23 Things I Learned Before Turning 23

  1. Enjoy the things you like loudly, proudly, and unapologetically. 

    Yes, for my college graduation gift, my mom took me to a Taylor Swift concert, and yes, I cried. I don’t care if this isn’t “cool.” I had an incredible time, and so did my mom. 

  2. Don’t buy underwear with someone in mind. 

  3. You can’t go wrong with splurging on a nice lipstick or blush.
Blush is crucial to looking like a real human being after applying liquid foundation. It replaces bronzer entirely, especially if you are as dedicated to the 80s aesthetic as I am. The product itself lasts a weirdly long time because how much blush can a singular human being go through if they’re not Boy George? In addition, I recently purchased a $30 Marc Jacobs lipstick after savoring a Sephora free sample of it for a full year. It doesn’t dry my lips out. It was worth every penny. 

  4. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. 

    Dating is weird. Millennials have a hard time with the “exclusivity” thing (Clarification: I don’t, but apparently that’s weird to the people I date) and that creates a bizarre dynamic in which you are required to put your metaphoric eggs in more than one basket or else you’ll end up with a disappointing omelette. Unless you’re cool with getting your feelings hurt, take your time and keep your options open until intentions have been honestly communicated. This isn’t cynicism; this is practicality. 

  5. Invest in a good pair of leather (or vegan leather) boots.
    It may cost you a good $300-$400 now, but you’ll never have to do it again. 

  6. Personalizing your space is crucial in enjoying yourself in that space.
Your headspace is inherently connected to your physical space. Cultivating a beautiful area in your home, in your cube, and even in your car makes life a little more comfortable. 

  7. Life is hard; stop beating yourself up. 

    On @manicpixiememequeen, a lot of my followers reach out to me asking about how to forgive themselves and moving on from the past. Life can be so trying, and you’re inevitably going to have some mistakes and rough times. Personally, I’ve never let a single thing go in my entire life, but I’d be a lot healthier if I did.

  8. What you initially may consider “mistakes” are probably crucial parts of your life-path.
In late May of 2018, I moved to New Jersey without a job or a plan. Feeling defeated and demoralized, I moved back to California in early October 2018. Were those four months a loss to me? No. They taught me infinite lessons I would never have learned if I had stayed in California. See “Dreams Deferred.” 

  9. Make your bed daily, and please, for the love of God, floss. 

  10. Keep your friends close and your enemies blocked.
Block your enemies/exes/ex-friends! Banish that negativity! In the world of social media, it’s so easy to stalk your ex-lovers or ex-friends, and it’s so tempting to do so! However, knowing what those shitty people are up to does nothing for you but create anger and anxiety. Even though it’s hard to block those people and even easier to stalk them, please try to block them. Honestly, they could give you the evil eye. Compromise: muting their profile. (Which, in fact, I do frequently. Unfollowing is another option but for some reason just feels petty. Either continue to follow and mute, or block entirely. I’m not an unfollow kind of person). 

  11. Find a signature haircut and a signature nail color and rock it.
For me, it’s a Stevie Nicks-esque long shag cut with curtain bangs and an obnoxious yellow nail polish. At least no one else can say it’s theirs. 

  12. Sometimes, things change that you never think will change. 

    Since my birth, I had a bizarre and inexplicable fear of dogs. All dogs. Even an adorable golden retriever puppy or something as small as a teacup Yorkshire terrier. I would immediately break out in a panic attack. I couldn’t go to friends’ houses if they had a dog or even go to public parks. Sophomore year of high school, I quit my soccer team because seeing dogs in distant fields was unbearable with my phobia. In 2016, I went on Zoloft for generalized anxiety, and it did not work. However, when I stopped taking Zoloft, I somehow did not have a dog phobia. Recently, a coworker brought his dog into the office and I was 100% fine; I looked back on my dog-phobic past, realizing that you never quite can predict what is possible, what will change, and why, but things do change, and sometimes that’s pretty rad. 

