I turn 25 on Friday.
I don’t think I’m as horrified as I could be (or should be). I don’t mind birthdays but they were never really a huge focus in my life. I’m not a “it’s my birthday month” kind of person, I honestly just want to get on with my day.
It took me a while to realise that your birthday is just another day in the calendar. You’re not supposed to (or expected to) magically feel anything in particular. Things aren’t meant to be miraculously different. You won’t discover the meaning of life or find enlightenment. It really is just another day. So I’ve stopped having massive expectations for my birthday and allowed it to just be. And for that, I am much happier.
But classing myself as being in my ‘mid-20s’ is a little frightening. Here I am, 24 going on 25, with a handful of achievements and dreams of a couple more.
I share my birthday with Reese Witherspoon and William Shatner (v cool) as well as my best friend (medium cool) who was born in the same hospital on the same day in the same year just hours apart. He and I only met in college but our lives ran pretty parallel to one another until then.
In those 25 years, I’ve done a lot. As much as anyone would really. There’s nothing particularly extraordinary about my life. I haven’t achieved anything massively spectacular or survived any enormous amount of trauma (aside from mental health struggles) but I have learned a few things; things that have helped me, things that I wish I knew before I learned them, things that have been difficult to come to terms with and things that have more or less saved my life – both metaphorically and literally.
So I thought it’d be fitting to share twenty-five of those things here and maybe when I hit fifty, I’ll have another twenty-five to throw at you.
1) Constantly relating to someone isn’t always helpful. No one likes to tell someone their problems only to have the other person constantly say “well when I had this it was worse” or “when I did X, this happened” without acknowledging what the person is actually telling you. You don’t have to relate (or even state you experience) to understand and help someone with a problem and very often, just listening is all that’s needed.
2) Save – even a little bit. Even if it’s €5.00. Save it. Put it somewhere where you can’t touch it or is difficult to access. I put mine in another bank account and leave the card at home so I’m not tempted. It might not be much but it’s something.
3) Being by yourself is not the same as being alone. I feel that being by yourself is a choice, being alone is not.
4) My favourite place is a bookshop. Over San Francisco, Colorado, London and Budapest, I’d choose it every time. Because in a bookshop, I can go anywhere.
5) Not everyone wants the best for you. Sometimes what someone wants means wanting the worst for you.
6) If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts – find three good ones to counter the one negative. This one was a big one when I was younger and used to get jealous easily. If I saw another girl who I considered better than myself, I would pick out negative things about her. But that wasn’t fair. Who was I to be judging her on these things when I didn’t even know her. So I began to find things I did like – that she took fantastic photos, she had a great sense of humour or that we had the same interests – and whilst the negativity hurt no one but myself, the positivity had an effect that was ten times better (side note: same goes for yourself. Yeah you might hate your thighs or your nose but you have a killer smile).
7) I like to listen to all kinds of music. My Spotify is a mix of Ariana Grande, The Grateful Dead and Americana indie folk. And I love it because it all makes me feel something. I don’t think you should set yourself to one genre of music. If something moves you, then listen to it.
8) Tell people how you really feel. But within reason. If it’s not true or kind to do so, don’t.
9) Wait for no one.
10) Fall in love with places and memories. That way you can always revisit them.
11) Take things at face value and if you feel like face value isn’t the truth, confront it.
12) Let yourself fall in love. If your heart is broken, it hurts, it’s traumatic, it’s sometimes the worst feeling in the world but it reminds you that you are an emotional complex human being capable of incredible things.
13) Money spent on experiences is not money wasted
14) Travel by yourself. You’ll learn more about who you are than any “self discovery retreat” could teach you. I learned to be patient with myself and to encourage myself to push my limits but I also learned what those limits were. I’m a ‘wake up early and get everything done before breakfast’ kind of traveller but I’m also quite hard on myself if I feel like I missed something or turned down a good opportunity.
15) Your health (both physical and mental) are the two single most important things in your life. Look after them well.
16) Allow yourself to rest. You hurt your back, you take time out to recover. You had a rough week? Take time out to recover.
17) Overthinking with your heart is shit but we all do it. Don’t believe anyone who says they don’t.
18) Sometimes the best response is no response.
19) Allow inspiration to come from anywhere. And for the love of god please write it down.
20) Remember to take photos of people as well as things. Because places will always be there. People won’t.
21) If it won’t matter a year from now, it’s not worth worrying over
22) If you can’t do anything about something at that exact moment, forget about it until you can (this one is a great one if I’m in bed worrying about something. If I can’t do something to change the situation right then and there, it’s not worth wasting energy over).
23) My ideal day is either a day in a bookshop, a rainy day in a coffee shop writing and reading, having breakfast with friends or going for long early morning walks in the mountains.
24) Make do with what you have. Don’t waste your time wishing for more time.
25) Having no expectations isn’t the same as having no hope, having no expectations leads to better and more satisfying outcomes. Be realistic.
25a) Supercut by Lorde is still the greatest song in history.