23 Before 23

I’m turning 23 today, and I have decided that it is going to be a good year! I woke up on my 22nd birthday in a crater because my air mattress had gotten a hole in it during the night, and thought, “Rachel. Look at your life. Where is it going?”

Things have gotten better since then, and I’ve even learned some things over the past few years, twenty-three (get it?) of which I have decided to share with you, dear reader, to mark the occasion of my advancing age:

1) When in doubt, call your mom (or dad). Ken and Tammy Barclay have put up with a lot from me these past 22 years, and yet still answer the phone when my name shows up on the caller ID. Thanks, guys, you’re pretty cool.

They’re even wearing Luther colors. Well done.

2) Coffee is best enjoyed black. You might not have learned this, and that is okay. Coffee is also best enjoyed with good people. Also, frappuccinos are not coffee. Just throwing that out there.

3) Wearing honor cords or having Latin words after your name at graduation are not directly correlated to success at life. And vice versa.

4) Running is fun. It really hurts at first, but running is one activity where it is really easy to see progress, and you will get better if you keep at it. Plus, you get to rack up a bunch of ugly race shirts, bruised toenails, and sweat-stained tank tops. What doesn’t sound great about that?

You even might make cool friends, like Karen.

5) One-way plane tickets are a good way to change your life. And scare the crap out of your parents. This is not a good way to ensure that your life will be easy or fun all of the time, but it’s a nice thing to say you did when you were 21 and stupid. Bonus points if you end up somewhere you like.

6) Cake tastes better when it’s in cupcake form. Laura’s funfetti cupcakes are legendary in my mind, and Georgetown Cupcakes are quite possibly my favorite desserts of all time.

7) If you are having a bad day, buy a new pair of underwear. Don’t believe me? Give it a try. The only thing that’s standing between you and a better day is a four dollar trip to Target. Retail therapy at its cheapest and finest. If your day doesn’t pick up after that, dance around in your new underwear when you get home. Foolproof.

8) If you are mean to a barista, your drink is going to be decaf. It’s just a fact.

9) Dresses and tights are just as comfortable as sweatpants. This has been a big revelation for me. Bonus points: people take you much more seriously if you’re not wearing yoga pants.

10) You don’t have to pay for unlimited access to the New York Times’ website. All you have to do is stop the page from fully loading! I will buy myself an online subscription when I am a real person with a real job.

11) Germany is a fun place and you should visit. Word on the street is that I’ll be here till next July…

Thumbs up for the German flag.

12) Exit surveys should be standard dating practice. Seeing as I can’t go to a store, bank, museum or even buy some ice cream these days without being prompted to take some sort of “customer satisfaction survey”, why the heck don’t we have them for dating? Suggested format (to be completed by both parties): “Dear [blank], thank you for dating [blank]. Could you rate your experience on a scale of 1-5, and please feel free to add any additional comments below. Not much love, [Blank].

13) Beer is good. IPAs are not. Again, you might not have learned this, and that is okay.

14) If you tend to say stupid things, make sure you have a friend who will write them down. It’s not good if these things get published, but having a running record of dumb things you’ve said is a good way to look back on the last few years.

This girl knows too much.

15) Home is wherever most of your underwear is. Home with a capital H will always be Ken and Tammy’s house in Wisconsin, but I have been so lucky to have little homes all over southern Wisconsin, Northeast Iowa, Germany, and Washington DC.

16) Saying “I’m not in this for the money” gets a lot harder after college. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t major in, say, art history, but make sure you really like it, because there’s an excellent chance you’ll be sitting at home with Netflix on a Friday night while all of your gainfully employed friends are going out without you. Also, be prepared to defend your educational choices, and for that I offer this article.

17) There is life after college. It’s mostly fun, but it has way more bills. Alternatively, there are more happy hours. I never realized the novelty of happy hour until I left college,and I must say, well done, world.

18) You should drink a lot of water. You should also eat more vegetables. Sometimes I really like to eat nothing but Ritter Sport chocolate bars and Haribou gummy fruits, and then I feel like crap. You should also eat whatever the heck you want. I get very sad for people who refuse to ever eat a cupcake, but also for those who don’t eat anything but cupcakes.

Mmm, cheeseburger. See the lettuce? Vegetable.

19) More than one person can win at life. I don’t like to think of myself as a terribly competitive person, but every once in awhile, I get convinced that someone–or everyone–else is better at life than I am, and I should abandon all hope and spend the rest of my life in bed eating Nutella and watching reruns, because there is no success left to be had. FALSE.  

20) Being able to walk in heels is a useful life skill. Doesn’t mean you should do it every day, but having the ability to do so is nice.

21) Thanksgiving is the best holiday. I see nothing wrong with a day dedicated to nothing but eating. Plus, Thanksgiving is a gateway drug to Christmas, New Years, and all sorts of other fun events that I get ridiculously excited about. Plus, it is finally cold enough to wear sweaters!

This is the first Thanksgiving dinner I ever cooked. And the last, now that I think about it…

22) Biking is a good way to commute. Again, this is subjective. It’s also an excellent way to increase your use of certain expletives directed at irresponsible drivers and obnoxious pedestrians. The trick is to say them softly when it gets warm and people start to drive with their windows down again/aren’t wearing sound-blocking hats.

23) Wherever you go, you will find great people. Of this I am certain. You might not meet them right away, but there is not one corner of the world that holds a monopoly on the Greatest People Ever. There are plenty of crappy people in the world, but they are not worth your time. People are pretty much the same all over, they just eat different food and some of them put the verb at the end of their sentences.   

That’s it. I’m not learning anything else till I turn 24. Thank you for the birthday wishes, I miss you all like crazy!


2 thoughts on “23 Before 23

  1. This is why you are one of my favorite people. Even though I haven’t seen you in forever. You are wise and hilarious. Have a great birthday!

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