This year I turned the big 2-5. I am officially a quarter of a century old – and I must say, it is a pretty sweet place to be! I love feeling not too young but not too old. I honestly wish I could stay at this age forever!

Before I blink and turn 26, I wanted to reflect on some of the best and worst experiences I have gone through so far. There’s seriously SO much that I want to share. Between lessons learned, trial and error, wins, losses…still MANY lessons remain.

But what is life without a little reflection along the way?! So here is my list of the 25 things I’m happy I experienced in the 25 years of my existence. Enjoy!

1. Live Alone

This is something I took advantage of starting my senior year in college. Living alone sounds scary at first, but it’s really the ultimate test to yourself to see if you can truly be happy and functional ALL on your own. I found it to be quite empowering and reassuring knowing that I could pay my bills, take care of myself and still live a full life without depending on anyone else for that security or happiness.

2. Change Up Your Look

Being young is all about experimenting and trying new things. I like changing up the color of my hair between blonde and brunette each and every year. It’s also fun seeing how your personality can fit into a different look every so often. I also love trying new or trending fashion styles! This keeps my look in transition almost every year!

3. Pursue A Passion

Upon graduation, I started to ask myself some big questions. Why am I here? What truly makes me happy? Being creating, writing and singing are the things that make my heart happy. Therefore, I’ve continued this silly blog I started in college as a way to get a job. Also, this year I was asked to join a really awesome cover band as one of the lead singers. Despite the rough decision to table this opportunity for now due to time constraints, I have never given up pursuing what I am passionate about.

4. Date With Intentions

This took a little longer for me to grasp. When I was younger, I was going for all the wrong things: how attractive is he? How fun is he to be around? How social is he? Does he fit in with all the friends I hang out and party with? After learning my lesson a time (or two), I listened to a sermon about dating with intention and it hit me hard. It’s as simple as it sounds: pursuing a relationship with someone that you can actually build a life with. It’s connecting with someone on all levels: emotionally, intellectually and physically. Since then, I switched my dating mindset and I’ve found myself in a much happier and stable place!

5. Ask For A Promotion

Before you ask for a promotion, make sure you’ve done all the legwork to deserve one. Get all your facts straight. But don’t be afraid to assess what you are worth in this job market and how you can use your skills to A) evolve your position B) help others who are also in your position grow or C) grow the company. Sitting there and expecting it to happen won’t get you anywhere. You must get up and ask for more if you have the itch to grow!

6. Practice Not Caring About What Others Think

This is a BIG work in progress for me, but there’s something about turning 25 that has caused my thinking to finally start shifting. I’ve always struggled with worrying about what people think or say about me. What if they think I’m not smart enough? What if they think I look stupid? What if I come off as insecure? What if they judge me because of my age? I don’t know if turning 25 did a number on me, but this year I really feel stronger and more confident in who I am and how far I’ve come. Who cares if they don’t think I’m smart or old enough?! With practice and persistence, I plan to watch this paralyzing thought process as it fades away.

7. Get to know your parents as adults

I love my parents probably more than ever at this age in my life. Maybe love isn’t the right word, but I understand them and can relate to them now more than ever. And I assume as I get older this will only continue to be true. There’s nothing better than getting through childhood, rough times and finally reaching the point where you can hang out with your parents as an adult. I love sharing stories with them and love when they share stories with me about life and people and work and relationships.

8. Start over

Sometimes you just need to quit that job or leave that relationship. Sure, there are many pros and cons that come with starting over, and you convince yourself it’s so. much. easier to just. stay.  But when you do decide to start over, it forces you to grow. I won’t lie and say that every time I decided to start over that I was perfectly happy and everything went just as I had planned. It was hard. I faced doubts, anxiety, fears, my weaknesses. And at times I felt completely alone. But these changes forced me to either change myself OR my way of thinking. I am now in a better and stronger place because I pushed myself to start over or try something new.

