What My Fellow Vocal Creators Gifted Me for My 25th
I asked for their best life advice, and they delivered.
My twenty-fifth birthday falls at the end of September, something I haven't exactly been reluctant to share as of late.
Last weekend, I voiced my frustration that I don’t feel like I am where I “should” be at 25 in a Conversation Corner—a Sunday thread that gives creators a space to share with one another how they’re doing—in the Vocal Creators Saloon on Facebook.
Teisha LeShea, creator of the Saloon, graciously related to me and gave advice. She asked me,
You haven’t reached goals at 25, now what? What’s the worst that can happen? Jail time?
What I’m positive she realized is the humor in her what’s-the-worst-that-can-happen scenario.
What she didn’t realize is that she sparked an idea.
An idea for a vocal story.
I turned to a few of the Vocal Facebook groups I frequent to ask:
What is something you wish you would have known at 25?
The responses continued trickling in faster than I could transfer them here even hours after my posts. I was blown away not only by the number of responses I received, but also by the quality and genuinity of the advice.
I must say, I feel seen in the best way possible.
A Note to Those Who Participated
To all of you, my fellow creators, who took the time out of your day to share your advice with me—thank you. You have blessed me with your words, your stories, and your kindness in ways I’m not sure you can imagine. Your encouragement has been both timely and received with an open heart. I will cherish and remember it for years to come.
I hope you all find your way to this article, so that you can be reminded of the power within your own voice. I hope, too, that you might find something here by another Vocal-er that resonates with you.
You have all graced the Facebook groups with incredible wisdom and truth, and for that, I am eternally grateful. Thank you for sharing a bit of yourselves with us, and for your permission to share your contributions here.
It’s absolutely priceless, to sum it up. I found myself laughing one moment and dabbing at my sweating eyes the next.
As you read, you’ll notice that each creator’s name appears adjacent to the advice they gave and is linked to their public Vocal profile (if they have one and granted permission to share). If you’d like, I would encourage you to give their work a read or show some love by subscribing!
In a few instances, longer pieces of advice on several topics were split into multiple categories, so some creators’ names will show up more than once. Others are split into paragraphs with the name following the last. A few creators submitted more than once and their responses will remain separate. Slight adjustments to grammar were made to enhance readability, but the advice itself has not been altered.
Please enjoy the advice from 54 fabulous creators:
On growth & character
Note to my younger self. Be bolder. Step outside the boundaries of life and soar. Soleira Green
When you’re being hard on yourself because you feel you haven’t measured up in some way, know that your future self (five, ten, twenty, thirty years from now) feels not only tenderness and compassion for you, but admires your resilience, wisdom, and tenacity. If she could, she would reach back in time and give you a hug when you’re feeling low, cheer you on when you’re striving hard, and celebrate your achievements and even your mistakes, because everything you do now is a part of who she is and who you will become. Victoria Reeve
My advice would be not to be afraid of failure. It can be broken down into not letting fear get in the way and learning how to be ok when things don’t work out the way they should. It’s a learning process. Ali SP
If I could give myself any advice at 25 it would be to be patient. The lessons you want to learn versus the lessons you’re ready to learn are two different things. Practice gratitude early and learn to be fearless. Waiting for the perfect moment to start something will keep you in the same spot. Just jump but make sure you have a support system that is willing to catch you. Teisha LeShea
If it quacks like a duck...listen to your guts! Sarah St.Erth
Be true to yourself - don't ever deny or change any piece of yourself for anyone else. People come and go from our lives, but we are stuck with ourselves forever. It's heartbreaking when you have to try and rediscover yourself. Your tribe will accept you as you are and allow you to explore your passions and grow. Don't hold back, be genuine. Analise Dionn
It’s never too late to change direction. Doesn't matter if you're 25 or 65: chase a new degree or new path. Don't let anyone "Rain on Your Parade” Call Me Les
Design the life you want—in detail. Every day, take small steps toward building it. Robyn Reisch
Don't be too set on what you want to do with your life. Goals are great, for sure. But have a not-so-tight grip on your aspirations as they can change throughout your life! When I was in high school, I wanted to be a marine biologist. I ended up taking Criminology and going into a field to do with that, and now I've shifted to writing and editing (along with teaching yoga/meditation!). So don't think "I'm gonna do THIS for the rest of my life!" because it will change and that's totally normal! Caitlin McColl
