24 Lessons Learned Before Turning 24


I’ve been around for two dozen springs almost. This is what I know so far.

Lesson #1: Call your mum.

Let people who love you unconditionally be your emotional anchors.

Lesson #2:Be your own Pharaoh.

Take time to treat yourself. No one else can relax for you.

Lesson #3: You can always turn the car around.

Even if it it leads to awkward, difficult or tense situations, it’s never too late to change your mind.

Lesson #4:Be still socially.

Sometimes we feel socially obliged to move conversations forward when we think someone else isn’t having a good time. This inclination can be a positive thing, but can also be exhausting and sometimes unnecessary and sometimes just does you a disservice by turning you into a caricature of yourself. It’s so much nicer just to sit back and let things unfold.

Lesson #5: Say NO.

It’s not weak or lame to say no  when people ask you for something. You can even learn to do it gracefully. I used to get scared about hurting feelings when I turned something down. It took a while to realize most people don’t give a shit one way or another.

Lesson #6:Stay away from your phone.

Phones are addictive and make my heart hurt.
I dunno why, but after a half-hour-finger-tapping through my insta/facebook/gchat alter-egoverse I usually start feeling yucky and bad.  Especially at night when I’m susceptible to tired snake thoughts that slither in my head and say things like why do u have to eat 5 cookies at work every day or i wish u never said that, u idiot. I put my phone in another room when I sleep now. I’m less cry-y. And I don’t wake up in the middle of the night with the urge to swipe my screen.

Lesson #7: Present yourself honestly.

Be secure in the person you are. It’s a pretty human reaction to wanna come off as interesting and amazing as possible, but people can usually tell when you’re trying to be impressive.  There’s something really refreshing about someone who doesn’t need to fluff up their tail feathers. I wish I learned this one about ten years ago.

Lesson #8: Nature worship.

Romp in forests and bask in suns. Most problems fade away.

Lesson #9: Speak kindly of others.

Gossiping is like pizza-binging for the soul. I feel good in the moment but then I get kinda blitzed out and irritated at myself and I worry if it becomes a habit I’ll get soul obesity or something. I never feel bad when I say something good about someone. I think this says a lot.

Lesson #10: Stop holding onto grand notions of the future.

Whole lives can change in a phone call, email, text, letter, photograph. Future’s not written yet. I’m realizing that the happiest and most successful people are trying to improve their current environments rather than planning for some happy and rich life ahead. If you work hard to make your life great in the present, you don’t even gotta fantasize.

Lesson #11: Doing the right thing probably isn’t the easiest thing.

It takes courage to make decisions that are true to yourself. Fear’s gotta be conquered by your own set of moral principles. Even if you don’t like the consequences sometimes.

Lesson #12: Nurture your friendships.

True friends recognize both the best and worst sides of you, and decide to love ya anyways. I realized recently that I find the most inner strength from the strength my closest friends recognize in me. Friends help the world keep a’turnin.

Lesson #13: Don’t drink for liquid courage.

Alcohol is like the ultimate skinny mirror for bad decisions. Take a picture and save for morning sunlight.

Lesson #14: It’s okay not to know things.

There’s nothing wrong with saying I dunno. I used to feel stupid not knowing stuff. Now it saves me and the other person a whole lotta time to look it up on Wiki rather than speculating over far-fetched possibilities.

Lesson #15: Exercise.

It’s incredible that we have the capacity to get such a physical and mental natural high just from moving around.  Hop, doggy paddle, hula hoop, wrestle, run, push up, tap dance. I always feel better after.

Lesson #16:  Don’t confuse what you think you want with how you actually feel.

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that keep coming back to the same heavy conversation/fight or set of problems. In my experience this often happens when somebody it isn’t being straight up about the way they feel, and is trying to bob along in a way that doesn’t quite work for them. I’ve kept my feelings inside because I was afraid of sabotaging the situation by making it too heavy. It’s hard to accept that if honesty is such a game-changer, it’s probably not such a good situation to be in after all. Confront how you feel or else you lose track of who you are.

Lesson #17: Set goals.

It’s easy to feel bad without any personal objectives. The future looks really effing scary when you aren’t actively moving towards building some skill or experience for yourself.  Some sorta future momentum makes everything feel better.

Lesson #18: Turn your mistakes into lessons.

I coulda woulda shoulda. Man, I could write a new War and Peace on that shit but ultimately no one can change the past. Instead of regretting what’s happened or blaming others we really gotta evaluate how we can learn from painful situations. I’m trying to build up a big life-skill tool-belt. Hammer and chisel my way outta dilemma. Build a whole gazebo outta sorrow.

Lesson #19: Save your sorries.

I gotta bad sorry-saying habit. Maybe it’s my Canadianness, but if I’m not careful I’ll be throwing out sorries like exclamation marks. This tendency is unfortunate because when you whip out Sorry for every potentially uncomfortable situation that likely isn’t your fault anyways, the word loses power. Apologize when you mean it, not when you feel you have to say it.  Once should be enough. If it’s a bigger problem just repeating I’m sorry isn’t gonna cut it anyways.

Lesson #20:  Sometimes you have to let go of people you love.

When someone’s made up their mind, there’s often nothing you can do to change it. It doesn’t matter if you’ve tried your best. There doesn’t even have to be a good reason why they wanna go. They just do. When affection snaps, it gives rise to a sympathetic yet avoidant impartiality that makes you feel you never got the memo for demolition day. I can’t think of any elegant solution for this situation. I’ve been neck deep from both ends for a while now. The only thing I’ve learned is that I can’t distract myself from the pain entirely. Pain helps one heal properly; distraction just leads to a pile of unresolved emotion. If you are trying your very best to feel better, it’s okay to be sad. Recovery is a process.

Lesson #21: Spend time by yourself.

You can hear your own pulse best while alone. Keep that ear to the ground.

Lesson #22: Everybody’s right on time.

It’s easier to let go of anger, fear and frustration with the understanding that no one is perfect, everyone is trying the best with the tools they have, and that there is something to be learned from every moment in our lives.

Lesson #23: Sleep. Lots.

It’s a pretty clear equation for me: -sleep = +bitchy / +emotional. math so gud. Plus a lack of sleep can really increase your chances of becoming mentally unstable. Google told me so.

Lesson #24: Love yourself.

Most of us have moments from our pasts that creep into our minds and make our hearts and stomachs feel hollow. Regrets weave insecurity and fear into how we live our lives. In order to be healthy and stable in the present, we must accept and let go of what has already happened to us. Forgive yourself. Love yourself. Be gentle with yourself.