9. Travel To A Place You’ve Never Been

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably have noticed that I LOVE traveling and exploring new places. There’s something about going to a new place, meeting new people and immersing myself in a new culture that really makes me feel alive. What’s funny is I get anxiety before and sometimes during I go to a new place. But every time I get past the actual “travel” part of my trip and am settled in to my new surroundings, I get SO much energy and joy from simply being in a new place.

10. Put together a savings plan

This is something I struggled with 3-4 years ago. I found that any time I saved up a couple thousand dollars, I would spend it on furniture, a vacation, a move, a car..basically anything big that would come up. As of last year, I’ve dedicated 10% of my income to my savings account and I have not touched it and plan not to (unless something catastrophic happens). If I need to make a big purchase, I’ll pay it off before interest kicks in and not dip into my savings.

11. Go Out & Party

For me, this was an embarrassingly easy task to accomplish in my early twenties. So easy, in fact, that I’m now having to train myself on how NOT to act like I am going out to party when I’m hanging out with friends from college  (i.e. we need to limit the number of drinks we have to 2-3 max). Limits are for losers. JK! I went to Texas Tech, and if you aren’t familiar with that school, basically… we know how to have a good time.  In college and during my first year out of college, I was “new” to Dallas. I grew up in the suburbs of Dallas, but never spent a ton of time exploring Uptown or Deep Ellum. So it felt kind of like a brand new city to me. I wanted to get out and have fun with my friends while I was still young enough to where it felt acceptable, and honestly…I don’t regret it! Not one bit. Especially hopping from bar to bar, cutting lines, crashing bottle services, meeting random new people, dancing, and talking my Uber driver’s ear off about life. Because #YOLO

12. Make A Big Purchase

Just 3 months in at my new “big girl” job, I bought my first car – without – a cosigner. As a 22-year-old who had relied on her parents to get the loan in previous car purchases (I still have always been responsible for the payments), this was HUGE for me. I learned a lot from that first transaction. I made mistakes, and I definitely learned from them as I just recently completed my second car purchase. While I could beat myself up over the money I may have lost or missed out on saving in my first purchase, I’m more focused on how lucky I was to have had the opportunity to be able to buy myself a car in the first place.

13. Seek New Opportunities

I am one that will always be seeking opportunities to help, learn and grow. My work gives me plenty of these opportunities, and some might think I’m crazy for wanting more to do. But with every person I meet, I try to think of how my skills in career building and marketing could help them. I don’t say no just because it isn’t something I can’t bring back to my 8-5 job. Last year, I worked with a jewelry line by helping start up their social media presence and branding. This was a freelance project, but being available for things outside of my day job helped boost my energy and my creativity.

14. Network

This is SO important – especially early in your career. I go to at least one networking event a month. I love meeting new people and learning more about what they do and where I could help. Having a network of people who know you, value you, and know to call you whenever something comes up is SO valuable.

Your network is your net worth.

Some of the groups you can find me at include DFW SEM, Social Media Dallas, Ad2 Dallas, Polished, AMA, & DFWIMA. I also have heard great things about Circle Seven Five. Let me know if there’s a group you go to, I’d love to learn more and possibly attend!

15. Help Others Younger Than You

I was so lucky to go to a school that cared about helping me develop my career before I graduated. As a junior and senior in college, I attended the Career Development Conference for the Texas Tech College of Media and Communications. I met so many talented and helpful professionals in my industry and truly loved hearing their tips, encouragement and personal journies. Once I graduated, I decided I wanted to volunteer at this event so that I could hopefully help students the way the alumni helped me. After my graduation, I’ve volunteered at every conference since!

16. Find a Mentor

Through the CDC, I found a mentor. This person has been a great influence on my career and they even helped me improve my blog! We are in the same industry and enjoy “talking shop” a couple of times each year. I think everyone should find someone who has 10-20 years ahead of them and utilize this person as much as possible.

17. Make A New Friend(s)

I have such a close group of friends that I’ve kept through college, and I cherish each of those relationships that have lasted over the years. However, as time goes on, I believe in the power of building a bond with someone new. It challenges you to think differently, be vulnerable and opens yourself up to another opportunity to grow. I am thinking of two really wonderful friends that I have made in the past year that I can’t wait to continue to get to know and grow with together!

