Today is my 27th birthday. A decade ago I was 17. In 3 years I’ll be 30. You’d think I’d grown wiser, sometimes it feels like I’ve only grown fatter. Based on the declining ID checks, I suppose older too. Still, it’s hard not to succumb to the Dunning-Kruger effect and feel the older you get the less you really know what the hell you’re doing (to paraphrase).
So I thought, rather than try to list out all those things 27 years of life have supposedly taught me, here are the things I still have yet to learn that still make me oh-so green:
1. How to keep learning. It’s so, so easy to get stuck in the comfort of a routine of things you feel like you’ve mastered. Step outside, and oh yeah, there’s that landmine.
2. How to make a new habit. For the love of Jesus Christ I still have yet to grasp the concept that doing something a little each day (like dieting or exercising) makes a difference. My brain sees all or nothing – success or failure. It’s the only area of my life that’s not shades of gray when it actually should be.
3. How to truly be a good friend. Friendships mature the same way relationships with significant others do. It always starts out as having fun together and common interests and lots of time to spend with each other, but to make it through the longhall you really have to make the commitment to keep connected, to add that ounce of selfless love and not just be in the relationship for what’s in it for you.
4. That confidence (even unfounded) is not a bad thing. I could stand to be a little bolder with my life.
5. That garbage disposals aren’t as hearty as you might expect.
6. That now is not the time to panic. When you graduate from college the year the economy takes a dive, you start to clue in to the true disaster that is modern society. Watch the news enough, you’d think we were constantly on the verge of anarchy. It’s hard not to worry for the future and instead remind myself that things have been this shitty many times before, I was just too young (or unborn) to realize it.
7. That to know something intimately is to see its dysfunction. Nothing is perfect. There is no such thing as The Ideal Situation.
8. Just how much people skills matter to be successful in business.
9. Just how much introspection matters to be successful in life.
10. Just how few things in life are worth going into debt for.
11. How to mingle.
12. How to cook well.
13. How to speak Spanish fluently. I totalled it up once – 3 classes in elementary school, 3 in middle, 4 in high and 3 in college (including 6 weeks in Spain!) and I still cannot speak it. You’d think someone with a certain degree of literary aptitude would be able to learn languages better than the average person. Wrong. You would be wrong.
14. How to not forget some essential object from my purse. Have you ever spent an hour filling a cart with groceries only to have to give it to someone to restock because you forgot your wallet? I have.
15. How to not overanalyze others’ actions and words.
16. How to not take it personally. See above.
18. How to sew.
19. How to play chess.
20. How to whistle.
21. How to remember names. Or rather, how to actually listen to people introduce themselves and not only pay attention to my inner monologue that tells me not to be awkward. If I shake your hand, I will forget your name the second it leaves your lips, but I will remember your face forever. I am excellent at remembering faces. In the world of PR, this often presents a problem.
22. How to not be awkward. Although I’ve come a long way over the years, I still have my moments.
23. How to not hit curbs. My next car should really be a truck.
24. How to not be completely freaked out by raw chicken.
25. How to be an adult child. The transition between being your parents’ kid who must do as told and being an independent adult who loves your parents but stands firm on their own decisions is a tough one.
26. How to pick a wine. What I know? Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio = good, Riesling = way too sweet, Zinfandel = just plain wrong. Beyond that, you got me.
27. How to live in the moment. Hello, 27. Let’s do this.