29 lessons

This week, I entered the last year of my 20s...and I was excited about it. Humans are funny things, simultaneously mourning the waste of those who die young and dreading growing older. Not to toot my own horn, but I feel like I get better and better with age and every year serves up its own lessons, big and small.

My 29th birthday was bittersweet; 2018 is the first and only year of my 20s that has nothing to do with my abusive relationship. It's a strange time of life to have a fresh start, but I'm embracing it with open arms. Here are 29 of the lessons I've learned in my 29 years:


1. Scrambled eggs are ready about 10 seconds before you think they are.

2. Do whatever you like with your pubic hair.

3. Pick your battles when it comes to challenging opinions on social issues. Your work colleague might have just said something really ignorant, but you're the one who has to sit next to them for the rest of the year.

4. Make sure you have change with you for a tip before you go to a restaurant.

5. Learn to pack light.

6. Send 'thank you' cards.

7. If you learn something important from a Twitter thread, stick a few quid in that person's PayPal if you can. People from minority backgrounds aren't your high school teachers.

8. Don't waste food. Make a list of your meals, then break them down by ingredient and just buy that in your weekly shop.

9. Only buy clothes that make you do a dance of happiness.

10. There's no such thing as a guilty pleasure. 

11. Block your exes on instagram before your stories become performance art.

12. You'll never regret wearing flat shoes on a night out.

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13. Have as much sex as you like, with as many people as you like, as long as it's for the right reasons.

14. Wear SPF on your tattoos every day.

15. Read autobiographies; they're as unbelievable and magical as fiction.

16. Stick to your guns if you think your GP is wrong. 

17. If you earn decent money, never underestimate how skint your friends might be when you organise something to do.

18. Don't feel obliged to link romantic feeling with sex just because you're a woman.

19. Try foods you hate once a year; your taste buds change.

20. Confront men who grab you in nightclubs, if you feel safe to do so.

21. Find something to compliment people on other than their weight.

22. Watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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23. Cut down the volume of emotional labour you do in a relationship. Your boyfriend can remember his own mother's birthday - it's not your job.

24. Try and make peace with the way your parents brought you up; for the most part, they're simultaneously winging it and doing their best.

25. But don't feel you have to make peace with toxic, shitty people just because you're related to them. Look after yourself and cut them out. 

26. Being coerced into sex is rape.

27. Learn basic cooking skills. Being able to nourish yourself is an extra step towards self-reliance and good mental health. 

28. Check in on your friends. Just because everything looks rosy on social media doesn't mean it is.

29. Be nice to people. I know it's not easy sometimes. 

Lauren Aitchison