THE LESSONS

10696347_10152625409662420_5296729996698657838_n

I’m 26.

And, after discounting the days where I was busy working out how to walk, talk and eat and tactfully side stepping the years where my main concern was whether I was a saddo for using pads instead of tampons, I’ve got roughly around ten years’ worth of semi-useful, sort of adult experience under my belt that I’d like to share with you. You know, just in case you thought you were alone in this epic tragedy that they call our twenties, or in case you are 16 and curious about how to deal with the impending car crash of emotions, celebrations and failures that are to follow as you enter your adult life.

Here goes:

  1. You have freckles. SPF is literally saving your life. Slather it on like butter to a crumpet.
  2. You will spend quite a few days in bed, alone, watching TV on demand. Ignore anyone who says these days are wasted. They are but precious moments with the most important person in your life. And the residents of Litchfield penitentiary.
  3. You will really unexpectedly fail or really irrationally quit something. Only worry about the latter. Failing is fine; quitting is not.
  4. You will cut your hair short, trying to prove a point. The only point you will make is that you were wrong.
  5. You will lose friends. You will make new ones. Both are a good thing.
  6. You will be forced into taking an interest in politics due to a really shit PM being elected. It’ll be worth it. You will vote and actually understand your choices.
  7. It’s fine to wear jeans every time you go out. The same goes for wearing black. Accessories are your best friend.
  8. Men will rarely love an outfit you do. Wear it anyway.
  9. Your heart will get broken.
  10. You will get over it.
  11. It might take a while.
  12. Take advice from your mum. She had a life before you, you know.
  13. Yoga isn’t for skinny, chai drinking, twats. Stretching will sort your life-long back issues out. Put on a pair of leggings and suck it up.
  14. Spend less time worrying about irrational things. Gravity will not all of a sudden cease to exist and you will not disappear into a black hole. Also, stop watching programmes about space.
  15. Keep some opinions to yourself. Even if you feel like you should be honest all the time, take the time to taste your words before you spit them out. Not everyone needs your thoughts on everything.
  16. Never give an opinion on someone else’s relationship. Only listen.
  17. Tell people if you think they are hot/talented/interesting. Unless they’re Taylor Swift. She already knows.
  18. Hard work always pays off. As does asking for something you know you won’t be offered.
  19. Never arrange something for 9 o’clock on a Sunday morning. You will be hungover and your mate will, no doubt, be hungover too. It will inevitably lead to overeating, self-loathing and no future friend plans.
  20. Don’t be afraid to go into McDonald’s alone and order a large meal after a night out. That, dear friend, is practical independence.
  21. Learn to love your freckles. They aren’t going anywhere- and they’re actually not that bad.
  22. Make your frikkin’ bed in the morning.
  23. Don’t forgive your guy mates for being dicks to girls. Don’t ignore it when your girl mates treat men like shit. There’s no explanation for where your moral compass disappears to at times like these but be sure to give your friends a kick to the shins when they deserve it too.
  24. If you get turned down for a job, it’s not that you weren’t good enough. You just weren’t a good enough fit.
  25. You wear fake tan. Don’t buy white bed sheets.
  26. Men, although it might not seem it sometimes, have hearts too. Be careful with them.
  27. You will go on some really, really bad dates. That’s okay. They’re there to make sure you notice the good ones.
  28. Don’t not go in the pool because people will see you in a bikini. Literally no one is looking. They’re too busy worrying about which filter to use on their ‘Good Monday at the office?’ shot.
  29. You will look back on your zero-responsibility retail jobs with fond memories. Don’t. It was hell.
  30. Be a writer. Stop making excuses and take the risk. You’re just wasting time and money pretending you want to be, or do, anything else.
  31. You’re allergic to cats. Stop touching them.
  32. Don’t do shots. You know why.
  33. You will think you have been in love and then you will fall in love and realise you hadn’t been in love until then.
  34. Continue to forget to take photos on fun nights out and day trips away. It means you’re having too much of an interesting time and that is only a good thing.
  35. Realise that you actually don’t know anything and that you’ve got at least another 34 years’ worth of lessons to learn. Brace yourself. The next chapter is a big one.

THE BIRTHDAY

large (12)It’s that wonderful time of year again where I gain a wrinkle, four grey hairs and have a crisis of age.

I love birthdays.

Obviously the cards, presents and celebratory food cushion the blow, but why do I always panic when I realise that I’m another year older despite understanding – since the tender age of five – the simple concept of time?

Despite this blind, undying ignorance, birthdays aren’t all bad. Because mine happens to fall in the spring time – the season best known for new beginnings, bunny rabbits and general pinterest-worthy joyousness – I always treat them like a second New Year. I pledge vows to myself and set targets for the year ahead by reflecting on the things I’d have done differently, and of course, I rarely stick to my promises. So I thought, why break the habit of a life time?

Because I’m older, and a little wiser now. That’s why.

It’s essential to think about improvement, but it’s equally as important to realise how far you’ve come. So I will start by thinking about the things that I know now, that I wish I knew then.

Here goes:

One. Things take time. This includes everything from projects, to love.

Don’t. Rush. Anything.

Two. Most people deserve a second chance. Rarely do people deserve a third.

Three. Do not, under any circumstances, fad diet. Just maybe cut down on the Kit Kats.

Four. Yoga is a whole lot more than stretching in tight pants. The older you get, the more you’ll realise this.

And five. Having fewer good friends is better than having lots of shit ones.

I could go on and on, as 25 years is actually quite a long time, but the gist is this: things will always be okay. Yes, I have had my heartbroken, but it’s fixed now. Of course, I have failed at things, but I’ve succeeded in so many others. And, much like you, I cut my own hair once. Badly. But it’s grown out now. What I’m trying to say is, despite living with these goddamn freckles and a butt the size of Narnia my entire life, there are plenty of people who would kill to be you or I. So instead of trying to better ourselves each year, why not give ourselves a pat on the back, just for making it this far? Because life isn’t always a lemon sorbet at the seaside, if you know what I mean? And we’re probably doing alright, considering.

Behind a haze of pollution and astonishing drink prices, it’s really rather easy to forget why you’re alive, but when your birthday swings round, and people come together just to celebrate the simple fact that you were born, it all, very suddenly, becomes oh so clear.

Always be thankful for what you have. And I’m not talking about that new camera.

Happy Birthday to me.