Happy Birthday to Me: 24 things I learned before turning 24
It’s my birthday! Yes, it happened. I turned 24 today–I’m officially old, I guess. One of my dear friends pointed out to me this morning that I was no longer in my early-twenties. I either had to start being silly and saying “mid-twenties” or just call myself “old”.
But the last year has been really incredible to me. I’ve learned so many things about myself and about life. If I told myself a year ago all the things that would happen to me before I turned 24, I’m not sure I would have believed it. But it happened–and I don’t think I’d change a second of it–not when I learned so many incredible things and changed in so many great ways.
So in traditional Katharine fashion I made you guys a list of things. Here is a list of 24 things I’ve learned before I turned 24 that I think you guys should know too. :)
- It’s okay to let go of control. I spent a lot of time in the first two decades of my life convinced that I could make things happen—get myself everything I wanted by my own force of will. Some of it, I don’t have control over, and I just have had to learn to roll with the punches. I can’t make the right guy walk into my life. I can’t figure out how I’ll be a doctor and a mother and have time for the things I love tomorrow. All I can do is keep trying, keep saying yes, and keep taking the chances when they come up.
- Don’t get so busy making a living you forget to make a life. There will never be a good time to fall in love, or get heartbroken, or learn to bake a cake, or to go for a run (especially with a career in medicine)—but you have to do these things despite of it all, because the only time to live your life is right now.
- Show up anyway. When a friend says “no, I’m okay”, you should stop by. If someone says they’re drinking alone tonight, bring a bottle. If your friend tells you they don’t need anything, just sit down and don’t say a word. Show up uninvited. Just let someone know you care. So drive by to say hi, go for a walk, give them a hug. Do it anyway. Because as you get older a lot of people become too proud to ask for help—but it doesn’t mean they don’t need it.
- Bet on yourself. I’m a long shot horse. I am. But if I make it, the payout is going to be incredible. So have the confidence to run the races—even if you might lose.
- Money doesn’t mean anything. It comes, it goes. It’s there, it’s gone. You’re never going to have enough of it and spending a whole bunch of time worried about that won’t make you have more. Spend on things you’ll remember forever—like time with friends and travel. You probably have too many things as it is, spend money on the memories instead.
- Even if everything goes wrong, at least it will be a good story. So don’t worry if you get caught in the rain, or your plans go to hell, or whatever it is, just roll with it.
- Stop trying to save other people. The only way out of hell is on your own hands and knees, save yourself and let others do the same.
- You often have two options—laughing or crying. Always laugh.
- Try. Fail horribly. Try again. Don’t be so proud you won’t make a fool of yourself.
- I’ve learned that friendships come and go. There’s no point holding onto the ones that are walking away. And when they go it means that you’ve changed—and often times, that’s a good thing.
- Spend time with the people who make you laugh, the people who make you happy, not the ones who leave you drained.
- Even if you don’t feel like it, do your hair, put on cute shoes and walk out into the world. You’ll always feel better you did at the end of the day.
- Let toxic people go. Shove them out of your life if you have to. Just get free.
- Sit outside. Always. Sit outside in the rain. Sit outside in the cold. You’ll be stuck inside so much of your life. Always take the opportunity to see a tiny bit of what’s outside your four walls. Netflix will be there when you get back.
- No one is making you wake up tomorrow and be the same person you are today. If you want to be someone different, you can.
- Never ever be afraid of confrontation. Stand up. Say something.
- Be honest with others. Say things in the moment. Say “I’ve really missed you” or “I love you” or “I’m glad you’re here” or “I’m afraid you’re going to miss your shot”. Say it. Because in a heartbeat, maybe the moment passes and you never get a chance to say those things again.
- Turn up the music. Drive fast. Dance. Drink wine. Kiss boys. Smile at strangers. Throw your hands up. Laugh too loud. Just live.
- Say yes. Say yes until you can’t anymore. Say yes to every wild opportunity that crosses your path. Just keep saying yes and one of them will work out.
- Other people’s opinions?? Who gives a fuck?
- Take pictures. Because maybe not everyone sitting at the table will be around next year. Take pictures of friends who don’t want pictures taken. Take pictures of someone making your breakfast or fixing a car. Take pictures of friends with coffee cups in class, of your average Sunday night dinner with your mom, of your shoes on a street you might not live on next year. Your memory isn’t as good as you think it will be. Take the picture.
- Learn to be yourself with your parents. Swear a little. Talk about dates. Tell them you want to rescue pitbulls or open a restaurant. Develop a grown up relationship with them as friends and not just as their child.
- Celebrate. Celebrate Tuesday. Celebrate making it through the month, the year. Celebrate firsts and seconds and fourteenths. Celebrate being alive.
- You can’t please everyone. You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Instead, be your own shot of whiskey. Learn to please yourself. Make yourself into the person you’ve always wanted to be—not into someone else’s perfect. Because, otherwise, one day, you wake up and you’re 24 or 34 or 44 or 74 and you realize this is not the life you want.