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25 things I’ve learnt before turning 25

So I’m turning 25. Or a quarter of a century old. 

I never really thought about getting this old. It always seemed so far off in the distance that I’d never actually get around to it. But here I am. Another millennial freaking out about reaching my mid-20s. 

So, to give you a little insight into HOW I achieved this milestone… here are 25 things I’ve learnt (or tried to learn!!) before turning 25:

1) You don't need to do everything at once

This is something I continue to struggle with so maybe it’s not the best one to start with… When I first moved abroad I wanted to immediately get my green card, get my US driving license, make a million friends, get a job and keep up with friends and family back in the UK whilst also exploring my local area and traveling around the rest of the States. So not a lot. You should also bear in mind I got married, applied for my visa and moved abroad all within the space of a few months, so this tendency to do a lot of life-changing things at the same time is nothing new. 

Yet my quest to do everything at once was soon held up by slow bureaucracy, loneliness, a fear of driving on the other side of the road, the horror that is job hunting and now, coronavirus. I was forced to stop for a minute, take a breath, and just enjoy how far I had already come. Being forced to slow down didn’t stop me from achieving my goals, but it did stop me from burning out.

2) Everyone is on their own path

In your mid-20s, it feels like you should have everything sorted. For a goal-orientated person like me, this can get a little stressful. All over social media, I see people posting about building their dream career, starting their family, making perfect meal preps, buying their first house, running an amazing social life, and traveling half the globe.  I’ve definitely ticked a few of these boxes, but the issue is I haven’t ticked ALL of them so I feel like I’m falling behind the “Game of Life”.

Thoughts on turning 25

Well, newsflash very few people achieve all of these things in an entire lifetime, let alone a quarter of it. Now that I’m turning 25, I’ve learnt to remember everyone is on their own path so I cannot compare my life to someone else’s. Besides, everyone presents an ideal of their life on social media – you have no idea what the realities are behind the camera.

3) Trash TV is great, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise

I love “good” TV. But I also love trash TV. I’m not one to be put into a box… 

Love is Blind? Watched it. Mr Robot? Best TV series ever. Riverdale? HELL YES. Killing Eve? You should all watch it. Downton Abbey? THE best period drama. Game of Thrones? Don’t talk to me about that show.

I just love what I love and don’t let anyone shame me for it. And that doesn’t just go for TV… I if wanna listen to Taylor Swift all weekend, I will. I’ll watch the films I wanna watch, do the things that make me happy. 

So to all of you, go be you. (Also, what’s your guilty pleasure?)

4) Nothing happens overnight

I started a new job recently, in a new country, and a different career field. So it’s safe to say, I had no clue what was going on for the first few months. Put simply, I knew nothing. 

But I can’t get away from the nagging feeling that I should already be an expert and shooting for the next promotion. Maybe this desire for immediate success comes from the perfectionist in me, or the results-driven boarding school upbringing … While its good to strive for success, I need to remember it won’t come overnight. Instead, any success I want to achieve will come with time and a lot of dedication.

5) Have confidence in your abilities

Following on from the fact that I claim to know nothing in my new job… Having been there a few weeks now, that’s not strictly true. And I was kindly reminded this by one of my wonderful colleagues this week… “No Ellen, you DO know things, have confidence in that”. And she was right! I’ve learnt so much in such a short period of time and it’s important to recognize that. 

Have confidence in your ablities

Repeat after me, YES YOU CAN. Never sell yourself short, you know what you know so show others just how fabulous you are.

6) How to ride a bike.

Because I had to. But I still hate it.

7) I am my biggest critic

Anyone that knows me knows I’m a die-hard worrier. Nothing is overthought more than in the depths of my mind. But you know what, no one actually cares about that stupid thing I said 5 years ago. My chin is not chubby. Most people don’t even see the tiny spot on the side of my face. Most people see me, not the imperfections. So now that I’m turning 25, its time to stop criticising myself.

8) To say "yes" more

I’m a Gryffindor so adventure is in my nature. Or at least it should be. As I like to worry a lot, taking risks is usually low on my list of things to do… but I continue to put myself out of my comfort zone to work on that.

