I just celebrated my 24th birthday last Wednesday and I had the most incredible time! I am the typical 20-something girl who likes to stretch it out as a “birthday week”. I’ll find any excuse to go out every night of that week with a different group of friends, get all dolled up and toast to another fantastic year.
Although, I have to say, this year felt a bit different than past birthdays. When people greet me on my birthday and jokingly ask, “So, do you feel older?” I normally laugh and respond, “Of course not. It’s just a regular ol’ day.” But turning 24 actually had me a little “emo” in the sense that I reflected upon my life and how it has drastically changed in the past years. Things that I used to feel were so important just don’t stand anymore. Certain aspects of my life I used to put in the back of my mind are now some of my biggest priorities. Heck, I really can’t believe I’m so into saving money and couponing now when I used to blow through hundreds of dollars shopping on Melrose on a weekly basis! *cringe* What a complete waste!
So, this week’s Live & Love in L.A. post is a list of 24 things I know at 24. I’m sure there are 2,400,000 things left to learn in this life but here’s a shorter version of what I’ve learned from living and loving the past 24 years of this crazy/wonderful life.
1. Don’t drink to get drunk. Enjoy the taste and experience of a great cocktail! Way more enjoyable than shooting back some dirty shot that tastes like rubbing alcohol. Plus, you won’t end up being the annoying, belligerent chick everyone wants to shut up!
2. I’m allowed to treat myself. I’m big on saving money. Let’s just say, Suze Orman is one of my idols. But sometimes it’s okay to splurge on yourself if you feel you deserve it. Drop the guilt trip and buy yourself a shiny new iPad if you can afford it. If I’m feeling burnt out from work and realize I’ve saved way more than I thought I would that month, I’ll buy myself some new M.A.C. make-up or a fancy mani/pedi and not feel bad about it. Plus, having an occasional splurge gives you incentive to keep up the momentum of working hard for your next treat!
3. No matter how drunk I am, I have to floss and brush my teeth before knocking out. I’m a dental hygiene addict and it’s okay. First step is admitting you have a problem.
4. Stop charging it! I can’t understand how some young women are in so much debt! Stop using plastic thinking you are buying that new handbag with the magical money tree in your backyard. If it helps you to budget your money more effectively, carry cash. You physically see and feel you’re spending. Charging it on a card can be the financial death of you. Since the day I received my first credit card at 18, I have paid off my credit cards IN FULL every single month. I never buy anything I know I can’t pay off at the end of the month. This doesn’t mean withdrawing from your Savings account to swing it. If you don’t have the money in your Checkings account, step away. You should use your card to build good credit, not bad debt.
5. Saving for a rainy day is critical. On the topic of finances, saving money at our age is serious business. Mid-twenties isn’t too young to start thinking about your future, especially in this uncertain economy. Your job is never guaranteed and tomorrow is never promised. Also think about how much a down payment on a condo or house is. Now think about it if you don’t have a roommate or significant other to share that cost with. Saving such large amounts of money takes YEARS. Start now.
6. I’m not missing anything. Staying in on a Friday night because you’re exhausted from work or school is A-OKAY in my book. From ages 18-21, I used to feel like if I stayed home on the weekends I was missing out on all the fun. But now I’m just too freakin’ tired sometimes to wash my hair, put on make-up and struggle in uncomfortable heels all night. Picking up a Redbox movie, staying in my PJs and popping a bottle of bubbly sounds like the perfect night and, not to mention, keeps you out of trouble. As my sister and I like to say, “I got shit to do tomorrow!”
7. Accepting things I cannot change is an ongoing battle I have with myself. This rule applies to SO many things in life I have spent years struggling with. I’m kind of a control freak in the sense that I like to make things happen and do what I can to make sure it gets done right. But there are some things in life you have to come to realization that its fate is not in your hands. Let go. Example: Being appalled or hurt when people don’t deal with situations the way you would. Accept that everyone has their own way. The faster you accept, the faster you’ll forgive.
8. Stop prolonging the inevitable. So many girls in their twenties stay in miserable relationships with guys because they are afraid of being single, they think they’ll eventually change him, or they just want to wait it out and see if the problem fixes itself. Wake up, ladies. These are your prime years and you’ll never get them back. Do you really want to look back knowing you wasted time and emotions on some jerk? I’d rather be happily single than unhappily taken.
9. It’s better to fill up my gas tank the whole way every time. Gas prices always seem to go up on my next visit anyways.
10. Throwing out or donating old clothes is better than keeping them in the closet for another 2 years hoping to one day sell them on eBay since “they were so expensive”. Get over it.
11. What’s the woman-version of “Manscape”? Take care of yourself. I’ll be the first to admit I hate painting my nails as often as I do and having to shave my legs every couple days feels pointless in the winter, although we’re at an age where some things are just unacceptable. You shouldn’t be 24 going on job interviews with chipped nail polish and tangled hair. Put your best foot forward as much as you can. You never know when you’ll be meeting your future boss or your future fiancé.
12. My parents were right when they taught me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Sometimes my opinion isn’t solicited or wanted.
