They say that after 21, a birthday becomes just another day, but these past four years have been the highlight of my early 20s (especially #25) and I’m beyond thankful & proud.
It’s crazy what I experienced in my first half of my 20s & how much I grew as a person.
As another birthday goes by, I like to take my birthday week to reflect on my past year & remember all the little things that I’ve learned that have allowed me to grow.
So I’ve created a list of 25 Things I Learned at 25 to share & hope these little things resonate or enlighten you.
1) It’s never too late to stop doing something you hate & start doing something you love. It’s better to start over than continue every day doing something you don’t love. I.e. If working & travelling the world or becoming the best stripper is your dream, you do you hunny!
2) Learn to break the rules. You stand out by not following rules instead of fitting the mould like everyone else wants you too.
3) Don’t let people or society tell you how you should live your life. When I completely lost everything (9-5 job, a condo, a normal life) to start travelling the world, people judged me. This made me more anxious & stressed about my decision because people looked down on me for breaking the societal norm of an unusual lifestyle.
Eventually, you’ll realize not to care about what people think and focus on the fact that you are living your dream. By being abnormal & following your dreams, you opened up a new exciting life that nobody else could imagine having.
4) The longer you love someone deeply, the harder it is to let go and move on. This is why I found it hard to get over my Ex of many years in 2017.
5) Fairytales do come true. Remember when Lizzie McGuire went to Italy and fell in love with a European man… this fairytale idea becomes reality for you when you went to Europe this past year. Sometimes the love of your life won’t be in the country where you live and you might not find them unless you travel and find the one.
6) Travel the world! You will be amazed by what this beautiful earth has to offer. It’s a huge blessing to travel and work remotely. You only live once on this planet and it’s been a dream to see as much as possible.
7) Try to save money or put some money away each month that you cannot touch. Emergency funds are necessary.
8) Credit Cards can be a lifesaver & save you money in the long run. Majority of people have negative feelings about credit cards, but when you find a credit card that covers your ass in so many situations, you’ll realize there are more benefits to having one. For example, free medical, dental and rental insurance when you use your card to travel! I’ve also saved so much money from cashing points each year to pay for free flights.
9) You’ll realize that taking small environmental steps is important; like stopping using plastic straws, because they might end up in the nose of a turtle or swallowed by a whale. There’s so much garbage in our oceans and most are not biodegradable and harmful to the earth.
10) Cherish your friends. There will be times they move away or you move away, but what’s great about travel is that you can also visit them and experience a whole new place, full of adventures together.
11) You have too much shit – like physical crap from the past 25 years sitting around not being used. Time to get rid of everything.
12) You also travel with too much shit – learn to pack minimally and who cares if you were the same thing twice in one week.
13) In 2017, you needed more time to reflect. This was a good & bad thing. It was good because reflecting helped you realize what you needed to do better and allowed you to make tangible goals to change to be better. The bad thing is that you sometimes reflected on your past relationship with your ex and wondered where you went wrong, how you could have changed to make things work and really put yourself down because you blamed yourself for getting your heart broken.
14) Travelling is exhausting. Moving around from one place to another is too exhausting, you much prefer to stay in one place longer. Travelling is more enjoyable when you base yourself somewhere for a longer period of time.
15) Take more road trips. Having the flexibility to drive anywhere, stop anywhere, explore anywhere is one of the best ways to explore new places.
16) Collaborating with like-minded people makes the journey more enjoyable, more enriching & more successful.
17) Learn to break the rules, you stand out instead of fit the mould like everyone else.
18) You say sorry way too much. For example, when the person’s pillow in front of you on a flight to Toronto fell on you, you passed the pillow back and said “sorry this fell on me”.
19) Medical travel is a thing. Going to the dentist in your home country can cost you hundreds and potentially thousands, and you’ll realize it can be cheaper to fly to other countries, like Mexico, and get the same treatments for 10 times cheaper and it’s just as safe. Instead of paying $1,500 on dental work, a friend paid for a roundtrip to Mexico, got a 5-star resort and get the same dental work and SAVED $400. That’s right, they got a vacation and their teeth done and still saved money.
20) When you leave Canada, you realize how lucky you are to be Canadian. So many people wish they could start a life in Canada. Despite Canada being 30% unbearably humid and 50% unbearably cold, it 100% feels like home and one of the safest place for a gay man.
21) Go to your doctors regularly & stay healthy. You’ve realized how many viruses and bugs you can get from travelling so make sure to get vaccinated for as many things possible and keep healthy.
22) Many “dangerous” countries aren’t actually dangerous. The media can often portray many countries as dangerous and leaves people with a fear never to travel there. As a gay man who has travelled to 25+ countries in my 25 years, I can honestly say that some countries portrayed as dangerous, aren’t actually dangerous. There are some places I recommend sticking to tourist areas or with locals and avoid areas with a high crime rate, but generally, most tourist places are safe even if the entire country is perceived or projected as “dangerous” (ex. my family has a fear of going to Mexico based on how the media only focuses on the negatives of this beautiful country).
23) Routines might be boring, but they’re so beneficial. When you travel the world for a living, there is no such thing as routine. One day you wake up in a hotel, have to pack everything and be out by 11 am, have Mexican street food for lunch, explore a new place and head to the airport only to wake up the next morning not in a bed, but in a plane seat that’s landing in France.
24) Travelling the world for a living is not easy. Everyone will think you’re life is easy and a lot of fun, until you explain to them how stressful it is to travel 90% of the year and constantly on the go, constantly in new places without any routine, balance or constant structure. I always say “Think about how stressed you get planning a 1-week vacation, packing everything you need and organizing how to get to places, where you’ll be staying, etc and now think about that stress occurring almost every day of the year. Yeah, a life of constant travel isn’t easy; in fact, it’s more stressful than anything I’ve ever done in my 25 years, including school or stresses of becoming a responsible adult.
25) As you get older, travel with your family. As a kid, I often travelled with family, but as I got older, travelling with them almost became non-existent because I left the nest and flew away to start my life. It’s important to return back to the nest and create new memories with family now that you’re older. Make time for the people who raised you.
Every year we learn something new! What’s something new you’ve learned this year?
I could not have asked for a better birthday. This year I rented a 2018 Camero for $200 USD for the week and drove up the California Coast to Big Sur and stayed in a luxury cabin!
If you’ve never seen or even heard of Big Sur or the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1), it’s literally one of the best road trips you will ever take in your life.
I’ve driven this highway almost every year in my 20s because it’s still one of the most beautiful places and drives in the entire world.