Pure lifelong happiness is an unattainable and irrational goal. Don’t be hard on yourself because you aren’t feeling “happy.” Those moments come and go, just enjoy them. Shoot for contentment. That’s logical and real. Overly positive thinking can be detrimental. You have to allow your mind and body to feel pain and it’s okay. If you don’t, it’ll catch up to you. Casey Promise Thompson
When I was 25, I was at a very low point in my life. I thought I had my future all mapped out. When my plans then crashed and burned, I lost all my motivation and just felt lost. What I'd tell my 25-year-old self is to find what your talents and work with them. Adam Wallace
When you want to learn something new and you look at the years of study it will take, DON'T decide it will be too long, because in those 3 or 4 years’ time you would be looking back and cursing that you COULD HAVE been a qualified (whatever) if you had just started. Margaret Flood
Give the things you want to achieve a shot. Otherwise you’ll always wonder if you could have. Failure is just the first stop on the road to success. You don’t have to get off there. Natalie Wilkinson
Don't allow love to stop you from doing something you really want. Either love will follow you, adjust for you, or have to wait for you. Also, there is no deadline for anything in life, absolutely nothing, unless you're in school and have a paper or at work and need to meet one. Christina DeFeo
Yes, you will fall in love again. Casey Promise Thompson
There will always be another crush out there to shoot you down; do not be discouraged. You never know when you’ll meet “the one” person willing to accept you for you; in ALL of your accomplishments AND faults… Additionally, be wary of who you are willing to compromise for; and WHAT you are compromising… Kent A. Brindley
At 25 I was a mother of 4 and had come close to death due to tumors in my uterus. While I had been slowly hemorrhaging my way closer to death's door, my husband was berating and belittling me for my inability to keep up with my housework and cooking after chasing 4 preschool age kids all day. He didn't hear my requests for help or recognize that I was weak with anemia due to blood loss. After the surgery that saved my life, all he said was, "Huh! I guess you really were sick." Yet I stayed with that guy another six years. If I could do it over, I would tell that young woman that her self-worth was not ever tied up with the approval or disapproval of a thoughtless philandering man and to give it up before things got even worse. Listen to your gut. I wish I had. Paula Shablo
Don’t necessarily fall in love with the first person who says that he/she loves you. Take your time to know it’s right. Julie Lacksonen
Marriage is way more of a commitment than young people realize. You can’t just go and get out because it got crappy. You have to face very difficult times together. And often that leads to staying in something damaging way longer than you should because it’s a marriage. I don’t think this is addressed enough. Casey Promise Thompson
On relationships, boundaries & opinions
Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself; but don’t be afraid to sit on your opinion for 24 hours before expressing it. Shelley Carroll
Keep your mouth shut and assess the situation before speaking out. You're talented and intelligent, but foolhardy. Save your money. Choose your battles. Gene Lass
There’s a fine line between being nice and being taken advantage of. Know your worth, set the bar high, and don’t lower it regardless of others’ circumstances. Also, pick up a hobby. Anything. But something to actually take up your spare time in a productive way. Tonya Newman
"Never hold a grudge" would be one from me. They tend to eat up the person who holds them more than the person they are held against. Caroline Jane
There will always be people that don’t like you. Which is totally fine…because you don’t like everyone either. Don’t take it personally.
You don’t HAVE to be in a toxic relationship—whether it’s romantic, family or a job. Do what’s best for you.
Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks of you because they aren’t thinking about you, they are too consumed with worrying about what others think of them. Casey Promise Thompson
There are more similarities than differences in people. If someone annoys, angers or upsets you…what is it showing you about you? Instead of cracking up or hating yourself as the bad guy, try to see what the situation is showing you. Gillian Lesley Scott
People generally mean well—most people don't like to harm others, but when someone shows you who they are you should believe them. If someone's words and actions don't align, trust their actions above all else, and find the strength to cut people off whose actions don't align with how you deserve to be treated. Rachel M. J.
