Turning 25 can be an eye-opening experience for some women. You may be settling into your career or getting over a tough break-up, which may feel like the end of the world, but it’s really not. As you approach the last five years of your twenties, here are 25 tips you can take along the way (in no particular order of importance):

  1. Listen to your mother. She has never been wrong and will never be wrong. She’s also getting older, so remember, when she calls — she isn’t nagging. Truth is, she probably just really misses you, especially if you’re far away.
  2. If anyone ever says, “it get’s easier,” they’re probably lying and you should run away. Run quickly— in the opposite direction. Life is hard. Sometimes things will not go the way we want professionally or personally — the key is to surround yourself with folks who love you and want the best for you. Live simply, walk humbly and eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables.
  3. Stop comparing yourself to other women. I get it, I do. You log onto Facebook or Instagram and it seems every week another one of your classmates is either engaged, buying a house or starting a family. Those things are wonderful when the time is right. There’s no reason for you to feel bad about yourself because you haven’t achieved those milestones yet. That’s OK! Perhaps it simply isn’t your time yet. At 25, it’s all about figuring out where you fit in this world and being the best you possible. You should be so focused on nurturing your passion that you can’t even see what other women are doing. Put your blinders on, stay in your lane and work on your own empire. When the timing is just right, you’ll have everything you deserve.
  4. Have a list of “non-negotiables.” By now, you may have had at least one experience with a young suitor that left you thinking, “I cannot believe I got tried like this. Alright, this is unacceptable. I don’t want this to happen ever again in life.” At that moment, you need a list of non-negotiable criteria for the next young man that comes along. This list is not to be shallow characteristics of a man you probably picked up from a movie.  In fact, it’s not even about the man. It’s about you and what you are willing (or not willing) to work through in a relationship. As women, we set the standard for how we want to be treated. Relationships are not about games, however, we have the power to implement what will be tolerated and what will not. If the guy can’t fall in line with your non-negotiables, his loss. But your list should not falter. Write them down, put it on your mirror, make sticky notes, etc. Do whatever you need to do!
  5. It’s OK to say “no” sometimes. Once you get over saying it the first time, it’s actually quite refreshing. People will use and use and use until there’s nothing left of you! It’s imperative to take time out for yourself and not always be available. This doesn’t make you a bad person by any means — but you’ve got to learn to take care of yourself first before being there for anyone else.
  6. You’re going to make lots of mistakes.  This might sound basic, but it’s true. How will you ever learn what’s right for you if you don’t make a mistake? Life is about experiences and learning. If you’re aren’t learning, you aren’t growing. However, making mistakes is not an excuse to be lazy. Once (OK, maybe twice) is a mistake — anything after that is a choice. Choose wisely.
  7. Forgive. Often and freely. You don’t do this for the person who may have wronged you, you do it for yourself. By holding onto anger, hurt and resentment you’re only stifling your own maturation. Sure, there may even be things in your past you haven’t found peace with yet — let it go because you aren’t that person anymore and you’re moving into a new season. You’re a beautiful black woman and very much needed! Brush that hurt off and keep steppin’ in those stilettos.
  8. Assertiveness. Unfortunately, societal standards say when a woman does this, she’s a b—-. Not true. At 25, no one is going to speak up for you. You are intelligent enough to know what you want and how you want to be treated. You don’t have to settle for anything and there’s no need for you to be afraid of anyone (including your parents). Speak your mind and smile. Even the harshest of statements can be softened up with a smile and grace.
  9. A healthy diet and exercise regimen. Slowly you’ll begin to notice that skirt isn’t quite fitting the way it used to, and those Flamin’ Hots look mighty tasty at 11 p.m. But please resist! It is much easier now to develop a healthy lifestyle than it is after you bear children (or so I’ve been told). Eat clean. This doesn’t mean go completely vegan, but try to keep the Harold’s four pieces to a minimum, OK? And join a gym. Go beyond the treadmill and take a stab at strength training and toning. You body will love you for it later.
  10. Actions have way more leverage than words. People talk, a lot. Don’t be a talker. Put those great ideas into practice! Surgeons don’t just wake up one day and perform open-heart surgery, they undergo rigorous training for years. If there’s something you’re extremely passionate about, take the appropriate measures to become an expert at it. You’re either in the game or on the sideline. I don’t know anyone who enjoys the view from the sideline.
