Year 25 of my grand old life begins tomorrow. Because I’m always up for a bout of birthday sentimentality, I’ve been conscious lately of the fact that 25 is the first big birthday since 21, and the last big birthday before 30. In five years I’ll be thirty. Good Lord.
I think, though, that I get better with age. I think we all do.
It’s been both a surprise and a relief to discover that there’s plenty of room in adulthood for bumbling, for changing your mind, for making mistakes, and for crying in frustration while doing your taxes. There’s also room for goofiness and new friendships and late night ice cream runs in your college sweats.
Here are some more things I’ve learned this year, big and small:
- You’ve gotta make yourself happy. Happiness is not always automatic or easy, and sometimes it’s hard to see what will make you happy. But you do have to work for it, one way or another, even it that means letting go of a dream and adopting another. Even if that means staying up until 2 a.m. on a weeknight watching the Richard Simmons episodes of Whose Line is It Anyway? because laughing feels so good.
- Don’t apologize lightly. If it wasn’t your fault, don’t make it your fault. And never, ever begin a request with “I’m sorry, but … ” Be polite, but give yourself some credit! Take up some space, kid.
- Along those lines, you are what you say you are. People will generally believe what you tell them about yourself. So, go easy on the self-deprecation. While poking fun at yourself can be personable and charming, wouldn’t you rather be known, overall, as capable?
- A few episodes of Gilmore Girls can cure all ills.
- After moving to a new city, say yes to every invitation you get, even if you’d rather stay home. Friends are essential to #1, and they won’t come along without effort.
- Nobody is as together as their social media accounts would have you believe. Everyone is struggling. Remember this, and be compassionate.
- Every single time you decide to leave your umbrella at home, it will rain.
- It’s silly to be intimidated by people, no matter who they are. They’re just people. And when you introduce yourself to them, use your first and last name, and offer a handshake like you mean it. (“Don’t they know you’re supposed to have a last name? It’s like they’re a whole generation of cocktail waitresses.”)
- If you’re on a first date and the guy says, “I’ve never really understood the fuss over Lord of the Rings,” run. Run fast. The date will not improve from there.
- “Aha moments” are rare. Don’t sit around and wait for them.