In three weeks, I'll be a quarter century old. A lot of pressure comes with this milestone, and while I'm nowhere near the place my own mom was in at 25 (married for three years with her first child), I'm happy with the way I've carried myself post-college. Here's what I've learned so far.
1. Graduating college was only the beginning
I grew up around a lot of people who said college is the best time in a person's life, and while I certainly enjoyed being a student, I quickly learned that the real world can be just as awesome (not all of the time, of course, but overall).
2. Worrying is futile but I'll never stop doing it
At least I'm aware, right?
3. Waking up early is the key to success
If only I could do it more than once or twice a week!
4. The same goes for packing a lunch
You save so much money this way and actually know what you're eating. Also, no one can make fun of you for ordering too much takeout.
5. 21 is still the best age
There's a reason they named a store after it.
6. Post-college friends can be just as awesome as college friends
Once again, the notion that life after college has to be awful is totally ridiculous and untrue. Your social life doesn't have to suffer just because you finished school.
7. People were creepy long before social media
We're all guilty of Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn stalking others, and social media only made it easier to keep tabs on them. Back in the day, I used to follow my crush around high school until I had his class schedule memorized. Well, thanks to the internet, I could find all that information now without ever having to leave my seat!
8. Doing things alone can be incredibly valuable
This spring, I signed up for an 8-week improv class. I haven't mentioned this publicly yet, but covering the Boston Marathon bombing for PolicyMic really took a toll on me and I needed something positive to focus on, so I decided to revisit my childhood love of theater. Some of my friends and relatives were surprised to hear I wasn't doing the course with a friend or anyone I knew, but the independent decision enabled me to get to know the others in my class, and I'm so glad I took the plunge and went into it alone.
We live in a society that often looks down on doing things solo, but it's necessary to enjoy your own company and take risks by yourself as you get older. And if others judge you for being alone, they aren't comfortable with themselves. Their issue, not yours.
9. Getting enough sleep doesn't mean you're missing out. It means you're smart
At the beginning of college, some of my hall mates liked to poke fun at me for going to bed early. By senior year, I never went to sleep at the same time every night. I always worried that getting into a routine would mean I was becoming an old person.
These days, I value having a consistent sleep schedule and waking up refreshed. Who cares if I missed an awesome night at the bar on Thursday? There's always the weekend.
10. Nerds make the best boyfriends ...
11. And absurdly gorgeous guys can make for the best dating horror stories
A year ago, a guy in advertising said to me with absolutely no hint of sarcasm, "I'm like a celebrity in my hometown. They all worship me. I'm Don Draper."
So, naturally, I turned to the following online medium to share the experience with my friends:
12. G-chat is the adult locker room/cafeteria gossip spot
13. If you're not having fun at the bar, don't pretend to be. Go home
Why bother feigning enthusiasm? You know you'd rather be asleep than dodging creepsters.
14. Shouting at the bar was never fun
It was never pleasant, and it's especially annoying now that I'm pushing 30 ;).
15. Sometimes you need a weekend to recover from your weekend ...
And guess what? You can't get it!
16. Facebook was fun until it became all about babies, engagements, and weddings
Whatever happened to the student vibe of Facebook? Props to those of you who have clearly evolved into better adults than I have, but at the same time, I miss Facebook's initial mode, which was centered on college kids.
17. Reading is a past time but shouldn't be
I stopped reading books after I graduated college but have recently gotten back into it. I wish I'd never let it lapse, but the real world (and internet) will do that to you!
18. Working in a field you love is a huge privilege
Maybe you work overtime sans extra compensation or receive low paychecks, but it's important to recognize how lucky you are to do a labor of love. You may eventually need to find something more grown-up and stable but at least you've given yourself the chance to work in the industry of your choice for a while.
19. Vacation time should be used wisely
If you're not careful, you'll use up all your vacation days visiting family and have no time left for a cool trip somewhere!
20. Comparing yourself to friends, or anyone for that matter, is a waste of time
Being jealous of what someone else has won't give you what you want. Focus on how to get where you'd like to go and don't waste your time feeling morose about how much better someone else seems to have it than you. Besides, you'll never truly understand life in another person's shoes.
21. I miss and value in-person communication
Yes, I have an iPhone. Yes, I text. Yes, I'm a big g-chatter. But what I love more than anything else is face time (and no, I'm not talking about that stupid iPhone function). I would always rather talk to someone in person than over the phone or via text, and I like to tell myself that my relatively empty text message box is simply the result of all the actual face time I get.
22. Revenge is not a good scent on anyone
Right out of college, I used to wish misfortune on those I believed had wronged me, specifically those who'd broken my heart. I told myself they didn't deserve happiness for treating me the way they did, but what kind of a thing is that to live for? No matter what someone has done to you, getting revenge is a giant time suck, and it will erode your soul. Wish people well or don't think of them at all.
23. Everyone connects over TV shows now
In college, it was drinking. Now it's Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Parks and Rec, Workaholics, Arrested Development, Walking Dead, True Blood, or whatever else takes your mind off reality!
24. I should retire my Taylor Swift perfume, but I won't
Everyone laughs in my face when I state my preferred fragrance. It smells lovely, and even though she markets more to teenagers and pre-teens than her peers, T-Swift consistently produces high quality stuff, and as long as she keeps releasing perfumes, I'll keep drenching myself in them before work everyday.
25. Life is never going to be any more fun than this
Jessa put it best in the Girls season two trailer:
Did I miss anything major? Let me know in the comments! For more on 20-something life lessons, follow me on Twitter: @LauraDonovanUA