Wednesday, April 2, 2014

25 Things I Wish I Knew Sooner Than 25

I came across this really great article where a girl commented on all the advice people she knew would give themselves at 25.  You can read it here. I thought this was a very interesting concept and decided to put together a list myself, since today is my 25th birthday.  So here are the things I wish people had told me about life and getting to know myself a bit earlier than my mid 20s.  But they're lessons I know now and would like other people to know too.

1.  Feminist isn’t a dirty word.

Nowadays, the word feminist is synonymous with man-hater.  And that’s not the point at all.  While certain feminists are radical, others are not.  There are many places along the spectrum of feminism that someone can find their beliefs.  Feminism is about equality.  Not downgrading men to make up for the degradation of females, which some people see in society.  It’s about drawing awareness to the way sexes are treated differently.  Robin Thicke came out with a video for his song “Blurred Lines.”  In the video, Robin and a few other artists are singing while women prance around them all topless.  Whether Robin wants to claim the song actually has an empowering message (I really doubt it), the point is why did you need mostly naked women dancing around?  You don’t.  Some students decided to make a response video, swapping gender roles.  There is a separate blog post about this whole debacle.  In conclusion, feminism is a pretty awesome thing and don’t let societal views dictate your taste for the word.

2.  Nerd life is a good life.

I relish all things nerdy, and it took me a long time to realize that it is ok to be a nerd.  I always wanted to fit in and I didn’t.  I wasn’t popular.  The place I did fit in was with my friends, who are of the nerd variety as well.  I tried too hard to be something I wasn’t for the sake of status.  Fuck that.  If you like nerdy things, you’re just as likely to find someone who agrees with you as someone who mocks you for it.  So ignore the haters and do what you want!  Let’s rebrand that word, shall we?  Nerd and proud! (And yes I did just use an X-Men reference to prove my point).  There’s a saying I heard in high school that finally dawned on me a couple years later.  “You succeed in meeting the highest expectations of the people you hang around with.”  If someone doesn’t like you, they won’t want to spend time with you.  But if they do want to spend time with you as you are, then you’re in good company! Nerdfighters unite!

3.  Sometimes boys aren’t worth it.

Now, let me preface this by saying not all guys are dicks.  There are some good ones out there.  But the vast majority I’ve encountered have been colossal asshats.  Here’s my advice: don’t get bogged down by them.  If a guy is stringing you along, cut the damn string, strangle him with it, and move on with your bad self.  My high school career was spent fawning over guys that showed no interest in me or strung me along until they got bored.  Then eventually I joined online dating and most of the chats were guys trying to get me naked.  Not my cuppa, thank you.  Value yourself enough to know when a guy is being a douche and needs to be ditched.

4.  Sometimes boys are worth it.

On the other hand, you can’t always be afraid to make a leap of faith.  Falling in love or falling for someone can hurt.  You can end up with concrete in your face.  But never taking any chances or risks will be just as bad as going zero to sixty every time.  Sometimes taking a chance is going to hurt.  But, sometimes it can turn out to be something great.  Life is about making opportunities and using the time we have, so know when to let go and when to hold on to what’s there.

5.  Don’t be afraid to let people go.

A common question I get now that I am grown up is if I’ve kept in touch with people from high school.  My answer is usually that I’ve kept in touch with a few, but most people I’ve stopped talking to, and that’s ok.  There seems to be an idea that losing touch with people means you don’t like them or want to be friends anymore.  That’s not true at all.  People grow and people move on with their lives.  Just because I stop talking to someone doesn’t mean I hate them, just that there are other people in my life that I’m closer to now.  So if there are friendships you want to keep, then keep making effort.  But if you are going your way and they are going theirs and it seems forced, let it go.  Wish them the best and move onward.  It isn’t bad, it’s just growing up.

