25 Lessons I Learned By 25

It seems that every Internet writer over the age of 25 has his or her own list of attained wisdom. Having recently turned a quarter of a century old myself, and coming off of a cross-country move from San Francisco to Boston, I thought I would add my own to the mix.

1. Job hunting really is all about who you know. Start building your professional network as soon as possible. Internship coordinators, career counselors, professors -- these people can all help you when you're trying to land job interviews.

2. On a similar note, don't be discouraged by a job hunt. I agree wholeheartedly that it is a truly soul-crushing experience, but don't admit defeat. My boyfriend often reminded me of the Smiths song "These Things Take Time" during my most recent job search. Turns out, both he and Morrissey were right.

3. Always have a side gig. Even if you are lucky enough to find a job in today's economy, you never know when you might be laid off. It's important to have something else going on behind the scenes. Your side gig doesn't have to pay the bills, but anything that helps you gain experience is a plus.

4. Change usually only occurs when you initiate it. If you aren't happy, it's time to reevaluate. Even if a situation is comfortable, make sure it doesn't become stagnant.

5. Invest in a "grown up" wardrobe. Until recently, I worked in offices that were cool with me dressing like a student. Now that I need a professional wardrobe, I am in desperate need of a shopping trip. I plan to keep it in line with my mod aesthetic, of course!

6. Learn how to manage your finances. You don't need a diversified stock portfolio; simply learn how to oversee a monthly budget.

7. Luna Lovegood was right: the things we lose do have a way of coming back to us. Additionally, it is a small world after all. Try not to burn any bridges, either in your professional and personal lives. This is easier said than done, but you never know when someone may turn up again.

8. Shared experience is not the sole basis of friendship. There's a very real possibility that by the time you reach 25, you will no longer have anything in common with friends from your teenage years -- and that's OK.

9. Friendship is a two-way street. To have a friend, you have to be a friend. There are countless clichés about friendship, but I have found them to be true. If you don't make time for someone, they will stop putting in the effort. Conversely, if a friend lets texts and emails go unanswered without good reason, it's probably time for you to move on.

10. There is no need to conform to others' opinions of what you should be doing. Got an especially critical friend? You don't have to tolerate this person's constant fault-finding. Surround yourself with positive influences, not ones that will always leave you second-guessing.

11. Staying in can be just as much fun as going out. Socializing is great, but in today's fast-paced society, too many of us forget to simply take time for ourselves.

12. Mama Kravitz always says, "Thank god you can pick your friends because you can't pick your family." Anyone who claims to have the perfect family is a liar. Embrace your supportive relatives, but know that it's OK to distance yourself from the ones that cause you grief.

13. Value the time spent with your parents and grandparents. Encourage them to talk about their younger days. They won't be around to tell you these stories forever. It's so easy to forget that before they were our elders, they were young adults, too! The best relationship advice I ever received came courtesy of my 92-year-old grandmother: "Don't argue."

14. Parents don't always have the right answers. I respect my parents' opinions and value their wisdom but ultimately, I know that the world was a different place when they were my age. I still turn to my business-savvy dad for financial advice but regarding my career, I trust my own judgment.

15. You will make some unpopular decisions. These decisions may even cost you friendships. But know that the people who truly care will stand by you even if they think you're temporarily being an idiot.

16. Having said the above, don't make major decisions lightly. You aren't always the sole person affected.

17. Traveling alone can be intimidating but it really teaches you what you're made of.

18. Living far away from home is both rewarding and scary. You will gain an incredible amount of independence, but also realize that you took your old support network for granted.

19. This is another pearl of wisdom from Mama Kravitz: "Pay yourself first." I'm still working towards financial stability, but now that I'm not spending an exorbitant amount on rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, I can afford to take a tiny amount out of each paycheck and put it straight into a savings account. It's not much, but hopefully in a few years, I will have amassed something solid.

20. Foster your creativity. Most of us aren't lucky enough to make our passions our day jobs, so it's important to cultivate this enthusiasm elsewhere.

21. BACK UP YOUR COMPUTER. I cannot stress this enough. My external hard drive and laptop hard drive both died within months of each other back when I was about 20 and to this day, I am still sick about my lost writings. With today's cloud technology, there's no excuse. Even if you're not a writer, backing up priceless photos is essential.

22. Love will make a fool out of you. Learn from your mistakes and move on.

23. When it comes to relationships, honesty really is the best policy. You have to speak up for yourself because your partner isn't a mind reader. If your partner isn't open to your thoughts and feelings, then this person probably isn't for you.

24. Don't drive yourself crazy trying to impress other people. Chances are they could really care less. Comparing yourself to others is futile.

25. Most importantly, you don't have to have it all figured out by 25. I've struggled with this realization a lot. I always believed that by 25, I would be on the ideal career path and financially stable. Unfortunately, I am still trying to attain both financial stability and a job in my field. I've got my goals in mind and all I can do is keep working towards them.

Kayley Kravitz is currently navigating her twenties in Boston. Learn more at her website.


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