13. Constantly watching reruns of Sex & The City, Will & Grace and Friends is doing nothing for me. I did NOT say I’m stopping anytime soon. I’ve just accepted I’m wasting brain cells every time I do it.
14. I’m too school for cool. I am no longer ashamed of turning down a girls night invite if I have to study for midterms. I’m a typical overachieving Asian student and I’m proud of it! Getting Bs makes me cry. There, I said it.
15. It’s okay to walk out of a store with no bags. I used to shop just for the thrill of bringing home something new that day– leaving with nothing felt like such a let-down. Now I mentally high-five myself when I step away from unnecessary purchases. Suze Orman has me brainwashed.
16. I can’t pick my family but I can pick my friends. I’ve had many girlfriends come and go into my life for one reason or another, mostly just because we lost touch if we stopped working at the same job or stopped having Anatomy class together. However, a couple girls have been dear friends of mine for several years and I really felt myself growing apart from them. Sometimes girlfriends just find themselves in completely different places in their lives and the reasons we were friends years ago just don’t relate today. There were also instances where I more dramatically had to make a decision whether the relationship was healthy anymore. If a “girlfriend” brings you down in any way, doesn’t share the same ambition or morals as you, or is no longer positive and fun to be around then it’s probably best to gradually distance yourself from them. It’s okay to grow apart, cherish the friendship you once had, and wish them well. A handful of truly great girlfriends are better than a whole lotta so-so fair-weather friends. Quality over quantity, for sure.
17. You are who your friends are. You can’t expect people not to group you into a generalization when you surround yourself with bad people. The few very close girlfriends I have (and a lot of them are my cousins) are women I aspire to be like— smart, college graduates, loving moms, good hearts and trendy fashionistas. They are people I’m proud to say influence me.
18. I’m in the driver’s seat—basically, I’m trying to convey that I’m in control of my own destiny while trying to use as few clichés as possible. There are countless horrible things that happen in life that you have no control over like diseases, traumatic accidents, etc. So why not take the FEW aspects you do have in your control and change them for the better? I stayed at my last bartending job for a difficult 2 ½ years. The owners were great family friends, the staff was as sweet as can be but most of the customers were awful. I won’t go into too much detail but they’d treat bartenders poorly, get pissed when you’d charge them full price for their $7 drink, expect you to “hook them up” since they’re regulars, and bad mouth you to other patrons if you didn’t. Not a normal bar establishment, to say the least. I was averaging $300/night on tips, sometimes even more, so it was a hard place to walk away from. BUT I dreaded going to work, came home crying more often than not, and would constantly complain about my job. So I finally DID SOMETHING ABOUT IT. I QUIT! IT WAS THE MOST LIBERATING FEELING EVER! I quickly found a new bartending job where the respect of the staff is #1, the money is good, and it is the most positive, friendly environment I’ve ever worked in. No one can fix your happiness but you. Boom.
19. Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything. Reflecting on your values in your twenties is important because of how fast pace life is at this age. There are so many influences everywhere you go with friends, co-workers, boyfriends, girlfriends, etc. Figure out what morals you hold dear to your heart, stick to them, and never apologize for it—no matter what anyone in your life has to say about it.
20. I’ll never look like Kate Upton in a bikini—and that’s okay. I struggled with my body image when I used to do promotional work for Hooters Restaurants in 2008. A group of us selected girls would go on television appearances, celebrity golf tournaments and swimsuit competitions to represent the brand. I’d find my 5’0” self standing next to my gorgeous 5’9” friends with long legs and fake boobs, and I’d constantly obsess over why I didn’t look quite like them and I’d torture myself by spending 6 days a week in LA Fitness. But over the years I’ve grown to kind of like my body. I no longer have super toned abs, I have slightly more curves than some of my friends, I enjoy eating healthy but allow a couple cheat days a week, and I still feel good naked! So, whatever!
21. I’ve got a lot to lose. I think twice now before driving my car even after I’ve only had one beer. Realizing how severe consequences are for stupid decisions scares the living crap out of me—and it should.
22. Stop and take a moment to spend time with and appreciate your parents.
23. Who cares if you’re not engaged, married, or a mom yet?! This isn’t the 1800s where 24 years old is the half-point of your life. You are young!
24. When you meet the right guy, you just know. I’ve mentioned in almost all my posts so far that I have this sort of amazingly wonderful boyfriend, Nathan. He is exactly what I always hoped my husband would be like and I really feel in my heart he’s Mr. Right. BUT there’s no way of telling for sure if this will end happily ever after. All I know is that he is so right for me at this moment in my life and I can’t imagine our feelings for one another and our future plans ever changing. The way I know he’s good for me is because he genuinely makes me want to be a better woman. Don’t get me wrong, I like to think I’m pretty awesome already and just as amazing of a girlfriend to him but I mean he makes me want to be greater than I am– for myself, not just for him. I look up to how kind, loving, driven, forgiving, considerate, present, and successful he is and it makes me feel so fortunate to wake up next to this man every day and know he is a huge influence on me. I think it’s important to feel your man doesn’t complete you but he complements you in the best ways possible.*On the other hand—you know when someone is wrong for you. Listen to your gut. Or just listen to your mom.*