6.  Know your personality and be comfortable with it.

I’m an introvert, but I used to spend time trying to force myself to be more outgoing and into situations.  My mom always wanted me to make more friends and go out and get into trouble.  But I was the kid that spent Friday nights at home reading or watching tv.  I tried in high school and a little in college, but I gave up.  I don’t like getting dressed up, spending an hour doing my hair and makeup, and paying cover to get into a club just to get hit on and ground up on.  I’m an introvert, and on a Friday night give me a couch, cup of tea, and movie or book, please.  The most important part of this is to learn how to interact your personality type, whichever it is, with the opposite.  It can be difficult, but just because you’re an introvert doesn’t mean you can get along with extroverts.  It’s just hard to learn how.

7.  Don’t spend frivolously.

This is a lesson that was instilled when I was younger, but kind of slipped by the wayside as I grew up.  I had been a bit flush with money so I didn't think much about spending it.  It wasn't until I was not so flush with cash that I had to ask myself with every item "Do I want this or do I need this?" Literally every item.  And it is ok to occasionally splurge or buy a want, not a need.  But you have to be aware of your financial stability.  Do I want this new movie or food for the next week?

8.  Surround yourself with people you enjoy.

This goes back to the quote previously mentioned. "You succeed in meeting the highest expectations of those you hang around with." On the flip side, don't choose to spend time with people who don't meet that for yourself.  Surround yourself with those who enjoy the same things.  Be it sports, or gaming, or reading.  You'll find yourself in good company. Not to say you can only hang out with people who are similar to you, but that it makes for good company.

9.  Confidence is sexy.

This one took me a long fucking time. I never had any luck with guys.  And everyone, upon hearing about my bad luck would consistently wonder why I was single. To which I would respond, "I don't fucking know!"  But what I didn't realize at the time was that guy appreciate a girl who doesn't give a shit.  Being true to yourself and being confident in that is incredibly attractive. You just have to be you and be ok with that and the rest will follow. People are still baffled I've only had one serious boyfriend. So am I, people. So am I.

10.  Religion doesn’t have to be a shackle.

I was raised Roman Catholic with a very conservative family dynamic.  I didn't share my struggles with the idea of the church or God with anyone else for a very long time.  Finally in college, I started to realize I disagreed with Catholicism more than I agreed with it.  I also started meeting more people that are part of a faith but also question things or disagree with some elements of the faith.  Just because you're raised in a faith doesn't mean you have to stay with it.  And just because you follow a faith doesn't mean you have to agree with everything they say.

11.  Ignorance is not always bliss, especially when it comes to big issues.

Sometimes, it is nice to put our heads in the sand and ignore what is going on, or ignore the big picture.  But sometimes, you're doing yourself (or others) more harm than good.  I never thought of myself as racist.  The things that I thought were things I had been exposed to in my life.  But in one of my favorite classes in college, I learned about hatred and racism.  And though I was not maliciously thinking those things, I wasn't knowledgeable about what other races experience.  Now I'm more open minded, especially towards people.  And feigning ignorance won't solve anything.

12.  Spend time on yourself.

Burn out.  It's not just a slang term for someone who does drugs.  It also applies when you wear yourself out completely from life.  Life will wear you down, make you miserable, and continue to suck the soul out of you. Unless, you occasionally take a break from life.  Give yourself a mental health day.  Play hookie.  It may seem dangerous or weird.  But your batteries don't last forever, they need to be recharged.

13.  Find a job that you are passionate about.

Working as a drone in an unfulfilling job is a human rite of passage.  Some people are incredibly lucky to get their dream job right from the get-go. But they are few and far between.  So here's the solution.  If you find something you love that you are working towards, it'll make the crappy job worth it.  It'll still suck balls, but you'll be working towards something you love and you'll have that to hold onto during the crappy bits.

14.  Write things down.

I would always tell my mom a story, and the first thing she would always say is, "You need to write this down." And for the longest time, I shrugged it off.  It's just a story or a joke.  But over the years I'll try to remember something and realize I can't, and that I have no way to check.  I start to wonder if that was real or if I imagined it.  So now I write down almost everything. A veritable smorgasbord of tiny pieces of information that pass through my life.

