It freaks me out — just a little bit — that today, I’ve been writing this blog for three years. This is my 502nd post (wow!) and I just turned 25 two days ago.
I haven’t been too excited about that number. I blame it on my quarter-life crisis and all the things that are terrifying about this age, about this time in my life. It’s a phase that it is completely full of uncertainty. The rules are gone, the plans are fading, there’s nothing that’s exactly right, but nothing is quite wrong. And yet – there is so much going on. So many questions, so much doubting. Way too many choices and never enough time to get everything you want done and figured out.
It’s the part of life that you’re never prepared for, and somehow in all of this madness, I’ve convinced myself that really, truly, this is when all the magic will happen. This is where I’ll learn the most, live the most and if I’m lucky, love the most. When I think back on the times when I’ve been the happiest, it’s also been the times when I worried the most. And when I think about my time in this grand city — that’s let me live here for almost four years — I can’t believe how far I’ve come and frankly, how incredibly lucky I’ve been.
So, instead of worrying that I’m not where I should be or if I’m getting this whole adult-life-thing right, I’m going to be thankful for these 25 years. They haven’t been exactly what I expected, but in many ways, they’ve been so much more. I’m not brilliant, but here are a few things I’ve come to realize:
1- No one gets it.
Really. Even that girl who looks like she has the most perfect life with the perfect guy and the perfect body — she’s lost too. We’re all trying to get it together and seek a little reassurance that we’re doing it right. Truth is, we’re just all trying the best we can.
2- Mama always said you grow into yourself one day…
…and I never understood what that meant until recently. There will be a day when you wake up and you look at your reflection, and you don’t hate it. You’ll actually kind of love it. There might always be some things that you think could be better, but after a while, you stop putting yourself down and you start finding those imperfections quite beautiful.
3- It’s okay to be soft — and to be a little bitter.
When you first graduate, you put up this I-can-do-anything shield with hopes it’ll protect you from all of the things that you think (and yes, will) go wrong. You feel like you’re a superhero flying in an imaginary battlefield, until one day, there’s nothing left to fight for. Because one day, you will have a job and friends and a place to live and maybe a guy you love. And then you’ll relax. It’ll feel really, really great. Then you’ll go into battle again when something changes. Because life always, always changes. But you wouldn’t want it any other way.
4- Sex gets better.
It’s not always going to be hot and steamy and sweaty and vivacious. It won’t always feel like you’re making love and you won’t always want it to be soft. But the more you know yourself, know your body and thrive on your sexuality, the better sex feels. College guys — they really don’t know what they’re doing. Trust me.
5- Your friends are way more important than any guy you date.
And they all serve different purposes in your life. If you are lucky (and smart), a small handful will hold your deepest, darkest secrets and your most vulnerable confessions. With or without men, I can’t imagine life feeling full or rich if I didn’t have the women who make me feel loved. And normal. And accepted. (And sometimes, very drunk off of champagne and wine.)
6- Saving money is really damn important.
And it’s equally as hard to do. There will always be concert tickets, Groupons, restaurant week menus, sweet shoes on Gilt, a whole rack of clothes at H&M that you want to buy. Let yourself indulge, but save some, too. There will always be a time when you need a little extra cushion.
7- Dating is annoying.
But it can be entertaining, enlightening and interesting, too. You’ll learn more from yourself through the dates that go horribly wrong than you do when you have butterflies filling your belly. Keep trying, buttercup. Have faith it’ll all make sense one day. Wine and Gchat often helps.
8- You’ll lose yourself out there a few times.
There’s a lot going on in your 20s and a lot to figure out: where will I live? Where will I work? Who will I live with? Am I actually hungry right now? Do I want another drink? Should I have one? Can I really stay out until 2 and get up at 7? You’ll bicker with yourself a lot and sometimes, you’ll make the wrong choice. But as much as you get lost, you’ll find a new way to get back home.
9- Family is more wonderful than you ever thought.
Seriously. Mom and dad really know what they’re talking about. And dad had a lot of fun sailing the world in his early 20s, and mom has dating horror stories that put mine to shame. They’re really amazing, so supportive and so incredibly far away. Cherish them. Admit that you miss them and call them more.
10- You get braver as you go.
I thought moving to NYC was the craziest — and possibly stupidest — thing I could ever do. I didn’t have much money, a place to live or employment, but I went with it. And it all worked itself out with a lot of Ramen and prayers. But the bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed Lindsay that arrived on Manhattan soil then, sincerely has nothing on the confident, independent Lindsay now.
11- You’ll accept that not everyone is going to like you.