I’ve been to wine nights alone, endured many awkward spouses group gatherings, met friends through Facebook groups and started this blog! Oh, and I’m living abroad…I had no idea how these “risks” would play out, and believe me, there is always lots of worrying just before, but nothing disastrous has happened yet.

9) Tea is life

Every British person knows that tea is the ultimate beverage. It goes perfectly with breakfast, lunch, and evening snacks. It’s also appropriate in every situation and solves all problems – break up? Let’s talk it out over a cuppa. Someone has died? Have some tea, you’ll feel better. A colleague is getting stressed? Make them a surprise cup of tea to brighten their day. I  hate that no one offers me tea whenever I enter a room in America – it’s the first thing someone will say when you get into the office or pop over to a friend’s house. Its the British way of saying you’re company is bareable. 

10) Love is easy...

Just like the McFly* song, when it’s right, “Love is Easy”. There is zero drama, it’s not stressful, there is so much happiness and things just slot into place. 

 *McFly is a British band which I have loved forever. And I cannot believe they are holding their comeback tour the very year I move to America. I’m literally devastated.

11) ... it can also be hard (but its worth the work)

Something most people learn before turning 25 is love can be hard. Because when you decide to share your life with someone, you’ve gotta do a lot of compromising to make it work – rarely will your lives fit together perfectly.

Love is eeeeasy

I will be the first to say that I never pictured myself marrying someone in the military, let alone an American. Trust me, people, the language barrier is real.

But here I am, married to one and living in the states – all because I love him (gross) enough to make it work. Many people couldn’t make the decision I have to uproot my life, see him go off to war for months on end and leave my friends and family. It wasn’t easy, but I had a pretty darn good reason to do it.

12) Always bring an extra layer

I have learnt this one the hard way. Ever spent a freezing night in a tent? Or gotten so chilly while strolling the streets of a gorgeous European city that you can’t remember anything about the trip? Story of my life. This is why I now exclusively use bags that are big enough to hold an extra jumper/sweater or scarf. Always be prepared folks.

13) It's never worth the drama

 I, like most people, have come across someone in my life who causes a disproportionate amount of drama. It took a long time but things got a lot less stressful when they were no longer around. And I’m not saying ditch a friend or partner as soon as you fight if you did that you’d become Johnny-no-mates by the end of the week. 

Just realize when someone continues to take far too much and fails to give anything back in return – friendship is a two-way street.

14) Gardening is fun

I always used to dread the moment it started getting a little warmer and my mum would relentlessly ask for “some help in the garden”. She never seemed to learn the answer would always be “no”. I never had an interest in growing plants. Until I got my own.

It started as a single spider plant I grew from a cutting in biology. This has now progressed to over 15 house plants, me nagging my husband that we need to sort out all the weeds in our back garden and growing my first basil plant. If I can manage to keep the basil alive I may branch out to a mini vegetable patch next year…

15) Feminism takes many froms

I call myself a feminist. I’m probably not a very good one as I haven’t read all the books or listened to the clever podcasts. And that may seem like I’m saying it because its the “in” or “woke” thing to do. Think what you will, but I believe it’s important.

My Bridesmaids

Giiiirl, I’m there for you – if you wanna have a career, become a mum, wear all the makeup or wear none. I’m here if you want to gossip or dive into those deep and meaningful conversations. 

Change comes in the revolutionary removal and creation of laws, but also smaller, more personal changes in perception and habit. I’m here if you want to stop the incessant wolf-whistling or campaign for women’s rights across the globe.

16) How to make simple meals

One of the most stressful experiences of my life was cooking my first meal on my own, in a room full of my uni housemates who were ready to lovingly ridicule me if I burnt anything.  

I went with a simple stir fry and I am pleased to report nothing caught fire. (But I may have used a little to much soy sauce…) 

Today I am a master of the stir fry and other simple meals. Seriously guys, if you make it to 25 and don’t have at least 3 simple meals under your belt for those emergencies when your in-house chef is off, make that a quarantine project. How to microwave ready meals or order delivery doesn’t count.

17) How to cook a big holiday meal

So I can make a stir fry. Why not try Thanksgiving dinner? Uhhhh…

Cooking a big holiday meal like Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner is not for the faint-hearted. I like a challenge so when it was announced my husband’s family would be visiting for Thanksgiving I agreed to make my very first Thanksgiving dinner. 