15.  Take pictures, even of the littlest things.

I know Instagram has turned picture taking into a petty business of selfies and photos that have no significance.  But that's not true.  Every photo (except maybe a blank one) has significance in some way to someone. Even the pictures from my 8th grade Washington DC trip, where hitting the camera to make the flash go off was all the rage.  It may not mean anything to another person that I took a picture of deformed cookie dough. But that'll be the memory of the night we tried to make cookie shot glasses and failed miserably. Other people might this it's insignificant, but it isn't. Not to me.

16.  There is a difference between immaturity and playfulness.

Playfulness is building a fort and coloring inside while watching Disney movies.  Immaturity is tearing someone else's fort down. Being playful and being immature aren't the same, though today society does lump them together. And sometimes, I'm immature. Everyone has those moments. But it's important to know the difference.  I'm playful if I build a fort to hang out in, but I'm immature if I use the fort to hide from my problems.

17.  How to do taxes…

School doesn't teach you this...I don't know why they don't.  But learning your part in society would be easier if people clued you in.  Also debt. It's bad. And always check your credit score.

18.  Travel when you can.

My best friend was studying in Ireland and begged me to come visit. And I sat for a while waffling over money.  If I went, I'd have a great time but have to take out more student loans.  If I didn't go, I’d have less student loans but no seeing my best friend. Moral of the story: Go to Ireland. Always go. You never know what you might miss. For instance, County Cork *teehee*

19.  Make your own traditions.

Family traditions can be amazing. But sometimes they are stupid, in my humble opinion.  So make your own.  After hearing traditions from other people, I can easily think of a few I'll opt once I have a family of my own. Don't be afraid to let go of old family traditions to make new ones.

20.  Don’t feel bad if life seems stuck.

You are going to have life moments that feel like a quagmire of suckage.  Don't worry.  It'll pass.  You'll survive.  Just remember people care about you, even if you don't know them personally.  Someone will always reach out a hand to pick you up when you fall.

21.  There is nothing wrong with asking for help.

This goes with the above. Sometimes, things are above what you can handle. That's why doctors exist. I struggled for a very long time.  Fear of reaching out or asking for help paralyzed me.  No one is going to look down on you for needing help. And if they do, then they're a shitty person you don't need in your life.  Mental illness is complicated.  Don't drown if you're afraid to ask for a buoy. Someone will be there to throw one.

22.  Step away from the technology.

Social media. Television. Internet. Sometimes living in a bygone era seems like a really grand idea.  Minus the plague and lack of indoor plumbing.  However, we need as a society to step away from the robot tech and take a break. Spend an afternoon outside. Playing with your kids. Read a book.  Have a game night (and ban phones). Free yourself for just a little bit. It's worth it.

23.  Family doesn’t always mean blood.

My family situation is complicated and down right shitty in some areas.  While there are family members that I have stayed close to (you know who you are) I have also made my family elsewhere. There are people I have chosen to spend time with who are closer to me than some family members and mean more to me.  Stick by those who stick by you.  Blood relation or no.

24.  Have at least one creative hobby.

Learning is a good thing, guys.  A seriously good thing.  So pick hobby that in some way expands your mind.  Television doesn't count.  Personally, I think photography is a good place to start.  Or invest more time in reading. Pick a specific topic to look into. Learn a language.  Try cooking classes.  Invest something in yourself that helps expand you as a person.

25.  Be yourself.

Whoever you are, whatever you choose to love...don't betray it.  Don't waste time pretending.  Love who you are. And if there's something you don't love, work on changing it for the better in a healthy way.  Don't let anyone belittle you for your choices or what you believe.  Be strong.  Believe in being the best version of yourself. Whatever that may be.

1 comment:

Meredith said...

Lol, County Cork. This is lovely and even further proof that you are amazingly wise. :)