23 revolutions around the sun; 23 years of lessons learned. 23 is a weird time in your life. It’s a time where you’re beginning to face serious decisions about what exactly you want to do while also being utterly clueless as to how the “real world” works. In lieu of this limbo, here’s 23 things I’ve learned in my 23 years:

  1. Save  your money.
    1. Seriously; save your money. Save as much as you can. Even if it’s just 5% of each pay check. It’s an amazing feeling to have a safety net to fall back on in case your car decides to break down or your cat racks up a $200 vet bill. Instead of spending $50 at the bar for drinks, get a $6 bottle of wine and chug it straight from the spout before going out. Instead of eating out every night, take 45 minutes once a week to buy groceries and prepare meals. Don’t spend money you don’t have, i.e., don’t rack up money on a credit card and “figure it out later.” There’s a million ways to save money here and there. I suggest checking out some resources like “mrmoneymustache” or “themadfientist.” At 23, you can’t really be calling your parents and asking them to send you money. (Ok, you can, but it’s starting to get a little weird.)
  2. You’re going to lose some friends.
    1. Unfortunately this is unavoidable. At 23, you’re still trying to figure out exactly what kind of person you even are. You may outgrow some people; some people may outgrow you. You’re at a period where change and development and evolution is happening for you and everyone else around you. Not everyone is going to be in the same place at the same time, which often leads to conflict. Be prepared to lose some friends, but remember; it’s normal. You can’t please everyone. Perhaps when the dust has settled you can go about rekindling some lost friendships, but you have to learn and grow from the experience. Let it happen, give it a moment, and move on.
  3. You’re going to feel alone.
    1. At some point, you’re going to feel pretty damn lonely. You may have friends; you may have an awesome family. To the outside world, things may seem to be going just wonderfully for you. Or maybe you just moved to a new city and actually have none of these things. Inevitably, those Simon and Garfunkel lyrics “Hello darkness, my old friend” are going to start to resonate with you. This. is. normal. You’re growing up; things are changing. People are changing. You can feel lonely/depressed/like a piece of shit. This is ok. Acknowledge it, but don’t let it control you.
  4. Don’t be afraid to seek help.
    1. To build off of what I was saying, it’s easy to spiral into pits of depression. Don’t let your brain control you. If you feel like you need to talk to somebody, do it. If you feel like you need to go on medication, do it. The way you are feeling now is not permanent and will not last forever, but you have to be willing to help yourself. It’s not as scary as it seems and will seriously make you wonder why you waited so long to do it.
  5. You’re not suppose to be anywhere.
    1. Grad school; married with kids; a “big kid” job. Seriously, stop telling yourself you’re suppose to be at some artificial point in life. Comparing yourself to others is just going to make you feel like shit and give you anxiety. No matter how many times Sarah from undergrad posts about how happy and fulfilled she is to be a dietician, it doesn’t mean that you should have your shit figured out. It doesn’t mean you have to follow that path. Whether it’s  at 23, 33, 43, 53; you’ll find what makes you happy. Life doesn’t have a check list. Don’t treat it that way.
  6. You should really give a crap about your health.
    1. Look, I’m no stranger to pizza. Or netflix. Or oreos or cake or entire bottles of wine or sitting-on-the-couch-then-catching-your-reflection-in-the-television-and-seeing-a-zombie-blob-with-crumbs-on-her-shirt-staring-back-at-you. I get it. It feels good to veg out. But seriously, it’s time to start caring about your body. You won’t be 23 forever and eventually this is going to catch up to you. I’m not saying you have to meticulously count your calories or work out for two hours a day everyday, but try to make better choices. Don’t eat fast food everyday; if you can stand it, try to go for a 30 minute run. Try yoga. Keep yourself healthy; it’ll actually make you feel like you’re doing something productive and you’ll feel good, I promise!
  7. Adults are just tall kids.
    1. Seriously, let go of the idea that people that are older than you are automatically wiser than you. Don’t doubt yourself or your ideas just because Jan doesn’t agree with what you’re saying. They may act like “they’ve been around the block and seen it all,” but they may be forgetting to mention they were walking around a cinder block and wearing a blindfold.
  8. At the same time, don’t be so proud you don’t listen to advice.
    1. You don’t have to do what everyone says, but take what people say into account, especially people you respect and admire. For example, if someone is giving you advice on what to do but they seem miserable and full of shit, just smile and nod. BUT, if someone is giving you advice and they are successful, genuine, and seem to have a good head on their shoulders, it’s not a bad idea to actually listen to what their saying and utilize it. You don’t know everything and people do have valuable information to share. Take it where you can get it.
  9. Pay your bills before you buy anything else.
    1. Seriously, come on people. Do you really want to be that roommate that says they can’t afford rent but just bought a $300 ticket to a music festival? That’s a quick way to make enemies and honestly just makes you a shitty person.
  10. Speaking of money; avoid lending your friends money.
