With my 20th birthday approaching, an impending milestone, I have been reflecting on all I have learned in my mere two decades on this earth. Some things I have learned from family and friends, others from strangers offering sage advice. So here is a small compilation of some of the most invaluable lessons that I have learned so far:
1. Manners are Free
This I learned from my wonderful Gran. Say please and thank you, it won’t kill you. If someone holds a door open for you then say “thanks”. If you’re ordering a coffee, say “please” to the person taking your order. Manners are really just human decency, and no one will ever have their day ruined by the person that was polite to them.
2. You are not beneath any kind of work
Working, especially in a shitty service job from a young age is character building, and teaches you a lot about people. You will never look down at someone on a checkout or in a retail job if you’ve done the work yourself and know how hard it can be.
3. Love isn’t all glitter, hearts and roses
True love isn’t your boyfriend bringing you flowers, it isn’t fancy dinners or any other rom com bullshit. True love is you lying in bed, un-showered, no makeup, legs that haven’t been shaven for a week and a half and your vagina reenacting the opening scene to Deadpool, wallowing in self pity and uterus cramps, and your boyfriend bringing you a heat pack for your angry reproductive organs. THAT is true love.
4. Earning your own money is amazing
I learnt this from my mum. When I was 13, I wanted a mobile phone, but my mum point blank said she wasn’t going to pay for it so if I wanted one, and wanted to be able to afford credit, I had better get a job. So I took my 13 year old self out and got myself a weekend job earning $5 an hour, which has paved the way for my whole working life. If you want something, work for it.
5. Naming your pets human names in 100% more hilarious than naming them non human names
Honestly, a dog named Gary is more exciting than a dog named Spot. No other explanation needed there. My cat is named Fred. Winning.
6. Try all the food
Steak wrapped in bacon is delicious, lentils and tofu are delicious. And vegetables are SO delicious. Learn about food, learn to cook it, learn what is actually nourishing for your body and learn which ‘superfoods’ are really just expensive time wasters. Food is so magical, never let your palette be bland!
7. Age don’t mean a thang!
I learned this one from a lady I’m guessing was in her late 50s, early 60s that I encountered at my supermarket job a few years ago. I was serving her
on the counter and she was buying condoms, and after she paid, she said to me “You’re never too old”, smiled a wicked smile, and went off, probably to go and be kinkier than I will ever imagine. It was strangely inspiring…
8. Some people are idiots, and sometimes it’s ok to call them on their shit
Some people say really stupid shit sometimes. Usually it’s because they are ill informed on the subject or are ignorant or are just complete jerks. And sometimes it’s really very necessary to call them out on their stupidity. It’ll make you feel better, and you’re doing society a favour by calling them out.
9. Life is short and precious
I had two amazing grandparents, who I loved very much die when I was still pretty young, that life is not something that should be taken for granted. If you love someone, tell them and show them. Appreciate all the time you have to get from them and learn all you can from them.
10. “It’s really liberating to say no to shit you hate”
This life lesson I stole from my girl power idol Lena Dunham, who used this line in her show Girls. And it is, whether the shit you hate is hiking, or clubbing or lecherous strangers in the street, saying no is liberating sometimes, and also important for your health. Being a yes-man might be a people pleasing move but will send you nuts in the long run.
11. Being exactly who you are is the bravest thing you’ll ever do
Let your inner Luna Lovegood free and just stop caring how weird people will think you are. To quote Dr Seuss here: “Be who you are, and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter, don’t mind.”
12. Always stand up for people, especially when they can’t
If someone is getting harassed, bullied or made to feel shit, stand up for them. Life is too short to be a bystander.
13. Learn as much as you can
Knowledge is power, and it doesn’t have to be the academic kind of knowledge. Just learn as much as you can, fill up your head with anything and everything.
14. Define yourself by what you love, not by what you hate
I learned this by listening to a speech by the fascinating Tim Minchin. Too many people define themselves by hating things. Instead, share your love of kittens and tea with scones and flowers and music and the colour turquoise! You’ll be much happier.
15. Take care of yourself
Sometimes your body will try to tell you its not doing so good. Listen to it. Whether it’s a suspicious lump or a sore tum after drinking milk,
listen, and learn, your body knows best, don’t break it.
16. Enjoy your youth
We live somewhere that enforces our right to an education and that we can’t work until a certain age. We already have had better childhoods than most. Being young and having the freedom to do so is a gift that should never be squandered.
17. Never take your privilege for granted
If you can vote, eat and not be homeless on a daily basis, you’re way better off than many people in the world. You may feel poor living off your weekend job or youth allowance, but you have privilege that some people could only dream of.
18. Know at least one Queen song word for word
Instant friend maker if you can belt Bohemian Rhapsody during a manic sing-a-long.
19. Chickens don’t float
Well they don’t float the right way up, anyway. They flip over with their legs in the air.
20. LOVE YOURSELF!
Cliche as it may sound, it’s the only way to be truly happy. Nobody is perfect, so find the good and love it to death.