Are My Parents Human?
In two months, I start the third decade of my life (I turn 20). To commemorate this momentous occasion, I’ve decided to try and compile a list of all the things I’ve learned in my old age.
1. A hair cut is the single easiest self esteem booster. This doesn’t apply to when the hairdresser cuts your fringe so short it’s more like a decorative strip of tassel than hair. Also doesn’t apply to those “choppy layers” every hairdresser seems intent upon but that literally suit no-one.
2. Your parents aren’t as amazing as you thought they were when you were young. They’re also not as awful. Seeing my parents as humans, flawed and all, was a huge part of my growing up. It helps me now to focus on that so I can be more forgiving, and also more grateful.
3. Time heals everything. Almost everything that seems a bit (or a lot) shit at the time will either resolve itself or will become resolve-able eventually. Even if it’s something that isn’t technically resolve-able (yes I know this isn’t a word), it won’t seem as bad in a few weeks. And I don’t think I’m being naive. My mum’s cancer diagnosis felt like the end of the world initially, and although I’m still not fine with it, it’s become manageable and being happy isn’t such a struggle. In fact, it’s almost a default!
4. Always have chopped tomatoes in the cupboard. Growing up, I thought the constant presence of tins of chopped tomatoes in our cupboards was slightly excessive but now….I understand. If you’re someone who cooks for themselves regularly, you’ll most likely understand too. They’re just, and please forgive the very adult-y term, a staple. Gosh, what have I become?
5. Only buy that item of clothing if you’re absolutely sure. If you’re even slightly doubting whether you need/want it, just leave it. It will save you money, time and unnecessary stress. However, one thing I’m trying to learn in this next decade is that clothes that make me look slimmer are not always the clothes I should be wearing. Clothes have other functions aside from just looking good, including but not limited to: comfort, expression and sometimes assimilation. It’s okay to just wear what you want sometimes, and not give a f*** whether it makes your waist look smaller or not.
6. Finding out your personality type doesn’t solve all your problems. Sadly. I recently went to an Enneagram meeting (yes it was a bit cult-y but also fun) in the hope of feeding my narcissism and learning more about myself. I probably did achieve those things to an extent but what I really got out of it was a much better appreciation of how other people approach the world. The best thing personality frameworks give you is a better understanding of why people think differently to you, and why that isn’t an obstacle.
7. Give up trying to be Pinterest-y and abandon the pursuit of organising your entire life in a journal. Yes, bullet journals look pretty and can actually be useful for some things but don’t waste too much of your life obsessively ‘laying out’ your days, weeks and months. Spend that time actually living your life instead. Wow, maybe I should become a life coach.
8. You don’t always need to know exactly what you’re doing and where you’re going in life. I thought choosing to study medicine would be the one big choice I needed to make for all the rest to come easy. Needless to say, that is absolutely not true. But that’s fine. Treading water and feeling a bit stranded is a natural part of becoming an adult and choosing your life path. It allows you to stay open-minded and to not turn down opportunities you’d regret not taking. Personally, people who know exactly what they want to do already freak me out a bit.
9. Start a diary. I’m not saying you need to write pages and pages about your feelings every time something trivial happens but try and record the important things. I’ve been diary-ing since I was 12 and I haven’t even finished a single notebook. It goes from gushing about my first mascara to complaining about moving house to wondering what medical specialty I’m going to go into in a matter of pages. I’m not sure it’s helpful in any profound way but it is entertaining to read it.
10. Cardio-based exercise is a crime against humanity and you will never be good at it. It must just be endured. (I’m currently assuming ‘you’, like me, are not an athlete. If that assumption is wrong, please just skip this point.) If possible, find a form of cardio that is over as quickly as possible and vaguely entertaining eg. spin, real actual cycling or Zumba.
So there we have it, the sum of everything I’ve managed to pick up in my first twenty years of life. I hope it’s vaguely helpful for anyone younger than me and entertaining for anyone older than me.
hey! i'm an 21 year old medical student (currently intercalating in anthropology) living it up in east london! i spend my spare time playing dixie chicks on guitar (badly), attempting to do yoga and turning it up at my church.