A Birthday Project

21 12 2009

For my 25th birthday I sent an email to the people in my address book asking either:

  1. If you’re over 25, what was the best thing you did when you were 25 or what one thing do you wish you had done (or done differently) when you were 25?
  2. If you are 25 or younger, what’s one thing you hope you’ll do or do better when you’re 25?

Below are a collection of some of my favourite answers in roughly the order they were received.

(Be warned: there is some profanity, I’ve decided to leave the answers more or less as they were supplied except for a few spelling or grammatical touch-ups.)

The best thing I did when I was 25 or one thing I wish I’d done differently:

Marie:
The best thing I did when I was 25 was probably go to New Zealand lol. Man I don’t know. Everything I did last year was a good idea. I just wish I hadn’t got wasted on a worknight, puked on the platform at Clapham North and gone to work with the biggest headache known to man. If I absolutely have to pick something, then I’ll go with my trip to America to see the X-Files movie. Best pilgrimage ever.

Karl:
I first ventured out flatting with randoms, previously only ever lived with people I knew, but I made the decision to head out and do something new, and it really was the best thing I ever did.

Nathan:
Age 25 was when we were living at Ironmongers Place. I guess best thing that year for me was the random trip to Iran after getting pissed on Friday night.

Worst thing well…. no regrets really. A lot of stupid things obviously, but no regrets. Happy to laugh about all my fuck-ups.

Remember bro, you never regret what you did. You regret what you didn’t.

Nigel:
Best thing I did at 25 was Graduate from University with a Bachelor of Engineering. Set me up with the self-confidence that I could do any job, any where in the world.

Roy:
25 was fantastic for me. I drove in the Formula Three race at the British Grand prix, Brands Hatch. Never had a better year and no regrets. Done lots of dumb things since then though.

Anonymous:
So my greatest thing I did was come to London. I feel like It has helped me come out of my shell. Become a better person in general. More decisive, more in control of my life, and now much happier with who I am. So my advice to you, is enjoy being 25, you are in a fantastic position. Dont worry about the smalls things, and be confident in what you do, small shit can bring you down, but look past it all and try to aim for the bigger picture and you cant do wrong. I just wish I had the confidence I have now back then. There isnt anything I would do differently when I was 25, as I felt like I did the best job I could at the time with what I was given. And I’m glad for the experiences I have been through because its made me a better person in general.

Matt:
Turn 26.

Christina:
I gave birth to my gorgeous son and went to live in the UK for a year.

Jess:
I turned 25 last august and the best thing i hve done is come over here to south america.

Rae:
Best thing I did at 25 was to start my university degree while stuck at home with a 2 year old and a 4 year old. One thing I really really wished I had done at 25 was get divorced instead of waiting till 39 to do that! Also wish I had taken up flying and got my Private Pilots License then instead of waiting till I was 40!

Stephen:
I had travelled half the world, been married to Christina for a couple of years and we had bought our first house at the age of 25 – I guess times were different then but making the sacrifices to get into a property set us up financially for life, sounds a bit boring, but on reflection probably the best thing I did was marrying Christina and getting on the property ladder!

Beej:
I was in Africa at the time I turned 25. Was out there working, based in Nairobi, also travelling around on work, had been there for a year or two and missed the comforts of friends and the lifestyle back home in London. It was selfish and arrogant of me not to see the wider picture, that I was being given an opportunity at such a young age to work, live and see Africa….kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Nigeria, Zambia… I finally realised this and in my final year in Kenya I changed attitude. Really made the most of it…so glad I did, those 2.5 years were actually amazing for me… I grew up, took stock and learned about myself and others.

Steve:
I am a (youthful) 31 year old and for my 25th, based in NZ at the time, I got to go away with all my best mates (ladies too) for a feel good surf trip. What I liked most about it was being removed from our day-to-day environment and its’ inherent social & financial pressures. I remember this type of thing fondly because with the increase in babies about the place now it is no longer possible… Things inevitably change so enjoy the moment.

John:
25 was turbulent times when I thought I found true love but it wasn’t to be, devastated, didn’t know who my friends where, turns out there wasn’t really anyone, even my parents offered no support, I can’t say I blame anyone but I don’t never forget and I refuse to forgive easily, even now I am still plagued by the decisions I made at that time, do I regret it? no. I tried a lot of things I always wanted to do, and found out what I am truly capable of when things are toughest, I dug myself out of massive holes only to find myself on top but not happy and sabotaging myself again.

Martha:
I turned 25 in July… now I’ve reached old age, I want to make sure I do two things: see the world and write a book. Admittedly both of these activities may take some time.

