1. Your skin doesn’t get better. You get older and it’s like, “Oh hi, wrinkles and zits! Please learn to coexist peacefully.”
2. Things don’t just happen magically. If you want a raise, you need to ask for it. One of the best things I’ve learned is that you have to ask for what you want or you’ll never get it. People aren’t mind readers.
3. People surprise you. The ones you think will never hurt you do, and the ones you thought wouldn’t stick around never leave your side.
4. Figuring out insurance never gets easier. I still don’t really understand what a deductible is, but I’m working on it.
5. Money goes to un-fun things more than it did at 22. Things like car payments, student loans and credit card bills. Oh, and taxes.
6. You legit can’t binge drink anymore without praying for death the next day. When I was 21 and older coworkers would warn me that I wouldn’t be able to bounce back after drinking in a few years, I laughed. Fast forward to now and having more than three glasses of wine makes me feel like garbage in the morning.
7. You feel both very young and very old at the same time, and it’s hard to reconcile the two.
8. I haven’t been in a relationship longer than seven months. I really thought that at (almost) 28 I would have a long-term boyfriend and be headed towards marriage.
9. Your friends start getting engaged and having kids just like that. It feels like I blinked and we became adults.
10. You begin to appreciate your parents on a different level. You appreciate everything they did for you when you were growing up and think about how you can pay them back. Many of my friends who moved away are beginning to move back to be near to their families.
11. Staying up past midnight sucks. What’s the point? I rarely stay up past 1 AM anymore.
12. You really do need to use eye cream and moisturize your skin, lest you wake up looking like the Crypt Keeper.
13. Carrie Bradshaw is less inspirational at 28 than she was at 22. You gasp inside when she reveals she has no savings.
14. It’s not all bad. In fact, some things are better – like sex. You know what you like, what you don’t and don’t feel like you have to settle for boring sex. Plus, you’re less afraid to speak up and tell your partner what you want from them.
15. You probably don’t have the job you thought you would, but that’s OK. When my friends and I were 21, we all thought we’d be successful magazine writers. Now, we’re either teachers or copywriters, or we’ve abandoned those creative dreams for a cushy corporate paycheck. It’s not a bad thing; it’s just something that happens when you get older and more realistic.
16. Your brunch conversations change. Instead of dishing about who got wasted and who hooked up with whom, you start talking about things like buying houses and having babies.
17. Your relationship conversations change, too. It starts to become more important to align yourself romantically with someone who shares your values and hopes for the future.
18. Your friendships change. They grow, sometimes painfully, sometimes beautifully. As you age, your close friends become more important to you even if you don’t get to see them all the time.
19. They are not kidding about the slowing down metabolism. Goodbye, my favorite Citizens of Humanity jeans that stopped buttoning after age 26. Hello, wincing through Ballet Beautiful workouts.
20. Your confidence levels are higher. I feel so much more confident in myself and my abilities at this age than I did in college, or even at 25.
21. You’ll probably like boy bands more at 28 than you did at 21. What’s the deal with that, anyway? I love you, One Direction.
22. You start to “feel” the growing-up process more than you thought. It doesn’t just happen. It’s a big clusterfuck of emotions that you have to navigate, embrace and control.
23. Your hormones change. After I turned 26, I was semi-horrified by how badly my body craved a baby. All I wanted to do was hug them and smell them and accidentally go off the pill so I could have one.
24. You’re better at grinning and bearing it. When you’re young, if you don’t want to do something, you just don’t do it. (How many times did I skip Astronomy class in college?) But as you age, you grit your teeth and do the things you don’t necessarily want to do because you have to. You gotta go to the dentist. You gotta go to work. And it’s usually not so bad in the end.
25. Everyone stops smoking.
26. A fun night out used to be staying out until the morning dancing and then hanging out at an after-bar, but now it’s having people over for dinner and getting drunk at home. Is that sad? Not really! It’s much more fun to spend time with people you actually like than suffer through meeting boring, douchey guys at a bar.
27. Your relationship with your body stays complicated. I have not grown out of this, and I don’t think I ever will. I still feel as conflicted about the way I look as I did when I was 15. I really did think I’d outgrow those gnawing insecurities.
28. You start buying the warm, ugly coat instead of the cute, flimsy one, because you’re less willing to freeze in the name of fashion. I never thought I’d sacrifice my beloved heels for Uggs and flats during the winter, but here we are. Age’ll do that to ya. (It’s still heels for me the rest of the year, though, because some things really don’t ever change.)