behind their backs because only shitty people do that. While the aim is to try to never talk behind anyone's back, try to at least stick to the realistic goal of respecting the people you love.
Money is very important. All those people who tell you that they don't want money in life are either liars or just plain stupid. All your happiness will not come from having money, but at least some of it will. Financial trouble puts a lot of strain on personal relationships and let's face it, buying that fancy treat for yourself does bring you joy.
You're not a precious little snowflake. Nobody is constantly thinking about you. Simply put, everyone's too selfish to care about what you do with your life. So if you're avoiding the things you want to do because you're worried what your aunt who hasn't seen you in two years is going to say to some relative you can't even remember at a family function you don't even care about, think again.
Travelling helps you grow so travel as often as you can. I don't mean that you need to sell your house to buy a plane ticket to Europe. I mean that you need to put your shoes on and discover a hidden street in your neighbourhood. I mean that you need to get on a bus and visit the neighbouring district. You need to try the food in a different place. You need to communicate with someone who doesn't follow your language. Just for the heck of it.
You always have something to spare. People put off giving back to society because they think they don't have enough. But you always have enough to give. Something, anything. You don't have to be a millionaire to finally have something to spare. Speaking of, every "coffee" you buy me goes into building an orphanage for 12 children in Kenya. So if you feel like giving me a birthday present this year, I would like to humbly request you to help us build that orphanage:
Even if you can't be there for someone in their happiness, try to always be present in times of sorrow. This one's actually a piece of advice my mom shared with me the other day. And honestly, I can never forget the people who stood by me during trying times. I will always remember those who heard me out on a bad day. People need you the most when they're vulnerable so try to be there for them.
Your happiness is pretty much in your hands. Pain is pain but how you react to pain is all on you. So try to jump back up on your feet and crack a fart-joke as often as you can. Smile, laugh and be happy.
Finally for the love of God, buy that dress. Or shoe, or phone, or frying pan. Because nothing haunts you more than the ghosts of things you never bought.