26 seems to be the pinnacle of adulthood nowadays. You're no longer a messed up early twenty-something, but neither are you all that mature or together (at least, I hope not, for my own sake...) Here are 26 pieces of brutally honest advice to my 26-year-old self:
Friends are worth their weight in gold. Maybe even more for those skinny bitches.
I cannot sing the praises of my friends any louder or more obnoxiously. Seriously, they are nothing short of beautiful, majestic miracles sent by the universe to make sure I don’t fall apart at the seams or end up in jail on a regular basis. When you find a good one, don’t let them go.
BE A GOOD FRIEND
Help them move. Listen to them cry over the same person for the 11th time this year. Pick them up when they have had five too many martinis on a Tuesday. Remember their birthdays. Celebrate their accomplishments. Visit often. And tell them you love all the time.
Frozen may have the “Let It Go” mantra stuck in your head for the rest of eternity, but Disney isn’t always right. When something happens and it makes you mad, sad, irritated, uncomfortable…say something. People are not mind-readers. Shit, people aren’t even really good listeners, but you should still speak up. And if even after you’ve spoken up a time or two and this person still insists on being an asshole — ditch ‘em. You don’t need that shit in your life.
You don’t always need to know the “why”.
This comes in handy particularly when it comes to dating. Did someone you were seeing disappear mid-text and never resurface? Don’t panic. It’s okay. Nothing you said or did made it happen. And nothing you say or do can change it. Let it go. Still dying to know why? Fine, put down the phone with the three-page hate text at the ready and I’ll tell you. They got hit by a bus. That’s it. They’re gone now. RIP. Spend a night and two bottles of wine grieve-crying to friends and move on.
Treat yo self!
Yes, money is tight for almost everyone and the economy has relocated permanently to the gutter, but sometimes you just have to treat yourself. Go to your favorite restaurant, spend the additional $7 to see the new James Cameron movie in IMAX, call in sick to work when you’re not even sick! Life is hard, you deserve to treat yourself.
Everything in moderation.
This goes for the good and the bad. Cake for breakfast? Go for it. Martinis on a Tuesday? Yes, please. Just be sure you’re not going overboard more often than not. Indulge in moderation, everything in moderation.
And none for the road.
That last shot/drink/beer at closing time is never a good idea. The only thing it’s going to accomplish is extending tomorrow’s hangover by at least an hour and it’s already planning on hanging out til 4pm. Go home. Drink some water. And get in bed. You’ll thank me later.
It’s okay to stay home, just not every night.
Within the past few years, I have learned the joys of saying “no” and staying in. It’s wonderful and empowering. You’re fully entitled to a guilt-and-pants-free night on the couch with Netflix. Just be sure to check yourself before your wreck your social life. Yes, going out can be a hassle. You have to put pants on, find parking, spend money, lose precious hours of sleep, and you have to be around other people! Gross. But there is more to life than rewatching every episode of Friends for the 6th time. Plus, sometimes you get lucky and find a phenomenal parking spot.
Let your nerd flag fly.
Everybody has something they geek over. Don’t hide your passion. I promise there are a ton of people out there who get just as excited about the same weird stuff as you do. Find them and geek out together.
Find your bottom line and stick to it
Be it with your relationship, your job or even with your current cable provider, figure out what your bottom line is and make your wants, needs, and desires known. And then set a deadline. When that deadline comes, be ready to pull the plug if they aren’t holding up either end of the bargain. You’re worth way more than your bottom line, so you should never accept less than that.
Words are meaningless
Sweet little nothings are just that. Nothings. Yes, they sound wonderful and give you the warm-fuzzies inside, but they are worthless without the actions to back them up. Try to pay your rent with compliments, wink-face emojis and the promise of forever. See where that gets you. And no, you can’t sleep on my couch until you find a new place.
Have an opinion but be open to something new
Nobody likes a snob. But nobody likes someone completely indecisive either. Try new things and figure out what you like. Your bartenders will thank you. With this in mind, also be sure to try those things you didn’t like again in a few years. Things change and you’d be amazed to see just how many things you used to hate are now actually pretty great. (Examples of this in my own life: talk radio, onions, jazz, and movies with subtitles.)
