2 weeks ago I turned 24. I had an amazing birthday celebration which is shocking because I rarely have those. Amazing celebrations, I mean. I usually dread my birthday and this has been on-going ever since I was a toddler. My parents have a picture of me at my fourth birthday party where I am crying, reaching for my dad. I despised the birthday song to a point where I was reduced to tears. Ignoring the inevitable concept that we celebrate the date of birth as we draw nearer to death – this isn’t an existential crisis, this is fact – let’s go over some life lessons that have helped me thus far.
Lessons I’ve learned the past 24 years:
- Do not hold dry ice for longer than 3 seconds – When I was 13, I thought it would be a really great idea to touch dry ice… for a prolonged period of time. In Japan they have dry ice machines at grocery stores. This concept is great for when you have to walk back up a mountain in the middle of summer with frozen groceries. Like the natural born idiot that I am, I was curious to see what exactly dry ice was. I held a chunk in my fingers and it started to hurt. Really bad. One way to get acute frostbite.
- If a guy claims to be a “nice guy”, run – I have dated several guys who were self-proclaimed “nice guys” and oh my god, run. If anyone claims to be a “nice guy” they are essentially lacking a fundamental characteristic that makes them a suitable mate in which they overcompensate for. It’s not that they are necessarily bad people, though their clinginess is. Another common feature is that they will fall for any girl that acknowledges them, they aren’t picky with their findings as long as it shows them some form of affection.
- Don’t always trust your parents – I wrote an entire post about this. When I was little, my dad basically told me Santa Claus wasn’t real. That’s the kind of lie kids like and won’t hate their parents for. When I was older, I really wanted a ferret and to dissuade me, my dad told me ferrets craved human flesh. What the absolute f-. Yea, Santa was a no-go because of possible “trust issues”, but flesh eating ferrets is scarring. I believed that for longer than I should admit.
- Make sure your life partner is the same blood type as you – I cannot stress this one enough. Having the exact same blood type as your partner is a guaranteed blood bank. Assuming they love you enough. Heck, if they really love you, they might throw in a kidney if you’re ever lacking in that department. If you find someone who is the same blood type, don’t let them go, you can’t do better.
- Follow your own timeline, not someone else’s – This is self-explanatory. Everyone has their own life and when you aren’t sure how well you’re doing in terms of success and wealth, it’s easy to compare. We put our self-value in an obscure timeline assuming by 25 we need the dream job and money and family. Not necessarily those three things in that order. Just go by with what feels right. Take a gap year. Go to a community college. Take some time to adjust yourself before diving in to a world of debt to figure out that your career choice may not have been the best idea.
- Keep you car clean – People judge that. I judge that. Do you know how many unexpected carpools you’ll offer in your life? Definitely more than 5. Do you want to be the person with the disgusting car? Several times I’ve been in my friend’s dirty car and let me tell you, I was heavily debating if I should consider getting a tetanus shot after a long shower.
- Don’t own so much sh*t – The moment you are perpetually messy because you ran out of room or storage space for your items, it’s time to toss half of your belongings. Moving, storage, space costs would go down if you didn’t “need” to have a waffle maker for that one time you made waffles. Or a library full of untouched books you never read all for the sake of aesthetic. I promise, living more minimalistic will save you in moving costs and clutter. Though, take what I say with a grain of salt, I waited over a year to get a small couch to avoid “spending unnecessary money”.
- Have an oh-sh*t-fund – The millennial stereotype is we don’t save our money. This is a stereotype I actively avoid, you know why? Imagine getting towed 2, neigh, 3 times a year. That’s about 600 dollars to a towing company. Having an oh-sh*t-fund is some saved money for these instances so you are not completely broke and miserable because EVERYWHERE HAS STUPID STREET SIGNS DRAINING YOU FOR EVERY LAST CENT.
- Get a freaking hobby, or three – Someone once told me, “I think women gossip all the time because they don’t have any real hobbies”. Well that’s not sexist. I can argue, though, I feel more at peace when I am actively working on several projects to fill up my time. Also, you become less “clingy” to the people in your life. Don’t rely on friends as your only source of entertainment, you’re Friday nights can be filled with pottery or basket weaving. Judge all you want, but when holiday season comes around, you are set with presents. I wouldn’t say no to a hand woven basket. Or ceramic pot.
- Prioritizing vs “I’m busy” – I read this article online about re-phrasing “I’m busy” to “I can’t prioritize you right now”. If you feel like a dick saying the second sentence, stop and think before telling someone you’re too busy. If I can’t make time to hang out with a certain friend, I make plans in the near future instead so they know I can still prioritize them. I know you’re not “too busy” if you have time to binge G.O.T. or down a bottle of wine on a weeknight.
- You don’t have to post that Instagram bikini pic – Ok, ok I am a hypocrite. My private account has ONE bikini picture. High school and college girls saturate their Instagram with posed bikini pictures by the pool or at the beach. Hiked up bikini bottoms to give the illusion of a natural curve. Back breaking poses just to emphasize the posterior, or lack thereof. I miss modesty. Embrace and love your body, but don’t feel pressured to post a sexual bikini photo to compete with the rest as a desirable mate. Your personality and basket weaving skills should do that for you. Yes I model and am confident with my body, but I opted to take down most photos I deemed revealing because at the end of the day whose business is it really?
