Six months ago, I turned 23. Which kind of, sort of, makes me an ‘adult’. And it terrified me.
I don’t feel old enough to be adult. I still get excited about blowing bubbles, love Paddington Bear, and fervently believe that ice cream constitutes a food group (it’s got calcium in it, right? I need that for healthy bones so it’s kind of like a superfood…).
I have, however, learnt some useful things in the last few months that I wish I could tell my teenage self. It’d save her a lot of time, money and useless arsing about.
1. It’s okay to fail.
It’s going to happen. A lot. There’s nothing you can do about that. It gets easier, with time, and you begin to learn how to deal with it. Failure’s a bitch, especially when you really wanted something so badly that it hurt. But. You can turn the tables on the sucker; everytime you fail, find out why and how. Learn something from it. Use what you learn so that next time, you don’t just win, you exceed expectations.
2. It’s okay to be enthusiastic about things.
You like the things you like and there’s no reason to hide that. If you’re jump-up-and-down happy about something then do that! Own your joy and don’t hestitate to express it. Apathy might be cool but it doesn’t make you feel very good.
3. Being happy for other people is a good thing.
Jealousy sucks. Be happy for your friends when they do or get good things. For that matter, be happy for strangers in the same situation. Not only will you have better relationships with other people but you’ll feel better about yourself as well. If you stop comparing other people’s successes to your own, you won’t feel so down when it seems that they’re achieveing all the things that you want to be achieveing.
4. Being the best person you can be isn’t actually trite, cliché bullshit.
Making the sad-looking till assistant smile can be the best part of your day. Be kind to customer service people; they’re often providing a face to your problem but it’s unlikely that they caused it in the first place. Be nice to people and they’re more likely to be nice to you. It’s simple, easy, and fun.
5. It sounds dumb but you only have one life; use it!
I’m not going to tell you that you can do anything and go anywhere and be anything because you need money and training and God-knows-what-else for all that, none of which are easy to come by. Work around those constraints and do what you can. Don’t spend your life working towards the big things and neglecting the little, everyday bits of awesome. Go the extra mile at work; buy a stranger a coffee (or better yet, something that’s actually healthy); finish all those books you’ve always meant to read but haven’t; go for a long walk somewhere beautiful; cook something really healthy that actually tastes good.
6. You can get sad about things.
You can’t be happy 100% of the time so don’t even try. The trick is picking yourself up again the next day and being proactive. Find a solution to your problem. Cut bad people out of your life. Buy more ice cream. Find another tv series to be obsessed with to replace the one that was unfairly canceled before its time (why is it always the good ones?!).