25 Lessons Learned by Age 25

Happy Birthday to Me! 25 years ago I became the 4th "Clark Girl" and forced my mom to have her only C-Section of all 4 (Anybody else try to hang themselves with an umbilical cord?). Looking back at birthdays over the years it's always funny how different each one is, but that's whats so fun (or not fun) about growing up! In honor of making it to a quarter of a century, I decided to share 25 lessons that I've learned so far. I'm sure there are many more, but these were the first that came to mind!

1. "His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are higher than our ways"

I remember being 22, fresh out of college and I heard a sermon from Isaiah 55:8. At that point in my life I was trying to transition from being a student to a professional and was frustrated with the process. And this passage of scripture sucker-punched me. I'll never forget that day or that sermon, and it always reminds me that even when I don't see it, He is working. My God is working long before I even need Him to and His plan is far greater than mine. It's always amazing to me to look back on key moments in my life when things seemed so out of reach and now I know exactly why they happened as they did. 

2. Treat others how you want to be treated

This is the Golden Rule but people don't always abide by it. Go above and beyond for people, even if they don't for you. Treat people kindly, compassionately and with honesty even when they don't deserve it. You never know what is going on under the surface and sometimes you can truly make a difference just by being nice.

3. Be Selfish

On the flip side of that, be selfish sometimes. Don't do things just to please someone else and learn how to say "no." I am very much a people pleaser, but I've definitely learned lately that sometimes I just have to do what is best for me regardless of another person.

4. Always have a snack

If you know me I rarely go somewhere without survival food. I am not nice when I'm hungry and other people do not deserve what they tend to get if I haven't eaten.

 

5. Always have a jacket

I am perpetually freezing. My husband is the opposite along with a majority of society. Never leave home without a sweater regardless of the the fact that it's July.

6. Mind Your Own Business

Some things just don't concern you and sometimes people don't want your help or your opinion. Live your life, do your job, pay your taxes and don't worry about what other people are doing. You're wasting energy on things that don't concern you.

7. Be Honest

This tends to get me in trouble sometimes, but it's so much easier to be straightforward than "beat around the bush" trying to get your point across. My friends and family tend to say "MC will say anything cause she just don't care" and while that is sometimes the truth, it did take me a long time to get to this point. But you're usually more likely to resolve the issue if you just cut to the chase. 

8. Think Positively

Positive thinking can get you a long way! I am not always the best about finding the good in a situation, but it tends to get you farther than being pessimistic. Positive thinking produces results!

9. Spend time with Grandma (fill-in-the-blank with said family member)

My Ma Ma is my best friend and she turns 90 next week. I know one day she will not be around, so I try to make time to spend with her. Sometimes it can be weeks in between, but she has taught me some great lessons over my life time from finances, relationships and cooking!

10. Never Stop Learning

Learn from Grandma, learn from textbooks, learn from Google and learn from others. You can't be an expert in everything but it helps if you have some knowledge!

11. Money isn't everything

And everyone older than me rolls their eyes at the 25-year old. Some days I think "Man you really should've stuck with the Law School plan" or "Why do I not have a reality show yet?" but then I stop to think about how rich I really am. While having a lot of money makes things easier, it doesn't make you any happier. If it's not going to put you in debt, take the trip! Buy the shoes! Do what's going to make you happy!

12. But don't be an idiot with debt

"Oh it's just a payment" I've only acquired a few small debts beside our house payment since becoming an adult, but even the small ones can be a pain to pay off. It'd be much easier to save until you can afford it or finance it comfortably.

13. Don't be complacent

Never stop trying to get better. People go to college, get a job and that's it. Always try to better your craft and learn as much as you can. Things change, advancements are made and you will get asked about it. On that another note, don't be complacent with personal things. Continue to grow closer to loved ones, continue to push your body physically and never stop seeking spiritual knowledge.

