It’s no secret that I love birthdays. Especially my own birthday. Every year I set super high expectations that this is going to be “BEST BIRTHDAY EVER”. Some years, I surpass those expectations and have a really memorable and amazing birthday (22 was the last “exceeds expectations” birthday, FYI. My mom sent me 22 cupcakes from Sweet Jane’s and we played party games in my apartment). Other years, my birthday is a crapshoot and I just have to hope the next year will be better (My 18th birthday was my first day of university and I had a broken femur and no friends in my new city – total bust).
No matter what, every year I feel like my birthday is a major life turning point and I like to take this time to be a little be more reflective. Turning 25 is kind-of-a-big-friggin-deal, so here’s a round-up things I’ve learning in these 25 years.
1. Your whole life can change drastically within a really short period of time.
This point has really been driven home for me over the last year. There are a lot of aspects of my life that are in no way the same as they were as this time last year. There are moments in life that challenge you and shake up everything you thought you once knew, but at the end of the day, you don’t have much other choice but to just deal with it and figure it out.
2. Being afraid of screwing things up will hold you back.
Sometimes I don’t do something because I’m afraid of “Wreck-it-Gab” syndrome, where I colossally fuck-up something beyond repair. But you know what, it’s really unlikely that I’ll ever screw something up to the point of “beyond repair”, so why not try, right?
3. “Say yes and figure it out later”
I once wrote a blog post on this and it’s probably my favourite quote in the world since I discovered it. Logistics and inconvenience shouldn’t be the things that hold you back.
4. There’s a lot more out there than what’s in your own city.
Moving to Toronto earlier this year to attend HackerYou was one of the most life-shifting things I’ve ever done. And I was *thisss clossseeee* to not doing it.
5. Your job isn’t everything.
Work/Life balance is a real thing and it’s an achievable thing. Learning to say “no” when it comes to bringing home work from the office and not answering emails after work hours unless it’s super-urgent is not something you should feel guilty about.
6. Actually listen when people are talking to you.
Active listening and engaging in what someone else is saying is noticeable: people can tell when you actually care about what they’re saying. Also, when you get busted when you’re not actually listening, it sucks.
7. Speak up when you’re not into something.
This goes for a ton of things and is generally applicable everywhere. If you feel like something you have to do is unethical, dangerous, or just plain dumb you can be like, “Hey, nope. Not doin’ this” and yeah, people might get mad but at least you still have your dignity/integrity/well-being.
8. Decide if you want to your hair to have bangs or not.
Half grown out bangs are annoying.
9. Exercise makes you happy.
I’ve known this for years but I only realize it after I turn into a major grumpypants after missing a few days of workouts.
10. If you don’t work at friendships, they kind of just fade away
This is a scary one. As I’ve gotten older it’s been harder to keep in touch with friends: having different work schedules and living in different places has a way of doing that. Even if you don’t keep in touch ALL THE TIME, you still have to check in with your buddies.
11. Don’t let people make you feel embarrassed about something you shouldn’t be embarrassed about.
Embarrassment is the weirdest emotion ever because it’s not about how you feel. It’s about how other people feel concerning you. Which sucks, because peeing your pants in a room by yourself isn’t embarrassing. But for some reason peeing your pants in a room full of people is super embarrassing.
12. Fake it til you make it.
I actually hate this phrase. But it’s totally true so I’m just going to deal with it.
13. Nobody else knows what they’re doing.
Everyone else has “imposter syndrome” just like you and is waiting to be busted. This is why “fake it til you make it” works.
14. Weigh the risk before you take the risk.
I lean more towards the impulsive side when it comes to making decisions. If my gut tells me it’s good, then I’m on board. This has worked out occasionally, and sometimes its bit me in the butt. You learn.
15. Don’t treat your body like a garbage can.
You only get one body and it has to last like 90 years! Don’t mess it up more than necessary!
16. Remember where you came from.
It’s part of who you are and trying to be something else just won’t work out.
17. If you know exactly what you want to be doing with your life, start doing that thing now.
Even if you’re only doing that thing that makes you happy as a side gig or a hobby, there’s no sense in waiting.
18. Love is hard work.
But, duh, so worth that effort.
19. Making friends is harder when you’re not in school.
Still trying to figure this one out. How do you do it? Become best buddies with your colleagues because you see each other every day anyways? Make friends at the gym without being creepy while someone is just trying to do few squats and forget about their day? Someone help me.
20. Spend your money on what makes you happy.
Buy cheap versions of stuff you don’t care about, spend on the stuff you enjoy. Hence, why all my “professional clothes” are from Joe Fresh and cost under $30 and why all my running gear is putting me in the poorhouse.
21. Always have a question when you’re on a job interview and someone says, “Do you have any questions?”
Because they’re always going to ask it and if you don’t ask a question it’s like, “why are you even here?”
22. Don’t be afraid of the phone.
Living in a texting/email world means that the phone is secondary. Which is great because phone calls can be really awkward, especially when you have to leave the dreaded voicemail message (UGH!). BUT, phone calls get shit done. Get a person on the phone and you’ll save way more time than emailing back and forth.
23. Reading for pleasure instead of self-improvement is one of the best de-stressors.
I started re-reading Anne of Green Gables last weekend while we were on the ferry to PEI and it was the most chilled out I’ve been in a long time. Malcolm Gladwell is great, but there’s nothing like a nice piece of fiction before bed.
24. Most of your assumptions are wrong.
Whenever I make an assumption, I don’t even think I’m making an assumption because I’m assuming that I’m absolutely spot on about something. Nope, everything is probably wrong.
25. The lists get longer as you get older.
This list took forever to write. I hope I’m not still making these when I’m 50.