As it’s my birthday today, I thought it would be fun to share with you some life lessons I’ve encountered since I hit my twenties… but please note I’m actually just as clueless, if not more so, than everyone else. Comment if you can think of any others!
1. Your metabolism changes. Long gone are the days of coming home after school, eating multiple rounds of toast with peanut butter while waiting for friends to come on MSN. If I eat peanut butter now its like I’ve swallowed a hand grenade, and only lots of effort i.e. exercise can help. Crash diets do not work. They never did, but like, they definitely don’t now.
2. Life starts to go by faster. It’s common knowledge than when you hit your twenties life goes into fast-forward and you never find the time to sit back and relax anymore. Suddenly, you’ve left university and have to pay bills and learn how to adult. Fortunately, in your twenties time is still your asset so you have ample opportunities to make mistakes and fail spectacularly before you can dust yourself off and go accomplish some #lifegoals.
3. You are an ‘adult’ but you are not a ‘grown-up.’ This becomes more apparent when shit hits the fan and you flail around uselessly looking for someone more mature to help. Does anyone actually know what they’re doing? Furthermore, you’re only an adult when it’s convenient for others to consider you so. But when the extended family get together and run out of chairs, you get designated to the floor with the younger kids.
4. People are getting married and/or pregnant. And you still don’t know where you will be within the next five years. Plus any thoughts of that kind make you feel like you’re just a kid playing ‘house.’
5. Christmas isn’t the same. You know it. I know it. No matter how bedazzled your Christmas jumper is on the outside, it is hard to muster the same enthusiasm as you used to on the inside. Perhaps it’s the thought of working constantly over the festive holidays that kills any spirit. Or that uncomfortable nagging feeling that you shouldn’t be writing lists to Santa anymore now you know it’s just an elaborate ruse to rob your parents. And the annual Belfast Christmas Continental Market is seriously overpriced.
6. You have to arrange dentist, optician and doctor appointments by yourself. Oh, and now you have to pay! What fresh hell is this?
7. You have to chase away spiders and wasps by yourself. Unless you invest in a cat or a decent vacuum cleaner, better swallow that scream and bring out the big guns. Ahem. Magazine.
8. Family is the best. Friends come and go, but these guys have signed a lifetime contract to put up with you forever.
9. Heating, electric and water appliances actually require maintenance. I discovered this fact when I first moved out of my parents’ house. The shower and radiators suddenly went cold and remained cold, and I had to prod buttons on the boiler with a bewildered face until the “gas guy” came. So strange! Thought I could take such basic necessities for granted in this modern day, first world!
10. Hangovers are killer, two-day affairs. And it perfectly justifies not wanting to go out every weekend like you used to.
11. Nostalgia becomes a regular feeling. It makes sense. The longer you live, the more hilarious trends, fads or cheesy television you get to endure. Buffy, I’m talking to you here – I re-discovered this gem during a recent Netflix binge. Some more shout outs to: Capri-Suns, Tamagotchis, Xena the Warrior Princess, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, pixie sticks, S Club 7, butterfly hair clips, jelly sandals, body glitter.
12. Learning stuff is actually fun. And empowering. And enriching. In fact, ignorance is not a good enough excuse. Learn wherever and whenever you can, be it through formal education, travelling or experiencing how different people think and live.
13. Rid yourself of toxic friendships. Sever ties, and learn that sometimes it’s better to just not react: leave the bitchiness, immaturity and slander for teenagers, and hope the other person eventually learns to do the same. Once you’ve gotten rid of stressful, negative relationships it becomes so much easier to relax and nurture genuine friendships, which in contrast just seem so easy.
14. Embrace your creative side. In today’s society the arts have lost significant credibility. Children are encouraged to pursue more “useful” subjects at school, and told that art is a hobby and not a career. This is obviously false as proven by the many people who work in creative capacities such as in fashion, interior design, make-up artistry or writing (to name a few). However, it is hard to shake the stigma that has become attached to the arts in education. I often found myself the butt of jokes at university by other students who were studying “real subjects.” And it’s a little sad that many people have been subconsciously repressing their natural creativity in order to be taken seriously. I’m not saying you need to start writing volumes of sonnets, or painting naked people while wearing a beret and smoking a roll-up (you totally can if you’re that way inclined). But don’t be afraid to pick up a craft, sing loudly in the shower to the soundtrack of your life, write a blog or become completely obsessed with adult colouring books!
15. Naps are a necessity for survival. My boyfriend taught me that the optimum power nap should last for 20 minutes, just enough to give you a boost of energy but not long enough to leave you with the sinking, drowsy feeling for the remainder of the day. Words to live by.
16. Skin breakouts are annoying but not debilitating. As an adult you now have to face the outside world whether you like it or not. So when your skin decides to erupt like Mt Vesuvius you have to resort to other tactics besides dramatically retiring to your room for the rest of the day. Thankfully, the lotions and potions available now are much more effective for correcting and concealing than they used to be. And you can get amazing Halloween masks these days.
17. You probably run on tea or coffee, or both. And begin to seize up like the tin-man from The Wizard of Oz if you go without for significant periods of time. Just hook it to my veins!
18. You don’t give a toss about being spotted in the tampon aisle. Women shouldn’t feel embarrassed about their bodies, why were we never taught this before? Go stock your trolley up now before they raise the taxes on them even more.
19. The washing machine has several mystical cycles. It’s no longer just a case of lights versus darks. I make it my mission to learn them all before my thirties.
20. Labels are bad for everyone. They are repressive for people given them, and also for people giving them. How could it possibly be good to have a narrow mind which can only think in small, restrictive categories?
I’ll leave you with this little one-liner gem from Mr Oscar Wilde.
“I am not young enough to know everything.”