I spent hours pouring over Pinterest, recipe books, on the phone to my mum and working out the ideal timeline. Once I had a plan for the day and prepped a few things in the days before, I was ready. The actual cooking on the day was not stressful at all. Granted, there are a few things that could have been better, but as long as the turkey is cooked well, does anyone really care?

My first Thanksgiving meal before turning 25

Cooking that meal was my biggest achievement of 2019.

18) How to drive on both sides of the road

I passed my driving test in the UK when I was 22. Then 2 years later I moved abroad putting all that work down the drain to drive an automatic car on the other (wrong) side of the road. I shouldn’t have even bothered. But now I have a license to drive on the correct and incorrect sides of the road… not many people achive that before turning 25.

19) I can't sing (well)

Anyone who grew up in the early 2000s thought winning the X-Factor or Pop Idol or any of those cringy shows would be the answer to all of life’s problems. And I, like many other young kids would sing along in the car dreaming of the day I would have my own moody music video. Because what else do you do on long car journeys? But after careful consideration, I have realised we can’t all be blessed with the voices of angels. Today, my world-class Taylor Swift tribute act is for my husband’s ears only.

20) I'm a cat person (until I get a dog)

I have never loved anything more than my cat. Seriously, I’m worried I may not love my future children as much as I love her, SHES SO CUTE AND FLUFFY and I know she’ll never slam a door in my face or give me too much sass…. 

I'm a cat person

I mean, look how cute they are!

21) To appreciate my hometown

Seeing a place through someone else’s eyes helps you to see things you may have missed. I could not wait to get out of the tiny village I grew up in, or experience something other than that one nice bar in the sleepy town close by. But sharing this quaint British existence with my American husband helped me to see the value of it and appreciate its quirks. To him, my village was something out of a fairytale, and seeing the locals in the pub was as much of a cultural experience as visiting Big Ben. 

Now, I’d give anything to share another G&T with familiar faces in that one nice bar…

22) How to be apart from my partner

With deployments making separation a fact of life, military spouses are well versed in the stress and sadness of being apart from your partner. And no matter how many times you say goodbye, it never gets easier, but you do develop ways of coping.

It was horrible saying goodbye to David the first time he went away, yet during those months on my own, I proved to myself that I could live on my own.  Plus I could binge watch Love Island with zero judgment.

23) Running is good for you... maybe even fun?

I was never one for regular exercise when I was younger. Yet as I got older, I realised its not such a great idea to eat all the Oreos and cake. Man, it’s annoying getting older. So as a poor student with no money to waste on a gym membership I’d never use, I took up running. 

After just a few weeks of running regularly, weirdly, I had more energy. I also felt better, I got fitter and I was more productive. Now I’m not saying running got me my First Class (very good) degree but there was an undeniable connection between that and my grades. 

another 10k before turning 25

Since then I’ve completed a few 5ks, two 10ks, and even a 15k. Who is this person I see in the mirror? … Possibly a much healthier me?

24) The value of good friendships

I think friendship may be the meaning of life. They are there for us through the bad hair cuts and the wedding days, the breakups and wine nights, the 3am sleepover fights and the afternoons where you just want gossip over a cup of tea. These friends bring us happiness, nostalgia, chocolate, advice, and a second family. 

I spent so long wanting more friends. But now that I’m turning 25, I am blessed with a handful of good ones who I can’t seem to get rid of no matter what changes in my life. Quality over quantity, always.

25) To see life as an adventure

Its so easy to freak out about getting older. You look at the clock and its already 8pm, you blink and its the end of the month already and every year passes faster than the last. Time seems to move soooo quickly and its scary. But have you ever heard the phrase time flys when your having fun??

Don’t think about the time that’s gone or what’s coming up, instead enjoy the moment and live in your adventure. I don’t know what I will find around the next corner. So I’m going to do a bit of window shopping and see what the street I’m are currently on has to offer. 

In the words of Taylor Swift, Babes, don’t threaten me with a good time.

So what did you learn (or want to learn!!) before turning 25? And what should my goals be beofre I turn 30? Share in the comments below….

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