It’s the eve of my 21st birthday. At the moment, I happen to be tucked up in bed at the Ibis Hotel in the middle of Christchurch. Incidentally, my parents are in the bed opposite mine, listening to Sir Elton John perform on The Graham Norton Show, so it’s just the three of us on our own little sojourn, just like we used to do when I was younger. This was part of their carefully-crafted plan to ‘hijack’ me from my flat and take me out for a lovely dinner at the Christchurch RSA. Don’t worry, I wasn’t dragged kicking and screaming into the back of my parents’ car and made to spend the evening at a retro hall full of war memorabilia and hard-of-hearing old men in wheelchairs. The new RSA is a flash modern place, half a restaurant and half a bar and with tasteful war-related posters on the walls. Oh, and the food is divine.
So now I’m here, and just getting used to the fact that I’ll never be 21 again. That being said, being a year older also means that I’ll have another year of life experience under my belt. I like to think of myself as being a glass-half-full sort of person, even though sometimes life can get a little tough. Therefore, I’ve mentally compiled a list of twenty-two things that I’ve learned from the past year. Thank you. *bows*
22 Things I’ve Learned (And Am Still Learning!) About Life So Far Now That I’m Almost 22:
- Being an adult is so confusing. I’d think that by now, I’d have my life sorted, but no. I still get completely bamboozled over important forms that involve numbers and the filling-in-of-details, and as for talking on the phone, it makes me want to run away and hide. And you’re expected to know things like how to renew your passport (which I need to do), how to change a car tyre (which I don’t know how to do) and how to cook a roast dinner (which I know how to do but am just not very good at). So far, adulthood is made up of staring blankly at grocery lists, shuffling around the supermarket, piling the trolley full of pot noodles and wondering if there’s anything else on the ‘cheap essentials’ list in your head.
- You can’t control what others think of you. This advice was passed onto me from my Dad, full of wisdom in his (older) age. From now on, I’m going to make a promise to all of you. And here it is: I WILL NOT CARE WHAT ANYONE ELSE THINKS OF ME. Who cares if I sometimes gallop down the street in broad daylight like Miranda Hart might do? Who cares if I go and order dessert at Denny’s at 2am after a night in town? Who cares how I spend my free time, whether or not I’ve seen Titanic (which I HAVEN’T – just skipped to the end and watched the boat sink), how long my hair is, who my friends are and who I go out with? Think what you like.
- Shit’s expensive. Even though I currently work full time, a decent chunk of my income goes towards rent, food, petrol, food, power, clothing, insurance and other scary adult stuff, and FOOD. As well as trying to save for my OE next year. Still, never fear. If I can’t party on a yacht in Dubrovnik, drinking wine on a floatie in the middle of the pool will have to suffice.
- I’m now at the age when I’ve started to actually enjoy drinking wine. I never, ever thought I would say this, but it’s true. At least, white wine. I’m nowhere near the posh wine-critic stage yet, but should white wine be around, I’ll drink it.
- Running like mad on the treadmill to an upbeat soundtrack really helps relieve my inner emotional turmoil. I was a bit anxious and stressed a few weeks ago, so I went to the gym, hit the treadmill and ran for about twenty minutes. Bonus if you’ve got a kickarse upbeat soundtrack to listen to!
- When in doubt, eat. Miranda taught me this one (unsurprisingly). Snacks make everything better.
- I’ve realized I can make up so many dance routines just from moves I’ve learned in Zumba class.* You can never be stuck for dance moves if you’re on the dance floor and suddenly remember a whole routine to ‘Despacito’.
- Stop taking things for granted. This is a bit of a serious one, but one day, you may wake up and something or someone in your life is not there any more. A family member or one of your friends. The sun in the middle of a cold, rainy winter. Your favourite chocolate bar brand. Life is short, so appreciate what you do have now.
- It’s perfectly OK to sit in your pyjamas all day binge-watching your favourite TV show on your days off. Unless I’m sick with a bad cold or else undergone surgery, I am unable to do this. I’m one of those people who absolutely have to get up, get dressed and do something with my life. But there is no shame in doing so, especially if the show is something like Super Fun Night or Game Of Thrones.
