On July 4th I turn 29. It feels momentous. The final swan song of my 20s. I don't know why I'm being so weird and emo about it, because (and I'm embarrassed to admit it) I am, I really am. I feel panicked and worried that maybe in some way I haven't done enough, haven't achieved enough. That I need more time. 30 feels so huge, and is so close. I don't know why I'm feeling this way, my mother was at her absolute most beautiful in her 30s, and by her own admission, most happy. Most women are I think. I suppose it's just that I won't truly, on paper, be properly young anymore. If I had a baby now, I wouldn't be considered a young mother. There are multi millionaires much younger than me. My face is starting to look strangely naked without earrings and lipstick. There's a (growing) line on my forehead, and every time I squint to look at it I make the bastard grow a little more. A lesson in itself to quit with the analysis. Anyway, in honour of my 29th birthday, I decided to list the 29 things that I have learned in my 20's. All hard fought and hard learned. Happy birthday to me. Here's to not looking back.
29 Things I Have Learned In My 20s
1) Always go to the bloody after work drinks
2) Stop after two bloody drinks
3) The "don't sleep with a guy on the first date" rule because somehow a man won't 'respect' you afterwards is patriarchal bullshit and absolutely not true. Reader, I married him.
4) By 29, you need at least two years of therapy. At least. AT LEAST.
5) Let your eyebrows grow out. Fuck with them at your peril.
6) On a similar line, and maybe this is TMI but I'm nearly 30 so I don't care, say no to waxing and its horrors and let your beautiful muff grow wild and free. Get drunk at parties and talk loudly about the importance of this.
7) Think of handwritten thank you notes as a thousand dollars per word, in terms of the future salary that will come to you as a result of fastidiously writing them after any professional encounter.
8) Your sibling turns out to be pretty much your best mate.
9) Your best mates turn out to be pretty much your siblings.
10) 90 per cent of all things are luck. 10 percent is being smart enough to notice the luck. Thank the universe profoundly/applaud yourself lovingly to that ratio.
11) Things not to take seriously: the opinion of anyone you actively dislike, diets, best before dates, rules generally.
12) Things to take seriously: pap smears, visas, sleep, alone time.
13) On any major life changing decision, consult your 17 year-old-self. What would she/he think or feel? If the answer is "AMAZING" definitely do it. Even if that involves taking a giant pay cut to do something you're passionate about or sleeping with a slightly greying Charlie from Busted.
14) Minimise clutter in your life as much as possible. Throw out anything you haven't worn in a year. Donate things to your girlfriends (another girl's junk is always more desirable than one's own). Read this wonderful book. And this wonderful blog. For every new thing you bring into your home, throw something out. Digitise all annoying letters/vital documents using ace online apps (I scan and save all those pesky papers using Turbo Scan)
15) The greatest romantic act in the world is a cocktail handed to your beloved at the door at night, or a cup of fresh coffee in the morning. Nothing beats it. Literally nothing. A mini break in Santorini wouldn't make my heart beat faster than walking in from a rainy evening to a just-mixed Manhattan.
17) The key to sexiness is not giving one solitary shit.
18) Buy one $300 dress, not six $50 ones. Ban polyester entirely from your wardrobe.
19) If you live in a big city, understand that in order to not lose your mind you need to get the hell out. If you've had a week of feeling crappy for no reason, that's what it is. Catch a train somewhere green.
20) In any relationship, don't be afraid to be the person that loves more. It's not a contest. It's not a power game.
21) Ban the phrase "with all due respect" from your vocabulary. It is British for "I think you're a dickhead, so...". Everyone knows what it means. Don't use it.
22) Do use this phrase, though, with abundance. All the time. It's the leafy green vegetable of the communication world.
23) Graham Greene said that all your life is lived in the first 20 years and the rest is just reflection. This is sadly true for most people, and should be taken into consideration during conflicts. Don't be like that yourself (see #4).
24) Call don't text.
25) The holy trinity that is the Desert Island Discs archive, a cup of hot tea and a slice of cake will solve literally 99 per cent of problems.
26) In the words of the great Gloria Steinem, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck but you think it's a pig, it's a pig.
27) Learning the difference between empathy and sympathy (and canning the latter for the former) is one of the best skills you could learn. This cute video explains.
28) The worst shithole in the world, or the dreamiest fluke of a rental that you must swiftly furnish, needs only three things to look beautiful and homely. A can of white paint, a stack of books, and a shit tonne of plants.
29) When applying bronzer, draw the number three from temple to cheek with your brush. Learning this changed my life. I'm not ashamed to admit that.