There have been a great many articles and posts on the perils of getting older and, sometimes, wiser. Buzzfeed in particular have a monopoly on listing one’s milestones in their twenties, thirties and beyond with the corresponding hilarious gifs from popular culture. Often these are gender specific and a little generalised but overall entertaining. I appreciate a good gif and have no desire to jump on the I Hate Buzzfeed bandwagon, especially the open secret is that we visit that site at least twice a day and unashamedly love it.
Thought Catalog also produces some particularly poignant pieces on getting older, predominantly directed at us millennials (cringe, sorry) in our twenties and early thirties. Sometimes I find myself inwardly groaning at the points made but the overarching message of “It’s OK, we all don’t know WTF we’re doing and we’re just doing the best we can,” is extremely comforting and, for the brief second before you scroll down to the comments section, the internet becomes a caring community of friends.
I recently turned 25 and was delighted to find I had just as many people still willing to be my friend the day after the celebrations. After mulling this milestone over (my celebration was titled “Quarter Life Crisis Conference”), I surprisingly found myself enjoying the opportunity to take stock of the years I have lived and the experiences I have been through for the first time. In fact, I made a little list of my own on the lessons I have learned. Note: all lessons came with a hearty helping of hangovers, deep internal shame, public humiliation, dancing it out and Sinead O’Connor-level angst.
Exactly how many glasses of wine I need depending on if I want to sleep deeply or just get my drink on
It was lovely to meet wine after a few years of alcohol initiation where, as an impressionable fawn on the party scene with minimal funds and a stomach that can take it, you opt for bottom shelf liquor every time. Wine was the natural progression to the more sophisticated way of getting trashed and one that our parents had been enjoying for most of their lives.
Wine is much like chocolate; there are many varieties and most of them taste gosh-darn amazing. I have become something of an amateur wine appreciator where I enjoy a good bottle of white paired with Lays Lightly Salted. After sharing one bottle of wine with a friend, I can happily amble off to bed for a sleep that would make sedated babies envious.
Add one more glass: weird and emotional.
Minus one glass: ready for dinner and a dance.
Most embarrassing moment with wine: Any time you get the dreaded maroon teeth from drinking a bit too much red wine. Sadly, this is also the point where you want to put your mouth on someone else’s mouth.
There are certain things I have to buy as the exclusion of one of these seemingly nondescript items opening up my entire universe to chaos
These items depend on who you are and the kind of lifestyle you lead. You know exactly what these things are because the realisation that you needed them was preceded by a devastating incident that you never want to repeat. I, for example, cannot live without baby wipes, a little bottle of hand sanitiser and tissues. You may have guessed I am a messy person. It is true, I always spill food on myself and, if it’s windy, snot may come out to say hey. There is no dignity in needing these things, but the fact that I now know to carry them lessens regular humiliation and everyone I know calls upon me for one of these things, so who’s really the winner here?
Hand sanitiser: Great for helping your sister who placed her hand on a rock that was mainly used by homeless people to urinate. Also great for any time you eat something sticky.
Baby wipes: Great for life, but the example that springs to mind is getting rid of racoon eyes anytime, anywhere.
Learning to be a teensy bit less afraid and confused
As I have gotten older, I found that the lessons learned in terms of friendship, relationships, work and university have shaped me into a person who can deal with the reality of life: you don’t always get what you want when you want it, you can’t force someone to be something they are not (including yourself) and you will have to go through some heavy shit to become the person you are destined to be.
How you deal with these lessons is the real sorcery of growing up. There was a time when I was way too afraid to ask for what I wanted and, if I am honest, I didn’t really know what it was anyway. Today, I have a clearer image of who I am and what I want out of life, which makes you less inclined to put up with the rubbish you did before –from yourself or from other people. Thanks to the years preceding being 25, I no longer feel the need to always prove myself to people and I have no time for people I see as having a negative impact on my life.
The main lesson and one that I have to stress to you all: Don’t be so hard on yourself.
On that same token:
Realising that there is still a looooong way to go
I haven’t even reached the base camp of the Everest that is my life. But, sitting here and realising I haven’t done a completely piss poor job is satisfying. Cue wine.
I raise my glass to all you 20-summin summins. Well done, Godspeed and bless you all.