There’s always going to be a bully somewhere: your job, your mutual friends, if you have roommates, your apartment, even. You don’t have to please the world, you just have to make choices that make you feel like you’re making the world a better place. The rest of them? Forget ’em. Karma is really fun, promise.
12- Your maternal instincts start to show as you get older.
Honestly, I’ve always kind of been the “mother” of any group of friends (big surprise, I know), but over the past few years, I’ve grown more patient. More understanding. And not able to sleep off hangovers like I used to be able to.
13- Dentists suck, but having great health is mandatory.
Even though I pay more than enough for insurance, the 7-year-old in me still wants my dad to hold my hand while I sit in the dentist chair. But seriously, there’s a reason you’re insured and a reason why so many people need insurance. If you can take preventive measures, do it. The co-pay isn’t that bad and neither is getting free toothpaste.
14- You’ll start to workout because you want to, not because you want to be skinny.
Mmm, well that’s partially a lie. But seriously – if you’re not a runner, don’t run. If you giggle through yoga, try kickboxing. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress, but don’t do something just to burn calories. Do it to make yourself stop freaking out 99% of the time.
15- You might compare yourself to, um, everyone.
Your friends. The ridiculously tall and thin models in the Meatpacking district. The petite blondes who have guys dripping off of them. Your mom when she was your age. Your friends who are already married. Your friends who have babies. Your friends who have bigger, fancier titles and paychecks. It’s okay, it’s all part of the game. Just remember, if you’re comparing yourself to them, they’re doing it, too.
16- You’ll start to think fondly of where you came from.
I found myself a way out of the deep South about as quickly as my high-heeled shoes could carry me. Now, I barely where heels — and never when commuting. Now, when the city is especially noisy and smelly and mean to me — I close my eyes and remember the simplicity of North Carolina. I don’t want to move back, but I also never want to forget the roots that reared me.
17- You’re going to date the wrong guy.
In fact, you might date the wrong guy over-and-over again, on-and-off-again, time-and-time again. You might even sleep with him more times when you’ve been broken up than when you were together. You might grow to hate him, but you’ll hate yourself more for settling. But as trite as it is, you really do have to know what it feels like when it’s wrong to know when it’s really, really right.
18- You’ll learn to love your own company.
Brunch is great, so are happy hours. Girls’ night with endless sushi and wine. Beer fests and grilling in the backyard (um, back perch, I mean?). Long, lounging hours on the Great Lawn. Work events with free swag and food. You’ll enjoy group and friend dates most of the time, but sometimes, your favorite nights are spent running the reservoir, reading at the dog park and curled up in bed with Netflix. Or, having a dinner-for-one.
19- Honesty will be your best friend.
And it’ll be how you pick your best friends — who will be truthful with you? Who will tell you what you need to hear, even when you don’t want to hear it? Who will offer to come over after a particularly awful day? You’ll learn how important it is to surround yourself with people who honestly, truthfully care about you.
20- College isn’t the best time of your life.
Sorry, it’s just not. It might be the time when you have the least amount of responsibility (yes, even with a million term papers, a part-time job and a stoner boyfriend), but it will not be when you’re the happiest. It sincerely gets so much better.
21- Your taste will change nearly every month.
In men, in wine, in food, in clothes, in things you like to do, in places you want to go, in people you want to meet. You’ll figure out you like Thai food only to discover you kind of like French food more. You might be in love with a blonde but find yourself secretly attracted to a redhead. It’s okay, we all have tastes, but no one’s taste always stays the same.
22- You’ll think more about your lady parts.
I don’t feel like my ovaries are anywhere close to producing children, but I do consider what health choices I make and how they will effect my future kids. I don’t just keep myself in shape for me, but for those rugrats that’ll one day wake me up every three hours.
23- The world will seem so small, and yet so big.
I never knew how much traveling would make me a better person until I started doing it. Blowing a grand on a plane ticket is so much more satisfying than a few months’ worth of going out drinking. You’ll feel like you’ve accomplished the whole world, only to find another place you simply have to go. Keep using that passport, those stamps are worth the cost.
24- You’ll be scared a lot.
That you’ll never get what you want, that you’ll never meet who you want to meet, that you won’t be able to have all the things that you want to have. If you’re a bad puppy mom, if you’re a good enough friend, if you’re doing things the way you should. You might find yourself scared more times than you’re settled, but facing down your fears makes you sassier. And stronger.
25- You’ll constantly forget how awesome you are.
But don’t. Because you really are pretty damn great. And you should love that about yourself.