- Get over yourself – I need to follow my own advice at this point. It’s ok not being the hottest person in the crowd. Or the skinniest. Or the most fashionable. Everything feels like some weird competition these days, especially with social media. GET OVER IT. Let me tell you a story. Growing up, I was very aware that not many people looked like me. My looks were more ethnically ambiguous and there weren’t any models or movie stars I identified with and quite frankly, I didn’t care. When girls complain about comparing themselves to these top models, all I can think is, why? They aren’t the same genetic make-up as you. They do not have the same ancestry. Why does it matter? I had models I idolized, sure, but I never once thought “I want to see more people like me”. I’m ok knowing that not everything about my looks is desirable and I don’t need strangers telling me through a “like” button that I am. The moment you let go some of that inner narcissism and focus on interpersonal relationships and goals, you’re life will feel more complete.
- Eggplants can taste amazing – Yes, you heard me. I was with everyone else on the Let’s-all-hate-eggplants train. They are large and purple – in any other instance this is a health concern – and are surprisingly light for how dense they appear. Grilled eggplant with minimal seasoning is just wrong. But eggplant Parmesan is better than the chicken. It is the equivalent of happiness. AND DO YOU KNOW WHAT”S BETTER?! Chinese eggplant and garlic sauce. Life changing.
- Don’t touch your brows – Part of puberty is overdoing your brows. For the love of god, put down the razor and relax. We’ll get through this. No, drop the tweezers, and look up local salons. Most beauty places will have workers displaying their work on Instagram and you can actually see their work. Skip going to Great Clips or European Wax center and find a professional that’s actually talented because the make or break of the face lies in the brows.
- BE BLUNT, stop the B.S. – You will have less friends this way. The friends that do stick around will be the most loyal and supportive group because they won’t spoon feed your their bullshit.
- Pay attention to your surroundings – This will always be relevant. Just this past Saturday I had two instances where I should’ve actively paid attention to the people around me. I rolled a 0 on perception (lol get the reference?). The first instance was at MicroCenter. Chris asked me if I wanted glasses for blue light so the computer wouldn’t bother my eyes as much. I said, and I quote “No, I don’t want to look stupid”. The couple next to Chris heard my statement and I realized they too were thinking about buying the same glasses. At the next store Chris and I went to, I dove into a lengthy talk about the Russian mafia in my home town right next to a Russian couple. Probably not the wisest move, but what would I know?
- Burn evidence of your past – Embarrassing poems and love letters? Burn it. Old photos on social media? Untag it. Puberty was not a good look on anyone and let’s just say it’s not funny when you’re 23 and your sister judges you on the love poems you used to write as a tween.
- “God isn’t that much of an asshole” – My friend Kelly told me this and I think about this quote a lot. I knew a guy who was attractive, intelligent, athletic, the downside was he had terrible luck with women. I asked Kelly her opinion and she told me laughing, “Because God isn’t that much of an asshole. He doesn’t give everything to one person.” Life can suck. Viruses, diseases, war, terror, plague the Earth. All those can be counterbalanced though. Modern medicine, vaccines, peace and at the end of the day, yes there are absolutely vile people who roam this Earth. Everything isn’t in complete chaos though because there are amazing people who do what’s best for others and try equally as hard to make life fair.
- Bottom shelf alcohol isn’t worth it – Hangovers last longer than they used to. Apparently throwing up the day after drinking means you had alcohol poisoning so… totally never had that happen before. Just pay the extra cash for top shelf vodka or tequila. The odor won’t have you reeling and the hangover won’t have you contemplating, “is this the end?”
- Try to tell the truth or at least avoid lying – Took this one from Jordan Peterson. I wonder if half-truths work in this case.
- Get your life together before you judge everyone else – Let’s drop the judgmental gaze and put down the virtue signaling microphones. Openly chastising people is the new fad. Let’s not pretend we all don’t have skeletons in our closet that we don’t want to be chastised for. Mend your own life before telling others how to ‘fix’ theirs.
- Always make time for friends – An act in three parts. “Ah, I need to hang out with Rachel* soon, I haven’t seen her in a while!” you tell yourself scrolling through social media. Months past but it’s ok, Instagram updates you on her life events. A year goes by, “I wonder who she’s dating now! I had no idea she liked cooking.” The false pretense that following each other online equates to a personal connection leads to the biggest disconnect neither side saw coming.
- Drop that b*tch – After college, this definitely should not be an issue. Heck, after high school this should not be an issue. If your “friends” don’t treat you right and/or fail to prioritize your friendship in multiple situations, they are not your friend.
- People suck and that’s ok – My final lesson, ladies and gentlemen, is that people suck and that’s ok. We disappoint each other, flake on each other, lie. To err is human, a half-finished quote by Alexander Pope. Forgive certain flaws and learn it’s ok that people aren’t perfect or won’t fall into expectations. The moment most expectations are lifted, life is happier.
These are the most important life lessons I’ve learned thus far. I actively try to follow my own guidelines and found things to go more smooth sailing. When I actually follow my guidelines, that is.
*Idk a Rachel