10 lessons I’ve learned in 27 years

In May, I rang in my 27th birthday with two of my closest friends at a fancy cocktail speakeasy in the heart of Philly. My last visit to the particular establishment was more than five years ago, and it’s hard to believe how much life has changed since then. Heck, I hardly even recall my life from a year ago at this point.

While enjoying my classy punch, I also caught myself Googling, “Is 27 mid or late twenties?” Hint: It’s late. Unlike my typical bedtime. Staying out past midnight to ring in a birthday is hard work, guys!

Rather than cliché delve into how our twenties shape the rest of our lives, I’d like to share some of the most important lessons I’ve learned thus far in this post. And a listicle seemed like the most concise way to achieve that! So let’s begin.

1. Travel is everything.

I don’t mean it’s necessary to book a flight to Australia or Mongolia right this instant to get the most out of life. Instead, I believe it’s key to view the world through an explorer’s eye. We don’t have infinite time here, and even “home” can be a lesson in adventure. Ever since I returned from living overseas, I haven’t had much money or resources, so most of my travel has consisted of day trips or quick, cheap overnight outings to nearby cities. There’s so much to discover, no matter your current setting.

2. Music and veg = free therapy.

Sitting with crossed legs and headphones in listening to emo rock circa 2006 is my form of meditation. It’s the way I calm myself and how I think and process things the best. Netflix and Chill has nothing on Music and Veg, if you ask me! I’ve gotten myself through plenty of hard times via music therapy.

3. Friends don’t always stick around.

This has been, singlehandedly, the one fact I’ve struggled with the most. People leave and friendships change or end. I’ve lost touch with most people from high school and college and my friend group has slimmed down substantially. But that’s also generally normal. People spread out and do their own things. It’s just how life goes. But it doesn’t make it suck any less.

4. Credit cards can be dangerous. 

No one’s financial situation is anyone else’s business, unless they’re directly impacted by that person’s reckless fiscal habits. One thing I’ve learned about having a credit card is that a mountain of debt can easily creep up if you’re not super careful. Paying the whole balance off each month is ideal but not always a perfect system, especially when unexpected needs come up (as they do). But I try to at least make it a point to regularly sign in to my account, check the balance, and attempt to avoid unnecessary charges.

5. Situations are temporary.

The whole of my twenties thus far can be summed up in one word: Move. I’ve shifted from a tiny attic apartment, to a pretty-on-the-surface dump of a place, to a gorgeous new apartment in the city with a roof and balcony, to a tiny hot-as-all-hell attic, to a tiny room in another country, to a tiny room in a tiny town. One thing I’ve learned is that life moves on, and I move with it — quite literally. I may not be too happy living in a tiny town right now, but by next year I may be back in an attic. Or in a different country. And that’s the adventure!

6. Religion is personal.

I grew up in an uber-religious environment. Church every Sunday…and sometimes Sunday night and Wednesdays. Vacation Bible School. Fundamental Christian secondary schools. It took many years to start forming my own beliefs. It’s still sometimes hard being the black sheep — the one people pray will one day repent and jump back into God’s arms — but I’m happy having my own personal thoughts that I no longer push on other people.

7. Job hops and gaps aren’t the end of the world.

To be fair, I’m still teaching myself this point. But it’s true: You are not defined by your job — no matter how often society says otherwise. I’ve now had two stints of generally being unemployed long-term, but that doesn’t make me a lesser person. It just means I haven’t found the right, lasting fit for me.

8. Water is really, really great.

No, seriously. I drink a ridiculous amount of water each day. I think it’s so underrated! I also love to add the green and Vitamin C mixes to my bottle to ensure I’m getting the nutrients I need to stay functional, healthy, and energetic. It’s definitely an ongoing lesson to drink enough daily to thrive.

9. It’s okay to be angry, hurt, or upset.

I’ve heard that we’re never given more on our plates than we can handle. In many cases, I guess that means I can handle a load of crap circumstances. I used to think the secret to life was being happy 24/7, but obviously that’s not realistic. I now realize it’s okay to tune into emotions of sadness and anger when handled in a healthy way. That doesn’t mean I’m a lesser person.

10. Timelines generally don’t exist.

I’m pretty sure this fact is required to be on any and all “things you know by a certain age” listicle. I thought I’d be married and starting a family by 24 when I was 14. Three years past that deadline, I’m still doing my own thing, on my own terms. And that’s okay. Now that I’m 27, I can’t even imagine taking care of my own mini-me right now. I’m terrible at letting go, but that’s when the most magical moments happen.