  11. Financial health. As wonderful as it would be to have a dynamic designer shoe collection, most simply aren’t in a position to have one at this age. Everyone, woman or not, needs to have a little something saved for a rainy day. The employment climate has  increased significantly within the last few years, but it never hurts to have a little cushion. Oh, and stop using credit! I’ve never understood why people spend money they don’t have. Keeping up with the Joneses isn’t worth it — because you don’t know what the Joneses have going on in their house.
  12. Learn to be silent sometimes. You learn more about folks when you take a step back and simply be quiet. If you’re running your mouth 100 miles an hour, you’re not listening. Listen, absorb and keep moving. You’ll be noticed more than you think.
  13. Develop a relationship with a force greater than yourself. Sometimes there are things that occur that are completely out of our control — there’s no logical explanation for it. In those moments, we have to know there is something larger than us watching over our steps. Develop a relationship, pray in good times and bad and stop stressing! You’ve made it this far, right? You won’t be left, I promise. But when you pray, be prepared for the messages you receive. It may not be what you were expecting.
  14. Stop waiting for him to call. Just stop this. I say this in love: it’s kind of pathetic. While you’re sitting around waiting for him to call, he’s out here living his life. Perhaps you should do same. Get ahead on some work, develop a hobby, catch with your girls … just do something besides continually checking your notifications (you know there is absolutely nothing wrong with your phone). Said guy is not going anywhere and if he doesn’t call, guess what? There are plenty of eligible bachelors who will.
  15. Drop off that baggage. Things get heavy and when they do, you’ve got to put them down. Physical and mental weight is draining. Even if you don’t see it yourself, those around you will. Drop that ish.  Drop it, drop it, drop it.
  16. There’s no such thing as a “perfect” guy. You’re not perfect, so how can you expect your guy to be? This isn’t to say you shouldn’t have standards, because you definitely should. But remember that we’re all learning and trying to find our way. Listen to him, be supportive and learn to see past idiosyncrasies you may not be used to. You’ve got be flexible, but still hold your own (see #8).
  17. Reality TV is far from reality. You’re probably saying, “duh.” But folks really do try to live out what they see on TV. Bad, regressive behavior is toxic. Stay as far away from it as possible.
  18. A very basic knowledge of some sport. If you’re interested in dating or even interacting with a black American male, you should have a basic, working knowledge of the NBA, NFL, NHL, or MMA. Something! At least be able to start a conversation even if you don’t know the technical stuff. Guys like that sort of thing (I think? Who actually knows what men like or think).
  19. Drinking and “kickin’ it” gets old. Quick. It takes you a little bit longer to bounce back after a night of club hopping, doesn’t it? This was cool in undergrad (I guess), but now with a 9 to 5 and a few responsibilities, there’s really no point in mindless binge drinking. A kickback at a close friend’s place is one thing, but chugging beers like there’s no tomorrow is useless and will leave you feeling like a bloated mess. Trade the Hennessy for a glass of Merlot and just chill.
  20. Dealing with your mess. At some point, you’ve got to stop pointing the finger and take responsibility for a mess you may have created. This only comes with a certain level of maturity — to stand and deal. Sometimes we welcome stress and grief into our lives. Stop victimizing yourself and handle your situation as flawlessly as possible.
  21. You don’t have to tell everything. This isn’t being secretive or shady — it’s knowing when to divulge certain information and when to keep some. Everyone is not worthy of knowing everything about you. If you feel your story will bless someone else share it. If not, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with keeping your business to yourself. You owe explanations to no one.
  22. Your intuition is never wrong. It’s kind of like your mom. Your initial reaction is usually the most accurate. If your gut is telling you something ain’t right (or something is right), that’s probably what you should go with. Female intuition is extremely powerful and we have a tendency to ignore signs we don’t want to see. Stop that.
  23. Your body. A woman can’t be sexy if she doesn’t know her body or is uncomfortable seeing herself nude. Spend some time getting to know your body (and its parts) so you know what flatters your shape the most, or when something doesn’t feel right. Don’t rely solely on a man to tell you you’re beautiful. You’ve got to already know that for yourself.
  24. Racism and sexism exist. But, these crimes shouldn’t be used as a crutch. As an intelligent young woman, you’re built to thrive in the toughest of situations. Prove your worth through your work — you are going to encounter folks with no appreciation for diversity. That isn’t your problem. Remain professional at all times, but demand respect in the way you carry yourself.
  25. Laugh! A sense of humor is essential. If you can’t joke around with your friends, family and potential suitors, there’s something terribly wrong. You don’t have to be the life of the party, but have a joke prepared when the time is right.