Can we dwell for a minute on the fact that April 23 is also 1) Shakespeare's (observed) birthday and (actual) date of death, and 2) World Book Day? (A fact that I will probably never tire of beating people over the head with?)
I mean, what the hell. I never stood a chance. I basically emerged from the womb declaring my undergrad English major. My first wails were probably the expression of a primal instinct that sensed all the budget cuts to hit English departments in institutions of higher learning across America in the years to come. Or the rise of Amazon and the slow death of independent bookstores, exacerbated by the pain of knowing that I, too, would one day contribute to this, in my early twenties, just because "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" would turn out to be cheaper on Amazon than at Moe's Books.
If Moe's ever goes out of business I know this decision will haunt me. Please Lord, that I may live guilt-free, let Moe's flourish long and happily and continue to bless generations of students and bookworms with their complimentary candystriped bookmarks for decades to come.
What was I talking about?
Oh: I turned twenty-four yesterday.
Turning twenty-four is a solemn affair. Twenty-four, in my eyes, is just over the brink of "real"' adulthood. Past denying liability and getting away with it, the way you might be able to at twenty-three. No one takes twenty-three very seriously. Probably because it's a prime number. Being a prime number age is the worst. That is a Fact. I know it's a Fact, because I say it's a Fact, and we now live in an age when anyone can declare something to be a Fact, and that automatically makes it so. That is another thing that has changed from twenty-three to twenty-four.
Because twenty-four is thus from the outset presenting itself as a year of many challenges, not the least of which include trying to act like a real adult and also moving across the country, I gathered some of my older, wiser friends in one place yesterday (with a couple of exceptions for the two friends who are still a prime number and therefore not to be taken seriously), ostensibly to stuff ourselves with Korean BBQ and drinks and "celebrate," but actually just to squeeze them for advice on how to be good at being twenty-four. (This is one of the many benefits of being the youngest/near-youngest in your friend group.)
As you can imagine, I received a range of responses. Some thoughtful, some funny, some spectacularly unhelpful, but
1. Brace yourself. Alternatively, embrace yourself.*
3. Don't do drugs.
4. It's okay to be confused.
5. Keep reading and writing.
6. Twenty-four...is the year before you turn twenty-five. THE YEAR BEFORE YOU TURN TWENTY-FIVE.**
7. Make friends with more people who are very different from you.
8. Travel solo.
9. When you move to New York and your cost of living suddenly increases, don't let that hinder you from being generous with your finances. Continue to find ways to give, and bless others, with your money.
10. When you make new friends in New York, and you will, and it will be great, don't forget you will always have friends here, and don't be afraid to reach out whenever you need.***
11. Keep loving the Lord and other people, with joy.
12. Eat healthy. Take care of yourself physically, because as you get older, your body will start healing more slowly.****
*This is a reference to a Livingwater Church-wide joke, but the advice still stands, I think.
**This one is blatantly not a piece of advice, but a statement of a fact. I included it because it was presented with great urgency and significant emphasis on and repetition of the last six words (italicized/capitalized to reflect this emphasis).
***I will admit this one made me a little bit teary on the inside.
****This one also made me a bit teary on the inside, but for multiple different reasons.
Writing this all up and looking it over again, I can see clearly that this list contains (for the most part) some genuinely good advice; it is practical and wholesome and fun and I aim to follow it the best I can in the year ahead. But I also see that this list is more than the sum of its parts, more than just discrete tips; this list is love and laughter and encouragement; it is "we love you" and "we will make you laugh" and "we want to help you be the best version of yourself" and "we are here for you."
It has been said by so many people all the world over who have all believed it to be true for themselves and themselves alone, but:
I have the best friends.
Everyone else who has said this sentence before me was obviously deluded, because mine are, Objectively Speaking, the best.
Mine make twenty-four seem a little less daunting and a whole lot more exciting, and for that and for everything else that they do and that they are I am very grateful.