14. Love your body for what it can do -- not what it looks like.

This one has taken me nearly the entire 25 years to learn. We're our own worst critics. And sure, we might wish we were 10 lbs lighter, we didn't have stretch marks or cellulite, but let's be honest -- your body functions each and every day to keep you alive. It knows when to breathe, when to pee, and when to tighten a muscle to protect you from energy. Not to mention the additional things you put it through like running, lifting weights, doing yoga or playing a sport. When we shift our focus from what we look like to what we can do, we become less concerned with what we look like. And a lot of times, the look we want comes with the ability. I'm heavier now than I've ever been and some days I really dislike how I look. But I also squat over twice my bodyweight, deadlift as much and bench more than some guys I know. #winning

15. Take more pictures

While most of society is anti-selfie and "Unplug" these days, and I wholeheartedly agree for the most part, sometimes I really wish I had taken a picture. I'm very much an in-the-moment kind of person but I often get home and think "Man why didn't I get a picture/video that" For example my 15 rep squat set at Team Pro Physique Camp with my coach and several team mates rooting me on.

16. Don't sweat the small stuff

If it's not going to matter a week or even a day from now, don't stress out over it. Stuff happens and it's life. Move on.

17. Pick your battles

Some things are just not worth it. There have been several instances where I've looked back and said "Why did I even make a big deal out of that?" Sure, reoccurring things should be addressed, but don't pick a fight for the sake of fighting. (I love you Mikey C sorry I'm psycho sometimes)

18. Work quietly

People are so quick to tell the world everything they're doing when sometimes you're better off to put your head down and grind in silence and then let everyone see the result. This goes for everything from contest preps, business ventures, and relationships. Everyone doesn't have to know every little detail about everything you're doing.

19. Be Consistent

Consistency can make or break you. You don't have to be great every single day, but you do need to be consistent. Routine makes things work better and people know what to expect. If you're going to be late, be late consistently. That way no one is surprised when you're late.

20. Admit when you're wrong and apologize when needed

Don't let pride make you a poo poo head. If you're wrong - say that you're wrong and if you need to apologize, do it. Grudges are silly.

21. Eat the cake

Unless you have a hard deadline on the calendar that you absolutely have to be in a certain physical condition for it - EAT THE CAKE. Don't be the person that goes to a birthday party and says "Sorry can't have any" even though secretly deep down you're dying for a piece. If you genuinely don't want it or know it's not worth the calories then by all means pass it up. But don't suffer for the sake of suffering. (If you're someone that just doesn't like cake then you're a weirdo and we can't be friends anymore.)

22. Always tip the waiter

Having worked in food service making a whopping $2.14 an hour - tip your waiter! If they suck, tell management, but at least give them 10%. They did at least give you a service and chances are management will punish them enough. Ever worked all night and came home with hardly any money because human being suck and don't know how to tip - this girl has.

23.  Eliminate toxicity from your life

Toxic people, toxic places, toxic things - eliminate them! If every time you leave a place, you leave in a bad mood - stop going there! If you end up mad or have a headache every time you're around a certain person - stop being around them. Some situations can't be avoided but if you can eliminate it - do so.

24. Live with an attitude of thankfulness

We are so blessed. If you're reading this - you are blessed because you have access to the internet. You also have eyes that can see and a body that can maintain enough function to keep you alive. It's easy to get caught up in what you don't have but appreciate what you do. 

25. "If your life isn't what you want it to be -- change it." - Jennifer Hanna

Many people know I lost a dear friend and her husband last year within 9 months of each other. Jenn gave a eulogy at Mitch's funeral and said the following:

"If you have a dream, chase it. If you have a passion, live it. If you're life isn't what you want it to be, change it." 

They lived by those words long before she said them and they encouraged me to go after the things I wanted. They pushed me to do scary things and those are the kind of people you need in your corner. I've never forgotten her words and since losing her I cling to them. Don't let anything stand between you and your dreams, your passions or the life that you want. Life is too short to live with regret or bitterness. Don't let the opinions of others or the amount of work required deter you. Don't be afraid to fail, but don't be afraid of success either.