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It’s my birthday! Happy birthday me, WOOHOO!
Even though this is the first year ever that I’ve woken up alone on my birthday, at 23 years and 364 days old I still found it impossible to fall asleep last night. Why is that? I knew there’d be no surprise birthday breakfast or presents waiting on the sofa or balloons and party hats and those trumpet things you blow into at parties (if anyone knows what they’re called, please tell me). I knew I’d be waking up alone in my hotel room with a minimal amount of birthday wishes to greet me seeing as my fellow countrymen would still be fast asleep – oh hey there time difference, you a rock star. I knew that when I did eventually get serenaded with the Birthday Song, it’d be the wrong tune (what up with that India?!). But despite all of the above, I still couldn’t sleep due to excitement. Excitement for what though? Growing up? 24 isn’t even a fun age. It’s one of those boring filler years between 21 and 25 and, unlike 22 it doesn’t even have a song. Yet due to this unexplainable excitement, I’m greeting the beginning of my 25th year on this planet looking like a zombie with tired eyes and a permanent frown on my forehead. *Sigh*
Still, I’m older now. And with age comes wisdom, so here’s 24 little life lessons I’ve learnt from my first 24 years! You might want to grab a cuppa and a few jaffa cakes for this one, it’s a monster. But it’s my birthday, so I can do whatever the heck I want! Including publishing posts of 2000+ words.
1. The shower curtain goes inside the tub. Give me whatever kind of incredulous or disbelieving look you like; we didn;’t have a shower in my house growing up. Hold your judgement for a moment please – we had a bath instead, so rest assured that I did actually wash. Moving out for my first year of Uni was the first time I got to full on get to grips with the under-appreciated world wonder that is ‘the shower’, but even then it was just a shower, not a shower-bath combo, so no curtain-related dilemmas there. The house I lived in for my second year of uni was the same, BUT my then-boyfriend’s flat was which is where I actually spent most of my time had a bathtub with attached showerhead thing on the wall.
2. Those little country flags on WhatsApp ARE IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER!!! Absolute life changer. To be honest most people are probably already aware of this by now, but it wasn’t until I was riding out a baby hurricane in Guatemala, trying to make a pretty story out of Emojis to pass time, that I realised United States is next to UK. Cute, I thought. We’re friends in real life, friends on Whatsapp. Then it was oh wow, Sri Lanka is next to Spain, that’s random and I wonder why China and Chile are neighbours. Then it hit me and I felt like an absolute donut for not having realised sooner – the bloody list is in alphabetical order! If you weren’t already privy to that bit of info, you’re welcome.
3. Always use a timer when boiling an egg. It’s the only way to guarantee your ideal level of runniness each and every time. Don’t think you’re Gordon Ramsay all because you managed it once without a timer – I promise that was a fluke.
4. The only way to guarantee your own happiness is by making your own happiness. Sometimes I’m so philosophical I want to bottle myself up and sell myself at a spice market.
5. Sometimes all you have to do is say yes. We often condition ourselves to say no to things that take us out of our comfort zone. Most of us don’t like the idea of making ourselves look stupid, or having people judge us for whatever reasons. But sometimes saying yes is all it takes to break down the barriers that we didn’t realise were there before. Go for that drink, go out dancing until the cows come home and just say yes.
6. Comparing yourself to others is a one-way ticket to Miseryville. Don’t do it.
7. Always spend that extra few pounds on a nicer pair of headphones. You may think you’re saving money by buying that cheap and cheerful set for £1 from Poundland, but they’ll be as useless as a butcher with no meat by the time the week is up, or probably even sooner. Then you have to buy a new pair, and another new pair, and another new pair, and another new pair, and before you know it you’ve spent £10 on 10 pairs of crappy headphones in the space of a month. Just get a fancy, slightly more expensive pair from the start and you’ll be set for months to come.
8. Havaianas are the Holy Grail of the flip-flop world. I’ve always been one to avoid flip-flops in favour of sandals. Flip-flops have never sat comfortably on my feet, and I’ve always ended up with friction burn in between my big toe and that little guy sat next to him on both feet. For twenty-three years I lived a sad, flip-flop-less existence until the fateful day that my sandal snapped on Sugarloaf Mountain and would you believe it, there was a Havaianas store right there before my very eyes?! Yes, yes you would believe it because it’s Brazil and they have more Havaianas stores than they have sand. I bought an adorable red pair with Olive Oyl on them and haven’t taken them off since (with the exception of Chile, Argentina and Bolivia because them places are COLD). Four months later and they’re still in almost perfect condition and feel as soft and comfortable as butter on my feet. I’m never going to buy an alternate brand.
9. If you need help with something, ask for help. There are over seven billion people on this planet – you don’t have to do everything alone. I’m a glutton for punishment and stubborn as a mule so have always refused to ask for help, even with things as simple as finding vanilla essence in the supermarket. Recently I’ve started relying on people more, and it’s nowhere near as bad as I thought it’d be. In the past I would have rather wandered around India lost for days than ask somebody for help. Now, at the first sign of something going wrong I’ll call a friend who speaks the local language and can sort things out in an instant. So stop being a pack mule – sharing the load also shares the burden.
10. In return, help others. Karma is real. If you see somebody lost or hurt, stop and help them. If it means you’re going to be five minutes late for work or you’ll miss your bus, or you won’t get to be first in line at the sale, does it really matter in the grand scheme of things? You’ve helped a person, and that will come back around to you.
11. Don’t eat with your eyes, you’ll miss out on so much mouth-watering deliciousness. Except when it comes to prawns because anything that looks that much like a human foetus should be avoided at all costs. I love kiwis, and my favourite part of a kiwi is the skin. Ew, but it’s hairy and gross. True, but you know what else is hairy? Animals! But you don’t let that stop you eating them like it’s your job, huh?! Seriously, kiwi skin is soooo good! It’s crunchy and sour and tingly and if you haven’t yet tried eating a kiwi like an apple, that’s your challenge for today. It’ll change your life, I promise.
