31 things I’m telling my 21-year-old self on my 31st birthday

1. Talk less. Smile more. You will live forever with Resting Bitch Face and you accept it, but you’ll eventually learn you feel better when you smile.

2. You will hate your jobs until you find the one you love, and by the time you get laid off from the one you love, you’ll realize how much you learned from the ones you hated.

3. I know you like drinking, but in four years you’ll realize it doesn’t feel as good as it always did. You will stop drinking every weekend. It’s strange, I know. You love Jack Daniel’s so much. Now you just appreciate him more when you invite him around.

4. You’re so damn jaded and you hate literally everything. The world is not out to get you. In half a decade, you’ll realize how easy you had it and be so pissed you took so much for granted.

5. Right now you think you can still make it as a print journalist. In two years you’ll be working as a communications assistant and wonder why you ever thought print was your only option.

6. You won’t marry him. A year and a half from now you will be sad/lonely/depressed/anxious when you part, despite doing it for all the right reasons. In two and a half years you will realize how thankful you are for experiencing it. You never forget how you learned to love at 20.

7. You are better than you think you are. When you lose Editor Selection at the college newspaper in a few months, you’ll wonder where you went wrong, and I’ll tell you: you didn’t think you were as good as you actually were. You won’t learn this for a few years, but your lack of confidence has held you back in everything. Sometime far away from now you will appreciate yourself more.

8. You’re hard on your mom. You’re still hard on her. You still have a hard time accepting her and respecting her, but later on you will learn to love her, even with hard feelings. You’re still working on hard feelings.

9. Getting a dog a few months ago was probably not a good idea in the short term, considering you’re in the middle of college. But she will be there for you every. single. time. you need her to be, and even when you don’t. She teaches you what true compassion and undying love looks like. She will show you kindness in a way you will never experience in another being for half a decade. You realize in a few years that she saved you.

10. Your best friend in 2007 is the same best friend from 1997 and the same one in 2017. You two are not the same and never have been. But you grow together and apart in ways that compliment each other. You will see love and loss and light and darkness and still manage to find each other. In 10 years you’ll realize how few friends you have, and you’re so thankful for the ones you’ve got.

11. In four years you will meet your husband. In seven years you’ll cry when he asks you to marry him. You are in awe that you can love another human more as every day passes, but it continues to happen. You never stop being thankful for him.

12. You are so hard on yourself. You still are. It’s a good thing, but mostly a bad thing.

13. When your family cries at your graduation, remember that they never did what you did. Be humble, be thankful, be grateful, be happy.

15. You still judge — we all do — but you are much more accepting of those that are nothing like you, and you feel so, so much better about your life. It causes you to judge way less. You’re extremely happy about this.

16. You won’t ever lose weight. You don’t ever really get over it, but you’re not so hard on yourself, either. You look better right now, even though you appreciate yourself more in 10 years. I don’t know why these two things never manage to happen at the same time.

17. Picking up that Women’s Studies certificate made you a feminist and you’re so grateful. I know, I know, you just needed the humanities classes! But it gave you so much more than college credits.

18. Yes, Facebook is still here. I can’t believe it, either.

19. You still wish you learned more things: more foreign language, more web coding, more history, more world news. Today you stop reading Facebook as much to catch up.

20. Yes, you still love books. Probably more than you ever did. You should’ve read more in college. Maybe then you would’ve discovered your current favorite authors sooner. I know, I know… classes. Whatever.

21. You know that broken Honda Civic you’re driving? Yea it doesn’t make it. This year your husband will get a car that can drive itself.

22. Spoiler alert: Barack Obama wins the election and he is *your* president. Second spoiler: you constantly struggle with who you love more — him or Michelle.

23. You hate that people tell you that you will change you mind about things later in life — marriage, babies, friends, jobs. But you do change your mind. You hate that they were right and wish that they weren’t such dicks about it. You hate that you changed your mind at all. You hate change. You still hate change. But you’re way better at dealing with it. I’m proud of you.

24. You are on #teampetty and constantly struggling with how to get off the team. Yes, that’s a hashtag. You’ll know what it is in two years.

25. You never become religious, but you do appreciate parts of it. You talk to God nightly. It helps keep your mind in check. It helps keep you grounded. You realize what it means to be a “true” Christian/Jew/Muslim/anything. You respect religion much more, although you still don’t like those that think they understand it when they don’t.

26. You stop oversharing. You stop sharing most things. Eventually you’ll discover that if it lives on the internet, it will live forever. You admire conversations with friends and family on the phone and in person much more than their Facebook updates. You prioritize who is in your life and who you share things with. It’s mostly not the same people as it is for you right now. Don’t be mad! It’s a very good thing.

27. But it’s not all bad! You still have lasting relationships with people from college. In 10 years you’ll say you’ve known many of them for a third of your life because you’re that old now.

28. You are still extremely overprotective of your family and friends. You still think no one is good enough for them. You love them so much that they think you hate them for being on their asses about having a better job/education/significant other/life. This lessens a tad, but never goes away. You’re still working on this.

29. I know it was cool five years ago but that belly button ring was silly. But really proud of you for not getting a tattoo! Yes, you never get a tattoo.

30. Your patience is constantly being tested. But it is always rewarded at a time you never expected. You’re always thankful for that.

31. Don’t be mad when Gilmore Girls ends. It comes back in nine years. Sorry, I couldn’t hold that one in.

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