  13. Crying is cool.

    …pretending that you don’t have feelings is not! Our experiences are amazing because we feel horrible things and happy things, sometimes all at once. If we didn’t cry, there would be no recognition of the pain or the wonder of life. Owning when you are feeling shitty through a good old-fashioned Kim Kardashian ugly cry feels good, and so does owning a good ass happy cry. So, crying rocks. 

  14. When you’re intimidated by someone, just remember that they have had diarrhea before. 

  15. It’s okay to ask for help.
    You’re really not supposed to do it on your own. You’re a human, not some sort of weird lone wolf or Eric Carmen. During my most difficult time with anorexia, I told my mom and dad that I needed help, and they helped me find treatment (actually, many different treatment centers—massive shoutout to my thorough and incredible parents). Even though a lot of those options were not a fit, they eventually led me to a program that did not cure me, but did save my life, and for that, I’m eternally grateful. 

  16. You never know the full story.
    Your friends, siblings, parents, grandparents, coworkers—literally everyone—will never have time to fully give you their life-story. There are always stories and facts left out, sometimes incredibly crucial ones that give context for actions and behaviors. Take everything with a grain of salt, and give everyone an ounce of empathy, even if you think they don’t fully deserve it. 

  17. Seriously, drink more water. 

  18. I am privileged, and I have a responsibility to recognize it and use it for good.
As a white, middle/upper class, cis-gendered female, I have a responsibility to use my voice for my brothers, sisters, and siblings who face discrimination and systematic oppression. You’ll see me at the women’s march, transgender rights protests, LGBTQ+ pride, Black Lives Matter protests, and promoting universal comprehensive healthcare reform that includes mental healthcare. Not recognizing and using my privilege for good would just be an irresponsible abuse of it.

  19. You can love the Top 40 hits while jamming to a weird mix of grunge, indie, classic rock, country, jazz, and rap.
    My dad taught me this lesson early in life—his playlists are neurotic and amazing. They jump from Jim Croce to Milli Vanilli to U2 to Johnny Cash to Rihanna to Paul McCartney. My playlists are similar, ranging from Fleetwood Mac to Hole to Dolly Parton to Post Malone to Led Zeppelin to Lady Gaga to specifically “Stir Fry” by Migos, and I carry no shame about it. Life offers us so much variety; the things you enjoy shouldn’t be mutually exclusive or shameful. Guilty pleasures are a myth. See #1. 

  20. Staying in a hotel room entirely by yourself is liberating.

  21. Knowing lesser-known varietals of wine is beneficial to both the wallet and the palette.
    See: Lambrusco, Falanghina, Suave, Garganega. In addition, you can get a decent Chianti or Pinot Grigio at Trader Joe’s for under $10. The quality of a wine isn’t always about a price point.

  22. Bringing homemade bread to a potluck or dinner party will impress any person there.

    You may even make a friend or a significant other. Personally, I make these herbed rolls, which are easy AF to make and a crowd favorite. (This is not sponsored; I genuinely just love these rolls).

  23. Don’t compromise yourself for anyone.
I’ve been in too many relationships in which I compromised myself and my goals for another person. In one particular relationship, I adjusted my entire life-plan (at the time, it was to be in publishing in NYC—note: life-plans can change) in order to stay with him. I decided that I wouldn’t do the things that I had dreamt of doing for years, and all of my loved ones looked on saying, “Cori, is that you?” and I was like, “Well, yes, but I’m not entirely sure—I just need to stay with said person!” When we broke up, I realized my dreams had the ability to be resurrected, and I moved to the East Coast to pursue them. As Janis Joplin said, “Don’t compromise yourself. You’re all you’ve got.” All relationships are difficult, so compromise healthily, but you genuinely are all you have to count on, so never compromise yourself or your values.

This listicle was inspired by Taylor Swift’s article in Elle’s Magazine, “30 Things I Learned Before Turning 30.”

I turn 23 on June 4!