In just over a month, the big two-four will hit. Not that I believe birthdays are anything particularly special but each year, it seems life teaches me something new. So for your reading pleasure, here are ten of the most important lessons I’ve learned by the age of twenty-four.
1. Make your room your personal space.
Whether you want to have photos around the room, a Kate Spade theme with motivational quotes, posters of your favourite actors or shelves full of books, your room is your space. Find what makes you smile when you wake up. Print those Instagram photos that you cherish so dearly. Find that perfect record player that plays your guilty pleasure songs. Organise your bookshelves, pick the best bed sheets, have a million and one pillows for aesthetic purposes. Whatever it is, your room should be the place you can go after a long day to unwind and relax.
2. Read a lot.
Find books that matter to you and that keep you interested. Autobiographies, graphic novels, therapy books, young adult novels, crime, romance… there are a thousand books out there that will pique your interest. Find the ones that make you smile and laugh and cry all at the same time. Read them often and read them well. You’ll find that they take you to a new world that might just be exactly where you need to be at that moment.
3. Dance it out.
We often forget that it’s fun to be a child again. Turn on your favourite tunes. Spotify, Apple music, iTunes. The platforms for music nowadays can show you new songs for every mood. Find those moments when you’re ecstatically happy or need a pick me up and dance. Jump around like crazy. Bust those hip-hop moves from the 90s. Watch a music video and try to mimic the moves. Find the kid that used to dance around to Britney Spears or the Backstreet Boys and let loose. You are allowed to have some fun.
4. Establish a routine that works for you.
Wake up early. Get that cup of coffee or tea and sit on your porch. Listen to the sounds of the city around you. Watch the people walking their dogs, the children running to catch the last bus, the deliveries from the post-man. Find something that works for you. If you want to go for a run in the morning, do it. If you want to light a candle and do yoga in the morning, do it. If you want to spend twenty minutes blogging, do it. But every morning, do something for you. And make it a part of your routine. It’ll help you organise your life and settle in before a long day.
5. Go see a therapist.
Now, this one is important. By the age of twenty-four, something will have happened in your life where you need someone to listen. Maybe you feel guilty about that one night stand. Maybe you are stressed about work. Maybe you lost both your parents in the same year. Maybe you just need someone to say it’s okay to not know what you want to do with your life. But, by this point, you need help. Don’t be afraid of it. Don’t worry about what your friends or family will say. Take that extra hour every week and find a therapist that works for you, that listens to you and that makes you feel important for that one hour. Rage. Cry. Vent. Share your vulnerabilities with someone whose job it is not to judge you. Your mental health is so important.
6. Find something that means something to you.
Get a tattoo. Get a piercing. Go shopping. Find a great coffee shop with books that have been read a hundred times over. Get that extra shot of espresso. Make a jar with all your favourite memories. Find what holds meaning for you and make it a part of your life. You need something to ground you on the bad days. Because you will have bad days.
7. Your friends are your biggest support system.
Use them. Call them when you’re upset. Call them when something good happens. Choose the ones that want to stick around and the ones that you want to stick around for. See them often. Laugh with them, cry with them, scream with them, do yoga with them. If you’re across the ocean from them like I am, make Skype dates. Talk on Facebook. Send them pictures on Instagram of your perfectly winged eyeliner (guilty). Snapchat them when you see a cute dog. Let them be a part of your life and be a part of theirs. And listen to what they have to say. Sometimes your best friends are the ones who will remind you of your individuality and the most special parts of yourself. Sometimes you need people.
8. If you’re going to buy instant coffee, get the good stuff.
This goes for a lot of things but, particularly instant coffee. You need to find the one that actually tastes like coffee. Don’t skimp here. Coffee is essential to making a bad day a good day. Start your mornings with a good cuppa and don’t worry about that extra $2.99 you spent getting the good stuff.
9. Watch your social media.
How can I stress this? Every employer is looking for your Facebook, your Instagram, your twitter, your LinkedIn. Vamp it up. Don’t cuss, don’t judge, don’t be pretentious or rude or obnoxious. Keep in mind that in this day and age, everything you put on the internet will stay there forever. Your social media presence will make or break you. And sometimes you’ll need a break from it. Don’t be afraid to deactivate your Facebook for a month. Disconnect from the world before going to bed. Trust your instincts. If your grandmother would be appalled to see it, don’t post it. The end.
10. Be confident in who you are.
A lot of the time, by twenty-four, people are still struggling to find themselves. That’s okay. Find what makes you you. Is it the clothes you wear? The job you hold? The books you read? The music you listen to? The one song that makes you dance like an idiot? The company you keep? Take a note from Sylvia Plath: “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart: I am, I am, I am.” Find that.
So there you go. Ten lessons I’ve learned by the ripe old age of twenty-four. I know there are a lot of clichés and book quotes and Grey’s Anatomy quotes but, they’re all important. Or at least I think so. So go. Be a work in progress. And learn your own lessons.