Shakespeare:
MATE, i can’t even remember what i did on my 25th!!! I’d like to think i was at punk, getting absolutely s**t faced!!

Emma:
I was 25 in 2006-2007, I worked in Tauranga (my first job as a vet) which was cool, and headed to the UK to locum and travel – also cool, but the best thing i did was get married! – awesome party!

John:
Looking back the fondest memory is taking my small children sailing.

Shelley:
I wish I had stopped compromising.
I wish I had asked myself if I was truly happy.
I wish that I had seen that I wasn’t actually fat.
I wish I had found my way into a church.

Meriel:
The best thing I did was get married, although I wish Matt and I had travelled more before I was 25 because I can’t fly now and it will stop him from travelling which I know he wanted to do.

Valerie:
I had my 25th birthday in January 1954. I was married to Clive and had a daughter, Stella, who was 2 years old in August of that year. Clive was in the army doing his two years National Service and was demobbed in November. Our son, Stephen, was born in the December.

We lived in a semi-detached house in Golders Green, north-west London and Clive’s father lived with us.

England was still recovering from the 1939-45 war and lots of things were still in short supply, although food rationing had ended a couple of years earlier. We had an Electrolux washing machine which had been Clive’s mother’s and was a pre-war model (we saw an identical one in a museum in New Zealand on our first visit there in 1977!). We had no refrigerator and so had to shop for food nearly every day, but had bottled milk delivered each morning. We had our first motor-car, a pre-war Austin 8 saloon which Clive bought whilst in the army, but then sold when demobbed. We really felt special owning a motor-car and being able to travel where we wanted, when you wanted and not to have to rely on buses and trains.

I don’t think I was ambitious for material possessions, at least I hope not, I was quite content with my little family and so pleased to have Clive home again and not just at weekends. I would not say we had exciting lives, but neither did we have the pressures or competitiveness that todays 25 year olds have to live with. I was fortunate that I did not have to juggle running the home and looking after the children with a full time job. I don’t know that I could have coped with that. I do so admire the young of today who do, but wonder which of us are the lucky ones!

Clive:
My 25th birthday was in October 1954, just a matter of weeks before I was demobbed. When released, I rejoined the firm of chartered accountants with which I had served articles and qualified before being called up for National Service. While in the army I had seriously considered signing on as a regular, but the thing which decided me most strongly against doing so was having a wife with no service background – it was not a world to which I fancied introducing my Valerie.

Back in the professional world, one immediately took stock of what the future might hold. It was apparent that for success in that area one needed one of two things, either a father already in that walk of life or a father with the money to buy one into a partnership and I had neither. It was not long before I took the step of entering the world of commerce and I never regretted doing so.

On the domestic front, I soon became again a content member of the domestic structure that had been fostered in my absence by my wife and daughter together with my father and there our number was soon added to safely and happily by our son Stephen.

Darryl:
I think the best thing I did was manage the stage at a concert venue which came with perks such as entry to after parties, VIP guest lists and back stage tickets for friends etc. Always interesting when Prodigy were playing. Not sure how you’d pull this one off though………

Oliver:
When I was 25 the best thing I did was split up with my girlfriend and find my independence! It sounds horrible but It’s true! I think independence when you are young is essential to becoming a ‘whole’ person.

If I could have done anything differently it would be to grab opportunities and make things happen. With regards to work I waited too long for my company to do the right/fair thing, respected the conventions too much – it never happened which is why I now spend late nights and weekends pushing to get to the next level. My single piece of advice is to get to where you want to be as quickly as possible. Time takes it’s toll and it gets harder the longer you take.

Tommy:
I’m pass that point where I can’t remember what the best thing I done when I was 25. The worst thing that happened was that I thumped two policemen and spent the night in a cell after a school party event.

Jo:
So… as i am over 25 the thing i wish i had done.. (seeing as i have been 25 for only 6 months and have done stuff all in that time) is that i wish i had learnt a different language.. maybe Italian… or Spanish… yep. Not very exciting im afraid.. but thats it, so add it to your list.

What’s one thing you hope you’ll do or do better when you’re 25?

Olivia:
When I’m 25 I hope I find the time to make my bed on a regular basis at least haha.

Simon:
I want to have a threesome with two strippers!

Laurel:
By the time I’m 25, I hope to have gained the courage to follow my true passions with all of my heart, so that by the time I’m 50 I won’t ask “what if?” or tell myself “if only…”.

Lisa:
At the ages of 25 I want to living in London, while a job based in advertising and travelling to Europe at whatever chance I get :D

Again, a big thanks to everyone. Hope you all have an awesome Christmas and New Years!

Much love,

Mark

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