A girlfriend sent me the following in an email this week and it got me thinking a lot about life lessons and who I have become in my 20’s. I am nearing 30 in a year and a half and I have grown so much from the slightly naïve, unconfident, wide-eyed girl I one was. Now I am not saying those traits are not still part of me but I feel content and pleased at the woman I am today. I have established a core group of true and good friends, found activities/interest I am passionate about, I have learned to love the body I have (flaws and all) and found there are endless lessons in the long list of mistakes I have made along the way.
Looking at this list of ’25 Things I’ve Learned in My 20’s’ I can honestly say I relate to most of them but some are things I have no basis to at all (in good and bad ways). I will say… people are hard to change, toxic friends are worth getting rid of, envy is something I struggle with constantly, puking in public makes for very funny stories to share later, my clothing has gotten exceedingly better as I have learned that fit is better than a killer deal, I am not perfect and will never be (especially if I try to be someone I am not) and the people you surround yourself with are extraordinarily important to love and respect deeply.
(Estes Park, CO; Winter 2011)
25 Things I’ve Learned In My 20s
1. You can’t date a jerk and expect to turn them into a good person. Jerks are fully committed to being unpleasant. Those brief moments of tenderness they give you are designed to trip you up and give you false hope. It’s best to stay away altogether.
2. The rumors are true: your metabolism does slow down as you get older! That means if you’re still eating whatever you want, there’s a good chance you’ll start to gain an awkward amount of weight. It won’t be too drastic but your clothes will start to hang differently on your body and you’ll feel an overall feeling of unattractiveness. Start to be conscious of what you eat and strive to live a healthier lifestyle if you want to get your teen body back. (Let’s be real though, that might not ever come back.)
3. You’re going to lose touch with a lot of your friends. With some people, it will be expected but with others it will feel like a punch to the stomach. No friendship is truly safe in your twenties. You’re undergoing so many personal and professional changes that there’s bound to be some casualties along the way. Don’t worry though. You’ll end up with the ones that matter. If someone’s no longer in your life, it’s for a reason.
4. You’ll be jealous of everyone who’s more successful than you. That’s okay. Just transfer that jealousy into something productive, like working really hard so you can one day eclipse them and make them feel jealous of YOU.
5. You’ll question every decision you make and never feel completely certain that you made the right choice. It’s pointless to wonder though. You’re here now so you might as well make it be the right decision.
6. You’re going to give your heart to a few people who don’t deserve it. Then, one day you’ll come to your senses and ask them to give it back.
7. You’ll see your parents get older. You’ll come home during Christmas break and see new lines developing on their faces. One day it’ll just hit you that your parents are old and going to die. There’s nothing you can do about it, besides treat them with kindness and visit as much as your budget permits.
8. You’ll have a boss who makes you feel like you’re nothing. It doesn’t have to be in a way. The cruelty can be much more subtle. Don’t let them get to you though. They have no idea who the hell you really are and you’re probably going to have their job someday so…
9. Doing drugs is fun until it’s not, until it starts affecting your life in negative ways and leaves you feeling guilty and wrecked. If that happens, you should stop doing them.
10. You’re going to puke in public. It’s fine. No one cares. Just puke.
11. You’ll know how to make twenty dollars last an entire week because you spent almost all of your paycheck on groceries at Whole Foods and drunk cab rides. This lesson in frugality will serve you well.
12. You’re going to betray your convictions. You’re going to feel shame. You’re going to continue to put yourself in situations that aren’t good for you. And then, slowly but surely, it will become less frequent. It might not ever go away completely but it won’t be as bad. In the meantime, stop shame spiraling about it. It gets you nowhere.
13. Loving yourself is hard. Hating yourself is harder.
14. You’re going to hook up with someone who you would never touch in the daylight sober. Just don’t freak out too much about it. Consider it to be your good deed for the day.
15. You’re going to have people in your life who are toxic. They may say that they love you, they may say that they have your back, but they don’t. Get rid of them.
16. You’ll have moments with someone that are so intense, it’ll feel like you’ve been electrocuted back to life. You’ll hold on to these moments for a long time. They’ll give you hope when you’re going through the motions.
17. You’ll always care about your first love. That doesn’t make you crazy, it just makes you human. When relationships end, it’s not so cut and dry. You carry everyone you’ve ever loved into every relationship thereafter.
18. You’ll enter your twenties as a fashion disaster and (hopefully) leave them looking fantastic. If you don’t know how to put yourself together by then, I really don’t know what to tell you.
19. You’ll realize that the Internet can be a cruel son of a bitch but, you know, www.whatever.com.
20. So much of what you think matters doesn’t actually matter at all. It’s kind of rude. Like, thanks for making me believe in things that are ultimately so inconsequential, you jerk.
21. You’ll treat someone terribly. Whether it to be a lover or your friend, there’ll be someone whose feelings you take for granted. We focus too much on whether or not someone is hurting us. The reality is that we might actually be the one who’s hurting someone.
22. Doing “grown-up things” doesn’t make you a grown up. Shopping for housewares, buying a plant, embracing domesticity — these things don’t create maturity. If you’re still a baby who hasn’t figured things out, you’ll remain a baby, no matter how many times you pay your rent on time.
23. Don’t force yourself into loving anyone. If it’s not working in the beginning, it’s probably not going to work ever.
24. You are so lucky to have everything that you have. Stop crying about an unreturned text message and get some perspective.
25. Don’t go too long without having sex. Ever.