twenty-something growing pains [or ten things I learned this year].

If you’ve been following around these parts for the past year, you know that my life has been a strange combination of transition from one kind of life into another, though I stayed put in Waco after I graduated from Baylor. Even though most things didn’t change, the one small fact of being in the “real world” as a non-student brought in a lot of new experiences and heightened others. I’m frankly surprised I survived.

The other night I began to list some of the dumb stuff I did (or did not do) over the course of the last year– the things I learned from as well as some of the crap I still try to get away with. Basically, it’s stuff I would tell myself a year ago. I hope you take some of this advice to heart, or at least feel better about yourself.


1. your androgynous hipster boots are at least a half size too big and you should really watch where you are going. You’ll feel so freakin’ trendy when you start down the stairs that morning. You’ll feel like hot sh*t. 5 seconds later, you’ll be at the bottom of the stairs trying not to throw up at the pain from falling down half a flight and your left shin hitting all the stairs on the way down. You’ll also try to control the urge to not smash your room mate’s cats’ heads against the wall. Oh wait, that’ll be all the time. Moral of the story–watch out. You are not invincible, and you should have worn a compression bandage around your leg, because that thing is still healing from the fall in November. Maybe you should see a doctor about that. oh well.

2. FLOSS YOUR EFFING TEETH and brush them as often as dental professionals tell you to. Which is a fact I now have to look up again. [Are you really supposed to brush after lunch???] If you don’t, you could (WILL, YOU WILL) develop some pretty terrible decay between ALL your teeth. Pay attention to when your teeth hurt– it’s not like a passing headache; when your teeth are hurting, it’s probably you failed to do something pretty basic, which is stupid. Don’t wait ’til the pain is unbearable, because you will already have an abscess and the work the dentist did on it that day will make your lip swell up the next morning. You will have to have an emergency root canal on Valentine’s Day, which is way cooler when Liz Lemon does it, TRUST ME. You will be the sickest you have ever been for four days, and you will look like JLo did in that one scene from Monser In Law, but way less hot:

This is not me, I repeat, this is not me. You and your racial profiling. I totally took pictures of my own lip, but this is so much better, I promise.

3. Keeping friendships is rough, bro. For real. In college, you were exactly the right amount of busy and bored that impromptu hangouts were just the ticket. You scheduled some things, yeah, but it was a lot of texts that went something like, “so, what are we doing this weekend?” When friends move away or start a new job or get a new significant other or if YOU do any of these things, it changes the rhythm. And that’s OK. Really. But you do have to plan for it (UGH I KNOW) and put yourself in a few awkward situations because you are having to think through things that should be EASY. So you have to fight for it. But also, seriously take a chill pill. Your friends love you. Life just looks different. For everyone. Loosen your grip a little, submit yourself to trust. [[Also, past me, stop whining! You kinda hit the jackpot when it came to keeping your friends around this past year. Just soak it in.]]

4. Set an alarm on your smartgadget preemptively for stuff like car registration, oil changes, and state inspection. ALSO FOR REGULAR TEETH CLEANINGS HAVE YOU EVEN BEEN LISTENING. This is kinda self-explanatory. Mostly, just know yourself well enough to realize that you never have your sh*t together and you will not remember these things at the appropriate time, so plan ahead. (UGH I KNOW). That way, Future Self will not hate you, lurking around back roads trying to not get caught by the police three months after the expiration date. WHICH THE COPS WILL TOTALLY DO IF YOU DON’T CLEAN YOUR TEETH. [[ok, not really, but did I scare you into it??]]

5. KEEP YOUR EYES UP HERE. On the road, I mean. Don’t mess with your music and drive, text and drive, talk and drive, daydream and drive, pick your nose and drive, or do anything but drive and drive. Otherwise you will total your best friend’s car on one of the busiest roads in town on the way to a wedding shower. The paramedics will be cute, but your lipstick will be all over your cheek and your forehead will have a grapefruit-sized swelling on it, so it’ll be a waste anyway. But really? It’s amazing you are alive, given how fast you were going and the fact that you swerved into the other lane and the fact that you did some dumb stuff when it was highly possible that you were concussed, like immediately napping and drinking alcohol later BECAUSE YOU ARE SO HAPPY TO BE ALIVE, stupid. Concentrate when you drive and thank God you have an amazing friend who does not hate you for being stupid, stupid.

6. sometimes, you need stitches. which is a statement that I was hoping to turn around into some kind of larger statement about humbling yourself enough to realize you are wounded or something, but the story that would go with it is too stupid for that. I was moving picture frames out of my car and realized the glass was broken in one of them. The frame was still good, so I figured I would just pull the glass out and continue using it. Bare handed. Open handed. I tried to wiggle the glass out and thwp there went the glass in and out of the base of my thumb. I grabbed a towel to stop the crazy bleeding and put pressure on it as I finished watching Save the Last Dance. I then argued with my dad on the phone of whether or not I should go to the ER, we yelled at each other, and so I was finally pissed enough to drive myself to the hospital at midnight with a sliced-open hand. Turns out, it was a pretty deep puncture wound and I hadn’t had a tetanus shot in a zillion years, so the three stitches were probably a good idea, even though I was mad about it. It was a long time before I could give anyone a thumbs-up, though.

7. Do not be chicken of chicken. But really, you are not a vegetarian, so stop letting your fear of learning how to cook meat keep you one, for MONTHS. Don’t be afraid to ask your mom for help for the zillionth time, because one day, late in the year, you will be asking Preston how to cook chicken and he will look at you like you’re an idiot. Your mom gave birth to you, so she is required not to judge you as much. Even though she totally still judges you. [[also buy this book!]]

8. Completely change your “strong personality” to keep your minimum-wage’s really easy to do after 22 years of life, especially when you were raised to never make yourself small for others [which is different than humility.] Ignore the fact that the petty things you are criticized for would not be addressed if you were a male staff member, in fact, you would be praised for them. Accept that your work ethic, your skills, your age, and your longtime relationship with the company do not mean anything in the end. Only your ability to transform into a demure, hip little thing with only enough edge to make you hot, but not enough that can’t be sanded down. Believe the bullsh*t.


9. like make a budget. for serious. listen to your friend Sara who told you to put away money every time you were tempted to buy ANOTHER bottle of nail polish or ANOTHER round of goat cheese. Actually have a goal in mind when you tell people one reason you took a year off was to “save money.” Plan ahead. (UGH I KNOW).Or you will end up at the end of the year with way less than you thought to show for it. You can still do some things you want to do, like swing up to Dallas for the weekend or head to the pub one or two nights a week, but you can also be a lotttt smarter with money. CHECK YOUR BANK ACCOUNT, DUMMY.

10. read your effing lease. real talk. Save yourself the spiraling nervous breakdown/two-week-long depression catalyst by reading your lease, saving a copy, and setting another one of those handy alarms so you know a. when your lease actually ends, not the date you made up in your head which is totally the middle of the month anyway and doesn’t make sense and b. the fact that there is a 60-day-to-vacate notice policy. Or a notice to vacate policy at all. And when you do finally come to terms with the fact that you made a mistake, but are not ontologically a f*ckup, go ahead and quadruple check with your landlady who reminds you of Jenna Maroney’s mother your move-out date, because she will change it without telling you, and you will have to do the terrible but beautiful work of asking people to help you move within 24 hours of finding out. You’re not on campus anymore, Toto.


2 thoughts on “twenty-something growing pains [or ten things I learned this year].

  1. Pingback: 10 things I wish I had known as an undergrad | Melissa Boles

  2. Pingback: July Favorites | Melissa Boles

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