This year, I’m pulling an “uno reverse card” for my 25th time around the Sun.

Instead of getting gifts, which requires a form of taking from others, I’m going to give you all the gift of some of my best life lessons while taking away and removing some things from myself that I need to work on.

There are hidden battles that we all have that we don’t talk about, and I’m no different. This year, I’ve decided to win the war moving forward.

As for you guys, here are some of the best life lessons I could give as a fresh 25-year-old that I hope readers under and over 25 alike will be able to extract value from.

The sooner you embrace these, the better.

1. The most important cheerleader you can have in life is yourself.

Throughout your journey in life, you’re going to come across people who support you and those who don’t.

But your most consistent company from the moment you’re born and until you take your last breath is you.

If you’re not there to pick yourself up when no one is immediately there to help you out, then who’s going to take care of you?

Get in the habit of being the best cheerleader you can be for yourself. Build up discipline to keep yourself accountable, courage to keep yourself brave in moments of fear, and perseverance to right yourself in times when you falter.

2. There are two types of “family:” the one you’re born into, and the one that you make.

I’ve talked about my dark upbringing in my content on a number of occasions at this point, so for many of you reading this, it won’t come as a surprise that I don’t consider the family I was born into as “family.”

However, those out there who might share similar backgrounds and circumstances shouldn’t feel like their lives are doomed to be without familial support.

As you meet people throughout your journey in life, you’re bound to run into those who have your back, are there for you, hear you out, and support you. And hopefully, you do the same for them.

Just because you were born into a difficult family doesn’t mean that that’s the only family you have. You make your own family too, and if you need to distance yourself from your birth family to protect your mental health and/or physical well-being, then do so.

3. Stop comparing yourself to other people.

One major source of unnecessary stress comes from comparing yourself to others.

It’s not fair for you to compare yourself to someone else because you both come from different backgrounds and have lived through different circumstances. You’re not even the same on the genetic level.

Even if you’re comparing yourself to your identical twin, you don’t walk in the same exact shoes in the same exact spot 24/7. You don’t notice the same things. You don’t think about the same things. You don’t meet the same people.

All of these experiences and moments shape each of us in immeasurably vastly different ways.

Comparing yourself to someone else is an inaccurate practice.
Compare yourself to who you were yesterday instead.

4. Getting addicted to short-term gratification will kill your goals.

I wrote about my personal struggle with short-term gratification addiction, so I know the potential perils of this quite well.

You need to keep an eye out for activities you consider harmless that kill your time, such as scrolling through social media, playing video games, and partying with friends.

All of these activities prioritize feeling good in the moment and don’t really serve you in the long run. When you focus on receiving pleasure right here and right now, you don’t build anything for your future. That’s what “work” is: sacrificing the present so you can have something for the future.

So if you have an ambition like starting your own company or becoming an influential content creator online, you’re not going to get there by spending every second of your free time playing video games.

To build toward your future, get comfortable with sacrificing having fun today so that you’ll have something tangible and significant tomorrow.

5. You regret what you didn’t do more than what you did do.

If you ever missed an opportunity to do something because you chickened out, I’m pretty sure you were left thinking about that for quite a while.

Whether it was a cute girl you saw but didn’t have the guts to approach, or you missed the chance to take a vacation and now you’re left thinking about how you wish you could be on that boat instead of in a cubicle, we all get caught up in regretting the things that we didn’t do when we had the chance.

Compare that to the amount of time you spend thinking about taking an action, but things didn’t turn out as you wanted. Not the same amount of time, is it?

If you ask a cute girl out and she rejects your advances, you can tell yourself that at least you tried. In some sense, you won, because at least you tried and now you have an answer. If you never ask her out, you’ll stay up at night thinking about “What if I did ask?” and it’ll bother you way more than just hearing her say no.

Have the courage to try.

6. Think before you act. And talk.

Unfortunately, your life doesn’t come with a remote control that you can use to rewind time as you see fit.

When you slip up and make a mistake or say something hurtful in the heat of the moment, you can’t take that back. You can try to fix the damage that’s done and maybe that’s possible, but even a vase that’s broken and put back together has visible scars.

I find that prevention is always better than the cure.

