A Birthday Reflection: 10 Things I’ve Learned

It’s officially a week since I turned 25 and while it’s crazy to think I’m now closer to the big 3-0 than my teenage years, I’m embracing my mid-twenties state. This might be due to the fact that I’ve always been called “an old soul,” so the gif featured above really speaks to me (although I find Nick from New Girl to be one of the most insufferable sitcom characters, tbh).

Anyway, I wanted to take the time to share 10 pieces of serious and silly wisdom that I’ve learned in my 25 years.

1. It’s okay to not be okay all the time – I’m not quite sure if it’s a human nature thing or something millennials are particularly guilty of doing, but I often find when chatting with acquaintances or extended family members, that we tend to make every facet of our lives seem like they are in a perfect state. Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s a fine line between authenticity and being a malcontent — I don’t blame someone for not wanting to delve into his or her streak of bad Bumble dates with crazy Aunt Barb at a family reunion. However, I often find when I’m going through a rut or am in a weird headspace, sharing it with trusted friends or family members can often provide greater perspective that everyone feels this way at one point or another, even if they don’t project it all the time. Also, it’s important to know that even if you don’t feel okay right now, it doesn’t mean that this is a permanent state.

2. But seriously, endorphins make you happy – If you know me, you know that I’ve never been enthused about exercising. I can still remember faking stomach aches as a kid to get out of my weekly swimming lessons. While I’ve gone through waves of exercising every now and again, since moving to D.C. and especially in 2018, I’ve truly made an effort to make exercise a priority. As someone who is prone to anxiety and stress, so many of my friends have encouraged me to workout regularly. About three weeks ago, I bit the bullet and joined Class Pass (#NotSpon) and have been taking pilates and barre classes each week. Although I am so sore after every barre class I’ve taken thus far, I can already tell that it’s helped both from a physical standpoint, but also mentally. It gives me something to look forward to and gets my mind off of anxieties I have that I would obsess about if I was alone in my apartment. Let’s replace the Sunday scaries with reformer pilates, shall we?

3. Date…a lot – At the end of 2017, I made going on dates a hobby of sorts and often times shared my, albeit embarrassing, dating stories with friends, family, and even coworkers. When 2018 rolled around, I even thought it would be fun to go on 25 first dates in honor of my 25th birthday. As someone who is well versed in The League, Bumble, and Hinge, I’ve encountered just about every type of guy on “the apps,” as I call them. And while it can be frustrating to seemingly strike out or be ghosted by someone you thought you had a deep connection with, find solace in the fact that you’re not only finding out what you don’t like in a future partner, you find out more about yourself — everything from superficial preferences to fundamental differences that you never realized were personal deal breakers. While the dating game can often feel like that lyric from Taylor Swift’s “22” (We’re happy free, confused, and lonely at the same time, it’s miserable and magical.), I know I’m going to look back on these years with appreciation that I was able to learn so much know that I can’t date a guy whose ears looked like they had never seen a Q-tip before.

4. Embrace being a solo act – As an appropriate follow up to #3, I am well versed in being single, as I’ve never actually been in a longterm, serious relationship. While I go through spurts of loving my independence, there are also times when I do want what most of my friends have — you guessed it, a boyfriend. However, I often times find that when I get to the “why am I still single?”-woe is me-state, I tend to take a step back from dating all together and exert this energy into something that brings me joy, like writing, listening to music, or talking to my friends. Again, this is the prime time to kill it in life, when you have no other major obligations, than to look out for yourself. So do something you love, something that scares you, and something that challenges you.

5. Don’t take the metro alone after midnight – I didn’t realize this at 22, but have since learned the error of my ways. You’re welcome.

6. Contribute to your 401K or Roth IRA – Now, I do this mostly because my dad told me to when I first began working, but trust me, paying for future is going to be more gratifying when you’re 65 than those Gucci loafers you’ve been eyeing.

7. But also, treat yourself – It seems very Cher Horowitz of me to say that shopping is one of my hobbies. However, I love shopping. With the exception of this weekend’s Tuckernuck sample sale, I’m typically a methodical shopper and will buy investment pieces. Paying a little more for something you’ll use, whether it’s a pair of headphones or a work bag, will pay off in dividends if you’re smart about it.

8. Maintaining friendships post grad takes work – College was a magical time when you lived within a mile of your closest friends and inevitably someone was always around to hang out. Fast forward nearly three years, I live in a city where none of my besties live. While this has certainly been an adjustment, I still maintain an extremely close relationship with my inner circle from college, but let’s be real, it takes work. Conflicting work schedules and plans can be a challenge to connect on a regular basis. However, to avoid an unconscious uncoupling/gradual drift, it’s important to make time to chat on a fairly regular basis with your friends. This can mean anything from texting and DM’ing each other funny memes on Instagram or phone calls and FaceTime. Also, be sure to plan visits IRL. One of my closest friends and I planned a girls trip to Nashville two years ago and it’s still one of my fondest memories with her.

9. You don’t have to maintain friendships you don’t want to maintain – As much as some friendships are worth maintaining, it’s also important to recognize that you aren’t obligated to maintain friendships with people whom you don’t jive well. Think of it as Marie Kondo-ing your network — surround yourself with people who bring you joy.

10. Recognize that every one is busy – Like #1 of this list, I often find that we as millennials often compete with one another with the mission of being the most busy. While it’s okay to share when you’re slammed, it’s also important to recognize that most everyone is in the same boat as you. As I write this, I’m trying to head my own advice.