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25, am I ready for you?
September 8, 2012 7:47 PM   Subscribe

What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

I turn 25 in 2 months. So far, I've been using the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling as my moral compass. Currently seeking new inspirations and insights. Your contribution will be highly appreciated!
posted by twentyfoursummers to Human Relations (101 answers total) 168 users marked this as a favorite
 
Get out there and do lots of different stuff.
posted by sammyo at 7:52 PM on September 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Stop second-guessing yourself. Take more risks.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:53 PM on September 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm only two years older than you but heads up: time is about to start moving really, really fast. Get shit done.
posted by griphus at 7:53 PM on September 8, 2012 [44 favorites]


Relax.

That (non-illegal) relationship/job/otherthing that went wrong and you think it's going to somehow ruin your life? Really unlikely. If you remember all the details in ten years, congrats.

Sometimes your parents are really actually right about stuff. Don't be too proud to acknowledge it.

Whatever career or dream job you envision right now: don't be afraid to work towards it. And don't be afraid to let it go if you find out you really hate it because it/you wasn't what you expected. Your life won't be over.

Life is change.

Relax.
posted by rtha at 7:54 PM on September 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Do whatever makes you happy. in 10 years you will be pissed when you aren't able to do those things anymore.
posted by AbsolutelyHonest at 7:54 PM on September 8, 2012


Monday morning, take as much money as you can spare and put it into a retirement account. Compound interest is an actual thing that works exactly as described.

Then ... relax. There are very few mistakes you can make right now that are literally unrecoverable. Get out there and make tons and tons of mistakes. The more, the merrier. Try many things. Fail as fast as you can.

Now, go do meaningful work. Do you work at Starbucks? Office drone? Painfully earnest creative agency? Fuck that noise. Go join the Coast Guard. Go rescue people for a living.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:56 PM on September 8, 2012 [13 favorites]


Learn to tell good advice from bad advice.
posted by Nomyte at 7:58 PM on September 8, 2012 [11 favorites]


DTMFA.
posted by The otter lady at 8:02 PM on September 8, 2012 [28 favorites]


Don't get in fights with people on the internet. Or, more generally, keeping one's mouth shut in the face of minor disagreement is almost always less trouble in the end.

I'd also tell myself to ease up on expectations for my partner, and just appreciate him for who he is.
posted by something something at 8:07 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Quit smoking.
Start wearing sunscreen every day.
Throw dinner parties a couple times a month. If you don't know how to cook, here's a good reason to learn how to do so.
Spend more time with your mom/dad/parental figure that you admire and love.
Get out of debt.
Go to bed earlier.
Take up running.
Ride your bike more.
Find a way to volunteer in your community--something that will really be a tangible, local benefit.
Learn to grow things.
Learn to dress like an adult--you don't have to look like your grandpa or grandma, but stop dressing like a teenager and start dressing like a person of style and substance. Start figuring out how you want to present yourself to the world for the long haul. It's okay if this still includes tattoos and funny hair and eccentricities, but start crafting your look so you can stop worrying about whether you're cool.
Get political, specifically in your local community. You won't live there forever, but figure out how you can be useful and active where you live now, so that it will be a habit for you to be active wherever you live in the future and so you know where you stand when new issues arise.
Meet your neighbors, for the same reason. You won't live there forever but get used to getting to know your surroundings, your local businesses and the people who live in your community. Make it a habit now so that in the future, it's your natural way of being.
posted by padraigin at 8:13 PM on September 8, 2012 [30 favorites]


Prioritize the dreams you have that require physical prowess. Hike the Appalachian trail? Learn to rock climb? Run a marathon? Hopefully you'll be strong and active into your old age, but nothing is ever certain. Don't put off things you could do now for the perfect someday that might never arrive.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 8:14 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Start training now for the kind of job you want to have throughout the next several decades of your life.
posted by gnutron at 8:17 PM on September 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do what is meaningful to you and don't let others give you shit if they don't agree.

Save your money.

Learn to cook.

Date the person you'd want to marry, not the person your family would marry if it were their choice.

Be kind whenever possible.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:18 PM on September 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


Put down the fucking smokes.
Go ahead and admit you're gay.
Join the Navy - it's what you've always wanted to do anyway.
He's a dick and emotionally abusive. Run.
Go see the world... there's more to the world than your hometown.
Screw what other people think.
posted by matty at 8:19 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Long term relationships: they can be the most rewarding, fulfilling thing in the world, but they take work and compromise. When you're single, you have all the freedom in the world. Committing to someone means giving up some of that freedom. So ask yourself this: is what you're getting out of the relationship worth what you're giving up. If it is, cherish and nurture it as best you can. If it's not, decide if anything can be done to change things, and if things aren't going to change, end it. Now. You'll both be better off.
posted by dry white toast at 8:20 PM on September 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


One more thing: don't put all your emotional/psychological/social status eggs in the basket that is your job or career. Don't put yourself in a place where if you lose your source of income, you lose your identity. Find meaningful things you can do even if/when you don't get paid for them.
posted by rtha at 8:22 PM on September 8, 2012 [15 favorites]


Spend time with mom and dad.
Travel. More travel. Work on your foreign languages.
Go live in New York with your sister.
You were so beautiful, stop telling yourself you weren't.
posted by oflinkey at 8:28 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Go spend a year wandering around Central America looking for surf and camping on beaches now, before you get married and have a kid to take care of.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:30 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Work harder than everyone else.

Let go of GRAR and learn to forgive.

You can be less snarky and keep your sense of humour.

Don't be afraid of mistakes, and admit your own. Having done that, don't dwell on it too much and move on.

Because people care a lot less than you think.

Give generously: a couple of dollars to charity, a few hours to society, compliments, thank you notes.