You’re much better off preventing damage than you are dealing damage and then trying to fix it. A fix isn’t always a guaranteed outcome.

But if you watch what you say and do the first time around, you might not even have to worry about that.

7. Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.

As cliche as it might sound, mindset is so, so important when it comes to making moves in your life.

If you’re moving through life thinking that everything’s going to turn out badly no matter how hard you try, you’re going to find and notice a lot more negativity in your life. The opposite happens when you move through life with a more positive frame of mind.

Your mind will take every opportunity it can get to convince itself of what it’s already convinced of, and specifically and selectively search for evidence that confirms what it suspects.

In other words, if you think your writing sucks, you’re going to only pay attention to things that confirm that and minimize the things that don’t, and that’s how you convince yourself that your writing sucks. Everything’s going to seem worse than it really is, because you already think your writing sucks.

Pay attention to what you feed yourself – It impacts your abilities profoundly.

8. Not everyone who’s with you now will be with you later.

People come and go, and that’s no new news. What this means is that even the people who back you up now might not be there for you down the road.

Sometimes friendships fall apart. People break up. Divorces happen.

Sometimes relationships terminate not because of anyone’s intent, but rather because Death came to knock on someone’s door.

Appreciate the people who give you their time, energy, and attention. You never know when things can abruptly come to an end.

And don’t cling to things that have fully run their course. Not everyone is meant to stick around forever.

9. No period of hardship lasts forever.

Some people don’t stick around forever, but guess what else is impermanent?

Even your darkest moments in life, while they feel like they last forever, don’t last forever.

But the catch is, you have to work to dig yourself out of the hole. If you don’t actively try to get yourself out of a rut, you’re not doing yourself any good. You can’t expect a positive change to come out of a lack of effort.

Take a break if you need to gather yourself, grieve, or whatever you need. But once you’re done, pick yourself up and get moving.

If you’re going through hell, why stop in hell? Get the hell out of there.

10. Sometimes, people can surprise you. For the better.

A man I barely knew once saved my life from homelessness. I wrote about this in one of my older articles, but if you’re interested in hearing the full, detailed story, I’m also working on a book that will have that story (along with many others from my life) in it. Subscribe to my newsletter to hear when it comes out.

Anyway, the fact that this man I’d never met was willing to help me to such an astonishing degree was clearly a surprise.

I get that social media portrays a lot of humans as bad people, but you can’t let that shape your entire perspective of humanity.

As hard as it might be to believe at times, there are good people out there too. You just have to give people a chance, and no matter how many bad people you run into in life, always know that not everyone in the world is bad.

I linked to my darkest moment in tip #9. At that point in my life, I was convinced that just about everyone in the world was bad. But because I held out for something better, I was eventually able to be proven wrong.

Sometimes, people can surprise you.

11. Arrogance and close-mindedness destroy relationships.

Unfortunately, I fell out of touch with the aforementioned guy in tip #10 because he turned out to be quite close-minded.

As intelligent as he was, he never thought he was wrong, and there was an incident that happened (which will also be another story in my upcoming book) where he thought I was lying about something (when I wasn’t) because he couldn’t possibly be wrong.

It’s fine to be confident in yourself and in what you know, but never forget that nobody’s perfect, including you. Nobody knows everything, and even what we think we know isn’t always correct.

Close-mindedness pushes people away. It demonstrates a lack of empathy and unwillingness to understand.

12. Loud people compensate for their own insecurities.

Bullies and people who flaunt what they have to put others down are deeply insecure, and they disguise their insecurity with false bravado.

There’s a reason people talk about quiet confidence; true confidence doesn’t ask for attention, or require that others be put down to feel good about oneself.

If you have to prove to everyone that you have something, you might not really have it at all.

13. The fears that hold you back now will seem so minuscule when you look back on life.

Whether you’re thinking about putting more of your art and paintings out there or considering starting a music career, it’s not uncommon for people to get worried about being judged when they just start out.

Or maybe you see an attractive girl sitting by herself at a coffee shop and you want to ask her out, but you’re too afraid of being rejected.

I can speak from personal experience that if you can muster the courage to go after what you’re afraid of, regardless of the outcome, you’ll look back on your previous fears and laugh at them.

In the end, they really mean so little, compared to the possibilities that wait for you on the other side.