    1. Look, I know it might be hard to see one of your friends struggling financially and you might want to help them out, but take it from me; DON’T. This is a quick way to lose a friendship that otherwise could have flourished. A lot of times people our age don’t understand the value of money and will buy a new pair of shoes before paying you back, subsequently pissing you off. Just avoid the situation all together. Of course there are exceptions, but if you can help it, just don’t freaking do it.
  11. Connections are everything.
    1. This is a reality of life. I’ve seen my incredibly qualified friends be shot down when trying to climb their way to the top while my under-qualified friends were handed a shield, a list of instructions, and glided their way to success. As unfair as this may seem, you can use it to your advantage, Network, network, network! I can’t say it enough. If there’s something you’re interested in, meet with people who are successful at doing it themselves. You don’t have to be the creepy person who befriends someone just to use them, but it’s good to surround yourself with successful, caring people. You never know when someone is going to give you your big break!
  12. Avoid discussing politics.
    1. They either agree with you and it’s a circle jerk or they disagree with you and it’s an argument. As much as you’d like to say it’s just friendly debate, most people don’t take it this way. It’s a very personal subject for some people and it’s just not worth getting into it. Trust me.
  13. It’s ok if you still live with you parents.
    1. Hey, what’s wrong with free rent? The haters are just jealous. But really, it’s fine. Don’t sweat it. It doesn’t make you less of a person.
  14. Sometimes, you’re going to be the asshole.
    1. Look, we are the human animal. We’re going to fuck up. Maybe you were the annoying roommate that always had her boyfriend over or you misread a situation and caused unnecessary drama. The fact is we’re young and we’re learning. Sometimes you’re going to be unwittingly selfish and that’s ok. Learn from it, apologize, and add it to your notebook of knowledge. Don’t be afraid to admit you were in the wrong; it actually makes you a stronger person.
  15. Keep in touch with your family.
    1. I believe in the saying that “blood is thicker than water.” Obviously this isn’t true for all cases, but I believe it can apply to the people in your life that took care of you, gave a crap about you, and continue to do so. Don’t forget to call your family and catch up with them. Don’t lose the most important relationships in your life just because you’re forging a new one. You never know when you’re going to need your mommy and daddy again.
  16. You don’t have to be the person you used to be.
    1. It’s ok to change. It’s called evolution. You don’t have to be the person you were 10 years ago, 5 years ago, or even yesterday. You get one life and you are going to live and learn. This will change you and that’s a good thing! You’re turning into the person you are suppose to be; celebrate it.
  17. Don’t get a dog if you don’t have the time for it.
    1. Ok, this is just standard advice, but I’m throwing it in there. Don’t get a dog if you cannot properly care for it! I mean seriously, do you know how many dogs get adopted then returned? That is just cruel.
  18. Your parents are not perfect.
    1. Our natural inclination is to see our parents as these ultimate sources of authority and people that know everything. That just isn’t true. You’re (sort of?) an adult now. You have to realize that your parents are just people and have/do/are going to make mistakes. Give them the benefit of the doubt. They are doing the best they can and are not perfect people.
  19. Make your bed every morning.
    1. I know, this seems pretty arbitrary, but it really does make a difference to wake up and immediately make your bed. It feels so good to climb into a clean, freshly made bed at night. Plus, it makes you feel like, you’re like, mature and stuff.
  20. Learn to forgive.
    1. There are people who are going to do you wrong in life. It’s going to hurt. Bad. But what’s going to hurt worse is if you carry the anger around with you. One of the hardest, yet best things you can do for yourself in life is to learn to forgive. It’s not easy and it’s not something you can rush, but it’s something that can genuinely lift your mental state and make you a happier person.
  21. Don’t be afraid to be yourself.
    1. I know, I know. This is cheesy. But if you’re like every other millennial that cares too much about what people think about them, you’re going to want to work on this. If you pretend to be someone you’re not, you’re going to feel an uncomfortable disconnect between who you’re presenting yourself as and who you really are. Plus, you won’t make genuine friends and it’s much, much easier to be who you really are than to pretend you’re something you’re not.
  22. Don’t worry so much about relationships.
    1. Single; dating; married; attending swinger’s parties; whatever. Don’t overthink it. This is a really exciting time in your life and you’re allowed to do whatever the hell you want. Whether you’re in a 5-year-long serious relationship or causally dating, it’s your choice and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about your relationship choices.
  23. Don’t take life too seriously.
    1. Jobs; relationships; education; finance. It’s going to be ok. I know it can be difficult to realize that whatever you’re going through will work out, but trust me, it will. Enjoy the excitement of the unknown. Despite what Blink-182, you are liked when you’re 23.

 

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