The planets have been a-turning and once again, I’m faced with the internal dilemma of tacking another year onto my young age. As my mother so lovingly likes to remind me, every day is another one closer to 30.
Last year, I rather liked thinking up 23 thoughts on turning 23. This year, though, I thought to myself “Cass, what in the hell are you going to write for the big 2-4?” At the time, I was driving down a familiar street on a cold and rainy day, home in ‘lil Rhodey for the holidays, and it started to become apparent that it’s really a small miracle I’ve even made it to the age of 24 at all.
So there you have it, folks. 24 lessons learned that got me to the age of 24. This list is in no way exhaustive, I can assure you of that. But some of my favorites. Enjoy.
1. Laughter will not always be your best medicine. Sometimes it’ll be tears. Sometimes a little quiet contemplation. Sometimes a spontaneous trip across the Atlantic. Sometimes actual medicine, you idiot.
2. The best skill you can ever learn is how to be comfortable alone. By yourself. On your own. Don’t wait for other people to help you live your life, choose your own adventure book and then sit in a coffee shop all by yourself for a few hours and read it. That’s how the proverb goes, right?
3. Slow down; in all things, slow down. You do not need to sigh loudly in line at the post office because I’m here to tell you that you sound like a jerk when you do. What is the actual rush? The world will keep turning. Patience.
4. Blueberries grow on tiny little tree bushes. I know. And peanuts? “Peanuts grow in the GROUND and are therefore GROUND-nuts, and after you take them out of the ground you grind them up and you have ground ground-nuts, which is a much more accurate name than peanut butter, you just don’t understand English.”
5. Always settle practical questions with sentiments which have nothing to do with them. Make your anger never furious; your love never fierce, but instead deep and tender.
6. People will change and you will have to adapt to that. Which maybe might mean taking separate paths. I speak from experience, though, when I say that those that are meant to join up again some day, will.
7. Impactful moments come in packages large and small. A good song on the radio when you’re having a tough day. An unexpected friendship that is on track to last a lifetime. When something wants to hit you, let it, and appreciate it for whatever it is.
8. Listen to your body and let it help you get to know yourself. For general medical problems, realize what your systems are trying to tell you and remember those signs for next time. But also we all have those moments where something ever so insignificant happens and it somehow manages to throw off your entire day, giving you that awful back-of-your-mind-anxiety or pit-of-the-stomach-discomfort. Call it out. If I say something I regret to a loved one or some kind of uncomfortable interaction happens with a friend or I do something embarrassing at work, I force myself to acknowledge it. Tell yourself it’s going to be okay. The day is gonna go on, life is gonna keep being lived, and it’s gonna work itself out. 9 times out of 10 confronting it helps me move on from those bad feelings a lot faster than if I had avoided and repressed to begin with. Know how to help yourself get over it.
9. You got the music in you, don’t let go. You got the music in you, one dance left, this world is gonna pull through. Don’t give up, you got a reason to live. Can’t forget, we only get what we give.
10. Family does not always mean blood. Not to me, anyways. There are so many people on so many corners of this beautifully expansive world that I consider to be my family, and I very much want them all to know that.
11. Listen with your heart, you will understand. And also left side, strong side.
12. Cry if you want to cry and don’t be embarrassed by that very natural emotional response. For joy or anger or sadness or because it’s Tuesday. A whole childhood of people scolding me for being “too sensitive” taught me that what the heck is wrong with crying? What the heck do I need to be from Mars for? (.2% of my readers will get that reference…)
13. There’re some things I know for certain. Always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder. Keep rosemary by your garden gate. Plant lavender for luck. And fall in love whenever you can.
14. Get competitive with yourself, not with others. Getting competitive with others makes you obnoxious, but getting competitive with yourself makes you push your limits, hopefully in all the right ways.
15. When someone makes you laugh, tell them. It helps the both of you know that you want to keep them around. Nothing makes me happier than having a good laugh.
16. Make your time always well spent, never wasted. If there are things you don’t want to do, don’t. You’re the only one determining how you live this life and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
17. Potatoes have 48 chromosomes. That’s 2 more than humans. You can draw whatever conclusions you want from that one, I’m just providing the facts…
18. When you make mistakes, own them. Lying or avoiding it because you’re afraid of the consequences is not a good idea.
19. Never doubt yourself on your ability to adventure. Book the flight, google the bus timetables and write them on little slips of paper with emergency addresses on the backs. Get out there into whatever piece of the world it is that you want to see because I’m a firm believer that it won’t always be around to be seen like this.
20. When you feel love for something, anything, let it run unboundedly.
21. Have courage and be kind. Always, always, always be kind. And always have the courage to do so. There’s enough bad stuff going on out there, we don’t need to get it from each other too.
22. Trees. Are. So. Rad. Did you know the oldest tree in the world is over 4,000 years old??? And here I am stressed about being 24. Respect the trees.
23. Imagination is the most beautiful gift to ever be given to humankind. I feel so supremely sad for people who don’t use theirs. I entreat you, please find a way.
24. I still find that for all things in life, I can’t ask why. And I’m always going to be a better person for that.
As always, I’m thankful to see another glorious year on this here earth. And I’m thankful that you and I get to see it together, dear reader.
Something makes me think that 24 will help us find quite a few new Tales to tell.