By Jessie Stracener
I am about to be 25 years old. That is a rather strange thing to realize. I feel old, but young at the same time. As a woman, this is the point in life where everyone wants to know when I am going to have babies, they expect me to know exactly what I want to do with my life, or they think they know what I should be doing. There is a lot of pressure on us to know exactly where we want our life and careers to go from here by the time we reach 25. I’m afraid I don’t have all the answers yet, but I have learned a few things along the way.
1. Do what you believe is right.
It is so hard to both stick to one’s principles and still be able to pay rent and have food sometimes. I moved out of my parents’ house much younger than most of my peers because it is what I believed was right at the time. I’m not saying it was easy, but I definitely don’t regret it.
2. Never give up on something you believe in.
I’ve been selling my crafty wares for about 2 years now…with very little success. However, I am still doing it because I believe with enough time and patience and effort I can be successful, and the truth is that I have gotten better at what I do which is a great bonus. Only in the last few months has it remotely begun to pay off. I still believe it is worth all of the hard work and planning I put in because it is something I genuinely enjoy.
3. Aim high, adjust as needed.
I was given probably one of the best pieces of advice as a freshman in college from a professor that went on to be one of my greatest friends and mentors. He said “Aim high, and adjust as needed.” He was referring to nursing students that he believed had the potential to be great doctors. I’ve thought back to this piece of advice so many times when I catch myself belittling my own dreams or not dreaming big enough because I am afraid of failure. We are all going to fail at some point. The best thing we can do is not let that stand in the way of dreaming big.
4. If you aren’t happy, change it!
We hear a lot about what it takes to be happy, how we should behave in order to achieve happiness, how to find happiness in relationships, how to be happy with our jobs, and so on. The pursuit of happiness is an enterprise all on its own. There are people who make millions of dollars instructing others in the art of happiness. I hate to burst the bubbles of all of the happiness experts out there but happiness is something only you can achieve for yourself. Sounds harsh right? I know that I struggle with this a lot, but I’ve come to realize through a ton of failed relationships, friendships that have gone by the wayside, and time and effort wasted on buying into the plethora of happiness-related literature out there that the only person responsible for my happiness is me.
While turning 25 is not nearly as scary as I originally thought it was going to be, it has been a good time to reflect upon the journey that brought me to this point. I am not doing anything that my 15-year-old self dreamed of doing at 25, and that is OK. In fact I am doing things that make me happy and that I find fulfilling where I am right now.
What did you learn at your quarter-century mark?
I am a happily married 24-year-old woman living in the heart of the south. By day I work primarily with children or doing some sort of clerical work. I’m an ace with excel spreadsheets and bandaging “boo boos”. I’ve had nearly every job you could think of and I have enjoyed most of them, from working at a museum, library, Microbiology lab, and a Music studio to being a birthday clown, a tutor, and pretty much anything else you can think of. I love to sew, cross stitch, embroider, and work with beads and wire to make awesome trees. I will try crafting anything at least once. I also love to read. I will read nearly anything. I also like to cook when I have the time.