The quarter-life crisis is real, man. This isn't a "woe is me" post about how hard it is to grow up, nor is it a eulogy to my teen years.
The truth is, being 25 is simultaneously amazing and terrifying. I have (hopefully) my whole life to live, and yet, I'm freaked out I'll mess it up.
As I stare down the barrel of my quarter-life crisis, I find myself turning to words of wisdom from men and women I respect. Your 20s is the time you not only figure out who you are, but also when you take ownership of your thoughts, actions, feelings and place in the world.
These 25 mantras remind me do just that, and keep me sprinting toward my best self:
1. “Here's to those who wish us well, and those who don't can go to hell.” -- Elaine Benes
Elaine Benes from “Seinfeld” is one of my earliest feminist role models. Whether she was rejecting a love interest because he wasn't pro-choice or dancing her weird little kick-dance like nobody was watching, she lived life her own way.
2. “Good for her! Not for me.” -- Amy Poehler
Amy Poehler has bestowed a bounty of insight upon the world, and this is a vital nugget to keep in mind.
It's easy to be stoked about your own successes, but it can be difficult to rally for those of others. The next time you're fuming at your Facebook feed, pour yourself a glass of wine and invoke this mantra.
3. “I am a hot-blooded fighter and I am fearless.” -- Amy Schumer
Another inspiring quote from another inspiring Amy.
I could see Schumer sarcastically repeating this to her reflection in one of her comedy sketches, but it's actually really empowering. I can't say I frequently feel this way, but that doesn't keep me from trying.
4. “If you were happy every day of your life, you wouldn't be a human being. You'd be a game show host.” -- Veronica Sawyer
If you've never seen "Heathers," stop reading this and watch the 1980s comedy immediately! (It's on Netflix.)
As Veronica, Winona Ryder drops knowledge bombs aplenty. Even if her teenage angst does have a body count, she excels in shining light on life's many hypocrisies.
5. “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.” -- Mark Twain
It feels good to do good for others. End of story.
6. “Never let go of that fiery sadness called desire.” -- Patti Smith
Patti Smith's memoir, “Just Kids,” should be required reading for all quarter-life crisis sufferers.
In painfully beautiful prose, Smith recounts how all of her actions are propelled by a desire to make her mark on the world.
7. “You don't have to be born beautiful to be wildly attractive.” -- Diana Vreeland
Reassure yourself of this the next time you're agonizing over a new zit.
8. “One friend with whom you have a lot in common is better than three with whom you struggle to find things to talk about.” -- Mindy Kaling
Being in your 20s poses a friendship paradox: Just as you grow apart, physically and emotionally, from your high-school and college friends, you also realize that forging new friendships can be hella difficult.
As a self-proclaimed introvert, I am a proponent of the small friendship group. I'd rather be comfortable with one or two people than force myself to feign interest/have a panic attack at a massive party.
I'm on the north side of 25, and I just don't have time for that.
9. “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” -- Abraham Lincoln
Oh, Abe. Such a truth-speaker.
If there's one thing I've learned so far, it's you can't wait around for your life to change. You have to make the change yourself.
10. “Liberation does not come from outside.” -- Gloria Steinem
Glorious Gloria Steinem shares Abe's sentiment that you have to be the change you wish to see in the world.
Her provocation, of course, extends to feminism. It is a mantra all young women should keep in mind, especially when making decisions regarding career and family.
11. “You will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do.” -- David Foster Wallace
I recently saw an awesome meme of Leo DiCaprio, circa "The Wolf of Wall Street." It was emblazoned with “I'm 97 percent sure you don't like me, but I'm 100 percent sure I don't care.”
This Foster Wallace quote reflects that same ethos. Live your own life, and don't worry about what others think of you.
Besides, that chick from work or the snarly barista who always gets your order wrong (he must be doing it on purpose!) is not wasting time thinking about you, so why waste your time thinking about her or him?
12. “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self.” -- Aldous Huxley
One of my mother's favorite sayings is, “You can't control what other people do. You can only control your reaction.”
Growing into yourself means managing your autonomy, taking responsibility for your actions and not hating on the inaction of others.
13. “You aren't sure if you're making the right decision about anything, ever.” -- Joan Didion
Sometimes (all the time) I feel as if I have no actual clue what I'm doing with my life. This nagging feeling extends to my everyday choices (i.e. a sugary latte over water), as well as the big-picture, five-year plan stuff (i.e. financial stability versus the pangs of wanderlust).
At the end of the day, I usually just go with my gut because, as Didion points out, nobody is psychic, so why bother agonizing?
14. “You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” -- Virginia Woolf
There are times -- and I won't bore you with how frequently they occur-- when I want to curl up in bed, eat ice cream and watch Netflix until I'm 85.
