I’m 25 next week and I’m not exactly thrilled about it.
I know, I know – 25 is ridiculously young and I’m a self obsessed brat with no perspective. But seriously, I’m not too keen on leaving 24 behind.
This is the first birthday I’ve ever approached with a bit of apprehension. Usually I’m shouting from the rooftops about a fortnight beforehand, making sure no one forgets that I get to be more important than usual for one whole day in the very near future. But this year, I’m kinda meh. I could do without getting older.
The thing is though, I hate that I hate getting older. (You follow?) This feeling of impending doom has shone a light on the fact that I have been holding onto my youth like a prized pony. Being young is (rather pathetically) one of my best characteristics. I love telling people that I’m only in my early twenties because I can make it sound like I’ve accomplished so much more than I actually have.
Getting older and letting go of that portion of my early youth means that I’m forced to become more than my age and develop more meaningful qualities other than just being a woman in my early twenties.
I came to this whole ‘I rely on my age too much’ epiphany a few weeks ago after listening to an incredible interview with Gloria Steinem about the freedom she finally feels now that she has entered her 80s. She made each new year she has lived sound like a blessing and it made me feel insanely stupid about staring at my frown lines in the mirror, plucking out my grey hairs and examining them with forensic detail as I sob about how past it I am.
I’m 25 for Christ sake and I should feel lucky to have another amazing year on this amazing planet, surrounded by people and things I love, with infinite experiences and possibilities ahead of me.
So with that in mind, I’m putting my positive pants on and making a list of the 24 most valuable lessons I’ve learned in my 24th year on planet earth.
24 Things I Learned From Being 24
1. No is a complete sentence. It does not require explanation or justification. I’m not obligated to do anything I don’t want to do and I won’t offend anyone by refusing, as long as I do it gracefully.
2. Failure is much more valuable than success. You don’t learn anything by getting it right all the time.
3. Speak less, listen more. I think it was the Dalai Lama who said: “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” Dude gets it.
4. Admit when you screw up. Blaming someone else for your mistakes is utterly deplorable. If you need help, ask for it. People want to assist you.
5. You don’t need permission to do anything. Especially not from a partner. You can do whatever the hell you want to do. Eat, Pray, Love taught me this one. (God, I’m such a basic bitch.)
6. Never, ever post something online that you would not say to someone’s face.
7. Meditating fixes everything. You don’t need to be lying on a mat with incense burning and bells chiming to meditate. Meditation is personal and can be anything that lets you leave your mind, even for just ten seconds.
8. Heaven on earth is a choice you make, not a place you find. I think Dr Wayne Dyer said that. He was my hero and this sentiment expresses how integral gratitude, perspective and choice are when it comes to happiness.
9. Being thinner doesn’t make you happier. And there is nothing more boring and tiresome than someone who talks about their body and their diet all day long.
10. Adopting a dog is the best decision ever.
11. Her success is not my failure. I’ve gone into more detail on this in previous blog post about career jealousy, which you can read here.
12. Everyone needs a hobby. Something that’s yours and no one else’s.
13. Determination is the secret ingredient to success. People who are successful at what they do aren’t necessarily the best at what they do. They just don’t give up until they get.
14. Just because someone is older doesn’t always mean they are wiser. And you should never feel intimidated by someone because they are older or have more experience.
15. Being desirable to men does not make you powerful.
16. Your job or your status does not define you.
17. You can not be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.
18. Bring your car to a mechanic as soon as it starts making a weird noise. Do not wait until it falls apart. (I’m currently driving a car which is missing a crucial part of its exhaust.)
19. Gut instinct should never, ever be ignored. You always know the truth by the way it feels.
20. Nothing can hold you back except your own fear. Everything you want lives on the other side of fear. You just have to figure out what it is that you’re scared of, realise how irrational it is and get the hell over it.
21. The internet is not a real friend. You need companionship in your life.
22. The way someone treats you is a reflection of how they feel about themselves.
23. Forgive everyone for everything. Not wanting to punch someone in the face for something they did to you is so freeing.
24. No one has any idea what they are doing. And you don’t need to know. That’s the fun.