23 Things I've Learned In 23 Years

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The most simplified interpretation about getting older is that we don’t notice we’re doing it. The lost sock behind your dresser hasn’t changed color, but only gathered a little dust. Your jeans realistically haven’t shrunk, no matter how much you blame the washing machine, you’ve just grown in a different direction. And that cracked mirror in the corner will last for entirety as long as you let it. As human beings, we don’t have that privilege. The only wrinkle a sock will experience is being carelessly stuffed in the back of a drawer. Except when that wrinkle materializes it doesn’t last forever. The physical world around us isn’t changing in a simplified sense, but we are, chaperoned by a slowed-down metabolism, sleepless nights, and undeniable tired eyes. 

I remember when I was younger I was always so infatuated with my older self that hadn’t yet existed. I was constantly looking up to those older than me, but in a way that I just couldn’t wait to be them. It’s sad really, spending so much of our childhood wishing our years away. And influenced by what exactly? What I thought was the world’s coolest teenagers? Although, I am happy that the teenagers that wore those green neon fluffy boot things didn’t really influence me, nor did the crinkled hair. Regardless, looking back, I wish I’d contemplated my impending older self on a greater, more imaginative spectrum. Rather than defining growing up as the ability to wear sky-scraper heels I knew I wouldn’t be able to walk in - which I still can’t, btw.

As my birthday approached, I starting becoming all nostalgic about life, as you do. Suddenly, I’m finding myself stressing over a nonexistent future career, paying for my dream apartment with that very career that doesn’t yet exist, and telling myself I should have more control at this age of how many slices of New York pizza I had the other night. 

Wow, 23. Shit. Isn’t 23 like, old

Growing up, wouldn’t it be great having a giant guidebook fully supplied with everything you should and shouldn’t do - with rule number one stating that you should really enjoy every minute. Because before you know it, you’ll be getting a Facebook notification reminding you that the picture of you and your best friend blacked out on the floor of a small town nightclub happened eight odd years ago. However, disregarding repeatedly ignored advice on the internet telling you to eat your vegetables, no such guidebook exists. At seventeen, after having two cans of Druids, you still sent that intentional drunk message to a guy you liked. You still angrily flung your phone against the concrete wall mid-argument that fixed nothing but only damaged your already washed-out bank account. And you still ate the whole frozen pizza, and the bag of greasy chips with that extra tub of garlic sauce more often that you should have. And a whole five minutes later, you’re finding yourself frolicking in the homewares department of TK Maxx, getting overly excited and jittery about buying yet another scented candle and designing the aesthetic of your own nonexistent apartment. When you’re a teenager, growing up is such a cherished goal. A mystery that includes drinking colorful cocktails with straw umbrellas and an overwhelming independence. The rush to become yet another year older is frantic, and your birthday is the highlight of every year in everyone’s calendar as you think the horizon of reaching eighteen is just never going to happen. 

 But then it does..

Once eighteen happens, life is great. You can drink and tell your parents that you don’t need to do what they tell you, because #adult. Yes, life is great in some respects, but then suddenly you have age twenty-three cheekily smiling back at you in the mirror as you begrudgingly hiss at your reflection. You’re near your quarter life crisis and wondering why you ever thought you’d have your shit completely together in your twenties, hah. But contrary to all of this, I absolutely love growing up. Since beginning college, every single year my life has got better with experience. It’s funny, our clueless younger selves imagined a totally self-sufficient adulthood. But at 23, the only things I’ve figured out is that my hormones drive me crazy and I’ll never be able to eat one square of chocolate and put the rest away. Okay, so realistically that's a lie - I’ve learned a few more things along the way. A self-made guidebook I guess you could say, some of which include.. 

 

No. 1 Pizza is, and always will be, the ultimate hangover cure.

No. 2 Stop comparing yourself to others. Be the best version of yourself, not of someone else.

No. 3 Do what you love, not what is expected of you. Follow your passion no matter what anyone else says. This is your life, and you only live it once. 

No. 4 Everything happens for a reason. Honestly, I’m such a believer in this!

No. 5 Take your fucking makeup off. You’ll feel ten times less hungover the next morning.

No. 6 Always appreciate your family. At the end of the day, they’re the ones that will always be there for you no matter what. 

No. 7 Take care of your body. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. You live in one body your entire life. Cherish it, and be kind to it, and it’ll do the same for you. 

No. 8 It’s okay not to be okay. Accept help when you need it. 

No. 9 Smashing your keyboard or slamming your phone into a wall will not fix the technological problem you’re experiencing.

No. 10 When done right, a spray tan can make you look a million times better. Honestly, I swear it takes about five pounds off… 

No. 11 Don’t be so hard on yourself, you will always be your biggest critic. 

No. 12 Train in a way that makes you happy. There is no one perfect exercise for everyone. Everybody is different. Where some thrive running for miles, others thrive on strength-training, and that’s okay. Similar to this, there is no one perfect diet. Eat in a way that makes your body happy, and makes you feel great and confident! 

No. 13 If it feels wrong, it probably is. Contrary to this, if it feels right, it probably is. When you know, you know. Trust your instincts - they are there to tell you something. 

No. 14 Learn the difference between constructive criticism and someone being an asshole.

No. 15 Don’t fall asleep in NYC cabs… 

No. 16 Stop analyzing Instagram likes. Most people probably didn’t even look at your picture, but just double-tapped when scrolling. It doesn’t value your worth. Post for you, not for anyone else. 

No. 17 Spend your money on experiences, not things. You can’t take materialistic abundance to the grave. Live your best life, do it for experiences and for the memories. Yes, I really want that Gucci bag and Prada cross-body, but it would also pay for my dream of traveling across South East Asia for three months, so realistically, it can wait until money isn’t truly a factor. 

No. 18 Always speak up for yourself. People will treat you how you allow them to. 

No. 19 Fake it until you make it. Seriously though, act confident and nobody will question you. 

No. 20 Negative people don’t need to be in your life. They only drag you down, seriously, don’t bother. 

No. 21 Guilt can paralyze you, and honestly, what’s the point? If you pass the bagel shop and crave a bagel, have the freaking bagel and move on. Carbs are friends. Don’t overanalyze your waistline.  

No. 22 Adulting is really fucking expensive..

No. 23 Stop worrying so much about the future. As I said, everything happens for a reason. What’s for you, won’t pass you. Just live in the moment and live your best life!