This week I turn 21 and, for some reason, that’s meant to be a big deal.
Do I feel like an adult? Not really. Do I feel ready to be an adult? Hell no. Nonetheless, I’ve got to admit that I have learned a few things during my 21 years of living.
Here’s 21 things I think every young person should know.
1. It’s okay to do things on your own
I spent my time in high school forever worrying about the prospect of doing things on my own. Not because I was particularly anxious, it’s just being alone as a teenager isn’t the done thing. Well here’s a wake-up call for you, teens- not only is being by yourself sometimes necessary, it can also be very enjoyable. Being by your own simply means fewer distractions. A mark of maturity is the ability to spend time alone and with other people and feel happy either way.
2. Girls are more judgemental than boys
Trust me- while you might be self-conscious about the fact you don’t have a flat tummy, your boobs are too small or your nose is a little big, the vast majority of guys you date won’t care at all. Heck, they might not even notice. Boys aren’t that great at noticing stuff. So let’s stop bashing each other, girls- and ourselves.
3. If you find jeans that fit, buy them in every colour
A good pair of jeans will change your life. Ok, maybe not, but they will change your wardrobe. When you finally find some that really fit and flatter (and trust me, it will be quite a search), then stock up in different colours. A good pair of jeans works equally well on a night out as during a lazy day at home so this is a staple worth investing in.
4.Don’t compare relationships
Try to appreciate each person you date for what they can bring to you, rather than think about how they differ from your ex. There are no rules for relationships, nor should you ever shape yours to please other people.
5. Fuck waxing
Seriously. It hurts like hell, leaves patchy regrowth which looks ridiculous and the ingrown hairs are a bitch. If waxing is your preferred hair removal method, by all means go ahead- otherwise, don’t feel obliged. It’s your body.
6.Underage drinking is important
I saw a poster recently that said: “being drunk, just once under 16 years old. 85% more likely to be involved in violence”. I was somewhat incredulous. It’s much better to have your ‘vodka incident’, where you end up throwing up everywhere and crying in the street, at an age when your parents are still about to look after you. Consider that now, government poster makers.
7. Eat shit, feel shit
We all love a big fat pizza or a greasy portion of chips, but eating like it all the time is not good news. Until you actually consume a healthy diet, you don’t realise just how bad junk food makes you feel. Now it wouldn’t be a hungover Sunday without a big, fatty plate of carbs, but I’ve come to respect my body and what I put in it.
8. Money is important. But not the most important
I’m not going to be naive here- obviously we need money to survive, but life is about more than having millions in the bank. My advice- if you have some spare cash, go travelling. Especially while you are young. You have the rest of your life to have a mortgage and a 9-5 job and the world won’t wait for you.
9. STIs are real. Use a condom.
Be smart here, people. Some STIs are lifers and no one night stand is worth it, regardless of how hot they are. It’ll take two secs to put one on, plus you can get them for free and everything.
10. Dress for your body shape, rather than to follow trends
I honestly believe everyone has the ability to look truly amazing but not everyone suits the same things. It’s much better to find clothes that flatter you and develop your own style than try to conform to the same look as everyone else.
11. Follow fitness Instagrams
I promise you, liking accounts that show real people who have achieved great bodies will make you feel a lot better than trawling through celebrity’s accounts where every picture is photoshopped.
12. Red hair is an enormous commitment
I went red in the foolish belief that it would be easier to maintain than blonde. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Yet despite the fact I need to touch up my colour at least every three weeks, making the change is one of the best decisions I’ve made. Like, ever. It’s become my trademark and makes me feel stylish and confident. Find a look that makes you feel the same.
13. Looks aren’t everything
When it comes to finding someone that truly makes you happy, chances are they won’t fit the criteria of who you thought you were attracted to at all. The ability to look after you, make you laugh and help you grow as a person is way more important than a six pack.
14. Social media sucks
Put your phone down, for fuck’s sake. The moment you find yourself wishing you’d remembered to Snapchat your dinner before you ate it or felt sad that you couldn’t get a wifi signal to Instagram the sunset is the moment you need to get over yourself. No one wishes they’d spent more time on social media while listing their life’s regrets.
15. Procrastination helped no one
The thought of some tasks- writing that essay, cleaning, going to the doctors- seems like such a chore. But the longer you leave something, the more it will weigh on your mind. Get it done, then you can watch seven hours of Netflix minus the guilt.
16. Weight gain can be good
Being skinny is absolutely not the be all and end all. After years of denying myself food, I found that I don’t actually give a fuck so long as I’m still healthy. Along the way I enjoyed some amazing meals, had some truly special experiences plus gained an ass. No regrets.
17. Push yourself
Part of being human is the desire to better yourself. Whether your challenge is overcoming the fear of flying, finding a new job or lifting another 10kgs, pursue it and you can experience the unparalleled joy of reaching your ambitions.
18. Haters gon’ hate, hate, hate
You can’t be friends with everyone so stop trying. It’s better to surround yourself with a core of amazing people who make you feel good about yourself rather than having 100 superficial friends.
19… Players gon’ play, play, play
If someone isn’t treating you like you deserve then fuck ‘um. Life is too short to cling to toxic relationships. Plus there are way too many people out there you haven’t met yet to tolerate someone who takes you for granted.
20. There’s a Taylor Swift lyric for every situation (Just kidding)
Kind of. Well done for reading this far though.
21. Chill out about the future
So what you have no idea what you want to do? Who cares you’re not making big bucks by your twenties? So long as you continue to try your hardest (and follow my amazing advice, obvs), the best thing you can do is just roll with it.