1. I will have to come to accept that my “little” brother is 16 years old now and not “little” anymore. This means I will also have to accept that he has a girlfriend and wears boat shoes and watches the same movies I do and may not ever have any more than five words to say to me on the phone until he himself is in his 20s. Or 30s. I swear it was just two weeks ago I was feeding him his bottle while singing the Blues Clues theme song 17 times in a row ’cause that was his favorite. Everyone, eventually, grows up.
2. Progress will get you further than perfection ever will.
3. I am really, really glad that Facebook and iPhones and Instagram were not around when I was in high school. Like, really, really glad. That would have been very not fun.
4. I had no idea how to dress myself when I was 20. Or 21. Or 22. Slowly… I think I’m starting to get the hang of it.
5. Finding myself broke at the end of the month because I decided to shop at Whole Foods two weeks in a row is an invaluable lesson in frugality. And one that has proven that Whole Foods…isn’t really that awesome. Unless you’re Gwyneth Paltrow and own a backyard full of trees that grow Benjamin Franklins on them or something.
6. It is okay to not drink. It is okay to order chamomile tea instead of wine before dinner. Nobody is going to think you are uncool for it. And if you are like me and have the tolerance of a toothpick when it comes to booze, your body and mind will thank you.
7. Living off of PB&J sandwiches and baked beans and breakfast cereal when you’re saving money or paying off debt is not terrible. Especially if you are like me and your taste buds haven’t changed since you were 5 and baked beans and Lucky Charms still taste like heaven.
8. Being jealous of other people who appear to be more successful or more put together because they bought a house or got a big promotion or a shiny new car that cost about as much as you owe in student loans is normal. The best way to deal with it is to channel it into creative pursuits and in chasing after your dreams so that someday when you look back at these years, you will be satisfied in knowing that you busted your booty and worked hard when it mattered most.
9. I must stop resenting my mother for the things she did wrong in raising me like giving me bangs for 12 years of my life and letting me talk to bugs and birds on the playground in front of other kids. I must work on mercifully accepting her as the flawed, yet beautiful woman that she is. She may not always have gotten it right, but she put her all into trying to raise me well. Bangs and all.
10. Money invested in experiences and memories is worth more than money spent on material excess in the form of handbags and heels. I can’t tell you what gift-wrapped presents I got last year for my birthday but I can tell you about how glorious it felt to have the day off of work, eat chocolate chip pancakes from IHOP with my husband in my PJs, and then go to Las Vegas for the first time, where I tripled my gambling allowance at the blackjack tables.
11. Every day that I get older I am reminded of why it is so important that I have faith and continue to cultivate a healthy spiritual life, though it is hard and I suck at it. It is essential for me, regardless of how often I neglect it.
12. Shopping at Forever 21 will always end up leaving me feeling one of two ways: really excited, or really, really depressed. Excited because finding the perfect funky necklace to wear with a sundress or a sexy pair of sparkly sandals for the beach is cause for celebration. Depressed because well…I’m not in college anymore. And leopard print and bling aren’t so cute when you have this thing called a 9-5 job.
13. There is no expiration date for how long it is okay to like things like crayons and crafts and cartoons and swing-sets and Batman. That’s what it means to be forever young. Own it.
14. I still don’t know how to cook rice. I over- or under-boil it every single time I try. And this is okay. There is more to life than perfectly cooked rice.
15. A lot of the stuff I’ve learned is contradictory at times. But that’s okay because that is what life is like. That’s what learning is.