25 Lessons for 25 Years

I just celebrated my 25th birthday on September 10 (Virgo queens, where you at?!) and had been meaning to finish this blog before I cranked out my first CDMX post (and even the second!) But alas, my creative brain had other plans!

I decided the best way to celebrate my 25th birthday with my lovely blogging community would obviously be with a blog! So, without further ado, here are 25 lessons I’ve learned in the last 25 years which have proven to be more than life-changing. Also note, these are in no particular order, but just how they came to mind during the thought process.

  1. Your health is so important, don’t put it on the back burner!
    • The majority of my major health scares and emergency room visits have evolved from an underlying health concern that I simply thought I’d get over. Y’all, go to the freaking doctor! Do not be scared to ask questions! And when you aren’t comfortable with the answers you get, ask more questions. Eat right, drink lots of water, and exercise regularly. Your body will thank you for it!
  2. You create your own happiness.
    • Don’t ever settle when it comes to your own emotions. Do not allow others to dictate your happiness. You deserve all the happiness this world has to offer and no one can take that away from you unless you allow them to. Don’t ever for a second think you aren’t worth every bit of sunshine. Some days will be cloudy, but the sun will always break through again.
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  3. You don’t have to drastically change your hair when you want attention.
    • I wish I could tell 15-17 year old me that changing my hair for attention would do nothing but damage my hair for years & be the star for embarrassing photos which I’m afraid to look back at now. I was already awkward, chubby, and then adding bad hair into the mix. Tragic. It took many awful hair decisions to realize that my hair was perfect in its brunette greatness and just needed to be styled better. It sure as hell didn’t need bleach, blonde, or jet black dye to make it any better. Plus, it did nothing for my self esteem to have bad haircuts! From pixie cuts, chunky highlights, and heavy bangs, my poor hair saw it all. I’d never do it again. (See number 18 for more!)
  4. Don’t stay in a toxic relationship with hopes that they’ll change. They won’t.
    • I stuck by a person who gave me validation and made me feel loved for far longer than I should have. I let this person tear down my self worth and treat me like shit because I thought I’d never find someone who could actually love me. So I stuck by this person because I thought that’s what love was. I was young, stupid and naïve, and I didn’t realize it at the time that it was toxic until I actually started to get hurt. While I’ve since learned to channel the hurt and betrayal into motivation, it wasn’t that easy back then. It took me hurting to realize that it was not healthy and he was never going to change. If you don’t feel comfortable, leave. If you are hurting, leave. Your safety and health are worth so much more than false feelings of validation.
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      Photo by burak kostak on Pexels.com

  5. Speak up for yourself
    • There will always be someone in your life who believes they can speak for you and make decisions on your behalf. Sometimes, maybe you want that. But it doesn’t always have to be that way. If something isn’t right or you aren’t comfortable, don’t be afraid to speak up and let your voice be heard. Likewise, speaking up for yourself might just open doors to new opportunities you may not have had if you’d just stayed quiet.
  6. Don’t be afraid to talk in front of others.
    • I used to be so terrified of speaking in front of people. My voice would shake and I’d be a nervous, fidgeting mess. Luckily, I conquered that fear and love to be vocal and social at large (or small) gatherings. Speaking in front of people allowed me to reach out more, create new connections, and network with people I would have never thought could help build me up as both a woman and as a professional. Learning to build yourself as a public speaker can benefit you both in your career and as a person. It allows you to be more personable and compassionate to others. It’s a skill I am forever grateful for.
  7. Make eye contact & shake hands firmly
    • This was another skill, like the one above, that took me a long while to learn. I learned quickly that being professional means shaking lots (and lots) of hands. It is so important to shake hands firmly and make eye contact in the process. Firm handshakes show confidence, while a lack of firmness can show a lack of self-confidence and weakness. Maintaining eye contact while addressing someone is the best way to show that you are interested in what they are saying and it allows you to be taken much more seriously.
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      Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