Be kind to yourself, be kinder to others.
posted by peripathetic at 8:32 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Feel the fear... and do it anyway. Just do it. Get the fuck up and do it. It's not going to kill you (even if it's scary), and you know you want to, so do it. You've only got one life, you need to be LIVING it.

(I still give this advice to my newly 45 year old self as well)
posted by b33j at 8:32 PM on September 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


Read this

Then read this
posted by Gorgik at 8:34 PM on September 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Seriously, you're FINE. Fine the way you are. You look fine. (Better than fine, actually.) I mean, improve stuff like your physical fitness, and read more books, and stop biting your nails. But you, as a whole, as a person in the universe? ARE FINE. So stop freaking out about that all the time.
posted by Aquifer at 8:38 PM on September 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


that woman you think is the "one" isn't. get away.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:39 PM on September 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Get all business promises in writing.

Quit smoking as soon as you can.

Don't carry a balance on your credit card.

It's never too early to put money into a 401k or retirement plan.

Always save some percentage of every paycheck. Even if you can only afford to save $20, do it.

Spend money of a good frying pan and a great carving knife.
posted by punkrockrat at 8:40 PM on September 8, 2012


I have very strong feelings about this topic; I had ups and downs in my 20's and now I'm 35 and despite some normal life stress, it's all ups, especially when I come home to my sweet and strong wife.

Distilled to one lesson, I would say: be honest with yourself about what will make you happy, and then chase it unrelentingly. The first part is the hard one, it might be different than what your friends or peers or family might think should make you happy.
posted by ftm at 8:41 PM on September 8, 2012 [31 favorites]


Whatever it is, it isn't worth going to jail over. So relax a bit.

Max out your IRA and/or 401(k) contributions if at all possible.

If you're dating a woman (or man) & they continually nag on you for something you cannot change (age, ethnicity, etc), cut your losses & dump them.

Whenever you're tempted to say something rash, remember that what is said, can never be unsaid.

If you've been drinking, $80 for a cab ride is waaaay cheaper than $10k + jail time for a DUI.
posted by AMSBoethius at 8:43 PM on September 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


You were so beautiful, stop telling yourself you weren't.

Seriously, be as naked as possible as much as the time as is possible. Take pictures if you can. It may not seem at all rational now, but in ten years, you'll be glad about it. And maybe, you'll be better looking at 35 than at 25--you'll still be glad to have that as a baseline.
posted by padraigin at 8:45 PM on September 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Your body is fabulous! Go to the gym and drop the shame and judging! Just keep exercising! You'll have more fun when you are older because you'll be able to still get out and hike mountains and go on adventures. Keep moving!

That said....

- Don't drink alcohol so much, it is harder to curb your intake as you get older.

It is rare that people who party a lot also build success. You are likely not one of those people. Adjust accordingly, but still socialize! Just do it with less imbibing:)

- FUCK EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT SEEM TO LIKE YOU.

Be moral and ethical, and you do NOT need to worry about competing. Those people you thought were judging you in your 20's and had more "power" than you seemed to at the time? They are mostly all bankrupt losers now that we all in our 40's. Ask me how I know!


Really. That's the secret.
posted by jbenben at 8:46 PM on September 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


- fuck the haters
- just because your liver can recover from a decade of alcoholism doesn't mean you should make it do so
- start working out now because it only goes downhill
- don't put those pictures on the internet, what is wrong with you
posted by elizardbits at 8:47 PM on September 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


- your knees are not indestructible
posted by elizardbits at 8:47 PM on September 8, 2012 [22 favorites]


Actually, if I could favorite this a Bajillion Times - I would!

Via ftm

My life TOTALLY CHANGED in my early 30's once I dropped the bullshit and only persued what made me happy, damn the fears.

That. One Cabillion Times.
posted by jbenben at 8:52 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Long-term strategies:
- Live life to the fullest ... while living sensibly enough that you can also do so tomorrow.
- Take as many social risks as you can. Enjoy your mistakes as much as your successes. Be whimsical, but be kind and gentle. Don't be afraid of sharing as much of yourself as you can, but don't do it at too much the expense of others (a little or a lot is okay depending on circumstances - get enough experience of doing it so you know what those circumstances are!)
- I wish I had picked a martial art (like Aikido) and stuck with it.
- Speaking of, I wish I had started reading up on Taoism at 25. Or 18. Or 12. It's a philosophy that's all about how life is change, and that's okay.
- Start saving now, just a fraction. Don't let debt ride if you can help it. Buy insurance for the big things.
- Learn to cook. Don't be afraid to make lots of mistakes. Take notes, learn.
- Eat adventurously. Eat anything that you see other people eat. Take precautions against parasites, but EAT. Bring it home, learn to cook with it.
- Learn another language. Travel so you can use it.

Short-term strategies:
- Say yes to all you can (that won't kill you, addict you or probably won't seriously hurt you in the long term).
- Smile at everyone.
- Be kind to everyone.
- What goes around comes around.
- Stop getting in so many fights. They're thrilling, yes, but that's not the same as fun.
posted by kalessin at 8:53 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you haven't gone to live (or travel extensively if you can't live there) in another country, go now!

Go meet all sorts of interesting people. Don't worry about their age, gender, or culture. Your life will be so much richer by not having a filter for the people you choose to spend your time with.
posted by retrofitted at 8:56 PM on September 8, 2012


25 was about the last time I was getting everything right. Maybe by luck or whatever, but at that age I quit a job that drove me nuts, got a new one I love (and still do) and got married.

I suppose I'd tell myself to keep skateboarding more often and to not eat at that sketchy bodega salad bar that gave me salmonella but aside from that? I got a lot of stuff right at 25. I think its perfectly ok to go with your gut instincts... that's all I did.
posted by blaneyphoto at 9:10 PM on September 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wear earplugs at concerts.

