I’ve recently come to terms with my age and… No, it’s not true. Actually, a few days ago this thought struck me like an electric eel: I’m turning 27 in July. Eek! 27? It’s the closest to 30 that I’ve ever been (such a witty discovery, I know)! In an attempt to reassure myself that I did learn something in the past 26 years and that I did evolve and progressed under some points of views, I’ve decided to make a list of things I’ve learned. I confess I have no clue where this decision will bring me, as it wasn’t born from a specific idea (ok, I’ve just decided to copy a blogger whose list I’ve truly enjoyed, Maja Huse). Also, I’ve been trying to blog for years, and all my content never evolved from the caterpillar state to a butterfly (read: it never left the draft folder), so this moment of slightly self-inducted inspiration comes in handy right now.
For the occasion, I carefully selected a playlist composed of tubes I used to listen to in high school – what a bliss! Not to mention the rewarding satisfaction of still remembering the lyrics…
26 things 21 things I learned in 26 years
(I’m not a fast learner):
- Reality differs to what we may perceive basing our judgement on how things look. People are way more complex than they seem! This revelation risks to be completely ruined by the deforming mirror of our society, our dear Instagram (the only social media I can admit to be dependent from), but still – during elementary and secondary school, I used to look at the prettiest girls of my class all the time, daydreaming of being like them. I examined their looks: which shoes they wore, which trends they followed, how they talked… In my mind, I thought they were just born perfect and had all the lucks. I felt like a ugly duckling all the time. Growing up, I came to understand than even the “shiniest” people have problems: that the pretty blonde girl of my class is always on the phone with her boyfriend, trying to handle a complicated long-distance relationship that makes her suffer; that the loud self-confident guy who always has something intelligent and cool to say is also way less confident than he looks like, and the cap on his head is always there to hide the absence of hair. That somebody who can be perceived as the one-that-has-it-all can be actually very lonely. That a smile can hide a lot of feelings… Because of this, I stopped being so envious of other people and I stopped putting them in categories. Also, I started to approach people I would have never approached before, thinking they were too distant from me – people that I thought were looking me down, and instead they were just sad, or lonely, and this had nothing to do with me. Basically, I came to realize that life doesn’t resemble an american tv series that much, despite what Bowling For Soup taught me.
- There is no point in being so angry with my parents for whatever problem they might have had. I used to shout at them that they ruined my life and write pages over pages in my diary about how being in what I thought was a “disfunctional family” impacted me. I was so frustrated about their choices. Now, whenever I see one is unhappy about the other for irrelevant things, I try to minimize. I’m happy to see them smile. I don’t care if they’re not the best assorted couple in the world – who am I to judge, anyway.
- Cheese is good! When I was a kid, I used to create walls made of water bottles and bread baskets not to see the cheese in my father’s plate. I even distanced my chair from the table in order not to smell it. Now I might have still some issues with gorgonzola and blue cheese, but I’ve definitely learned to appreciate emmental, mozzarella, pecorino, comté… And cheese platters stopped being my enemy and became my friend (and a way not not to get drunk during aperitifs where everybody’s eating charcuterie).
- If you are interested in a guy, you have to show it! After letters on letters to boys that I never sent, I’ve started to make moves and realized that I actually enjoy doing it. Always a good story to tell when people ask you “Who made the first move?”, anyway.
- My hometown that I used to hate so much became my happy nest, my cozy blanket. I used to complain so much as any normal adolescent growing up a in a small city with nothing to do in it, but now I really love going back to the usual café, seeing my old school, driving around, spending time in the house when I grew up and, of course, seeing my family.
- You can put make-up without putting four layers of foundation and thick eyeliner on the water line – anyone else with a past as a (wannabe) emo kid?
- Old friends stay friends, and even if you might not see them as much, everything’s the same when you meet again.
- The pleasure of fresh clean bedsheets, a tidy apartment and an empty kitchen sink.
- That traveling is cool, but at a certain moment you might want to call a place your home, and not to know where this will be is frustrating.
- That if something isn’t right, if you’re being mistreated, if there is an injustice, you have to speak up. I used to shut up all the time, I would never have the courage to claim something… But then I realized, who cares if I have to argue with the boat ticket seller – if he treats me like shit, I will not be afraid to do the same (in moderation).
- Also, the pleasure of home cooked food! And real parmesan when you’re in a foreign country. And mozzarella di bufala. Bliss (for my palate) and misery (for my wallet)…
- As Maja said, not to be embarrassed about everything. I used to be like this: I had to wax? Such an embarrassment. I have to call to book an appointment? Oh, no. Public speaking? My voice would tremble… Now I realized that these things are indeed not worth worrying, and that some things, no matter how little you enjoy doing them, are just necessary to get what you want or need.
- Not to take my family for granted – I’m thankful for their presence and support and, although I’m still not great at showing it (but I guess it’s a family thing).
- Going back to public speaking, I’ve realized that I’m way more confident when speaking English. This year I’ve been presenting lots of projects in front of my class, sometimes I even volunteered to do so, because it really wasn’t an issue for me. Presenting in my language, on the other hand… I have to work on that.
- Living on your own has its perks but you can feel very lonely.
- All the chores that you neglect at home will turn against you…
- And the same for your body. Will this finally convince me to do regular exercise?!
- It’s hard to find your place in the world. Really, really hard. When you’re a student, this moment seems far. My priorities were passing my exams, learning new things, get excited about a Russian author, fantasizing about becoming a professor or a translator… But then, school ended. And I had not decided what to do, because I didn’t even know which possibilities I had. I wanted, and still want, somebody to put a map in my hands, telling me the different paths that my preparation allows me to take. Instead, I’ve realized that not only these paths are not perfectly traced, but that I have to dig the way on my own.
- Fears can really block you. I didn’t know how obscure they could be – I was afraid of insects, of the little kids car my parents bought for me and my sister, of Halloween. Growing up, I experienced a paralyzing fear, something that blocked me from doing everything. It’s still hard sometimes to fight it.
- Motivation is not so easy to find for me. When I was in high school, I was utterly convinced that I would be so relieved and happy once I didn’t have to go through maths, physics and all the subjects I found so complex and hostile… I was convinced it would be life changing to be finally doing what I wanted. I didn’t know that, once something stops to be mandatory, like school, it becomes harder to stay focused and motivated. I’ve completed my bachelor and my master, yet sometimes I find it hard to get out of the bed. Ugh.
- You never learn from drinking too much coffee. Your heart will beat too fast, you will practice abstinence and then, one day, you will have slept too little and your colleagues will propose you a coffee break. You’ve just had one, but for company’s sake… Voilà!