29 rules about being 29 to my 21 year old self

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29 is an odd age, not quite done with yours twenties, but yet to fully embrace the maturity of our thirties, it’s the quintessential limbo age. While I am not an ordinary 29 year old English girl (I’m a student, still living with my parents); I think most millennials have had to share a lot of similar experiences based on the political and economic climate of the last ten years. Making us 1. much more resistant to embrace the lifestyle of our parents and 2. creating our own paths and the straight forward one might not necessarily mean the easiest. The world has changed a lot since I was 21 in 2009, and I like many others in my age bracket I’ve had to adjust to that world.

  1. Have a plan, but don’t be frigid with it.  Career aspirations, travel plans, family goals -have them, sure! But just remember that as you get older and change so does your to do list.
  2. Educate yourself. You’re never too old to learn a new language, pick up a new skill or go back to university. I hear a lot of excuses that just sound so much like giving up. Strive to be that 90 year old who graduated from college because she had always wanted an education.
  3. Be open to different views. I was quite stubborn when it came to my liberal viewpoints but as I get older I remember everyone has different experiences and rather than roll my eyes (because I was so right) I’ve learnt to listen.
  4. Travel, travel, travel. Even if you don’t have the money to go to exotic places, take a different route to work, save to go to Paris for a weekend. Go to a different part of your own country, speak another language, dress like the locals, make memories.
  5. Stop comparing yourself to others. When I was 20, I often compared myself to colleagues, to famous people, to family and wondered how I was doing. Your life is not a competition, get to a point where you’re happy with and start competing against yourself.
  6. Embrace heartbreak. I’d often put off relationships. I hated the idea of someone having some mystical power over me, but that’s not living, hurt and pain are just another part of growing up.
  7. Spend time alone. In my early twenties I spent so much time trying to impress people, wanting everyone to like me that it became so tiring and stressful. I enjoy my own company as much as chatting away with my best friends. Everyone needs downtime.
  8.  Don’t be afraid to be out of your comfort zone. Whatever this might be, we can’t stay in our comfortable fortified armours, we need to take our helmets off for a better viewpoint. Change careers, do that presentation, travel alone; be comfortable with being a little afraid.
  9. Don’t put up with nonsense. Like so many people in their early twenties, I hung out with people that I didn’t necessarily like or had much in common with because I felt pressured to be in certain social circles. Now, I’ve learnt quality time with your best friends is much more worth my time than hanging out with a bunch of strangers at a party,
  10. Tell people to fuck off (figuratively). When the occasion calls for it. So many times I had sat patiently listening to people put me down, dismiss my achievements, pressure me into another drink, or pressure me into situations. Everyone understands fuck off, it’s the universal phrase for ‘had enough of your bullshit’.
  11. Dress like you want to dress. Because your own happiness means more than what other people think.
  12. Put your earphones in. When you want to blank out the world. Being plugged into the world and what goes around in other peoples lives can be a waste of your time, and frankly everyone needs to space out for a while.
  13. Read the day away (or Netflix it away). While I was in my early twenties, I felt like I had to be doing something every minute of the day. But now sometimes I just take a day off and enjoy the luxury of nothingness.
  14. Carve out your own path. Love your job? Great, but don’t feel like you have to commit to a career just because your reaching your thirties and it’s the safer route. Experiment with skills and interests and you might end up being more fulfilled.
  15. Get 8 hours sleep. I’ve always enjoyed sleep, but as you get older, it feels like you have less time. But eight hours is essential for general functional behaviour during the day.
  16. Embrace the ageing process. By that I don’t mean start shopping at Wallis, I mean learn from your mistakes. Say your age with confidence, because if you weren’t born with miraculous good luck you’ve probably gone through a lot of shit. The older you get, the better you become with dealing with said shit.
  17. Invest in health and beauty. Keep hydrated, shell out for a good conditioner, eat healthily, buy a good moisturiser and go for runs and join the gym. It’s investments your future self will thank you for. But I now have an irrational fear of being dehydrated.
  18. Plan your finances. I’m probably the worst person to ask for financial advise, but gone are the days when I was paid from my job in Tokyo and inevitably end up living on instant noodles because I spent my salary in three days. It’s taking work, but I’m a lot better.
  19. Start a new hobby. You don’t necessarily even have to aim to become better, just enjoy it. I love my hobbies, I rock climb (from 25) and practise Krav Maga ( from 27). It doesn’t necessarily mean I’m a pro at any of them, but I enjoy them and I feel like it’s money and time well invested.
  20. Don’t smile (for other people). Smile because you want to, not because a knob in a yellow hard hat tells you to.
  21. Embrace change. An inevitable part of growing up. Since my early twenties, I have become more open minded to people, and it’s those very people who have helped mould me into who I am today.
  22. Write things down. The strangest thing about being 29, is looking at my old journals, there are months missing, large chunks of my life that I didn’t record. But looking back it’s almost cathartic to see how much I’ve been through and how much I’ve changed due to those experiences.
  23. Embrace love. In any form it comes (friends, cats, boyfriend, girlfriend, dogs etc), for the last 28 years I’ve try to avoid it at all costs, because love can get in the way of important decisions, but as they say ‘It is better to have loved than not to have loved at all’.
  24. Let go of old grudges. I don’t mean go to ex-nemesis’s house and ask for forgiveness for every time you tripped them up in the hallway (trust me I’ve never done that). But I mean let go of those old feelings of hate, anger and forgive (be it yourself or them). Past negative feelings have as much pain as the ones in the present.
  25. Keep your friends updated. Because life sometimes gets in the way of life. Send that email to a friend you haven’t spoken to in ages, but is very dear to you. Friends understand that life gets in the way and a ‘hey how are you?’ Facebook message can go along way.
  26. Avoid ‘what if’ thinking. When I arrived back in the UK after four (or was it five?) long years in Japan. I honestly kept thinking ‘what if I left earlier?’ When I was in Japan I developed an interest in history and archaeology. If I had left earlier I would be doing my masters at 23 and not at 27. If I had avoided the perils of financial journalism I would be doing my PhD instead. So much of my energy concentrated on hypothetical situations
  27. Get friends from all ages. My best friend during university was in his thirties, while I was 18, my best friend now is in her fifties. One of my closest friends is 21. Older people are not necessarily the epitome of wisdom and the personification of maturity. They make mistakes, they need advice and guidance. While younger people have some of the best advice to offer, a fresher perspective is needed. Younger people in some respect have life much harder than us nearing our thirties; they have higher university fees, they live in the world where Brexit and Trump is the (mature) popular view meaning their insights are just as valuable.
  28. Listen to your mum (or dad). If you’re lucky to still have your mum in the picture, listen to her even if you know she’s wrong.
  29. Continue (and be okay with) making mistakes. Even in your forties, fifties, sixties you’ll make mistakes (from what I’ve heard). You’ll say the wrong thing, you’ll splurge on the wrong thing. You’ll possibly end up with the wrong person. But that’s just life, and unlike in my early twenties I won’t sit down and analyse every single mistake, every single bad choice, as that’s not living that’s stagnating. As we get older, we improve, we give less of a shit, we progress, we take responsibility for our mistakes and the likelihood is we become who we are suppose to be.