18. Try New Things

To prevent myself from falling into a “lull”, I enjoy trying new things. I first started by trying different workout classes and found a love for yoga. I am now reopening the door with music and exploring how I want to bring that back into my life whether it be joining a band or making YouTube cover videos. Whatever it may be, trying new things allows for new opportunities and growth!

19. Practice Putting YOU First

I know if I want to be the best person for myself and for others, I have to love and care for myself first. If something isn’t serving me, if I’m not happy, or if a situation is adding more stress than happiness, I put myself first. Sometimes I have to put it aside for a while so I can assess what I want to do with it, and come back to it later. I either resolve the situation or I let whoever or whatever it is go completely.

20. Follow A Blog

Ya’ll – I cannot say how much I LOVE bloggers. I have a select few that I read almost every day, two of my favorites are Chronicles of Frivolity and Lauren Kay Sims. I’ve never been the most fashionable person, but after following these blogs I feel much more inspired and encouraged in my ability to pick out clothing. Bloggers have helped me learn more about things I wanted to be better at. So I follow fashion, food and home making blogs for inspiration since these things don’t come naturally to me!

21. Volunteer

I started pursuing my passion for giving back by volunteering for a no-kill animal shelter: Operation Kindness. I loved going to spend time playing with the dogs and making sure they had enough time outside to go potty and just enjoy being a canine. After realizing I wanted a more involved role, I decided to become a Big Sister in Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. I don’t have kids, I have the time and resources, and I have lived a very blessed life. I felt like it was my duty to give back during this time of my life. And I have enjoyed every minute of it! My little and her sweet little family are truly a blessing. I can’t imagine them not being a part of my life!

22. Grow In Faith, Learn Your Purpose

I started going to the Porch when I first moved back to Dallas from college. When I first showed up at Watermark, I felt confused about my purpose in life and ashamed for putting God on the back burner. I can sincerely thank this Tuesday night series for making me want to re-engage my relationship with christ.  Another goal of mine this year is to join a church and be actively involved in the church community. Over my lifetime, I want to inspire others to find christ and engage in a life walking with him. More to come on this pursuit!

23. Practice A Healthy Lifestyle

High School and College (for me anyways) were both times where I learned that I could survive on Chick-fil-a sandwiches, pizza and easy mac. However, in my later college years when I had a house or apartment, I started to get into cooking healthy meals. Being a picky eater, it wasn’t easy at first. But I’m thankful I took the time to learn healthier recipes because now that I am not in school and I sit at a desk all day, I know I must make healthy choices 70-80% of the time. Otherwise I’ll start getting wider and shorter instead of taller and stronger! I put big effort into eating healthy and making time for workouts. I think everyone in their 20s should learn more about living a healthy lifestyle so as you get older, making the right choices and keeping healthy habits will come naturally.

24. Read A New Book Outside of School

I recently finished reading The Shack and I can honestly say it really helped me remember my relationship with God. Reading can do so many things for you. It helps you read faster, think clearer, write better, expands your vocabulary. Not to mention there’s SO much knowledge out there, waiting to be discovered behind the cover of an unopened book. I feel like Belle in Beauty in the Beast when I talk about books but I am passionate about learning and reading. I am awful at picking up a book, but once I do, I NEVER regret it!

25. Rescue Or Foster An Animal

Given you have the time and resources, I think adopting or fostering an animal is such a positive thing to do in your twenties. I adopted my dog when I was 19 and she has been such a blessing not only to me, but my entire family. There are so many people in this world that carelessly breed or refuse to spay/neuter their pets. It is a BIG problem. There are too many strays and unwanted pets that did not ask to be deserted due to careless and selfless behavior. To me, adopting an animal is one of the best things I did as a young adult and I don’t regret it one bit.

That sums up my 25 things to do before 25. Do you think anything is missing from this list? What are your favorite memories of your early 20s? Or if you are in your early 20s, what’s your favorite part about it? Is there anything you wish you would’ve done when you were younger but never did? Are there things you might regret or wish you would have handled differently? Let’s start a conversation!