Seriously, lying is a huge waste of time and you will get caught eventually. It’s inevitable. Save yourself some grief and anxiety and just tell the truth. You will earn a hell of a lot more respect and wiggle room with people when they know they can trust you. (Obviously, there are some exceptions to the rule but you should be telling the truth at least 99% of time.)
Keep your promises
If you say you’re going to do it, do it. Pinky swear.
Pack lightly (a.k.a: lose the baggage)
The things you've experienced and survived through your life have made you the person you are today. But there comes a point in time where you should probably let some of that shit go. Take the lesson, leave the moldy cannoli from 1996.
Answers don’t live at the bottom of a bottle
Far be it for me to tell you that a good stiff drink/s on a bad day won’t help. It does. I know from repeated and strictly scientific research. But learning a couple of additional coping mechanisms for when your hangover subsides is probably for the best too.
Laugh at yourself
If you’re going to take anything away from all of my unqualified advice, let it be this. Learn how to laugh at yourself. You're a mess. Yes, you. And sorry to break it to ya, but you're probably never going to figure it all out. But if you learn to laugh at your own hot-mess-ness, life will be much more enjoyable even on the bad days.
Be a good dude
Boil any religious or spiritual belief down to the bones and you’ll get the same message: “be a good dude”. Help when you can and don’t be a dick in life, it'll really stand to you.
Tip your servers, even if they kind of sucked
If you choose to go out to eat/drink, be sure you have enough money to tip. There's a special place in hell for people who are shitty tippers. Service jobs are really hard and everyone has bad days now and again. Have a heart. And if you had exceptional service, tip well and tell the manager/owner. It’ll only take a second, but it’ll mean a hell of a lot to them. Everyone deserves recognition for a job well done, after all.
Read. Read a lot. And then read some more
It's a little crazy when you start to realise that your whole life is limited to your perspective and experience. Books are an amazing way to get out of your own head and live a little of someone else’s life for a bit. Plus people who read are sexy, yes, that includes you.
Do you, boo boo
Helping others is noble and important. But you also need to learn how to take care of yourself. Just like in an airplane emergency, you need to put your own oxygen mask on first before saving all of the armrest-hogging, chair-leaning and loud-snoring bastards in the seats around you.
Love yourself and like yourself
Learn to love yourself how you are right now. Not how you used to be or how you're planning on being in the very near future once you lose weight/get married/have a baby/make more money/finish school/buy the new iPhone/figure out how to grow a foot and so on and so forth. And you should also learn how to like yourself for who you are — both the parts you have control over and the parts you don’t. This might even be harder than loving yourself because people will try their damnedest to remind you of the MANY, MANY ways in which you are lacking and how they think you should be different. Fuck them. You're awesome!
You better work, bitch
I know you’re planning on winning the lotto one of these days and filming your very own episode of Cribs the likes of which the 2000's have never seen, but let that be a plan B (maybe even C, D, or E). And in the meantime, work your ass off towards something you really want.
Re: dreams. Yoda was wrong
Everyone has dreams and you should follow yours. Even the lofty and pipe ones. Ignore Yoda, you may not be able to accomplish all of your dreams, but you sure as hell can try.
Ask for help
Ask for help all the damn time. I’m serious. Call someone right now and ask them for help with whatever has been plaguing your noodle lately. Some people won’t help, some people will suck at helping you and some will ask you why you're calling at 3am on a Wednesday with questions about 401ks. But once you realize that you don’t have to figure everything out on your own, you’ll notice that a lot of the scary things in life aren’t quite as scary as they first seemed.
It’s never too late
It’s ridiculous that we expect 18–22-year-olds to figure out what they want to do with their lives. Anyone that claims to have always known what they wanted to be when they grew up is a liar, a freak of nature or both. These people are not the norm and you should not compare yourself to them unless you want to feel desperately behind in every aspect of your life. It’s probably going to take a lot of time, a lot of searching, and a lot of really shitty jobs to figure out exactly what your purpose is, but when you do, go for it. Give it all you've got and don’t give up. You finally figured it out — dammit! And you sure as shit shouldn’t let anything or anyone stand in your way because you’ve got a lot of work to do and even more time to make up for.
By Justine Bronson. Read more at her blog here.