Keep your credit clean. That $200 couch will wind up costing you $540 in late fees, missed payment fees, and interest.

All the time and energy you put into broken relationships with damaged people is time and energy you could spend doing something you love.

It's okay not to have all the answers.

Keep your drinking (or consumption of choice) under control, and stop hanging out with anyone who pressures you to drink more / more often.

You will never regret quitting a horrible job and moving across the country on a whim.

If you have any indication what you want to do with your life - especially if it's artistic - start doing it now, and do it every day. Even when you're sick / hungover / missing your ex / convinced you suck.

Be kind to yourself and others. Learn the difference between being kind and being taken advantage of.

Quit smoking.

Floss. Oh my god, floss.
posted by Angharad at 9:11 PM on September 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


It isn't final, at all, but what you do and choose now matters. When you make choices or, significantly, don't choose try to envision where the path that sets you on may lead. We never know where life may take us, and if you go west from San Francisco you may ultimately wind up in New York, but it's going to be a different trip. Don't be afraid of different trips. Never be afraid to change your mind, but don't ignore your commitments.
posted by uncaken at 9:18 PM on September 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


You may worry about how you look, but here's how you actually look: young. Youth looks good all by itself. Enjoy the energy, flexibility, smooth skin, and (hopefully) good health!
posted by limeonaire at 9:20 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Masters! Now! Before kids!

Look around you. More than likely someone has figured out how to live on half your income. Live like them, except figure out what few items are worth replacing with more expensive items. Bank the difference. (AKA: you don't need an iPad)

Work pays you for 40 hours. Every hour there after that is on your time. Its okay to be there longer as long as you are advancing your skillset - not just your career. Nobody says "I wish I'd worked more" on their deathbed, but dammit - if you wanted to start your own company, be a competent programmer, cure cancer, or find a new subatomic particle - you need to make sure that you are putting in the time to learn the skills to get there.

Don't open your mouth to describe a problem unless you are capable of providing a solution. Capable in this context means that you have the skillset and the flexibility in your schedule to ensure a solution. Right or wrong, management will interpret empty observations as complaining unless are providing that solution.

Figure out what motivates those around you.

Monetize your role in the company you work for. If there are two branches of the company that you could work for and one represents a 20MM business and the other a 200MM business, its better to make a 1% improvement in the 200MM business than a 5% improvement in the 20MM business.

Things interact. Know what riot theory and gravitational theory mean to your business.

Do not sit and wait for customers, if you want to expand, you need to make sure your image is one that customers can identify with.

Know what motivates people. There are reasons that Republicans think the way they do, the same way that Democrats do. If you can parse complex political implications, you can generally show one-issue voters how they are shooting themselves in the foot.

Driving a new car is not important. Having no car payment for a decade, even with repair bills probably is a better investment than the added bill and the increase in insurance premiums.

In an accident, always call the police, and always handle it through the insurance.

Keep your mouth shut during exit interviews. Really, if you weren't able to change the culture while you were working for a business, you leaving isn't going to change the culture either - unless you were the problem. All you can do is harm references. Corollary: HR used to be about improving workers lives, now HR is about how to break bad news to you.

Find a manager that is looking to get you moved up and out of your position and work for them. When you become a manager be that person.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:03 PM on September 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


I was 25 when I joined this site. Still not sure whether it was a good idea.
posted by Nomyte at 10:04 PM on September 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


Don't buy 99 per cent of the things you're going to want to buy.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:16 PM on September 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I see your "If" and I raise you "The Invitation".
posted by msamye at 10:18 PM on September 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's ok to seek advice, but you're really the only one who knows how to live your life.

You already know enough to live the rest of your life successfully.

It's ok to care about things that other people don't.

You're probably smarter than you think.

Keep your beginner's mind. Thinking too much about stuff can lead to paralysis.
posted by quadog at 10:39 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Travelers under the age of 26 qualify for youth/student discounts in many places. If you have the desire and opportunity to travel, this would be a good year to do that.
posted by pernoctalian at 11:19 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Work harder. Save more. Spend wisely. Be gentler with your wife. Spend more time with the kids.
posted by brownrd at 11:21 PM on September 8, 2012


  1. Take risks. If something isn't actually scary-like-you-don't-know-if-you-can, it's not a risk. Go bigger. The scary stuff. The stuff you don't even tell yourself you're afraid of unless you're drunk. Do that, before you can't.
  2. Read some real history books and visit other places and kinds of people. There's a lot to understand about humanity, and your prejudices and political beliefs need a lot of work.
  3. Stop with booze or anything addictive or obviously poisonous. Or don't start, if you haven't yet. Just avoid in general. It will only ever get worse, until you stop. Then you'll just regret how long it went on for.
  4. Take care of your body. Exercise. Sleep more, a lot more. Eat well. Get you stress level down. See doctors regularly. Floss. Get tested. Really, it's you and you're going to have a long stay in it, can't trade it in.
  5. Every year that passes will pass twice as fast as the previous. Use time well. You cannot get it back.
  6. Chasing after someone, especially in your head, is a losing game. The ones to pay attention to are the ones who want you, unambiguously, the way you are.

posted by ead at 11:25 PM on September 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Tea and coffee are cheaper when made at home.
Don't stop listening to music - but when you go to concerts, wear earplugs.
Don't get wasted at events. You save a ton of money being sober, and you remember the experience, too.

And, to quote my dad, "Try to look like the squares. That way, you can infiltrate them with your weirdness once they get to know you."
posted by spinifex23 at 12:42 AM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also? If you want a pet, adopt one from a shelter. Preferably a kill one. Those animals need all the second chances they can possibly get.

Shelter pets are the best pets.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:55 AM on September 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Get off your ass and do some actual work. That's what I'd tell me. I'd point out that everyone telling me about my potential doesn't mean anything if I don't do something with it. Don't sit around waiting for people to recognize how wonderful you are and for them to shower you with praise and opportunity. Nobody talks about people in their thirties and says 'he's got a lot of potential.'