Don’t be afraid to take action.

14. You can add to your life by subtracting from it.

People are so obsessed with adding more and more to their lives that they forget that they can add to their lives by getting rid of things. And people.

I’m not suggesting that you look at people from a Machiavellian perspective and look at others solely from a standpoint of what can you get out of them, but when people no longer complement your life and instead detract from it, you don’t have to keep them around.

Sometimes, relationships go sour and start adding toxicity to your life. Sometimes, you develop addictions that initially feel good but ultimately hurt you in the long run.

Getting rid of people and things that don’t serve you will add more to your life.

15. Make yourself available to the people who matter most to you.

Despite the different love languages that we express and receive in varying amounts, I’m a firm believer that giving someone your time is the best way of showing someone you care about them.

Time is your one priceless currency that only ever leaves, and you never get more of it.

So when someone means a lot to you, show it by giving them your time. Do something fun with them. Take them to dinner. Go duke it out at an arcade.

They’ll appreciate it even if they don’t tell you, and you’ll both be making great memories after your adventures.

This tip especially applies to people in romantic relationships. I’ve seen too many stories of partners neglected by their own partners who would rather be having girls' nights or video game nights all the time.

If people don’t feel important and special in your life, they will leave you. If they matter enough to you, you better show them.

16. Don’t play games with people’s feelings and hearts.

If you can’t keep it real with someone, don’t string them along.

If you’ve never had your feelings and heart played with, it feels awful and it pisses you off, rightfully so.

Just don’t do it. Be honest with people and if you’re not interested, tell them. The blowback and rejection might be hard for them to take (which they shouldn’t be, because we should all be capable of calmly handling rejection), but at least they know where they stand and they’re not left in the dark.

Don’t ghost people or play hot and cold either. It’s what immature children do, and any decent adult who sees you playing games will and should drop you immediately.

As you get older and wiser, you get tired of the games. Don’t entertain them, and don’t play them.

17. Snap out of the honeymoon phase and be rational.

New attraction, especially when mutual, feels wonderful, but you have to remember to come back down from the clouds.

You’ve only just met this person, and there’s so much more to them that you don’t know and don’t see.

Keeping a levelheaded perspective when you find yourself attracted to someone new will help you evaluate them from a more rational standpoint. Doing this will help you analyze them in a more fair light.

When you live in the honeymoon phase, you give people a pass for bad behavior. You justify their wrongdoings because you like them. You let them bend your rules and maybe even break them.

Think of it this way: if this were your friend doing it, would they still be your friend?

18. Time is a priceless resource you never get back.

We talked about this briefly in tip #15, but it is so important to grasp this concept so it deserves its own tip section.

While I’m willing to bet you’ve got quite a bit of time left in your time bank, don’t overestimate the time that you have either.

I still remember the year between 18 and 19 years old, and as distant as that time is, it also feels like it the time between 18 and now went by pretty quickly.

I know I’m still young, but I also know that I’m getting older. I guess you could say I had a quarter-life crisis not too long ago, which is part of why I felt so motivated to pick up content creation again.

As it stands today, I want this to be my career and I want to make a living off of this, so I need to get to work now so I can live off the fruits of my labor while I’m still young.

Don’t waste your time and don’t underestimate how quickly it can go.

19. Find a way to provide value through something that matters to you.

What will make you fulfilled is to grow and to give.” — Tony Robbins

People care about different things, but if you can find a way to share what you know with the rest of the world, you’re taking one massive step toward fulfillment. In fact, one of the two steps necessary for fulfillment, according to Tony Robbins.

What brings me fulfillment these days is putting content out there on the internet for people to benefit from. I repurpose excerpts from my articles to make a nice photo album for people to see on Instagram. I also have my own newsletter that I send out once a week. I write on Medium.

These are my ways of giving people value and I hope to be able to financially sustain myself doing this so I can continue to do so. The best of both worlds.

If you can find what this pathway is for you, consider it your gold mine.

20. Alcohol is trash for most things. Don’t overindulge in it.

One of the more controversial articles I’ve written recently goes into this in great detail.

Alcohol is proven to be unhealthy and clearly creates a lot of problems but people indulge in it excessively all the time. I can already feel an internal rant brewing once again as I write this tip but I won’t release it. Read the article I linked if you want that.