12. Get a hobby that doesn’t involve the Internet or even electricity. Learn to knit, start a model train collection, go fishing, learn the saxophone, write poetry – just find something you love that isn’t reliant on electric and the Internet. Being in a first world country when there’s a power cut is actually really sad. People panic. Oh my god, I’m going to miss tonight’s episode of Eastenders. Bloody hell, how am I going to let my 12312931294 Instagram followers know what I had for tea tonight now? AAAAGGGHH THIS IS SO BORING, I’M SO BORED. The first thing they think to do is find a way to get on Facebook and let the rest of the world know there’s an outage, and then spend the next hour discussing when they think the electric will come back. Because we’ve become so dependent on social media and online articles and games and movies and music that we’ve kind of forgotten that life did exist before it. You know what was around before social media? Talking to actual people in real life. Finding a 100% offline hobby is the perfect way to not let yourself get fully immersed in this Internet culture we’ve all become obsessed with. Bit rich coming from a blogger, I know, but this blogger also knits, crochets, cross-stitches, reads, writes (obv), plays the piano and the cello, frequently partakes in board game nights with her family and has been known to disappear for hours on end with a 1000 piece puzzle. *Mic drop*
13. Always put people and experiences ahead of things. Having nice things is lovely. Everyone likes going out and spoiling themselves every once in a while, and that’s natural. However, when you reach old age you’re probably not going to look back fondly at that time you owned a pair of Nike Air for every day of the week, or a dress that cost so much money you never actually wore it outside of your own home. You’re going to remember jumping out of planes and sleeping in fields and kissing in the rain and laughing so hard that you burst a lung.
14. British weather can’t be trusted at any time of the year. Always take an umbrella! Even if the sun has got seven hats on and it feels like Barbados, it’s all a lie and you’ll be looking like a drowned rat by lunchtime. Accept it.
15. Always order dessert. It’s a well known fact that humans have two stomachs – one for ‘real’ food and the other for the indescribably delicious goodness that is dessert. So when you’re out at a restaurant feeling like a stuffed pepper because you ate too much ravioli, and you think you can’t handle that slice of cheesecake you’ve been looking forward to all day, you’re wrong. Order the damn cheesecake. Or on second thoughts, order apple pie because cheesecake is the food of the devil.
16. Listen to the hedgehogs. Also, clunk click every trip! Road safety saves lives.
17. Get a job. Work. I got my first (illegal) job when I was 11, delivering the afternoon papers Monday to Saturday for £12 a week. I actually kept that same job until I was 16 when the new owners of the shop I worked for sacked me in favour of their son. Nepotism at its finest! I was only ‘unemployed’ for a month or two though before I got my first real job at KFC where I stayed for almost five years until moving away for my Year Abroad. In thirteen years, that was the only period of time when I didn’t work. As soon as I moved back to UK I got a job at an Indian restaurant, which I’m technically still employed at now, and just before graduating started working full time at an office. So for 10 months I worked 60+ hours a week over two jobs as well as doing some freelance work on the side. Even now while I travel I’m working freelance as a translator. A good work ethic and work-life balance is something that will come in handy for the rest of your life, and people will always admire you for working, no matter what the job. Except like, hitman or something. Don’t kill people for any amount of money.
18. Blood isn’t always thicker than water. Family is nice, but sometimes family can also be pretty darn shit. Some of my most favourite people ever weren’t there 24 years ago; I wasn’t born into their family and they aren’t biologically related to me. Some of them married in, some just sort of fell on my lap. But in every sense of the world, they’re family. And they do a damn sight better job at it than a lot of my blood relatives.
20. Travel isn’t always the answer, but something is. Find your thing, do what makes you happy. My thing is travel. I go through stages of being slightly obsessed and spending my whole overdraft (oops) on flight tickets to places I’ve never even heard of, and then having a good few months of being at home and just reading about all these places I’ve never heard of. Either way, travel is consistent in my life and it’s my go-to jam. Find your jam, find your happy.
21. Chocolate fixes everything. Feeling sad? Chocolate will cheer you up! Feeling a bit run down? Chocolate will give you the sugar boost you need! Feeling hungry? Chocolate is food. Feeling thirsty? Hot chocolate is a drink. Thinking about eating more healthfully? Say no more! Chocolate-covered strawberries are your answer. Hole in your floor? Melt some chocolate and let it set. Okay, maybe the last one shouldn’t be there, but you get the gist. Chocolate is life. Eat chocolate.
22. Quality over quantity wins out. Okay, so maybe this isn’t applicable for everything but this motto stands where it counts. Like when it comes to friends. You’re always better off with a small handful of close real friends who would do anything for you than 16,727 Facebook ‘friends’ who don’t even know your last name. You don’t have to be Little Miss Popular to be happy.
23. Give pineapple a chance. Who are you to say pineapple doesn’t belong on pizza?! Are you a pizza king? No. So let pizza be as pineapple-y as it wants, because it is actually glorious.
24. Always be yourself. It would’ve been wrong to finish this little listicle with anything other than this little adage that’s been drummed into all our brains since we were knee high to a grasshopper. You may not always be the best pianist, footballer, blogger, student, politician, parent, gardener, chef, singer or friend, but you will always be the best you. So don’t ever try and change that, for anybody.
And thus concludes my mega super big slightly narcissistic birthday post. It took so long to write that I’m actually 30 now. That’s a joke; I’m still 24. TWENTY FOUR! I AM TWO DOZEN YEARS OLD.