You’re 25 and whilst I can honestly say I have no regrets thus far, there are a few things I wish I could tell you with the gift of hindsight…
1. Stay off the internet!
Every day after school you run home and fly upstairs to where the family PC resides. You beat Mum to the chase and before she can call Auntie Anne you boot up the massive, whirring machine and use the dial-up internet. Mum is therefore left instead with the crackle and burr of the modem down the telephone. All you’re going to do is go on MSN and talk to the same people you’ve spent the last 6 hours with, none of whom you will ever speak to again post 16 bar one. Stop spending ages trying to prove your relevancy and social status within the school year hierarchy by debating which song lyric to put in your name or what cliche stock image quote to set as your display picture. Stop appearing offline and back on again to try and get the attention of the boy in the year above that will eventually and inevitably prove to be a complete waste of time and tears. GO OUTSIDE. You are going to have years of internet dependency ahead of you. Enjoy the world while you can that is devoid of apps, social media, trends and hashtags. Free of having a lump of glowing metal permanently attached to your hand and feeling compelled to tell the world irrelevant, trivial and mundane information about your day to day life. Free of likes, notifications and of everyone being easily offended. Enjoy making memories instead of being prompted to relive them. Looking back your best memories are playing out, going to the park after school not your bedroom and going on bus adventures with your best friend to unknown destinations. If you had any idea how many hours you’re going to waste with a phone in your hand you’d be out more I promise. Also you were right, MySpace was better and you knew it.
2. Say ‘yes’ as much as possible.
You’ve always been a nerd but I can tell you that through life you’ll learn more from your experiences than from any textbook you’ll ever read. As a child you were so so cautious. You went to Disney and you were too scared to go on Splash Mountain. After LOTS of persuasion and tears and fear you got on it, went down the big drop, got wet and your family couldn’t get you off the bastard thing. Again and again and again you went round and round, you bloody loved it and stayed on it into the night until the park finally closed. If you’d never got on it you wouldn’t have had the hours of joy that it gave you. Say yes to travel, adventure, new food (because lord are you fussy), music and culture. Don’t be scared to love. It can be the best and the worst feeling all at once but it stands you in good stead to learn to be vulnerable. You’ll have amazing highs saturated with infatuation and heartbreak fuelled lows full of tears and “I’ll be alone forever’s.” I’m not too sure how or why, but at some point along the way in your teens you become a feisty little bugger. Pick your fights wisely, be less angry but don’t lose the spirit because it’s really entertaining to look back on. Above all through any experience good or bad, you’ll discover your resilience and that it really can be relied upon. Approach more things in life like it’s splash mountain. Say yes and get on it you might love it! Worst comes to worse you go down the drop, get wet and dry off.
3. Slow down and get ready.
You’re in such a rush to grow up and there really is no need. You’ll hit 18 and a bit of a shit-show that is your mental health. It ebbs and flows, sometimes it’s tamed and sometimes it rears it’s ugly head but please don’t be in any rush to encounter it. Enjoy blissful ignorance and also lack of responsibility. Paying rent and finding petrol money really is no fun. Don’t worry about looking so young! You’re nearly 26 and you still get asked for ID bloody everywhere. Also stop thinking that ‘mid twenties’ is your target age for marriage and babies. It’s not as old as you think it is and by the time you get there you still need a good 5 years!
You by no means have it all figured out, probably never will but who does?