How Much Do We Really Know About Life At 25?
This is not the article I had intended to write.
My original plan was to compile a list of all the things I now know to be true at the age of 25 (well, on the cusp of 25, my birthday is on Friday). But when I sat down to write it I could barely think of five things.
Sure there were the obvious lessons I had learnt, like why it is always a bad idea to date a guy referred to as the “bike” at your university hostel. When people said that you were trying to tame him and thus should be called the “bike lock” they were – as you clearly missed – joking. You cannot lock wandering eyes.
Of course there was the crucial lesson made about the sun, or more specifically, sunburn. No, just because your girlfriends can lather themselves in nothing but baby oil and bake themselves on the roof does not mean you can do the same with your (arguably albino) skin. Some people tan, others freckle. Get a fake one and get over it.
Some lessons were small but significant nonetheless. Like, you can’t “improvise” when baking, but you can improvise if you’re cooking. Sleep is really important. Don’t apologise when someone bumps into you. Bad coffee has the power to ruin your morning. No one is as fat as they think they are. And there is a big difference between a “Used By” date and a “Best Before” date.
I’ve learnt that travelling alone is life-changing. Your parents will drop you off at the airport with the hopes you’ll learn something about the world, and instead you’ll learn more about yourself.
Your resilience will astound you.
And I’ve learnt that bad things happen to good people. Good people get cancer. Good people lose spouses and elections. And good people get cheated on. We cannot control the things that happen to us, we can only control how we choose to show up in the world on the days that follow.
But there’s still so much I have not a f*cking clue about.
I don’t know the difference between a “fat chance” and a “slim chance”.
I don’t know why some people think climate change is a hoax.
I don’t know why some people voted for Donald Trump.
I don’t know why women get paid less than men when we can do twice as much in half the amount of time.
I don’t know why I get more anxious walking into a party than I do walking into a job interview.
And I don’t know why but I don’t like my name.
I wonder if there’s an age we all reach when the ratio between the stuff we know and the stuff we don’t suddenly flips and we’re sitting there with this encyclopaedic knowledge of how the world works?
If I had to guess, I’d say that probably never happens. We just keep making laps around the sun, we keep asking questions and we keep trying to avoid the bikes.