6 Life Lessons for Turning 26

Today is my FIRST day being 26 years old! How is that even possible? Pretty sure I’m still writing 2001 on my checks even though I wasn’t writing checks until 2010. Even though I am now solidly planted in my mid-twenties, I don’t feel particularly wiser, older, or more mature. Like, at all. I hardly feel qualified to offer life advice given that I’m still on my parent’s insurance and recently considered Fruit Loops a balanced dinner option. Despite my frequent misadventures, I have picked up a few lessons over the years that I hope will guide me into the next quarter-century of life, and I thought I’d share my favorite six with you as told by my personal icon, Leslie Knope.

Lesson #1 Hold on loosely

In my experience, planning the future is a fool’s errand. I’m a naturally anxious person, so I tend to white-knuckle life like Stevie Wonder on a Nascar course. Timelines and goals are dandy, but I’ve realized that fixating on what lies ahead can rob you of what’s happening now. Whether it’s friendships, jobs, family, or matters of the heart, be content to enjoy the present. When it comes to the future, just hold on loosely.

Lesson #2 Be nice to your mom

Moms are proof that God loves us. How long is chicken good outside of the fridge? What about in my hot car? Is it safe to take six Ibuprofen at once? Is plastic microwavable? How do I clean vomit off of a white couch? Is this rash normal? Why are all of my socks pink? What happens if I use an 80 watt bulb in a 40 watt lamp? If it weren’t for moms, I’m fairly certain the human life expectancy would be 22 at best.

Lesson #3 Never pack a Fiber One bar with your lunch.

I don’t think this lesson really needs explaining, nor do I think there’s ever really an opportune moment to eat a Fiber One bar. Honestly, this shouldn’t be a problem unless you’re over 70 or stealing free food from you mom’s house, like me. This is most definitely a mistake you only make once. Consider yourselves warned.

Lesson #4 You’re doing better than you realize

Are you an official member of the bloods and/or crips? Did you steal your grandmother’s wedding ring to buy heroin? Are you the antagonist of a super-popular true crime podcast? Do you wear flesh-colored leggings out in public? If you answered no to these questions, then CONGRATULATIONS! You’re actually doing a fab-tastic job. Keep up the good work.

Lesson #5 There is no right age

There is no right age to get married, have a baby, have another baby, buy a house, move out of state, get a dog, start college, go back to college, start a 401K, open a business, start a career, switch careers, learn a new skill, or backpack through Europe. STOP. THE. JUDGING.

Lesson #6 Little moments make big memories

When I think about the past 26 years, the first memories that come to mind are simply a string of little moments. Jamming out to Aaron Carter in my best friend’s garage, dancing with my dad at the middle school formal, skipping chemistry to watch Friends with my roommate, when my boyfriend said I love you for the first time in my apartment kitchen. Most often, it’s the little moments that leave the biggest impact.

If you’re looking for more “wisdom” (aka laughable nuggets) regarding your twenties, check out the 8 Stages of Your Twenties As Told by Friends.