On fulfillment, time & timelines
Don't waste time on jobs or relationships that don't make you happy. It takes more courage to walk away from something than it does to stay because there's comfort in conformity even when what's "normal" for you isn't great. Finding joy is important, laughing every single day is important. Being miserable all the time isn't worth a relationship nor is it worth a paycheck. Use your 20's to find happiness, then stick with it. Courtney Capone
Your life is just beginning, don’t get so caught up in being an adult that you lose your sense of whimsy. You’re still young and you’re gonna be young for another twenty five years. You don’t have to chase ideals imposed by others, pursue things in life that impassion you and that teach you something, it’s okay not to have a dream job, it’s okay not to know everything about yourself yet. You’ve got time. You’ll never be more beautiful than when you’re actually living rather than thinking about living; crows feet are a cumulative of past smiles. Women don’t peak until they’re thirty-five and it just keeps getting better from there. Rooney Morgan
There are more years ahead of you than there are behind you. Voice of Genuine Society
No guy or group of friends is worth giving up a life opportunity. Slow down on the partying...travel overseas whenever you can—even if you have to stay in hostels. It will change your life in amazing ways. Sarah Paris
Don't let anyone stifle that fire in your spirit. In the Olympics, you can pass the torch—but not here. Fan the flames of independence, and walk your own path. We only go around once, so make the most of it. Cliff jump in Oak Creek Canyon. Travel across the country, then around the world. Sleep under the stars. Stop in sleepy towns and get the midnight special at 24-hour diners. Meet strangers and part as friends. Enjoy the wildness of youth before the mundane creeps up on you. Vonne Vantablack
Take time to enjoy life. Do not focus on the ages for when you need to get married, when you have to have kids and so on. Wait until your 30’s to put that pressure on yourself ;) C. H. Richard
You’re worthy. Ana Maria Radulescu
Believe in yourself even when no one else does. Even in the hardest moments, say I can do this. Gerald Holmes
I would strongly advise that you always trust your inner voice ~ I wish I had been strong enough to set boundaries and enforce them. I wish that I had a deeper understanding that I would survive alone much better than to be with someone who challenges and pressures me about my boundaries. Love yourself first and let life fall into place.
Physical, mental and emotional health wins over wealth any day of the week. Trust in your voice, your integrity, your morals, and if you have a higher power, hand over your angst and trust in the bigger plan. You will be empowered as you learn to let go. I promise. Be Julia, through and through. Lisa Garard Braun
My advice would be to KNOW you are stronger than you believe, and you CAN and WILL get through anything life throws your way. Just be gentle with yourself when the going gets tough. Colleen Millsteed
Stop worrying so much about everything. Trust yourself and treat those closest to you with love absent from judgment. Your criticism does nothing but hold you back from living as your true, happy self. And start meditating every single day, it will change your life in more ways than you can possibly imagine. Joshua R. Leuthold
Don’t let anyone make you feel small, or worthless. Don’t let anyone try to wound your spirit, or stifle your voice. We all have something worthy to contribute to the world and we are not responsible for someone else’s bad choices. Use your head AND follow your heart when it comes to love because they are both important. It’s okay to love yourself. Never let someone else make you compromise who you are in your soul. Lori Melton
I would say stop worrying about what others think about you because they're usually not, they've got their own shit to deal with. And, I'd say don't settle, know your worth and rid yourself of things or people that don't add positive things to your life. M. Rae
As wise as the words of others may be, learn to listen to your inner voice without judgement. Find your shadow and embrace it with all the love you would bestow upon a child afraid of the dark. Silence is sagacious. E. K. Daniels
No matter how hard it seems never give up. You are worth it! If you want to do it, do it! Life is too short to worry about regret. Ella Dorman
Enjoy your body now, because I guarantee you’ll miss the freedom to do fun adventurous things without pain in the future.
One day you will grow old and grey and start sagging. Your skin will feel strangely smooth but stretchy. If you don’t accept your looks and who you are now, you will have even a harder time when aging. Accept yourself now and aging will be so much more liberating. Casey Promise Thompson
It's okay to feel. Life is marvelous with all or moments and memories. Being sad, nervous, stressed, all feelings are important to feel. We become better each step of the way. We have day and night: both beautiful their own way. Don't forget that you feel the emotions! The emotions are a journey, never the destination. You're the goal: a new version, full of great imperfections to be proud about! Sofia Duarte
I had my first child at 25. I had NO idea who I was. I would be more mindful of myself if I had my time over. Every thing we need is actually inside us. Gillian Lesley Scott
Trust your instincts. Laugh at yourself. Always like yourself and be sure that those people you trust to be around you, treat you as a valuable, irreplaceable person. You are more than worth it! If possible, buy—don't rent. Live 100%. Kelli Sheckler-Amsden
My advice is to live below your means. That way if/when you retire, change jobs, weather a pandemic, you won’t have the stress of making your bills to make things worse. Also: read books, eat ice cream, and say ‘yes’ to new adventures. Judey Kalchik
My piece of advice is about as geeky and unsexy as you'll likely find, but it's really helped me. Create a spreadsheet with your wages and then all the monthly deductions/subscriptions and stuff like that. It's really useful to know when your bank account has stuff coming out, it gives peace of mind, and it's a great way to stay on top of your finances. The amount of times that monthly outgoings previously caught me by surprise is frankly ridiculous, and there's few things as miserable as that late night money-worry when you've slipped up on budgeting, for example, a phone bill or an annual subscription coming out. Conor Darrall
Invest in Amazon. C. H. Richard
Save money. I mean it. Start saving money now. It’s absolutely imperative. If you haven’t focused on your credit yet, do it now. Casey Promise Thompson
Don’t fall into working with any companies that seek to make you into a “self-employed” “brand ambassador.” Even if it’s ostensibly for a charitable cause that lends it a veneer of altruistic legitimacy other more blatant forms of MLMs may lack…it’s still an MLM by any other name, and it will bleed you dry if you don’t get out fast enough.
