Almost a month ago, I turned 25. I so old.
Besides a lot of freckles, good stories, and wonderful relationships, I’ve learned a LOT of lessons. Mostly from messing up and failure.
So to save you time, embarrassment and foolery, I figured I should pass on what life lessons I’ve learned.
In no particular order, here are the
top 25 greatest lessons I’ve learned in my 25 years.
1. Say please & thank you ‘til you’re blue in the face. To everyone. To your parents, to your friends, to the attendant at the movie theater who took your ticket. EVERYONE.
2. Invest in fine personal stationary. And send handwritten thank you cards for just about everything.
*Please refer to lesson #1 for a refresher on thank-you’s.
3. Saying “no” is much harder than saying “yes”. But it’s necessary. Practice it. Form the phonetics with your mouth. Trace it over and over again in penmanship if need be, but learn it and use it. Wield it when people are taking advantage of you, use it to say no to situations that will drain you, and CERTAINLY use it when the creepy guy out in BK asks you to hang out. Ain’t nobody got time for a boy who asks “person” questions about what you wear when you slumber. #BOYBYE
4. Colonial Willamsburg is a complete farce. Don’t expect a Mel Gibson in The Patriot re-enactment. There will be no canons firing, no men swinging bayonets furiously, and no one will be running around in American flag parachute pants chanting, “AMERICA!” like Rex from Rex Kwon Do. Do yourself a favor and get a pool pass for the summer instead of melting your body and your expectations in goddamn Virginia. They say Virginia is for lovers but I say NAY– Virginia is for liars.
5. Pay your credit card balance in full every month. Every damn month.
6. Learn to laugh at everything. Even the dark stuff. The other day I made what some might say is a tasteless joke,“The Mahers are much like the Kennedys; Except a little less tragedy, a little less attractive, and a hell of a lot more poor.”
I made myself chuckle, shoooooot.
7.”Inexplicable sorrows await all of us.” – Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love & Life from Dear Sugar.
8. Cop to your mistakes immediately. At work, at home, especially with friends. And APOLOGIZE. Swallow your pride, remember we are humans and are born to ERR, and move on. People will respect you more for it, but most of all you will respect yourself.
9. Despite what magazine covers, the makeup industry (don’t get me wrong, I love the Sephora), and even the diet industry says, you are so completely allowed to like yourself as you are. Right now. Try it.
10. Apply for a job IMMEDIATELY when posted. Don’t sit on it. Make shit happen, captain.
11. Don’t let these curated Instagram posts, Facebook statuses, or humble-brag updates on LinkedIn fool you: we’re all winging it.
No one has it figured out, even if it appears they do. #Realtalk
12. You and your friends sometimes just need to roar a big, beefy inflated “FUUUUUCK YOU” at each other. And then you’ll be grand.
13. As 00’s hip hop and R&B artist Missy Elliot proclaims, “I got a cute face, chubby waist, thick legs n’ shape”. Nowadays they call girls “slim thick“, but straight up, I’m just “thick“, and you know what? Guys like it.
My body image is a quotidian internal strife that plagues me. I can admit it. Why? I’m not really sure. I’ve landed amazing jobs, have accrued a wide and varied group of friends, have had men of all shapes, sizes, and colors (including men THINNER than me. And guess what? Skinny sex can be great. I’m here to testify) be romantically and sexually interested in me. And to top it off, I’m a beast on the tennis court (humility really suits me, doesn’t it?).
As my nut-job of a freshman English teacher proclaimed on our first day of class, “I am a GODDESS, and my body is my temple.”Right on, Mrs. White. Right on.
14. No matter what sage advice you pass along to friends, at the end of the day they live their own lives and make their own choices. The most you can do as a friend is be there for them in times of need. These times of need may require you to lend an ear, a shoulder to cry on, or another body to practice organized arts and crafts with. And while you may hate it, you’re being a good friend. Besides, if you ask the girl at the art store, they do in fact have Wu Tang clan stencils for the set of coasters you’re painting. Your moms will think they’re bitchin.
15. Allow yourself to cry. Permit sadness, grief and despair to ravage your emotions, bust & bleed out your heart and rattle your soul. Sob with a contorted, ugly face and free the pain. Moan and groan. We all need to release, it’s catharsis.
And then pick yourself up, dry those tear-stained cheeks, dab at those swollen blood-shot eyes and get back to living.
16. High school and colleges like to ram into your cranium the idea that your G.P.A. is really important. And for licensed professionals like doctors and nurses. I’m sure it is. But if you are a liberal arts major, just remember that C & D’s get degrees. Make a blog, intern, intern, intern, FREELANCE. Hustle hard. In our shitty economy nothing is better than a newly minted college grad with some real work experience under their belt!
17. The explicit version of the song is > the clean version.
18. Be so severely authentic, genuine, and sincere that no one would ever question your truths or motives.
19. Mind yo damn business. You waste time and energy speculating about others. As I so often crow to my mother, “Not your circus, not your monkeys.”
21. Who you work with and work culture is almost as important as your work itself. Don’t take a job if no one takes lunch (seriously, ask this question).
22. I dislike people. Like a decent amount of people. Instead of spending your time being a yapping yenta and screaming their atrocities, here’s a radical idea: stay the hell away from them. Unfollow them on social media, delete them on snapchat, and just avoid them in person. It makes your life a lot easier, and infinitely more positive.
23. Nothing is infallible. Not your employer, not the news, not your government, not a political candidate, not a celebrity, not even your religion (smite me, oh mighty smiter!).
For example, in the Catholic Church (sorry, Dad), we have what is called, The Corporal Works of Mercy, which, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “give us a model for how we should treat all others, as if they were Christ in disguise.” For starters, I’d like everyone to know I’d be enraged if Christ turned out to be my fourth grade teacher in disguise. I’m 600% sure Rita Mallon was the devil embodied and no one can change my mind.
Secondly, the Corporal Works of Mercy include “visit the prisoners”. I won’t be going to Rikers anytime soon. Trust is essential, but complete blind faith is not. Keep your wits about you, listen to the media conglomerates less, and form your own opinions. We’re barraged with carefully crafted headlines that utilize extreme wording for clickbait, “Best! Worst! Most! Least!” and amplify minutia events to be of catastrophic size.
25. Unless death is involved, everything else will be FINE. Buck up, kiddo.