Aging and Adulting Is Hard: 7 Things I Wish I’d Known at 16

Today is my 28th birthday

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I’m edging closer to the big 3-0 and honestly, I’m okay with it. Aging has never been a big deal to me, mostly because I still look and act like I’m 16, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a responsible human being. I’m in an almost 10 year strong relationship, I have a mortgage, I can cook things without a recipe and I’ve managed to keep two cats alive for 4 consecutive years.

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Lately I’ve been thinking, what pieces of advice would 16-year-old me benefit from, based on what I now know?

  1. No one knows what they’re doing

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    This is one of the first mysteries of adulthood that I discovered. Each adult wakes up one morning and has the realisation of “Fuck, I’m a grown up” with no idea of what to do with that information. Everyone is faking it. We’re all just making it up as we go on.

2. It’s okay not to have a career goal

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Pretty much everyone expects you to know – at 16 – what you want to do for the rest of your life. I didn’t know then and I certainly don’t know now, but that’s fine. As long as you’re happy with where you end up, that’s all that matters.

3. Don’t undersell yourself

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It’s not bragging to believe in yourself. It’s not conceited to talk about your good attributes. Don’t let preconceived notions of “desirable” values marginalise what is great about who you are as a person.

4. Trust your own judgement

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If something is too good to be true, then it usually is. If no one believes in you, prove them wrong. If you have to explain your concerns away, you’re lying to yourself. If you have to be convinced to do something, you don’t want to do it. Listen to your gut instinct.

5. Failing is not failure

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At some point, you will mess up but that doesn’t mean the world will come tumbling down around you. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and carry on. You won’t get anywhere stewing on your own mistakes, and you’ll be respected for owning it.

6. Be yourself

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As the saying goes; opinions are like arseholes, everyone has one. But that doesn’t mean you have to care what others think of you. People can be cruel, whether intentionally or not, but listening to them will only make you feel bad about yourself. So wear that weird outfit, voice your political opinions, let your freak flag fly and try not to let others bring you down.

7. Most importantly, see the silver linings

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Bad things will happen, regardless of what you do. That is the nature of life. Take it in your stride. You might not see it now, but good things can come out of an awful situation. The last 12 years have brought many hard times, but also some amazing moments I never expected. You just have to be open to the possibility that things will get better.

Here’s to the next 12 years!

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