I’m not sure how it happened, but I feel like I’ve reached a fairly decent age now. You know, an age where people have achieved things like buying their own house, getting married or starting a family. (None of which I have done, but that is besides my point. See number 10.) My point is that I am no longer a teenager, and haven’t been for a very decent chunk of time. To any third party, I look for all intents and purposes like an adult.
You can’t get to this age without learning anything, although mostly it turns out to be sorting clichés older adults tell you into ‘true’ and ‘false’. Here are 26 lessons life has taught me so far:
1. Perhaps it will always feel like I’m winging it. I’m starting to doubt anyone has everything figured out.
2. Never say never. This time last year, joining a gym was completely outside of the realms of possibility. This morning, I went to the gym, rowed, used the treadmill (whaaat?), did a bit of Zumba and – shock horror – enjoyed myself.
About Love and Friendship
3. I’ve treated people just as badly as I think I’ve been treated. We don’t intentionally set out to do it, but sometimes doing what is right/best for us hurts someone else.
4. If you try so hard to avoid being hurt by others that you never get close to anyone, then you only end up hurting yourself.
5. Relationships take a lot of work. My coupled-up friends have informed me that my ‘three strikes and you’re out’ strategy is best left in baseball and criminal law, and is not conducive to building a long-term relationship.
6. The next guy who comes near me with the word ‘casual’ is getting kneed in the balls. It’s not a privilege to be one of your many women.
7. Try to fall for someone you would want to be friends with. Of course, there is little logic in love.
8. I have people who love me when I’m being crazy or grumpy or bitchy or boring; how lucky is that? As Kelly Clarkson so poetically put it, my life would suck without you.
9. You and your friends might drift apart. Friendships evolve with time, where you are, what stage of life you’re at, and that’s OK as we make new ones along the way. If we want to keep people in our lives, we just have to make a little more effort.
10. Comparing yourself to others will usually make you feel bad. I’m working on not doing this anymore!
11. It’s OK not to be OK. (Says Jessie J.) However, if you’re not OK for a long time, or can see someone who isn’t, reach out.
12. Forgiving people is good for you.
13. Do write the fantastically witty, fierce responses you have to irritating texts and emails. Just don’t send them.
About Life Itself
14. If everyone read the Harry Potter series, the world would be a nicer place.
15. Life isn’t fair. Everyone says it, and assumes they believe it, but I don’t think I really did until we all started growing up and trying to get jobs. Because…
16. Hard work doesn’t equal success. To contradict what grown-ups tell children, and successful people in their fields tell everyone else, hard work does not always lead to you getting what you want. Nevertheless, if you really want something, it is worth trying for.
17. Sometimes not getting what you want is exactly what you need.
18. Sometimes what you’re scared of is exactly what you should be doing.
19. Life is way too short not to do things that you like, often.
20. Happiness is fleeting, and when we realise this, it’s easier to find.
21. You can (nearly) always change your mind. However…
22. You don’t get a second shot at this. Try everything once. Twice, even. And even then…
23. You will never experience a fraction of what life has to offer. The good thing is that there will always be more occasions to be amazed.
24. Things can always get worse; things can always get better. Everything in life is only for now. (Thank you, Avenue Q.)
25. Give yourself a break. The insecurities I had as a teenager are fading away year by year, as I go new places, try new things and meet new people. It’s my favourite thing about getting older. Perhaps it’s a result of moving to London and realising that I only know about 20 of its 8.6 million inhabitants, but I care a lot less than I used to about what people think of me. I don’t expect perfection from anyone else, so why should I ask it of myself?
And the other thing?
26. Rules and lessons never apply to all situations.