A quarter-century of wisdom (take it or leave it)


The internet is obsessed with being twenty-something—in list form.

Especially when it comes to turning 25.

A few choice headlines from Thought Catalog:

“The 25 Scariest Things About Turning 25.” “25 Things A 25-Year-Old Should Do.” “25 Things Every Woman Should Have By The Time She Turns 25.” “21 Immature Dating Habits You Should Grow Out Of By 25.”

(Couldn’t the author of that last one think up four more immature dating habits to make the headline a tad more consistent?)

I, too, am particularly moved by the significance of turning 25. Partially because that’s how old I turned today. And because it’s how old my mom was when she had me. (Whoa.)

But I don’t feel compelled to tell my peers what they should be doing, as so many lists suggest. What gives me the right? I’m only 25.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t learned a lot worth sharing, though. My crazy gray hair that won’t quit clearly indicates there is some wisdom to be gleaned from my quarter-century on this earth.

For example, I’ve learned (thankfully early on) that it’s more important to be smart than pretty. And that it’s even more important to be kind than smart.

I’ve learned that it’s okay to say no when it truly is right for you, but that sometimes, you need to say yes when it would be easier to say no.

I’ve learned the value of finding and honing your voice, both written and verbal. After about 20 years of writing, I truly feel at ease in a voice that belongs only to me, and that’s a beautiful gift. It’s a lot more challenging to be vocal off the page, but talking about the things I’m passionate about has helped me find my voice in other important ways. Like everything else, this takes practice, and I’m getting better at it.

I’ve learned not to struggle against the uncertainty of life, because what’s the point? I’d rather see the beauty in it. I don’t know where I’ll be a year from now, and I’m oddly excited by that.

And I’ve learned that there’s nothing “scary” about turning 25 (or 30 or 50), and that unsolicited advice about what you “should” do or be or have or aspire to is bullshit. Society tries so hard to tell us otherwise, and a lot of companies make a lot of money by doing it. But when I look at real people – the people I’ve grown up with, the people I’ve met and had a connection with and never saw again, and the people I hope to meet someday – I know that there is no such thing as the right or wrong way, but just our many, varied, flawed and beautiful ways of living our lives.

And no way of life worth striving for can be easily summed up in 25 bullet-pointed commandments.

So cheers to 25 and beyond – here’s to not having our shit figured out and being quite all right with that.

Seismic shift (and a birthday gift)

Witty Cassie Here

Today, October 17th, at 10:17 a.m., more than 20 million people worldwide are participating in what is expected to be the world’s largest earthquake drill. They say one of the safest places inside the home you can be during an earthquake is in bed (as long as there’s not a heavy, spiky light fixture above you), and that’s precisely where I’ll be at 10:17 on the morning of my birthday—preferably eating waffles while I’m there. Hey, it’s my day off from classes, and I am milking it.

Yes, today is my 24th birthday (and the 24th anniversary of the catastrophic 1989 San Francisco earthquake). And in the midst of an insane first semester of graduate school, I’m taking the time to celebrate myself by spending part of today at the beach—a first for this October baby!—and satisfying the sushi craving I’ve had for the past month. A couple days ago, the birthday cards started arriving in the mail. I’ve always loved and appreciated birthday cards, but they mean even more this first year away from home and family. Birthdays always have me feeling mixed emotions, but this year especially with all the recent major changes in my life. Luckily, I’ve got John by my side and a city I’m coming to love to make it a special one.

And I have a feeling I do have a truly special and memorable year ahead of me. While 23 was defined by anticipation, anxiety, uncertainty, and the biggest decisions (and adventures!) of my life to date, I’m thinking 24 will be a year of exploration, learning curves, new faces, some serious productivity… and, well, a lot more anxiety and uncertainty. That seems to be a constant I don’t see going away any time soon. But I’m in my mid-20s now, so I got this shit. That’s what I’m telling myself, so just go with it.

So as they say in the earthquake drills—drop, cover, and hold on. It’s going to be a wild year.


Let there be cake

Twenty-three years ago, the doctor couldn’t find my heartbeat. The room went into panic mode, so out came the forceps and, eventually, me—steady heartbeat intact. Since my dramatic entrance into the world, I’ve managed pretty well, and today I’ll be celebrating like a T-rex on a trampoline: skinny arms, big head, and all smiles. (Don’t tell me that’s not a T-rex, because I don’t care. Also, it’s my birthday, not yours.)

Today I’ll be readying myself for the food that lies ahead this evening. In celebration, John and I are making four kinds of homemade pizzas. And by John and I, I mostly mean John, to whom I thoughtfully suggested preparing a day ahead. He appreciated the advice. We’ll probably end up going out Friday night, and I’m hoping that after almost four years of togetherness, I’ll finally get to flex my mad bowling skills. And by that I mean my bowling skills that go from weak to impressive after one beer, then back to embarrassing after two.

Since no one has actually asked me what I want for my birthday this year, I’m assuming I’ll FINALLY be getting that pony. I promise I’ll act surprised.