Get in some kind of shape. Lose weight now. It won't just go away on its own, and the longer you wait, the harder it will get.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:16 AM on September 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Tell the people you love how much you care about them, You really don't know how long you'll have them in your life. The people who don't really care about you will be gone in 5 years time, so don't worry about them. Though it might be hard to grasp now, life isn't an endless stream of deep connections. Value the people you have now who really do care, though without any hindsight that might be difficult for you to grasp.

Don't be so hard on yourself. Whatever imaginary rule you're trying to measure up to in other people's eyes really doesn't mean a thing in the long run.

To the younger self, please please don't be so hard on yourself. You look better now than you could even imagine. 5 years down the line you'll be looking at pictures of yourself & admiring how good you look, how skinny, beautiful, & you couldn't even see it. You will, & you did. Enjoy the moment & what it's worth, times like these don't come around all the time.

I'm not a big lennon fan, but"life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans". Don't be frustrated by it, it is what it is. Enjoy the ride.
posted by readygo at 1:17 AM on September 9, 2012


Do what yr doin baby. Things are going to work out and your late twenties stay as awesome as they seem right now. Money? That'll come. For realz. And pass that J por favor...yr bogarting it...
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:17 AM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Lots of people will spend their lives trying to tell you what to do. And much of this will cause great angst. The reality is, they're just trying to fill space and time, and, are mostly trying to ensure there is no silence. Literally. They don't really know what to do and they don't really care what you do, they just need to find something to say.

So smile and nod and do whatever the hell you want to do anyway. Go with what your gut says. You'll wind up in exactly the same place as everyone else at the end.

Along the way to your destination, be sure to schedule in some fun.
posted by heyjude at 2:42 AM on September 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am still 25 for a few more weeks... but I would have told myself not to move into a basement apartment. Seriously, it's not worth the misery.
posted by windykites at 3:55 AM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Take any and every opportunity to travel.

Please stop being so nervous about women.

Get into a band. You're really quite a good guitarist and being on stage is not as terrifying as you think.

Don't be afraid to spend money on things that make you happy.

Get out of that damned line of work. It isn't going to get any better.

Be braver. Be more adventurous.
posted by Decani at 4:05 AM on September 9, 2012


I would tell my 25 year old self:

1. Pay more attention to staying fit as a habit. It is so much harder to back peddle at 40.
2. Save 9% of all income. Donate 1%.
3. Date people because they are a great match as they are now, not because you think they'll mature into a great match.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:11 AM on September 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Grab a chance and you'll never be sorry for a might-have=been"

Live the Golden Rule
posted by lungtaworld at 5:14 AM on September 9, 2012


"might-have-been"
posted by lungtaworld at 5:15 AM on September 9, 2012


[When I was 25 I was just about to leave a long-term relationship and embark on a year of being single and foolish, hence my answers are all quite relationship focused!]

If you don't feel like you're being true to yourself, or authentic, you should probably get out of that relationship/friendship/scene/job.

It's worth being really, really poor for a bit if it means getting a job you love and leaving a relationship you're not happy in.

If someone has sex with you it doesn't mean he likes you, it doesn't even mean he wants to have sex with you, it just means he wants to have sex.

If someone tells you they're not 'in the right place for a relationship' - believe them.

Take photos of everything in the apartment you move into. Your landlady is crazy and you will not get your deposit back.

It's really not worth worrying about anything as much as much as you do.
posted by Dorothea_in_Rome at 5:17 AM on September 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Appreciate the value of how small, steady efforts add up. For example, one college class per semester can get you a degree in 10 years or so. (Or an advanced degree, or the art education you always secretly wanted, etc.) It sounds like forever away when you’re 25 but your 35 year old self will thank you.

Stop worrying so much about what other people think. When you are 40 or so you will begin to stop caring, and you will regret a lot of the things you did or didn’t do because you were so worried others would think badly of you.

Don’t compare your behind the scenes footage with other people’s highlights reel. Everybody’s got some bad stuff going on in addition to their good stuff… it’s just that people who seem to have their shit together don’t advertise theirs.

Learn to accept what you can’t change, change the things you can, and really put some time and thought into figuring out the difference. The serenity prayer is not just for alcoholics, and it contains real wisdom if you think about it and how to apply it to your life.

Relax about your relationship. So many of the things you think are important just really aren’t. Don’t get hung up on romantic gestures and sex appeal. Real love is someone having your back and you having theirs; enjoying each other’s company, affection, good sex, real partnership, respect, caring for one another’s needs.

Cut your partner some slack. Do you know, deep down, that they love you? Do they meet your basic needs for affection, support, companionship, etc.? Then don’t be a jerk if they aren’t good at remembering your birthday, don’t send flowers, don’t feel like swinging from the chandeliers six nights a week, don’t look as hot as the supermodel your best friend inexplicably landed, whatever. Buy your own flowers, plan your own birthday party, scale back your expectations of what a good sex life is, or whatever it is you are busting your partner’s balls over (or are privately grumbling about inside your head.) Appreciate what you have if it’s basically good… no one brings the whole package, at least not beyond the first year or so.

Go to the dentist regularly. Get checkups at the doctor. Change the oil in your car as often as is recommended. Do basic maintenance and take care of problems while they are little, things only get worse as time goes by.

Take anti-depressants if you need them. If you’re worried about sexual side effects, ask about Wellbutrin (an anti-depressant that can be taken alone or along with an SSRI to mitigate any sexual side effects.)

Get therapy if you have issues. See a marriage counselor. More importantly, if the first one you see isn’t a good fit, keep looking until you find one who is. This works much better if you don’t wait until you are in crisis before you seek therapy in the first place.

