After you turn 21, the only “big” birthdays left are the 10-year milestones, which for most are a seemingly unwanted reminder that you’re aging. For example, my mom actively avoids any reminder that she’s nearing the big 5-0. But I don’t get it, hasn’t the adage always been “the older the wiser?”
I don’t mind getting older. I mean, is it weird that I still look forward to my birthday? Because I really don’t think it is. I just turned 23, “the Jordan year” as they call it, and it was an awesome day. I spent time with friends and family, ate some really good birthday cake, and took some time to celebrate the life I’ve lived up to this point.
And, even though I’m still very young and still have a LOT to learn, I am not who I was a year ago, let alone who I was when I started the journey through my 20s. I have had new experiences, learned a lot about myself, and I’m slowly figuring out how to do this whole “adulting” thing. Terry Pratchett said “Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom.” So, here’s some wisdom from my experience as a 23-year-old who admittedly doesn’t know much:
“Fake it till you make it” is an acceptable mantra that a lot of people live by. Some of the best life lessons and professional advancements started off with someone having absolutely no clue what they were doing.
No one is going to advocate for you like you should advocate for yourself. You know what you can and can’t do better than anyone else. Speak up when you deserve a chance, and stand up when things get to be too much.
Every day is NOT going to be a good day. There’s no sugarcoating it. Some days just suck.
But, bad days make the good ones a whole lot better. The worst week at work almost always turns into the best weekend with friends. You can quote me on that.
Putting yourself out there is terrifying, but 9 times out of 10, it’s worth it. For example, I auditioned for a play on a whim, got cast, and now have some great stories, really cool new friends and re-ignited passion for theatre.
You are allowed to fall out of love. People don’t always grow and change in the same ways that you do, especially now. Don’t ever stay in something because you feel like you have to.
You don’t have to reciprocate feelings if they’re just not there. And, oppositely, people don’t have to reciprocate feelings for you either.
Casual dating is not for everyone. Especially if you’re super awkward like me.
The timing is not always right, and you have to accept that. And you can’t force it. Sometimes you have a really good thing, but the circumstances aren’t right.
You cannot be happy with someone else until you’re happy with yourself. Love yourself. Love who you are. Love how you look. Love your quirks. And accept your faults. You were fearfully and wonderfully made. Cherish that.
Don’t bend over backwards for someone who wouldn’t do the same for you. Because trust me, all you’re going to do is hurt yourself when you do.
Constructive criticism is not a personal attack. I’d like to think that most of the time people mean well. In those cases, listen and take things to heart. But also remember that sometimes, it needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
Your worth is not derived from what other people think of you. How people treat you is often a reflection of how you treat yourself. You. Are. Enough. Please remember that.
Not everyone is going to like you. And not everyone has to. You HAVE to learn to be okay with that. I still struggle constantly.
You’re allowed to not be okay and be vocal about it. Some of the most productive conversations in my life have come from me admitting that I am not okay.
But you have to be able to pick yourself up and move on. You cannot get mired down in bad circumstances. It leads to a cycle of disappointment and complacency and that is not a healthy way to live your life.
Know when to ask for help. You cannot do this alone. You were not meant to do this alone. Please, seek help when you need it.
You have a support system behind you, even if you don’t always feel it. See above. You are surrounded by people who know and love you. All you have to do is ask.
The people who matter most will be there when it counts. You can grow up, move out, lose touch, whatever. But when it comes down to it, the truest friends will be there when you need it, before you have to ask.
Your parents know more than you give them credit for. This one is really hard to admit, and sometimes harder to accept. That doesn’t make it any less true (I love you, Mom).
Things are not going to happen when you will them to. Life doesn’t happen on your timeline. Plain and simple. The faster you accept that, the happier you’ll be.
Life is a game of patience and polite persistence. I really feel like that speaks for itself.
You are never going to have it all figured out. I may not know much, but I sure do know that.
It’s like Michael Jordan said “Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.” That’s really all there is to it.