I’m not saying people should never ever drink. I think it’s fine for certain celebrations and occasions, but alcohol is extremely overrated and overconsumed and those are facts. People depend on it and NEED it way too much.

Find ways to have sober fun. Find ways to socialize without needing alcohol in your system.

If you fail to do either one, you don’t know what true fun is or how to socialize. Bottom line.

21. Honesty and authenticity are two core pillars of healthy relationships.

You can’t have a healthy relationship where one or both parties involved are dishonest and can’t be themselves.

On the other hand, two signs of a good relationship are:

  1. The people involved can have heart-to-heart conversations without backlash.
  2. Both of them can be themselves without having to mask their flaws.

Vulnerability is a chore and a no-no in an unhealthy relationship. If you can’t be vulnerable, maybe you’re hanging out with the wrong people.

Surround yourself with people who value honesty and trust, and possess honesty and trustworthiness yourself.

When these are absent, the relationships lacking them are built on quicksand, and it’s only a matter of time before they fall, and fall badly.

22. Be proactive instead of reactive.

Have the courage to pursue the things and people that you want.

I briefly write about acting with the Future Self in mind in my most recent newsletter issue, which in turn was inspired by this brilliant article written by Ricky Lanusse. Being proactive is underrated.

There’s a difference between going after what you want and waiting for life to happen to you. One suggests confidence and willingness to pursue ambition, and the other implies fear, laziness, and slow progress.

If you wait for life to happen to you, you’ll be waiting a long time.

23. There are two kinds of advice: one-size-fits-all advice and case-by-case advice.

I’m pretty sure I wrote an article about this a long time ago but I can’t remember which one.

Anyway, knowing that there are two types of advice could seriously help you pilot your life in the right direction that benefits you best.

For example, being advised not to smoke because it’s not good for your health is one-size-fits-all advice, so you can follow it knowing it is sound because smoking is bad for everyone. However, being advised not to ask out your coworker because dating in the workplace “never works out” is case-by-case advice, and workplace dating has worked for many couples in the past.

A survey found that 14 percent of couples who met at work ended up getting married. This outpaced the number of those who got married after being introduced by friends (11 percent).

So someone who’s telling you not to date at work could just be giving advice based on their own experiences, and as well-intentioned as they might be, they could be giving you the wrong advice.

This is just an example, but it applies to other kinds of advice you get in your life. Be privy to the difference in the types of advice you get.

24. Do your best to be your best. You impact more people than you know.

Just because you’re not famous doesn’t mean you’re not influential.

I wrote about this in Medium’s largest publication of advice, support, and encouragement for writers. Even besides social media presence, you affect people you encounter in person, even if you don’t know them personally.

I talk about self-improvement all the time because if you don’t work on yourself and you go around being a dick to other people, you’re doing a lot of damage that you don’t even get to see.

The stuff you put out there and the way you carry yourself does affect other people beneath the surface. People can take what you say to heart as advice, or follow your example because they don’t know what to do, as is the case for a lot of children following grown-ups.

You may not have signed up to have an impact on others, but it’s an effect that we all share.

Doing your best to be your best makes the world a better place.

25. Share your journey with others to light the way.

We all have one life to live, so it’s impossible for any single one of us to go on every single journey that a person could ever take.

This final point kind of ties in with tip #19. Everybody has different interests, backgrounds, upbringings, and experiences. We run into different people and experience different things at different times. We’re born with different genes and go down completely separate paths.

Yet, even with all of our differences, we can empathize with each other. We see what someone else is going through and we think: “Hey, I know what that person is feeling. I’ve been through that!”

I think one of the secret sauces to fulfillment is being able to share your own experiences with other people to help them overcome their own trials and tribulations.

I’ve eaten utter poop throughout my youth in and out of the home and I consequently felt motivated to share my hardships as a way to show people that you can come out on the other side, and to show them how I did it.

No one in human history — past, present, or future — will ever be able to replicate your life, so you have a very unique story to share, and someone out there can benefit from hearing your story.

Don’t be afraid to show us how you did it. Teach us. Light the way for us to follow.

(Thank you Tim Denning for inspiring this article with your own.)