As the months, weeks and days approached my 25th birthday, I had this fear in the pit of my stomach like a rock.
25 is uncharted territory. I mean, I can now rent a car. And I've been able to drink for four whole years. What milestones are left, aside from just getting older?
Old classmates are getting married and having babies. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for them, and I'm happy with my own life choices. I don't feel like I need to settle down just to settle down, but it's scary.
It feels like adulting — even though I still watch Disney movies on occasion and go to my parents' for advice. Proudly, I might add.
In a quarter of a century, I have experienced and learned a thing or two.
Reflecting back, I believe I have grown the most emotionally and intellectually in the past five years. But if I knew then what I know now, it could have saved me from learning the hard way.
Without further adieu, here are nine things I would tell my 20-year-old self.
1. You’re not an adult yet.
I know it seems like you're on your own, but you're not #adulting right now. Not even close.
2. You’re human.
It's OK to make mistakes, as long as you learn something from them.
3. Trust your gut.
You’ve got good instincts.
4. It’s not all downhill from 25.
I mean, things change, constantly and unexpectedly, but you've made it this far. And I've said it to so many people: I'd be a hypocrite not to believe that you're only as young as you feel.
And it's OK to feel old, as long as you remember how to be young.
5. It’s OK to start over.
Reinventing the wheel is the spice of life.
6. The hardest part isn’t over yet.
The crazy thing is that it hasn't even started for you. So, don't expect life to get easier because you've struggled in the past.
7. Practice what you preach.
Being young isn't a valid excuse to be a hypocrite.
8. Learn to forgive.
Learn to forgive for your own sake and others. Holding onto anger and living in the past are road blocks on the path of learning.
9. Take the hits and learn from the misses.
Things may not work out the way you intend them to. In fact, I know they won't.
But don't let setbacks in life inhibit personal and professional growth. Because babe, you've got a lot of growing to do. But you've got a good foundation, so don't be afraid to let life branch off in whatever way it will.
Who knows, it may turn out better than what you expected.