Exercise and eat better. Stop smoking, drink only in moderation. Your forties/fifties/sixties will be here much sooner than you think, and you’ll still feel like a young person inside, and you’re not going to want to deal with diabetes, lung disease and liver disease in what will feel like the prime of your life.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 6:06 AM on September 9, 2012 [8 favorites]


Listen more. Talk less.

Be kind and practice the golden rule as another person advised upthread.

Let things go.

React less.

Don't stress about stupid stuff.

Don't spend money on things you don't need and can't afford.

Know what you like and be okay with that. Just because the hipsters like something doesn't mean you have to pretend to like it, too.

Minimize. Pay with cash.

Don't get sucked into beauty culture and buy expensive cosmetics and clothes you can't afford.

Expensive clothes and cosmetics won't transform you.

Read more fiction and less self-help.

Don't navel graze.

Keep your sense of humor.

Don't take life too seriously.

Do something. It doesn't have to be a "cool" hobby but find something you like and do it and don't be afraid to try new things.

Don't be ashamed of your past.

Be proud of who you are.

Stay interested in people.

Don't burn bridges or lose your contacts. (I was good about this with career stuff but sometimes bad at keeping friendships/contacts. You never know when you are going to "need" people in the future.)

Don't color your hair too much.

Don't sleep with your makeup on.

Wear sunscreen.

Be on time.
posted by Fairchild at 6:12 AM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Stop worrying about what others think it makes to take you happy. Figure it out for yourself.

The pain will stop, just keep living.

Love your parents. They're mortal and will die one day. This goes for everyone you cherish, but your parents especially.

Make sure your mental hygiene is in order. If it's not, see someone about it. (In that line, stop self-medicating.)

Be kind. Kindness costs you nothing, but gives so much.

Dress for yourself outside of work, and appropriately for the business you work at inside of it.

Start deciding what you want to be when you grow up, because if you don't, circumstance will.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR TEETH! Not doing so will cost you thousands of dollars in dental bills.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 6:13 AM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is all me-specific, but some of it could probably apply to you, too:

1. Take up yoga and/or get regular physical exercise.

2. Stop focusing on unrequited love/attraction.

3. Appreciate yourself. take care of yourself. Be grateful for what you do have.
3. When you turn 30, you will feel a lot better.
posted by bearette at 6:31 AM on September 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Breathe.

It gets better.

You don't need to know the answer now. The times before you know can be the most fun.

Find friends with at least some interests that aren't your own. You'll have a lot more to talk about in 15 years.

Ideas are cheap. Shipping is HARD.
posted by DigDoug at 6:36 AM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Enjoy the bad dates. When the perfect man comes along, two and a half years from now, it'll be that much more obvious.

Write more, submit more.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:09 AM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do the crap underling job with a smile on your face and with all your energy. Don't worry about whether coworkers are assuming that because you have the crap job that you aren't capable of more. Don't tell yourself that because it's a crap job it doesn't matter whether you do it well. Doing the crap work with a good attitude and energy will do much for your career and your reputation.

Don't let your credit get fucked up. Save. Stop telling yourself that money doesn't matter. It does. Once you have more money a lot of things in your life will improve. Actively try to find jobs that pay decently.

Give up sugar. Switch to diet sodas and stop eating candy bars. Your afternoon slumps will vanish. Eat lunches with plenty of protein, fat, and veg. Budget for good quality food. Listen to what your body is telling you and what leaves you hungry and craving and what fills you up. Don't eat 5 bowls of pasta. Eat one chicken breast with some spinach, tomatoes and zucchini - you'll feel better.

Don't meekly accept it when a roommate leaves you high and dry and unable to pay rent alone on a two-bedroom and locked into a lease that will leave you in debt. Ask for help. Figure out what your legal rights are. Break the lease. What the landlord tells you about this is *not* legal advice. Do not stay in the apartment by yourself, unsuccessful in finding a new roommate, and trying to cover the full rent.

Stop beating up on yourself. You are ok. You are a good person. You get to have your feelings. Go to therapy. Take a deep breath.

Put your needs first. This will be hard. Read up on codependency and definitely get therapy. Work on telling people how you feel before you are mad enough to cry.

Even if you get all of that wrong your life will still be amazing. So be patient with yourself. Know that you are ok just as you are. No matter how good this advice is and no matter how carefully you follow it, you are 25 and not 35 or 40 or 50. You're going to be a 25 year old. You have your mistakes to make. Own them.
posted by bunderful at 7:40 AM on September 9, 2012 [9 favorites]


Enjoy your spare time, don't waste it. That doesn't mean that all your time should be occupied with something meaningful, but be concious of the time you have that isn't already filled.

Stay up late. Wake up early. Pursue your hobbies. Be active. Have sex. Don't rush to be in a relationship; enjoy yourself alone (or at least not as part of a couple). Work hard, but don't spend too much time at work.

You're going to wake up one day at 30 or 35 and realize that because of your responsibilities (ie: house, kids, spouse/SO, work, commitments to friends/family) you don't have enough unoccupied time to do the things that you want to do. You're also going to have less energy, so you'll be inclined to spend the precious spare time you have resting/relaxing.

Time is the one thing you can't make more of. Use it wisely, because it does run out.
posted by Simon Barclay at 7:45 AM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Love yourself more.
Listen to your gut.
Acknowledge mistakes.
It's okay to start over.
posted by getmetoSF at 8:19 AM on September 9, 2012


Pay your bills! Even when they seem insurmountable.
Forget about him. He isn't worth it.
You like to do a lot of things - stop drinking so much and do them.
Above all, be yourself.
posted by lyssabee at 8:38 AM on September 9, 2012


Enjoy what you have and don't take a lot of pop culture at all seriously. In 20 years you'll wonder what all the fuss was about.

