Nine Things I Would Tell My 21 Year Old Self
By Lozzy P | Contributor
Cannot unsee. Source: Freepik
I um and ah over this every year - do I organise a birthday or not (I know - one of the big questions in life). The balancing act of the thrill of being around all of my favourite people, with the anxiety that makes every ‘Sorry, I won’t make it’ a landmine exploding underfoot, with my total inability to organise anything.
Ha...oh. Source: Quotesgram
This year is my 31st. It follows the first (only) year where I was anxiety-free-excited-enough to have organised a 30th that had to be cancelled for reasons that are obvious to anyone who existed in the last 12 months. It also follows a five-month period where I have had a heart-shredding break-up, an unexpected redundancy, and I moved house. The trifecta.
With all of this change, and the Facebook memories of 21st parties past, I’ve started thinking about the things I’ve learned and what I’d tell my younger self - that beautiful idiot had half a clue at best, and maybe there’s a Gen Z out there who’d find it useful. But will probably think it’s dumb. #sidepartordie
Open bars are a privilege, not a challenge
Slow it down, young me. Source: GiPHY
We all know that free prosecco tastes better than not-free prosecco, and as that sparkling passes your lips, you survey the room and do the maths - the tab will only last so long, and you’re not going to be caught handing over a card until you reach kick-ons (RIP Kings Cross). Mum commented frequently enough that as a baby, you held a bottle and chugged milk at an abnormally early stage, that you're confident you can get your friends' parents money’s worth. Next thing you know, your head is hanging out of the taxi (RIP taxis) as it speeds down the M2, and a treasured friend pats your hand to both reassure and gently warn you not to throw up in the car.
While your whiteline fever can be an asset (though not according to netball umpires), have a greater respect for the open-bar game. Hoarding the prosecco is only fun if there’s someone else to help you bully everyone into karaoke at the end of the night. Also, drinking a weeks-worth of water during the day and taking two ibuprofen and two panadol with an Aspiro Clear-Hydralite cocktail is a champion’s combo.
Boys will break your heart, but you’ll be ok and better for it
Boys suck. We learn this. Source: GiPHY
After some spectacular dramas, you’re well versed in red flags, but much better versed in yourself (sorry, I cringed as I wrote that too). There will be times where you’ll cry so hard that you feel like your head and chest are going to explode, where you’ll feel so sad that you can’t believe you were ever happy, and where you’ll question reality and your sanity. In each of these moments, you think you’ll never be ok again - but you always, always are.
As you do the things to put yourself back together - psychologist, for the love of God go to a psychologist - you start to like yourself; and then love yourself. The world is a brighter, happier place when you love yourself, and you’re a better person to your people when you do. Don’t waste another second not loving yourself. You’re great.
Stop wearing grey
You don't look like this, k? Source: GiPHY
You’re not pulling it off, and you’re not even close to that picture of Kate Moss that you have in your head. Clear it out of your wardrobe and save yourself the frustration you’ll feel when you make this revelation to your Mum and she responds, “I was wondering when you’d realise.”
Know your value at work and learn how to advocate for it
Thanks, fellow redhead. Source: GiPHY
Right now you’re the equivalent to every boring Oscar’s speech discarded from human memory - you feel honored just to be (nominated) considered. It’s not about being ‘honoured’, it’s not about being ‘grateful’, you don’t owe anyone anything and they don’t owe you anything. You’re there because you’re smart and capable, and believing anything else will lead to people taking advantage. Figure out what you want from your workplace, and (just as importantly) what you offer it in return. If those things don’t align then it’s ok to move on, trying to make it work will only lead to you (pretty spectacularly) burning bridges on the way out and delay you in finding the environment where it does align.
Everyone will be an ‘arse’ person
Out and proud. Source: GiPHY
Gen Z’s don’t know how lucky they are. They’ve grown up in a world where Beyonce, JLo and Kim K have paved the way for bums to be loved and desired out in the mainstream. The disappointment you felt when you looked in the mirror one day and realised you 'have a bum' won’t last. Girls and boys and non-binary angels will spend hours in the gym and at home bobbing up and down with various weighted tools trying to get the exact thing you hate right now, so stop complaining and start embracing (high-waisted is your friend).
While we’re on it, a strange man smacking or pinching your bum should not be an affirmation that “you look good”. You do, but they’re a piece of shit.
'Real' love is amazing, but it’s not always forever and a partner isn’t everything
Sam Jones, you the real MVP. Source: GiPHY
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that being in a relationship with the right person is a lot better than being in a relationship with the wrong person. However, you can have all of the things you ever thought you would want from a relationship, feel your previously shattered heart swell larger than you thought possible with all of the things you ever hoped for and more…but that doesn’t mean it’s forever. If they don’t want what you want, or share with you what’s going on in their head, then it can’t be. It will somehow feel both easier and harder than your more toxic breakups, but you’ll realise that loving yourself means your entire sense of self doesn’t get destroyed along with your relationship. It gets challenged, for sure (particularly when they move on at a speed that is almost impressive…almost), but it’s intact. And you realise your life is intact too. And you still want the things that you want. And you’re confident one day you’ll get them.
Wear sunscreen, see a facialist
You must accept it. Source: GiPHY
Look, you kind of know this already but you’re still in denial - you will never tan. Here’s the thing though, cancer is bad so put some sunscreen on. You’re going to really love skincare, and you’re going to spend a lot of money on it, but without sunscreen, you’re as good as flushing it all down the toilet.
Also, Proactiv will burn your face off, toothpaste on pimples doesn’t work, the jar of honey for the homemade mask will attract ants, and you have no idea what kind of skin you have, so go to a well-referenced professional and let them do their job.
Dammit. Source: GiPHY
You'll dismiss those developers you work with, but you really shouldn't. Houses are SO expensive.
Friends are for reasons, seasons and life
United in bad fashion for life. Source: GiPHY
You’re going to be lucky enough to have many wonderful people move through your life. Some of them will stay for a minute, some will stay for a bit, and some will thankfully never leave. Don’t feel rejected by the ones that do leave, things end so other things can start. And for the ones that stay (you know a lot of them already) - you’re going to see each other through a lot of good, and some bad, and you might not speak to them every day the way that you do now. But they’re still the most reliable, supportive, hilarious people you know. So stop being such a dickhead and celebrate your birthday with them - you’ve all earned a night out.