My 22nd birthday is quickly approaching and, as I was driving through a maze-like construction zone today, my mind began to wander. Soon, I was thinking about all of the things that have happened – both good and bad, big and small – over the last year and I realized that I’ve learned more during this one year of my life than perhaps any other thus far.
Avoid drinking around people who want to take advantage of you. If you’re a single, twenty-something female, this basically encompasses the entire male populous. (This statement is not meant to offend anyone who may be offended by stereotypes. Sorry about it, but stereotypes help make a point.) It’s really best to just drink in the safety of your own home, with Netflix as the only thing in your bed with you. But, let’s face it, then people will start throwing around that darn “alcoholic” word, and none of us want that.
Remind yourself that this is the real world, not high school or college. All of the petty drama that seemed so important in school no longer matters. It’s time to get over the self-centered people we all inevitably acted like in school because, in the real world, if you get into a fight with your best friend and one of you eventually caves and apologizes. Not replaces your face cream with foot cream.
If you want something, go get it. This saying is as old as time itself, but it’s a necessary reminder. For examle, if you know that you want and would excel at a job, walk in and pitch yourself to (read: TO, not AT) the owner/producer/supervisor/boss of whatever sort. You got this.
People leave and, sometimes, it’s for the best. People have been leaving since forever and will continue to do so until the end of time. We know this, but that doesn’t make it any easier. In your twenties, you’ll lose a lot of people for a lot of different reasons. But the friends you lose because you decided to get sober or the ones who stop coming around after you have a kid were never going to stick around — just keep that in mind. (See more here.)
Stop being afraid of your feelings. I’m still learning how to live this lesson. Like many of you who might be reading this now, I have a tough time putting my feelings into words. Actually, scratch that. I’m a writer — I can put my feelings into words. I just can’t make those words exit my brain via my mouth. The problem is, at this point in our lives, people are either going to stay or they’re not. People are moving on to grad school or accepting job offers in different cities. There isn’t any more time to stall; it’s now or never. And you really don’t want it to be never.
There are downsides to living alone. After growing up with siblings and spending countless nights in dorm rooms, the idea of living alone sounds awesome. And, yes, you get to walk around in your underwear whenever you want and pee with the door open and have company over until dawn and all that cool stuff. But you also have more conversations with your television than another person and you end up ordering pizza more often than not because cooking for one person is just plain depressing. Soon enough, a home cooked meal and a little company will start to sound pretty good.
People are going to hurt you if you continue to let them. There are people you need to let go of and things you need to stop thinking about and, sometimes, it really is for the best. I know that everybody says that and that, at the time, it really doesn’t feel like it’s for the best. Or like it’s good at all. But the thing is, people are going to hurt you. You just need to be smart enough to walk away after they do. And don’t look back.
Everything is going to be okay… Someday. And it might not be today or tomorrow or next week. You might be so poor that you haven’t gone grocery shopping in two months. You might be sleeping on a mattress on the floor. (I would know.) Eventually, though, you’ll get your life together and things will start working out in your favor. Things will start going your way for once. I’m pretty sure, at least.