It is currently Tuesday, October 16th, I am hopefully either still asleep or opening presents (pre-written content, what ya gonna do) and enjoying turning 21. I blocked out the whole week for my birthday celebrations, which started on the 13th and won’t end until the 20th, so I’m really going all out. Today, I’ve written the standard ‘birthday post’ that everyone does, sharing the things I’ve learned (learnt?? help) in my 21 years alive. When you say it like that, it sounds like literally no time at all and I’m very much still a baby, but I also feel so much older.
The past year has been my ‘adult’ year, with my grown-up job and commuting and buying a CAR and starting a pension. I feel like I’ve really grown up and grown into my personality, but I’m kind of already freaking out about being in my twenties and almost turning 22. In a year…
- Water fixes everything. Almost. Try to drink your 2L a day because you will feel better for it, and your skin will thank you in the long run.
- Don’t go to sleep angry/upset, you’ll have a shit sleep and be more angry and upset the next day. It’s not for everyone, some people think clearer and are more coherent after getting sleep. You need everything to be okay before you can sleep well.
- Not everything needs a reaction. You don’t have to respond to everything with anger. You don’t have to respond with negative emotions, or even positive emotions. Just don’t be angry.
- Being angry takes a lot of energy. It’s probably not worth it. Life is so much easier when you’re able to let the little things go, and sometimes even the big things.
- Don’t be in such a hurry all the time. You won’t get home any quicker if you tailgate the person in front of you. Lane hopping helps no-one. Take it easy, use this time to chill out and literally do nothing. Except drive, obviously.
- Stick to your guns and have faith in your decisions – you know more than you think. You might be young, only just 21, but that doesn’t mean you know nothing. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you.
- Sometimes you just need to have a good cry. It really does help. It’ll help you see the situation clearer and make you feel a lot better.
- Your mum won’t be mad. Tell her about your tattoos before you get them, it might be awkward but the conversation afterwards is always worse.
- Stop dwelling on the past because you can’t do anything about it now. Sometimes, you’ll get flashbacks to a particularly unpleasant argument or event. Don’t think about it. Let the thought pass, and move on from it. You can’t change anything.
- If you can’t change or fix it, stop thinking about it. There is literally no point. If something can be done about it, do it. If not, get over it, suck it up, whatever other phrases you wanna use.
- Don’t get upset when things don’t play out the way you’ve imagined it in your head. Lower your expectations and realise that everyone is doing their best. If you don’t tell them your expectations, how are they supposed to know?
- You will always feel better with money saved up. You’d probably rather spend it on another new pair of boots or a shirt you don’t need, but honestly, there is no better feeling than seeing the money stack up.
- Take the time to read more often. It’s the greatest hobby you could ever have; it relaxes you and is much more productive than staring at a screen all evening. Plus, it’s fun to discuss theories with your mum.
- You’ll never regret a walk with the dogs. It can be hard to actually get yourself out of the house, but the easy exercise and quality time spent with the puppies is always worth it.
- Don’t force productivity. Whatever you produce won’t be your best work. It’s okay to have days where you do the bare minimum, you’ll make up for it another day.
- You don’t have to explain yourself. This probably doesn’t apply to every single situation, but if you want to say no to something, not go to something, you can. You don’t owe anybody an explanation for the way you feel.
- Mums know everything. Whatever the problem, whatever the issue, she will have an answer.
- There’s always a solution. Even if you think it can’t be solved, it most likely can. You might need a little help to get there, but there’s nothing so awful that there’s no solution.
- You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. See also: point 16. If you don’t feel like you can leave the house tonight, you don’t feel comfortable going to that event, don’t. You’re entitled to decline invitations.
- Be kind. Let that person merge in front of you, smile at the people you pass. You’ll often see an example of kindness being passed on right in front of you, and it’s a lovely feeling. Plus, it feels nice to be nice.
- You still have time. You might worry that you need to be in your forever career, you need to have your future path set up or you need to know what direction you want to go in. You don’t. You’re still so young and you should enjoy the unknown, enjoy not having any real responsibilities yet. You’re in such a lucky position right now – recognise that more. You’re only 21.
So there we have it; the 21 things I’ve learned in my 21 years.
Most of these things were actually taught to me by my mum. Not just over the last year, but across my whole life, and I’ve experienced examples of each of these lessons over the past year. These are the things I deem essential to me being me, and me being a good human being. I don’t always stick to these lessons, but nobody is perfect and we all have to start somewhere.