DO. NOT. BUY. STUFF. WITH. CREDIT. Jack Anderson Keane
Financially at 25 I wish I knew how investing worked and how much renting was a waste of money. Theodore Dembowski
Start a retirement account. Asiya
On other & practical things
Don’t pluck your eyebrows too thin no matter what the current trend is, they’ll never grow back properly. Lissa Bay
Gratitude is the secret to happiness. Robyn Reisch
Success is achieved through organization. W.H. Michael
Don't worry about the small stuff. BTW, it's all small stuff! Babs Iverson
It all goes by so fast. Don’t forget to tell those you love how much you care about them and believe in yourself. You got this. C. H. Richard
Simplify your life and soar higher. No extraneous clutter or obstacles as keepsakes simply because you just can't bear to part with them. Imagine with all the life you have left to live if you kept everything or too many things. How does that feel as you close your eyes for a minute? Heavy or light? Giving or receiving? When you reach into the realms of your highest self, all the great stuff won't leave you. It won't be necessary to hold on to anything anyway, and you'll be amazed by the views. The Dani Writer
There are no “cool kids”—everyone is insecure in their own way. They are just better at hiding it.
You’re always better at something than others. No, I can’t act like Meryl Streep and I’m not a doctor….but I could beat them in drawing any day. We are all equal.
Everything is temporary.
The embarrassing things that happen will be funny later on, I promise.
People you care about will die. You won’t know who. Be as good to your loved ones as you can be here and now.
Watch old movies, listen to musicians from long ago and learn more about history.
Eat all the things because one day every doughnut will count.Casey Promise Thompson
Do not be scared of change—without it you cannot grow. Do NOT worry about what other people think of you—it is none of your business. Learn to say no, and mean it. If it doesn’t make you happy, walk away—it takes more courage to do this than to stay. Don’t be pressured by society—if you don’t want children, husband, house, etc.—then don’t do it. Don’t follow traditions (they are just old dead people telling you what to do)—make new traditions. Julianne McKenna
If you go by yourself to a concert in a city you don’t live in, and where you don’t know anybody, then for the love of god, BOOK OVERNIGHT ACCOMMODATIONS IN ADVANCE. DON’T WING IT. Otherwise you’ll be left wandering the streets aimlessly for miles, from past midnight until past sunrise, bored and sleep-deprived and killing time until the first train home rolls in.
If you’re going to book a photoshoot time slot with a celebrity at a comic con, it is an EXTREMELY DUMB IDEA for you to think you could ask to stage a picture where you, and said celebrity, cross swords in mock comedic combat, and do so with ACTUAL REAL SWORDS, because a) the con organisers would (rightly) never allow it, b) the sword sellers box their swords up and disallow you to open them until you are in your own home away from the public, and c) would YOU trust a stranger if they came up to you with a couple of mini katanas, at any point in time, let alone if you were in the celebrity’s position, you fucking dickheel? (Also: don’t waste £25 on two mini katanas you see at the aforementioned comic con, you utter knobhead.) Jack Anderson Keane
One suggestion for you is that it would be great if you wrote a poetry book by collecting all of your poems. One of my subscribers who hasn’t published on Vocal
Thank you all for the incredible words of advice, your encouragement and the many birthday wishes; they will carry me into this next year waiting to be lived—and I’ll remember it, and your caring gesture, long after.
For someone whose habit is to dread birthdays and milestones, to grieve the passing of time and all the things I haven’t yet accomplished, it’s truly a blessing to be able to look ahead with hope and motivation.
You have given me the most meaningful gift.
To our readers: I hope that you’ve enjoyed the read and perhaps that you’ve gained new insight or something to take with you as you journey forward.
Blessings to you all.