I’ve been having some mixed feelings about my birthday. I’m at the age where turning a year older isn’t quite as exciting as it used to be. It also doesn’t help my anxiety that in Korea, I am turning 26. Koreans celebrate their first year at birth, so according to my co-teachers and students, I am 26. Yikes. There’s nothing like skipping a year to make a girl feel old.
Am I doing this right?
I do freak out sometimes when I realize I’m not anywhere close to what 25 is “supposed” to look like. I don’t have a house or a shiny diamond ring, and there’s certainly no baby on the way. I don’t own my own car, a nice duvet, or even a cat. And I have made peace with that. It’s not to say that I won’t still have those moments of panic where I wonder, when the hell am I going to start my life? I still have those thoughts on a daily basis. But then I realize that the idea of settling down right now freaks me out more than wrinkles do. And yes I know… 25 isn’t very old in the big picture of life, but I think turning a year older can be scary at any age. You not only have your peers to measure yourself against, but also the dreams you had for yourself at a younger age.
Am I exactly where I thought I would be at 25? In one word, NO. But that’s probably a good thing. I sometimes need to remind myself that life doesn’t start with the purchase of a house or a career that is “successful” in the eyes of society. The reality is my life has started, and I feel more alive now than ever before. This past year has been one of the hardest, but best of my life. 24 was a year of laughter, making new friends, moments of awe, and diving into the unknown. I’ve lived more outside of my comfort zone than in it, and have learned things about myself I never knew.
If this next year is anything like 24, then I am okay with getting older.
So bring it on 25!
20 lessons I’ve learned since turning 25
1 GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK
Have a KitKat,man! Don’t be in such a rush to grow up. Figuring life out doesn’t happen overnight. Give yourself the time you need.
2 HOLDING GRUDGES IS SO NOT WORTH IT
I’m overly forgiving and holding a grudge has never been my thing. Unfortunately, most people are the opposite of this. So, I’ve learned the hard way that life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got. Forgiving doesn’t have to mean forgetting, but it really does set you free.
3 “FIND WHAT YOU LOVE AND LET IT KILL YOU” – BUKOWSKI
Find things that inspire you and pursue them, even if there’s no money in it.
4 LEARN TO SAY NO
I’ve always found it so damn difficult saying NO to people. I’d always give my friends a ride home, no matter how exhausted I am, or go for a coffee, even if the only thing I crave was a nap and some me-time. However, over the last few years I’ve learned that life is way too short to waste time wishing away the minutes when you’d rather be doing something else. It’s okay to be selfish at times as being ’selfless’ means being ’selfish’ towards yourself. Now I have much more positive energy to share with my friends when I actually feel like socialising. It’s a win-win situation. Which also brings me to point 5:
5 DON’T FEEL GUILTY ABOUT NOT GOING OUT ALL THE TIME
6 BLACK IS NOT THE ONLY COLOR (BUT IT’S STILL MY FAVOURITE THO)
In my teenage years, I wore a lot of black. Sometimes from head to toe. I still love black. It’s chic and classic and goes with everything, but since I’ve started wearing more COLOUR, I’ve noticed that I’ve been feeling more positive and getting a lot more compliments from people.
7 COLLECTING PASSPORT STAMPS IS MUCH MORE FUN THAN COLLECTING THINGS!
8 TREAT YOURSELF
Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life. You have to work damn hard to pay the bills. But you don’t want to become that person who thinks: What am I even working for at the end of the day? So remember to spoil yourself – get your nails done, buy the pair of jeans, go out for dinner(and dessert!). You deserve it.
9 IT’S OKAY TO ASK YOUR MOM FOR ADVICE
When I moved out of my parents’ house, I wanted to be completely independent. Initially I tried to not Whatsapp my mom too much, but I gave up quickly. Then my poor mom had to reply to “Will I die if I eat the 3 day old cupcake in my fridge?” and “How do I wash item X?” or “Which kind of sponge do I use to clean X?” Whatsapps all the time.
10 IT IS TRULY HEARTBREAKING WHEN A PET DIES
Don’t ever let people tell you how you should feel when your pet has died. When my dog died a few weeks ago I was devastated. I had to take rescue remedy to help me sleep and I struggled to concentrate at work. This showed me that there are people who will shrug and say, “She was just a dog” and then there are those who view their pets as family. If you love your pets like this, don’t let anyone tell you how you should mourn.
11 IF YOU DON’T ASK, THE ANSWER WILL ALWAYS BE NO
People are not mind readers. If you want something ask for it. Wonders will happen. And if you don’t understand something, Google it! I do it every day.
12 KIMCHI ACTUALLY TASTES PRETTY GOOD
Why am I saying this? Because experimenting with new things is the only way to find out what you truly like. Be bold. It’s worth it.
13 MY PARENTS ARE MY BEST FRIENDS
Not in a creepy kind of way. But as you get older you’ll realize that your parents are actually pretty cool people and your greatest supporters. And also your mom is always right (well, most of the time at least).
14 LIVING FAR AWAY FROM HOME IS BOTH REWARDING AND SCARY
Living overseas has taught me more in one year than I’ve learned in my entire life. Traveling alone or working overseas can be intimidating, but it really teaches you what you are made off. You will gain an incredible amount of independence, but also realize that you took your old support network for granted. Whether you are staring at a menu in Korean realizing you have no idea what the items are, or jumping on a bus that you hope will get you somewhere familiar, traveling alone is so scary, but so exciting. You have to do new things. It is all about getting yourself into situations and turning them into amazing experiences.
15 DON’T APOLOGIZE FOR BEING DIFFERENT
Yes, you will make some unpopular decisions in your twenties. It may even cost you friendships. But know that the people who truly care will stand by you even if they think you’re temporarily being an idiot.
16 THERE TRULY IS MORE GOOD IN THIS WORLD THAN BAD AND PEOPLE ARE WORTH TRUSTING
Living in Korea and traveling around by myself has taught me that most people are friendly, worth trusting, and willing to help others without expecting anything in return.
17 ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS
I am someone who doesn’t believe in words anymore.Words don’t mean a single thing if you do not back them up. Do what you say you’ll do.
18 SOMETIMES ALL YOU NEED IS A DRINK
I’m not a big drinker, but every now and again after a long day there really is nothing that makes me feel better than a big glass of wine, a shot of Soju, or my favourite cocktail from SATC!
19 COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF JOY
Social media makes it so hard to not compare your life to other people’s lives. When everyone is posting photos of expensive handbags and holidays, it can make you wonder what you’re doing wrong. I too, like to share the occasional pic of my new watch or dreamy island holiday, but believe me when I say my day to day life is far from perfect! Comparing yourself to others will only steal your joy. Always remember that you never truly know what’s going on in other people’s lives, so don’t waste time comparing.
20 A LEATHER JACKET CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE
It’s warm and it goes with everything. You totally need one in your life.