- There is nothing better than my girl pals, dessert and vodka to help me through a crisis. Whenever I need them, my friends are always there for me, and I know I will do the same for them when life goes awry. At least every couple of months, we get together, eat dessert, have drinks and talk about everything happening in our lives, good or bad. A problem shared is a problem half solved, or something like that.
- When at a karaoke bar, I can’t not do karaoke. I will always find an excuse to get on the stage and sing along to a pop song that gets everyone else dancing. You have been warned.
- You never stop learning about people. Yet another piece of advice from Dad that I described in one of my earlier blog posts. Pretty self-explanatory, but so true.
- Getting older supposedly means that I’m supposed to be a year cooler. Sadly for me, that’s not the case. I was never one of the ‘cool’ kids at either primary or high school, but that’s fine by me. I’m still pretty nerdy and a bit arty type girl who wears large hipster-like glasses, drinks single-shot white chocolate lattes and prefers hiding in bookshops by herself rather than going clothing shopping with friends. So if you are like myself, let’s form a club of our own and embrace it.
- Work is hard, but it’s totally worth it when I’m reaping the benefits. Working at the cafe is stressful and busy at times, but when payday comes, looking at my bank account balance feels pretty great. Three words: Money. For. Travel.
- The guys/girls you date/see casually/sleep with every so often will make some great dinner party table stories one day. I can’t wait until when I’m in my thirties and am at the sophisticated stage where I can throw dinner parties, and after a few glasses of wine someone says, “I remember back when I was twenty-seven and dated this one person, and…” and we’ll all be off. Tales of wild midnight romps, one-night hotel room stands and 1500’s Italian-style orgies (only joking – or am I?) will surface. CHEEKY.
- The importance of controlled recklessness. One of my new friends I made this year taught me this. You’re only young once, so go live life, but at the same time, exercise control. As if, don’t do anything stupid that could end up hurting you or the people you care about.
- Single-shot white chocolate lattes are my new obsession. I’ve recently started drinking coffee (after working at a coffee shop for a year and a half and NEVER doing so), but now I have. And what a grand thing I have discovered.
- Stargazing makes the perfect date night. There’s something so romantic about lying back on the ground with your S.O and looking at the stars. You don’t even have to talk to one another, you just BE with each other, and you talk about life and the little things that matter because the world if big and you are small and there’s so much exploring to be done. Plus if it’s a wee bit cold, nothing that a cuddle can’t fix…
- You can never own too many scarves. I now have twelve hanging in my wardrobe, and counting. They make a great decorative accessory, or keep you warm during the winter.
- Girls can get just as sexually frustrated as guys. The only difference is that we don’t have boners to give us away, haha. If you’re going through a bit of a ‘dry spell’, there’s nothing to be ashamed about, but when you do get lucky again it will (hopefully) be worth the long wait!
- I can count my best friends on one hand, and I’m proud of it. The friends you have on Facebook are made up of: your real friends, those you went to school or worked with, those who you’ve met through a common interest, those who live near you, and those who you’ve met one time on the street in town after going clubbing. But realistically, we only have about five or six close friends who we know are dear to us.
- You don’t get a choice in how you get hurt in this world, but you do have a say in who hurts you. This is one of my favourite quotes from The Fault In Our Stars, and I’ve thought about this one quite a bit this year and decided that for me, it rings very true. The only people who are going to be able to hurt me are those who I love deeply. Whether I like it or not.
Tomorrow’s going to be a good day. It’s going to be, if possible, an even better night, fuelled by friends, music, dancing and alcohol. Lots of it. Thank God I have Sunday off to recover from what I’m sure will be the worst hangover I’ve ever had. But even though I’ve had quite a few birthdays so far, I’m hoping like mad this one will be a good one.
Screw it. It’s going to be a GREAT one.
So, as the last few hours of me being 21 tick away, and a year older approaches, I’m ready.
Bring it on.
* I got very drunk and found myself busting out a routine I’d made up to Olivia Holt’s ‘History’ in the middle of my 22nd birthday party at my flat. A bit unfortunate that my friend Kate ended up filming it and showing it to me a couple of weeks later, but it was SUCH FUN performing it as my own solo dance piece.