Take an evening to find out what is the most important thing in your life, the one thing you're the most passionate about and dedicate the next 20 years of your life to tracking it like a lion in the underbrush. Bring your big weapons. Hire a sherpa.

Recognize, own and live out your values before you end up living out someone else's.

Stupid can get loud - often. Don't be stupid.

Keep a journal - 20 years on you won't remember yourself now.

Share what you have with others - there are two types of people in the world: Those who live passionate, directed lives and share what they know, and small-minded folks who hoard everything and perpetuate their fears.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 9:02 AM on September 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


One more thing I really wish I had done, at 25 and at so many other ages:

Sure, vent in your journal. But years later your long long ramblings about this guy or that guy or whether or not you should do x or y will be less valuable to you than observations of the people around you, the real things that you do in the real world, and the real opportunities that are in front of you. You are going to forget so much of that.
posted by bunderful at 9:35 AM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


the friends you make now and over the next few years will make the difference between a life of fulfillment and one of empty partying, or worse, of few adult connections at all. you don't have to have your spouse be your best and only friend, and having your own set of friends can save you a lot of heartache.
cultivate those connections, especially within your same gender.
posted by ch1x0r at 9:56 AM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Make/keep/support/love friends.

True friends are the only true currency there is. Everything is is window dressing.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:57 AM on September 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


is is else is
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:58 AM on September 9, 2012


Take care of your teeth.
Don't smoke.
Cultivate civility.
Learn at least one foreign language--fluently.
Be prepared to walk away from material things.
Avoid trying to change people. If you don't like who they are, leave them alone.
Read history.
Learn to write.

Take up a physically demanding hobby. Running and back-country hiking come to mind: solitude helps you understand that lonliness has nothing to do with being alone. Chopping wood and certain martial arts work in a similar way. (If you enter martial arts looking only for a way to kick ass, then you'll not get as much out of it as you might if, say, you took up yoga.)

When you need to work out an ethical problem, take the decision that you would like your children to take. (Avoid doing things you wouldn't want to explain to your kids.)

At the end, you will regret things you didn't do more than the mistakes you made.

Hm...Okay, the backpacker's credo: You regret the stuff you carried but didn't need more than the stuff you wanted, but didn't bring. (But this only works after a bit of experience.)

Don't worry too much about the generations that follow you: they will disrespect authority, wear funny clothes, and their music will pretty much suck.

You will run out of time.
posted by mule98J at 10:48 AM on September 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah...I almost forgot: Keep a journal. Keep lots of them. In forty years you'll read them with a certain degree of embarrassment, but you'll realize that you weren't such a bad guy after all. Just write down a bit of what happened, don't worry about making sense out of it.
posted by mule98J at 10:52 AM on September 9, 2012


Follow your curiosity sooner.

Take time to sit & listen & watch birds, bugs, plants & weather. All are worlds within themselves.

Silence is more powerful in conversation than talking.

Don't carry other people's demons - it's not your job, it's theirs. By the same token, don't make anyone carry yours.
posted by yoga at 11:14 AM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Protect your hearing. Wear earplugs, or just leave if somewhere is loud enough to be damaging.

Move away from that city you don't like before you get established there.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 12:00 PM on September 9, 2012


Go on dates. Flirt. Don't wait until it's a good time, because it's never a good time. It's much harder to meet people to date when you're older.

Don't wait that extra year to go traveling, why not go sooner? Go and work in Australia on an exchange visa because that program ends once you're 30.
posted by Bunglegirl at 12:13 PM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


The boyfriend's friends are fun, but keep your own friends. Friendship can't always be rebuilt and maintaining is easier than repairing.

Speaking of the bf, DTMF. Funny and smart don't pay the bills, having similar taste in music means nothing when you're constantly at each other's throats. PS awesome guy friends don't necessarily make great boyfriends.
posted by peacrow at 12:13 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't put up with anything that's making you unhappy just for the sake of putting up with it.

The benefit of the doubt should not be extended forever.

Acknowledge when things are good, really good -- that Kurt Vonnegut line? "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is." Remember that -- take a minute to look around and be grateful just for that moment before you rush on to the next.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:58 PM on September 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


The teeth, the teeth, the teeth. When my husband and I finally got around to having our teeth fixed in our thirties, it cost us nearly $30,000. We could have had a lot more fun with that money than we did.

Take care of your teeth, your ears, and your credit -- wear earplugs, live within your means, brush and floss. It sounds super boring but you will be so grateful later.
posted by KathrynT at 1:41 PM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


That's a fantastic question. The fact that you are asking this question, and asking it this way, is a good sign that you will make good decisions.

- Seek out mentors and ask them questions in just the way you asked this one. For example, i you want to do job X and business Y, ask them the things they think you should do in order to be able to reach that objective.

- Make lots of friends any way you can, because in the end contacts count for as much as, or even more than, qualifications and experience.

- Try to focus on a certain skill or set of skills because if you find yourself at 30 without some expertise, it will become much harder to get jobs you want. Can't emphasize this enough.

- Start saving money if you can. Set up an IRA retirement account and of course do 401(k) investments if your employer offers them. Starting investing as early as possible has huge benefits in terms of your investment accruing value over time. For your IRA (and any non-retirement investments you can afford after maxing out your retirement investments), try to set up automatic investments in a low fee index fund from Vanguard or Fidelity. For example, have $100 or $200 or whatever you can afford automatically withdrawn from your bank account every month. If you don't do this, you most likely will procrastinate in investing and won't have the self-discipline to do it regularly.

- Don't get into debt on credit cards because it will be very hard to get out of that debt.

