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Quarter-life Reflection: A Century Young And Lessons Learned 

Quarter-life Reflection: A Century Young And Lessons Learned

Recently, I celebrated my twenty-fifth birthday. In honor of the big quarter-life milestone, I wanted to sit down and genuinely reflect on some of what I’ve learned, felt, and experienced over the past twenty-five years and what I hope for in the future.

Quarter-Life: (Self) Assessment

In the past few years, I’ve checked several big items off my bucket list: moving in with my partner, exploring Italy together, getting into UCLA, paying off my car, and adopting an adorable puppy. I’m happy with the trajectory of my life. I’ll graduate in June with a BA in English and a BA in Gender Studies. This fall, I’ll dedicate a good chunk of my free time to applying to MFA programs across the nation. I’m hoping this will hone my writing skills and enable me to publish The Next Great American Novel, as I work for a world-renowned publication like The New York Times or Ms. Magazine.

While I’m proud that I’ve worked so hard to get all my ducks in a row, I’ve learned some tough lessons along the way. Commuting five hours a day to attend UCLA has taken a brutal toll on my life. My friends and family members warned me that the drive might be too much. My partner encouraged me to, at the very least, take a practice drive to the campus and back. However, I completely ignored all their advice and accepted UCLA’s offer of admission without driving there once.

After a summer of twenty-five hours per week on the infamous 405, I wish I would have heeded their advice. Twenty-five hours is a tragic amount of time to lose every week; that’s a part-time job. Though I don’t regret my decision to become a Bruin, I do wish that I had opened my ears to the advice of my loved ones. As I grow older, I’ll make it a point to listen to others rather than assuming I’ve got all the answers.

Giving Back

Like so many other American women today, I’ve allowed the absurdity of the current political climate to get me down these past few years. The relentless barrage of negative news can be inescapable, especially for someone like myself, who’s always been interested in political fairness and social justice. The constant blows coming from the White House began affecting everything: my mood, my relationship, my hope for the future, and even my mental and emotional wellbeing. By the time spring rolled around, I’d had had enough. I decided it wasn’t enough just to vote and attend the occasional protest (though these are still incredibly important!) So I chose to take action.

Over the past summer, I interned at the Los Angeles office of Senator Dianne Feinstein. While I’m prohibited from revealing specific details about my duties, I can share the way that the internship made me feel. Volunteering my time and money to support a strong woman who advocates for issues that I support made a world of difference. I was finally able to lift the melancholy fog that shrouded me for so long. From assisting veterans to cooking food for the homeless population, this internship offered me the opportunity to directly improve the lives of others. This experience taught me the importance of political involvement and community service for the wellbeing of myself and my community.

In honor of reaching the quarter-life milestone, I started reflecting on some of what I’ve learned, felt, and experienced over the past twenty-five years

Quarter-Life: Gratitude

The older we get, the easier it gets to fall into the trap of submitting to the stress of the day-to-day. As a bartender, I’ve had my fair share of insolent or inappropriate customers that could ruin anyone’s shift. As a commuter, I’ve missed important classes due to freeway accidents that were out of my control. As a millennial, I’ve worried about bills more times than I can count.

However, all of these are inconsequential when viewed with a little perspective. Over the years, I’ve learned that, more often than not, everything works out in the end, and I should feel infinite gratitude for that. My first-world problems are nothing compared to many significant issues around the world right now. As I move forward, I want to work on maintaining gratitude for all that’s going right in my life rather than focusing on what’s going wrong.

Already, I wake up by listing three gratitudes so I begin my day with thankfulness, but that’s a practice that I could extend throughout my entire day. My immigrant parents moved to this country to offer me an opportunity to achieve the American Dream. Who am I to disrespect their sacrifices by remaining stubbornly blind to my blessings? I have my health, a happy relationship, a safe home, and a sweet puppy-son. What more do I need?

Happiness In The Next Quarter Century

My biggest goal for age 25 is to make happiness a priority. According to a report by NBC, just smiling more can improve your mood, lower stress, and boost your immune system. That’s a quick, and free, way to incorporate a little more joy into my day-to-day life. Another easy way is to limit social media usage. According to Psychology Today, the average person uses Facebook/Instagram for fifty minutes a day. To waste nearly one of the mere twenty-four hours in a day feels like an appalling misuse of time. As I grow older, I want to decrease the comparison of myself to others on social media. Instead, I’ll concentrate on comparing myself to where I was one year ago or five years ago to ensure I’m still on the path to reaching my goals. That way, I’m just focused on my own self-growth at my own pace.

In addition to these simple steps towards increased happiness, there’s one long-term goal at the top of my list: making my passion a priority. I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since I composed my first poem at three years old. Though I’ve spent my life scribbling down chapters and ideas, I’ve never completed a project. I’ve dedicated so much energy to work, school, and internships that there wasn’t much time left over for me.

Growing up, twenty-five seemed so old and far away, and I always believed I’d have a published book by then. Now that I am twenty-five, I wish I would have made the time for my writing. I hope that by the time another quarter of a century passes, I’ll have that book published, and maybe even a few more.

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