  8. Everyone is fighting battles, so be kind…
    • You never really know what someone is going through, no matter how well you think you may know them and their circumstances. Because of that, it’s always a good practice to be kind to others. You’d want to be treated the same way, as we are all fighting battles that many may not know anything about.
  9. … but don’t let others walk all over you.
    • It is one thing to be kind and respectful to others, but it’s a whole other mess to become submissive to those who only work to belittle us. Do not ever for a second think that you have to let others walk all over you in hopes that it’ll pay off. It doesn’t pay off, and only hurts you more in the end. Always stand up for yourself and don’t allow others to step on you for their own selfish gain.
  10. Talk less, listen more.
    • I’ve always been the shoulder to cry on for my friends. I have heard hours on hours of venting, pleading, and crying from various people, and often times, I found myself putting myself in their shoes, trying to relate. Instead, I should have just been actively listening rather than plugging myself into their situations. I’ve learned now that it is possible to be empathetic without stepping on anyone’s toes or making them feel less worthy. It’s so easy to say, “I know how you feel,” or “I’ve been through that, too,” but it’s better if you don’t.
  11. Love yourself more than you love anyone else.
    • This one I cannot stress enough. You will never know how to truly love anyone else in this world if you don’t have that same love for yourself. Self-love is so important! I have always been that friend who others come to for advice or guidance, and I have always been ready to give all my love and compassion to them, but for the longest time, I could not show myself that same love. It’s been a journey learning to love myself, but it’s the best thing I could have ever done for myself.
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  12. It’s only failure if you don’t learn from it. Otherwise, it’s a life lesson.
    • Life is full of disappointments, it always will be. But that doesn’t mean you can’t turn around and make those failures into lessons. Dwelling on the negative will in turn have a negative impact on you. Always try to see things in a different perspective. Allow yourself to grow from your downfalls. You will make mistakes. Take from them, learn from them, but never dwell on them.
  13. Financial literacy is EXTREMELY important.
    • College me was STUPID. She maxed out a credit card, spent refund money on stupid stuff she didn’t need, and definitely didn’t get financially responsible soon enough. I wish I could say that I wasn’t one of those students who’s now drowning in debt, but alas, I am. It’s so important to set up (and not touch) a savings account early in your life, as well as a good checking account that you can have a direct deposit set up with. Learn about money-saving techniques and if possible, look into the long-term benefits of saving. If your job offers retirement, definitely educate yourself on how to get started and what the plan has to offer. You will not regret getting educated & it will definitely save you the headache later on in life!
    • money pink coins pig

      Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

  14. Your life is not on a set timeline. Go with the flow.
    •  I used to think that I was gonna go to college, graduate with my Agricultural Business degree, find love, be married and starting a family by the time I was 25. It was a picture I painted as a fantastical teenager. When I got into my early 20’s, I realized that was not the plan God had for me. I fell in love with my best friend, dropped out of college, and am now working in a local government office. And I am not complaining one bit. I don’t, for one second, regret that my life didn’t pan out the way I dreamt it as a child. I’ve grown to understand that there are many forks in the road in adulthood, and it is only just beginning for me. Falling in love with my best friend and being back in our hometown has been a blessing to me. To be able to live life at a comfortable pace has helped me grow as a person and learn to just take life one day at a time. That’s all we can do, after all!
  15. Communication is key, no matter the situation.
    • So many, and I mean SO MANY of the arguments I’ve had in my life could have been avoided by communicating with the opposite party. Don’t just assume people know what you are thinking. They are not psychics. Talk to people. Grow up and don’t act so bitter when you have to express yourself. Some people truly cannot read your non-verbal cues, or you may not actually have any. You have to communicate with others in order to ensure understanding between parties. Whether it is in your relationship, your family life or even your workplace, communication can help to alleviate some major conflicts and prevent them from boiling up to begin with.
  16. Having a lot of friends does not equate happiness, popularity, etc.
    •  When I was in high school, I was always surrounded with people. I consider myself to have been a pretty social butterfly. I was prom queen, student body president, Nation Honor Society president, class historian, auxiliary percussion captain, and in many other organizations that required me to be social with many different people. I didn’t fit in with just one group of people, and instead, I tried desperately to fit in with them all. I was so busy trying to befriend everyone, I didn’t realize that these people were not really my friends and that I trusted too easily. This flaw in my judgment caused me a lot of agony and hurt me many, many times. It wasn’t until I hit rock bottom that I realized that I didn’t actually have as many friends as I thought. And in trying to find myself, I had actually burned bridges with people who actually cared. Luckily, I’ve spent the last year or so rebuilding those bridges and learning to trust again. I’m finding and surrounding myself with people who have my better interests. But most of all, I’m learning that it is the quality, not the quantity, that truly matters at the end of the day.
  17. True love will always find a way.
    • I tell this story a lot and I know my boyfriend has to be sick of it by now. But me? No, I love to tell this story. It makes my heart warm to tell the story of how we met. One of my closest friends in elementary school, JC had a best friend named Mark. They both had this friend named Joe. We were all in band together JC and Mark played tuba, Joe played saxophone, and I played flute. I remember Mark introducing me to Jose in a hallway during that first week of 6th grade in 2005. I thought he was cute and funny. And he sat behind me in band. How convenient! We ended up becoming really great friends, and of course, teenaged me started to develop an innocent crush. Fast forward to Valentine’s Day in 7th grade. I decided to be bold and buy this guy a teddy bear and wrote a little note asking him to be my boyfriend. He told me no. I was crushed, but we remained friends. And so time went on, high school came and went and then we ended up at the same university. Mark, Joe (whose nickname is now Tiny) and I were inseparable in college (spoiler, we still are now) and pretty much did everything together. After some situations arose and we eventually all made our ways back home, I had spent a lot of time with Tiny between campaigning for my brother and just after work lunches and stuff. I was enjoying having my friend to spend time with. And just like back in 2005, I was falling head over heels for this man all over again. 9 years later, and somehow, we ended up right where we were supposed to be. We’ve been together 4 years now. I will always be grateful that I waited and especially that I didn’t give up on loving him. And he never gave up on me. He even kept that bear I gave him that one Valentine’s Day in middle school. Love will always find a way if it’s meant to be. You just have to be patient.
  18. If you’re bleaching your hair, go to a trusted professional.
    • Like number 3 on this list, drastic hair changes aren’t necessary. Granted, you are allowed to change your hair whenever you want. But please, go to a professional. Albeit, I did and still got awful results, I should rephrase to say, go to a TRUSTED professional. And don’t lie to your freaking hair stylist. When they’re asking 1000 questions about prior hair colors or treatments, it’s because they truly are just trying to help. Please don’t be like me with burned, brittle hair. Or YELLOW hair. Just don’t do it.
  19. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
    • This goes for so many different aspects in your life. Try new foods, new drinks. Get on an airplane. Climb a pyramid. Join a gym. Wear shorts, a two-piece bathing suit, a sleeveless shirt. Get the tattoo! Dance like no one is watching (even if they are!) Step out of your comfort zone! Own your body, own yourself! You will never know if taking that risk will pay off if you never try. Life should make you uncomfortable sometimes. When we reach a point of contentment, we begin to get to comfortable. Sometimes, you just have to break away and try something new. It keeps life exciting!
  20. When you stray away, always remember where home is.
    • I had dreams of traveling the world. Then I had dreams of going to college 12 hours away from home. Then I wanted to move away and start over. I didn’t do any of those things. But I dreamt that life would one day take me away from home. And even when it only took me 2 hours away for 3 years, I drifted more in a mental sense than anything else. I tried to escape my hometown. I felt like it was just going to hold me down as well as the people in it. Growing more as an adult made me realize that I should never be ashamed to come back home. Allowing my heart to come home was healthy for my mentality. It kept me grounded and allowed me to cope with the mental and emotional anguish I hadn’t properly been processing. Home also became more than a place, but home was a person, my boyfriend. Being with him made me feel safe. Home makes me feel safe. Always remember where home is, no matter how far you may stray.
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  21. Your mental health is important. Take care of you FIRST.
    • I experienced my first anxiety attack in college. I coped the only way I knew how, I drank. That didn’t help in the long run, and only temporarily numbed a very serious problem. I struggled with a drinking problem and failing mental health that often left me feeling desperate and alone. I experienced many dark days of hopelessness, and there were more times that I didn’t know how dying wasn’t the easiest way out. I’m blessed to have made it out of those days, but it was only because I reached out and told someone. I spoke to a doctor, got medicated and focused my energy elsewhere. I still have bad days, but there are definitely so many more outlets for me to turn to, not to mention my outlook for the better days to come. It gets better, you guys. It truly does. That being said, go outside and enjoy some fresh air or curl up with some tea and a good book. Self-care is the best way to help cope with your mental health at home. Take care of yourselves!
  22. Always be prepared for worst case scenario.
    • I always try to look for the worst possible scenario that could happen in a situation, to prepare myself, but always pray that the better outcomes will come. If you never prepare yourself for disappointment in life, you will be in for a very rude awakening. It is so important to understand that there will be shortcomings and things will go wrong sometimes. And that’s okay, but you have to be able to pick yourself up and move forward from the situations.
  23. Stay humble, always.
    • You are bound to reach a point of success in your life. Don’t boast loudly and proudly. Instead, allow those experiences to teach you to be humble. It is okay to be proud, but do not allow that pride to make you feel better than anyone else. We are all just humans at the end of the day. We take nothing material with us when we leave this life. Celebrate your successes, but remember that bragging isn’t very polite. Stay classy, y’all!
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  24. Say please & thank you.
    • Here’s one of those little lessons I learned very young. Your basic manners will take you a long way. You’d be surprised how many adults I’ve interacted with that cannot give me a simple “please” or “thank you” when I do something for them. It blows my mind that there are still people out there walking around with no manners. Thankfully, I was raised by parents who instilled the importance of respect. Respect and manners will take you a long way in this life.
  25. Slow down.
    • Number 25 and perhaps the most important lesson of all is to slow down. Learn to stop and smell the roses in your fast-paced life. Sometimes, we get so caught up in the pace, worrying about the minor details in our lives that we forget to slow down and enjoy the little things in our lives. I can’t count the number of times I didn’t allow myself to enjoy something because I was worried about something that wasn’t gonna matter a year from that moment. I wish I knew sooner how quick time would get away from me. I learned a little too late that our time is so limited, and that is something you can’t get back. You just have to stop and smell the roses every once in a while.
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So there you have it. 25 lessons I’ve taken away in my 25 years of life. It’s been a humbling experience to look back on these last 25 years and really think about all I’ve taken away from my life. I could go on & on about these experiences, but I suppose I’ll just save that for some future blogs. Who knows, maybe I’ll be doing another longer list at 50! Guess we’ll have to wait and see!

One thought on “25 Lessons for 25 Years

  1. Eddie Rodriguez says:

    I truly enjoyed reading your 25 learned lessons! You speak like someone who has lived more than 25 short years, very wise for your age. Happy birthday and thank you for sharing your life lessons with us. Take care and stay positive…Leti and Eddie.

    Liked by 1 person

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