On occasion, I fight that urge and push myself out of my comfort zone because life is about doing things that scare you.
15. “Take the high road. No matter how much strife, consternation, frustration and anger you might be confronted with; don't go to that level.” -- Tim Gunn
As you get closer to 30, handling confrontation like a teenager becomes more and more embarrassing.
Plus, that kind of behavior leads to wrinkles, and you're officially old enough to care about that.
16. “That's why I survived, because I still believe I've got something to say.” -- Lou Reed
I'm still mourning Lou Reed's 2013 death, but these words are a testament to his legacy. He didn't give a damn and lived unapologetically.
Even when the anxiety of living is so heavy you feel as if your heart's about to burst, it's vital to keep moving forward.
Remember, you have something to say.
17. “Always do what you are afraid to do.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
This does not apply to jumping out of an airplane or swimming with sharks (unless you're into that kind of thing).
18. “Youth has no age.” -- Pablo Picasso
You're only as old as you feel. Age ain't nothing but a number.
But really, as you hurl toward 30, it's important to maintain a certain level of youthful goofiness. Adult life can be mind-numbingly boring.
19. “Power means happiness; power means hard work and sacrifice.” -- Beyoncé Knowles
20. “A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That's why they don't get what they want.” -- Madonna
You will always be your best advocate.
Sure, your mom thinks you're swell and your dad says you deserve that raise, but they're not the ones who are going to kick ass for you. You have to do the ass-kicking yourself.
21. “Luck is believing you're lucky.” -- Tennessee Williams
Amy Schumer recently did a sketch about the tendency of some 20-something women to think the “universe” is essentially a giant vision board upon which to pin wishes.
You can beg the universe to bring luck to you, or you can create it yourself. Tennessee Williams thinks you should go with the latter.
22. “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” -- William Shakespeare
Okay, this is about money, so let's get real: Taking control of your bank account is a key part of growing up, and it absolutely sucks.
Make it all a lot easier on yourself by not falling into a pattern of borrowing from your parents or lending to your friends.
23. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -- Eleanor Roosevelt
Your 20s can be swamped with shame, both self-inflicted and otherwise.
It's hard enough to silence your own pangs of insecurity, so don't allow others to define your self-worth.
24. “Everything's coming up Milhouse!” -- Milhouse Van Houten
Bart Simpson's best friend, Milhouse, still knows when to celebrate the wins.
Whether it's finally getting that promotion at work or just getting free guacamole at Chipotle, pop some champagne and salute yourself.
25. “Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass.” -- Maya Angelou
Yes, Maya Angelou, wordsmith among wordsmiths, actually said this.
It might just be the wisest piece of advice she has ever penned.
Citations: “Here's to those who wish us well, and those who don't can go to hell.” –Elaine Benes (IMDB), “Good for her! Not for me.” –Amy Poehler (The Huffington Post), “I am a hot-blooded fighter and I am fearless.” –Amy Schumer (Vulture, NY Magazine), "If you were happy every day of your life you wouldn't be a human being. You'd be a game show host.” –Veronica Sawyer, "Heathers" (IMDB), “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.” –Mark Twain (Brainy Quote), "Never let go of that fiery sadness called desire.” –Patti Smith (Good Reads), “You don't have to be born beautiful to be wildly attractive.” –Diana Vreeland (Brainy Quote), “One friend with whom you have a lot in common is better than three with whom you struggle to find things to talk about.” –Mindy Kaling (Good Reads), “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” –Abraham Lincoln (Good Reads), “Liberation does not come from outside.” –Gloria Steinem (CBS News), “You will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do.” –David Foster Wallace, "Infinite Jest" (Good Reads), “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving and that's your own self.” –Aldous Huxley (Brainy Quote), “You aren't sure if you're making the right decision—about anything, ever.” –Joan Didion (The Huffington Post), "You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” –Virginia Woolf (Brainy Quote), "Take the high road. No matter how much strife, and consternation, frustration and anger you might be confronted with—don't go to that level.” –Tim Gunn (AZ Quotes), “That's why I survived, because I still believe I've got something to say.” –Lou Reed (Brainy Quote), “Always do what you are afraid to do.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson (Good Reads), “Youth has no age.” –Pablo Picasso (Brainy Quote), “Power means happiness; power means hard work and sacrifice.” –Beyoncé Knowles (AZ Quotes), “A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That's why they don't get what they want.” –Madonna (Good Reads), “Luck is believing you're lucky.” –Tennessee Williams (Brainy Quote), “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” –William Shakespeare (Good Reads), “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” –Eleanor Roosevelt (Brainy Quote), “Everything's coming up Milhouse!” –Milhouse Van Houten (YouTube), "Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass.” –Maya Angelou (The Huffington Post)