25 things I STILL don’t understand at 25

Remember being a kid and anything over sixteen sounding so official? I used to think that by the time I was 25 I’d be a bustling career woman who wore business suits and had big hair—thanks, 90s soap operas–with a child or two and a mortgage. Well, I’ve changed jobs a few times over the last few years, my hair is average-sized, and I couldn’t give you the definition of a mortgage if my life depended on it.

I recently took stock of what I’m doing with my life. When I think about all I hope to accomplish, I feel like I’m barely getting started. There are so many things, large and small, that I still know nothing about, and as I gear up to close out a quarter-century, I’ve decided to embrace them with open arms. After 25 years, I still don’t know how to:

1. Curl my eyelashes

I want to understand this one so bad, and it seems so simple. But real talk: what angle do you hold the curler at? Are you supposed to tilt your head and eyes, lowering your gaze? Does sticking out your tongue help at all? Very confused.

2. Change a tire

I vaguely remember someone trying to inform me about this around middle school, which is never an ideal time for information to be digested. I should probably revisit this one, especially considering my car is about as old as I am.

3. Not overcook chicken

I have a serious case of better-safe-than-sorry syndrome when cooking meat, meaning I usually over-cook it to avoid an undercooked situation.

4. Understand a mortgage

…or any other home-owning nonsense. How can someone who watches so much HGTV not grasp such simple real estate terms?

5. Call the cable company without losing it

I know I’m going to lose it when I call them, so why do I even try? I take deep breaths and repeat positive affirmations like “YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS!” but when they ask me to spell my very common last name for the fifth time, my pulse quickens and the vein in my head bulges ever-so-slightly.

6. Floss everyday

My dentist hasn’t yet succeeded in plaque-shaming me out of this one. Who has the time?

7. Sleep without white noise, tea, and a teddy bear

I am such a baby when it comes to sleep. I mean, Liz Lemon would be envious of my humidifier set-up. I own approximately 2-3 at any given time, and I insist on making a warm cup of tea and positioning every pillow just right before my head hits the pillow. Did I mention there’s a teddy bear? Because there’s totally a teddy bear.

8. Appropriately coo at babies

This is not to say I don’t like or want children. I just don’t know how to react to them. That’s normal, right? I know there’s a high-pitched sound I should be making when I see them, but I can’t quite access it without sounding like I’m giving an Oscar-worthy acting performance.

9. Not cry at weddings

I can know someone as a mild acquaintance and still bawl hysterically at their wedding. Don’t ask me the logic behind this one, it’s flimsy.

10. Accessorize

When I was little, power beads and snap bracelets were easy to pile on, but nowadays I’m lost.

11. Rock a button up under a sweater

I see this trend everywhere: elegant ladies layering a cable knit sweater over a soft plaid shirt. Every time I attempt this glorious fad, my sweater is too tight or my plaid shirt too baggy. Living in a cold northern climate, you’d think I’d have figured this out by now.

12. Paint my nails without chipping them

I can never sit still long enough for my nails to dry, and even when I think they are, my brain comes up with some semi-complicated and random task that demands my immediate attention like opening a jar of pickles or zipping up complicated pants. Why do these things always seem to be next on my to-do list once I apply a fresh coat?

13. Decorate a room

I watched hours of “Trading Spaces” as a tween but they never really explained how to make a room ballin’ on a budget when you’re a lady who lives in real life and owns mismatched furniture. I did learn that eggplant is never a good color to paint a room, unless you want to feel like you’re in a very dark place.

14. Not kill a plant

This list really making me sound incapable of caring for living things, which is not the case, but if we’re being honest, plants are a hard thing to remember to care for when they just sit there and look pretty. Until they’re dead.

15. Not freak on airplanes

The babies I don’t know how to coo at are always much more relaxed than I am on airplanes. One time a few years ago a flight attendant saw me freaking out and tried to reassure me by talking to me. When she asked me what grade I was in, I had to admit that I was a college grad…with an insane fear of heights.

16. Be a perfect friend

When you’re in school, there are dozens of ways to meet new people, and you seem to have a common experience that bonds you together. The give and take of friendships as you get older gets harder, and there isn’t necessarily anything keeping you together. Life gets busier, and suddenly, maintaining relationships that matter becomes more complicated: you need to balance friendships with work, romance, personal hobbies, etc. The older I get, the more I realize the importance of close friendships, and how to be a better listener.

17. Understand a 401k

No one told me about 401ks. Or if they did, I didn’t listen. Now that I have to actually try and piece together my own, it’s like being a part of a very scary club where your brain has to project super far into the future all the time.

18. Stop apologizing

I say I’m going to stop apologizing all the time, but it never sticks. Sorry.

19. Fry an egg like a pro

It’s so easy–yet so easily messed up. Lucky for me I found a mister who’s mastered this task perfectly.

20. Not buy uncomfortable shoes

The fashion police have warned us: do not buy a pair of shoes if they hurt when you try them on in the store. But when they’re incredibly cute, cells in my brain seem to die just so I can convince myself I’m not feeling any pain.

21. Work with fractions

I knew I would be a writer from an early age, which made paying attention in math class one of my all-time epic fails.

22. Stop judging myself and others

There’s really no benefit to being judgmental…but I still haven’t figured out how to quell that voice in my head that seems to have an opinion about everything.

23. Not cry at the humane society commercials

I hear them coming from a mile away—that Sarah McLachlan song, the dramatic voice–and yet I subject myself to them over and over without leaving the room. I want to adopt all of them.

24. Take a flattering picture in a photo booth

Why is awkwardly balancing a cocktail or crossing my eyes always such a good idea in my head and such an awkward idea when we actually get the pictures?

25. Be calm and collected in traffic

There’s nothing I can ever do about miles of cars parked in front of me on the freeway, and yet I still think letting a few choice words fly will help the situation. Gigglers, when will I learn?

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