6 Life Lessons for Turning 26

Today is my FIRST day being 26 years old! How is that even possible? Pretty sure I’m still writing 2001 on my checks even though I wasn’t writing checks until 2010. Even though I am now solidly planted in my mid-twenties, I don’t feel particularly wiser, older, or more mature. Like, at all. I hardly feel qualified to offer life advice given that I’m still on my parent’s insurance and recently considered Fruit Loops a balanced dinner option. Despite my frequent misadventures, I have picked up a few lessons over the years that I hope will guide me into the next quarter-century of life, and I thought I’d share my favorite six with you as told by my personal icon, Leslie Knope.

Lesson #1 Hold on loosely

In my experience, planning the future is a fool’s errand. I’m a naturally anxious person, so I tend to white-knuckle life like Stevie Wonder on a Nascar course. Timelines and goals are dandy, but I’ve realized that fixating on what lies ahead can rob you of what’s happening now. Whether it’s friendships, jobs, family, or matters of the heart, be content to enjoy the present. When it comes to the future, just hold on loosely.

Lesson #2 Be nice to your mom

Moms are proof that God loves us. How long is chicken good outside of the fridge? What about in my hot car? Is it safe to take six Ibuprofen at once? Is plastic microwavable? How do I clean vomit off of a white couch? Is this rash normal? Why are all of my socks pink? What happens if I use an 80 watt bulb in a 40 watt lamp? If it weren’t for moms, I’m fairly certain the human life expectancy would be 22 at best.

Lesson #3 Never pack a Fiber One bar with your lunch.

I don’t think this lesson really needs explaining, nor do I think there’s ever really an opportune moment to eat a Fiber One bar. Honestly, this shouldn’t be a problem unless you’re over 70 or stealing free food from you mom’s house, like me. This is most definitely a mistake you only make once. Consider yourselves warned.

Lesson #4 You’re doing better than you realize

Are you an official member of the bloods and/or crips? Did you steal your grandmother’s wedding ring to buy heroin? Are you the antagonist of a super-popular true crime podcast? Do you wear flesh-colored leggings out in public? If you answered no to these questions, then CONGRATULATIONS! You’re actually doing a fab-tastic job. Keep up the good work.

Lesson #5 There is no right age

There is no right age to get married, have a baby, have another baby, buy a house, move out of state, get a dog, start college, go back to college, start a 401K, open a business, start a career, switch careers, learn a new skill, or backpack through Europe. STOP. THE. JUDGING.

Lesson #6 Little moments make big memories

When I think about the past 26 years, the first memories that come to mind are simply a string of little moments. Jamming out to Aaron Carter in my best friend’s garage, dancing with my dad at the middle school formal, skipping chemistry to watch Friends with my roommate, when my boyfriend said I love you for the first time in my apartment kitchen. Most often, it’s the little moments that leave the biggest impact.

If you’re looking for more “wisdom” (aka laughable nuggets) regarding your twenties, check out the 8 Stages of Your Twenties As Told by Friends.

Mondays As Told by Harry Potter

8 a.m.

*stares blankly at monitor* “And then she greeted death as an old friend, and went with him gladly.”

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9 a.m.

“Yeah…wow…cool. Your 12-day trip to Greece sounds super awesome. Um, do you know if we’re out of donut-flavored K cups? Are we ordering more soon or what? I just really need some caffeine RN.”

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10 a.m. Staff Meeting

Boss: “Unless you all have anything else, I think we’re finished!”

Coworker: “Actually, I have a few items I’d like to discuss.”

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11 a.m.

THE. HANGER. IS. REAL.

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12:00:01 p.m.

Boss: “Hey, before you guys head to lu-”

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1 p.m.

When your colleague says, “Boy, the day’s really flying by!”

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2 p.m.

*daydreaming about retirement*

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3 p.m.

That moment when you realize there’s still TWO HOURS left.

 

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4 p.m.

Why. Is. Time. Moving. So. Slowly.

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5 p.m.

“LAURA HAS NO MASTER!” *pulls sock out of desk, sprints through door*

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If you want to see more of life As Told by Harry Potter, check out The 6 Stages of Final Exams!

8 Stages of Your Twenties As Told by F•R•I•E•N•D•S

1. Blind Ignorance

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Finally – my twenties! These are going to be the BEST YEARS OF MY LIFE. I’ll have a career, a fiancé, a swanky apartment, and my very own 401k. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna’ go stock up on $80 pencil skirts because #adulting.

2. Adorable Optimism

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I didn’t plan on living at home this long – or, like, at all – but this is great. What a wonderful time to cherish kith and kin. Oh, Taylor’s getting married? Good for her! I’ll RSVP for two. A lot can happen in four months!

3. Quarter-Life Crisis

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Ohmygodohmygodohmygod. I’m already in my mid-twenties. What?! Conner just bought a house, and Jessica has the nerve to get pregnant – on purpose. Time for a change. Something bold and drastic. Something that says, “Despite all appearances I’m totally in control.” I’M MOVING TO BELGIUM.

*Skips dinner (again), browses Zillow for six hours*

4. Complete Apathy

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Belgium is a stupid country, anyway. Maybe I can just cash in my Beanie Babies. Didn’t Buzzfeed say the Princess Di bear was worth like $500? Next month’s rent: done.

5. When Netflix Keeps Asking If You’re “Still Watching”

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DID I STUTTER?

6. Attainable Goals

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Okay. So I wasn’t elected the youngest president of the United States at 24. Whatever. But maybe I could get a job working for a senator or something. Oh, that’s super competitive? Oooooooor maybe I’ll just start a political blog or something. Yeah, blogging sounds good.

7. Growing Up

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JK. You might have some goals now, but you’re still a hot mess.

8. Secret Happiness

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Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, and your love life’s DOA – but maybe it’s not so bad. You’ve got some pretty awesome friends, a paycheck, a new blog, and a lot of dreams left to dream. Looks like you’re doing alright after all, kid.