- I agree, go to the dentist for a cleaning every 6 months, very important!
posted by Dansaman at 3:10 PM on September 9, 2012


Don't get married just because you've been dating/living together for a long time and it seems like the next thing to do.
posted by shiny blue object at 6:05 PM on September 9, 2012


You can't make anyone love you. Full stop.
posted by whoaali at 6:30 PM on September 9, 2012 [8 favorites]


Drink less - the hangovers are going to start getting worse.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:53 PM on September 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


- Staying in shape requires work. Getting back in shape is a massive amount of work.
- Brush your teeth twice a day and floss (at least a few times a week if not every day).
- Put 5-10% of your pay in a 401K. Trust me, you'll never miss it.
- If your grandparents (or other relatives, neighbors, etc) live long enough to go into a nursing home, visit them as often as you can. They can be lonely places, most people never visit and you'll be glad you did when they're gone.
- It's such a cliche and many people in this thread have probably listed some variation of it but when you're older, you never regret the things you tried, only the things you didn't. This doesn't apply to dangerous or illegal things but all things where your reason for not doing it is something like others will think [fill in the blank], I might fail, etc. This is actually the same thing I say to my 5-year-old nephew but what's the worst that will happen if you fail?
posted by thebriguy72 at 9:39 PM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


you miss 100% of the tequila shots you don't take
posted by narcotizingdysfunction at 6:10 AM on September 10, 2012


Don't compare your own accomplishments with those of other people!

Yes, Stephanie married right out of high school & had two kids by the time she was 20. Yes, Brian graduated University & went straight to Capital Hill, working for a powerful politician. Yes, Lauren works at a hip environmental consulting firm. So what?

You know that you eventually want to start a family, attain success, & make a difference in the world. There is time for that; if you want it, you will do it. Stop holding yourself to other people's standards & focus on yourself, where you are, & where you want to go.

Also, it hurts like hell right now, but DTMFA is one of the best things you will ever do for yourself! Power through it, girl :)
posted by horizonseeker at 7:38 AM on September 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


You're not fat. No, seriously, you're not.

Be proud of the physical attributes that you are now embarrased about.

People admire intelligence. Don't be afraid to be your nerdy, goofy self.

Stop worrying about what other people think.

It's ok to be alone and spend time alone.

Get the hell out of that relationship that is more rocky than smooth.

Stop drinking like a fish - it's really not worth it.

Don't buy crap you don't need. If you haven't used it in a year, get rid of it.

Journal more, watch tv less.

Embrace your passions and embrace that you're not perfect. Just own it.
posted by floweredfish at 9:51 AM on September 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm 26 so I probably can't add much, but if I could pop back to two years ago when I was at the tail end of 24, here's what I'd tell myself:

Call your brother more often.

You're lucky enough to have a job with benefits, use that damn vacation time! It is OK to take sick days and vacations. Stop feeling guilty about it.

Enjoy your time with your friends. Schedule time to just hang out. 25 is when some of them began moving away to grad schools and careers across the country. At 26, this is still happening, with greater frequency. Now the first of them are starting to have children, so time spent just hanging out with your friends will become more and more precious.

Start exercising more and counting your calories. A sedentary desk job means you're going to gain weight that you'll eventually spend the better part of a year trying to lose.

Relatedly, just because food is free does not mean you *have* to eat it. This is key if you want to stay thin while working in an office with a lot of people. There will always be more birthday cake or pizza or leftover Halloween candy. You are not going to starve.

Establish habits and schedules. Lightly cleaning the shower every week or two is infinitely easier than trying to scrub gunk out from between tiles every four months. Make your bed every morning. Washing a couple dishes after eating is way easier than spending an hour washing a whole sink full of them.

Good on you for not declawing the kittens you adopt, but maybe don't buy that leather desk chair beforehand.

Stop putting off those things you've always meant to check out but never get around to doing. The drive-in movie theater is a blast. So is swing dancing at that local dance studio. You'll be pissed that you waited so long to do these things.
posted by castlebravo at 11:15 AM on September 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Get really really fit. Because you can. It is possible. No matter what point you start from. No matter what your physical aptitude is. It will make every single other thing in your life easier by far more than the effort you put in.

Every.
Single.
Thing.

(except maybe surviving a famine ).

If I could travel back in time I would kick my own ass for not figuring this out sooner because while the advice still applies at 45 it is much much more difficult to implement and maintain.

Arthritis is a terrible thing and it comes for all of us eventually. Strong and light puts that day off for a much longer time.
posted by srboisvert at 12:40 PM on September 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


That boy/girl you think about more often than you think about others - go get 'em.

And make sure that person is on board with your life. And you with theirs.

You're not a special snowflake. Millions of people are doing cooler things, working harder, being happier than you are at this moment. So be awesome at what you're doing, but be content with not being the greatest.

Be nice to everyone you meet.

Listen to them.

Don't judge them. They're awesome for reasons that you might not understand or don't know about. (Like that guy who is tired and overweight - that's because his chemotherapy for his cancer makes him very weak.)

Take the Myers-Briggs test. (book: Do What You Are)

There's never a perfect time.

The people in your life - friends, family, loose connections, acquaintances, the boss - they will make all the difference. As much as we like to think we're sailing our own ships to the island of success, rarely can one successfully sail a ship alone, and well.

Unless you're working for yourself, work will survive without you. Leave the office and go on vacation.

At the end of every day, take a notecard and a pen. On one side, write the date. On the other side, write down what happened to you and what you did that day. Save these. Read them occasionally and decide if you're living your life how you hoped.
posted by st starseed at 1:24 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your life is already about 1/3 of the way over according to US mortality tables. Begin thinking about your death and preparations for eternity.
posted by yoyoceramic at 1:31 PM on September 10, 2012


Be less self-righteous. In 10-15 years you'll have such a different perspective on things that you can't even imagine.
posted by I love to count at 9:34 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


1. When you meet someone and you have an inkling that, no really, this is the one, don't be afraid to have conversations about marriage, kids, exclusivity. In retrospect I waited too long to have these conversations.

2. Stop watching television. Your wasting the best part of your life.

3. Avoid debt. Cut expenses. Eventually you will get salary increases, but for now you need to accept that there are a lot of things you can't afford.

4. Exercise most days. Don't skip even if you have to work a lot.

5. Read more and better books.

6. Create a list of goals and and a list of actionable items on how to achieve them. In other words, not just write a novel but (1) take a writing class and write x many words per day.

7. Have a six month emergency fund.

8. You can stay in cheap pensions but make traveling to other countries a priority.

9. You are entering a period of life that is miserable and lonely for a lot of people because you no longer have the college friends and it's harder to make friends as an adult and you don't yet have a family of your own. It's okay if you are lonely. It's to be expected and it won't last forever. On the other hand, take the initiative to meet new people whenever you can. You'll thank yourself later.
posted by bananafish at 4:54 PM on September 11, 2012


Be honest.
Few people regret the trip they took, their education, their good deeds. Many people regret buying lots of stuff (esp. on credit), the things they didn't do, not learning (to play the piano, get a degree, a language), watching too much teevee/playing too many video games.
Learn to assess. Assess risk - should I wear a helmet, Bungee jump, whatever.
- Assess people - am I being lied to?, is this person giving me useful information.
- Assess media - is this news report telling the whole story?, is this ad a crock (probably)?, is this statistic BS (quite often)?
- This means you have to learn to investigate and have a good BS meter.
Set goals that are meaningful to you.
Listen more.
Kindness matters a lot.
posted by theora55 at 5:58 PM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


When you turn 30, you will feel a lot better.

SERIOUSLY. I dreaded turning 30, thinking that at some small level my life and/or youth was over, but it's been generally pretty great since then (and a hell of a lot better than the confusing morass of my 20s). The foundation for that is, as everyone says, go out and try different things in your 20s and don't be afraid of dead ends, you've still got plenty of time to reorient yourself but you'll never again be able to get by on as little sleep.
posted by psoas at 4:34 AM on September 12, 2012


Advice I would have told my 25 year old self:

1. Get help when you need it. Don't wait until things are so bad that you can't take it anymore and you're absolutely desperate.
2. Don't cut your hair off. You look like a male cabbage patch kid with short hair. Quit doing that to yourself. For fuck's sake...
3. That friend you think is "cool" and interesting and seems to have it all together? Yeah, their life is totally fucked up. Take a second and realise that and stop copying the choices that they made instead of making choices that you know to be right.
4. No, you do NOT want to be a bridesmaid in that wedding. Christ, what a shit show that was.
5. Exercise more and get in shape. Eat healthy foods and reasonable portions. It only gets harder as you get older. The sooner you start, the easier it is.
6. Take your mental health seriously. Antidepressants will change your life once you finally admit you're not doing okay.
7. Some friends aren't good for you. Distance yourself from the ones that bring you down/encourage poor habits/stress you out endless and form stronger bonds with the ones that don't.
8. Save more money, get out of debt, follow a budget. That boxed set of the entire series of Dawson's Creek is great and everything, but that 100$ would have been a lot more useful as debt repayment.
9. Your weight doesn't make you a bad person, nor does it need to be a permanant state. Stop feeling so trapped and damned by it, and start realizing that you're strong.
10. Take more pride in your successes, accomplishments, and strengths. Quit being so damned hard on yourself. You're a LOT stronger than you can imagine, and you'll prove that to yourself before long.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 6:23 AM on September 12, 2012


Let me be the fifth person to say "quit smoking".
posted by amitai at 12:55 PM on September 12, 2012


I've posted this a dozen times on Metafilter. Here's #13:

Every time you get a raise, take half of the extra money in each paycheck and put it in longterm savings. You're still getting a raise and extra money... but also saving quite a bit after awhile.
posted by talldean at 3:01 PM on September 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


1) He is not The Love Of Your Life. He is not the last and greatest thing you wil ever be offered. He is a compulsive liar and alcoholic with many of the characteristics of Borderline Personality Disorder, and you will be better off without him. And, seriously, set yer damn *stopwatch* for how long it takes you to discover that life goes on without him once you finally kick him out.

2) GET TO F*CKING WORK. Just... seriously. DO SOMETHING. I know, you know that. But you never do it. It's going to make my life a lot easier if you do. Much as it will make 45's life easier if *I* do. But. The earlier the better. Srsly. Get to work. You can pine and swan about and be romantic and obsessive too, if you want. Indeed, I recommend that too. But take a few hours now and then to bloody DO SOMETHING.

3) Also, have sex. With better people, and probably just more people. Believe it or not, you *are* going to end up getting married. (I know, right? Weird.) And let me tell you, it is bloody frustrating not to have had those experiences when I could. You know those things you have always wanted to try? Go do that. PLEASE. Because I really wanna know.

4) Those are the best friends you're ever going to have. Just do exactly what you do with them. I just wanted you to know that you're finally about to get a family.

5) 26 is not gonna be easy. But you will make it. I know you can't afford any medical care whatsoever, but please, please put down the box knife. Or at least the broken glass. It's about to turn around. Okay, it will still kind of suck for quite a while. But you'll have enough to eat and pay rent soon, I promise. Eventually you even get health insurance.

(Wait, was that just me? Um, YMMV, of course.)
posted by Because at 5:44 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


1. People think about you a lot less than you think they do.
2. Be assertive.
3. It is better to ask for forgiveness than permission.
4. When it comes to dating and the people with whom you spend your precious free time, it is entirely OK to be an elitist.
5. Go to the union meetings and vote. The baby boomers are NOT going to look out for your interests.

6. This will be the worst year of your life so far. Call your mother. Now.
posted by vkxmai at 2:19 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


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