A recent rash of articles in the blogosphere fall under a category I'd like to call "...Wish I'd..." posts.
They appear to have edged out the stale, boring, old question-and-answer format of Dear Abby-era advice columns with their web-friendly list formats and cheeky, yet earnest wisdom.
Most of them are directed at the author's younger self (which actually means they're directed at the worldwide audience of readers in the same age bracket as the author's younger self who identify with the subject matter and shout out a virtual, "Hey! That's me!" by liking, tweeting, and texting the post until it goes viral).
Many of these articles are directed at women in their 20s, who seem incredibly grateful for the unsolicited tips, evidenced by the thousands of social media shares each post seems to garner. The articles range from "13 Things I Wish I'd Known When I Was Twentysomething" to "The 20 Things I Wish Someone Told Me in My Twenties " to "Things Every Girl in Her Twenties Should Know" to "12 Novelty Pastries I Wish I'd Created in my Twenties" (okay fine, I made that last one up. But how rich would I be by now if I'd invented the cronut?).
I don't mean to sound snarky, "...Wish I'd..." posts are seriously great, and I'm sure I've sought solace in more than one. It's incredibly comforting and inspiring to be reminded of all the limitless opportunities and untapped potential many of us are privileged enough to have in our twenties. And yet, as this decade of my life comes to a close, I'm in no way moved to dole out advice for the younger set, based on all the things I wish I'd been more thoughtful about or done more of. Instead, I'd like to reach out to those who may be like me -- the overthinkers.
Those who don't need lists and to-dos because their brains are flooded with lists and to-dos. They obsess, agonize, and curse like sailors over every decision, transition, achievement, and failure. They don't need to be reminded to wear SPF or eat their veggies because they're upsettingly aware of the irreversible effects of sun damage and the importance of fiber. For those girls, I offer all the wisdom I've amassed from a frustratingly overactive mind that spews Debbie Downer-like facts at random -- even during this supposedly serene decade of blissful, youthful ignorance (insert SNL clip of Rachel Dratch saying Feline AIDS is the number one killer of domestic house cats).
To those girls (and to my younger self), I offer this: Five Things I Wish I Hadn't Known in My 20s.
1) Alcohol has calories. Nothing kills your buzz faster than the ever-present knowledge that all those chic-looking cosmopolitans are packed with sugar and that one too many Hoegaardens will lead to too-tight jeans. Stop caring. Have a drink. Relax.
2) Your parents won't be around forever. But guess what? If you're lucky enough to still have them around, then you're lucky enough to still have them around. Stop worrying about their eventual absence while they're sitting next to you at the dinner table nagging you about trimming your bangs or paying your parking tickets.
3) A lot of guys are jerks. Going into every first date wondering how this particular dude is going to break your heart won't protect you from getting hurt. At best, you'll put up a wall up that makes you seem totally unapproachable. At worst, you'll be totally unapproachable and completely miss out on all the stupid, fun, fleeting romances that your twenties should be filled with.
4) You only need a handful of good friends. But that shouldn't stop you from going out and meeting as many random, awesome strangers as possible. They may not all be kindred spirits, but they've probably got some fun stories to tell, important experiences to share, or just a mutual respect for Twilight that you can bond over at the bar one night.
5) Your body is going to change. That doesn't mean you're supposed to vigilantly monitor it with the eye of a hawk, day in and day out. Yes, your body will fluctuate, but the one you have right this second is pretty damn great. Enjoy it and stop staring at your thighs, convincing yourself you see cellulite forming in real-time.
That's all I've got for now, but there may be a part two to this non-advice column soon, if I can think of any more "wish I hadn'ts." Luckily, it looks like I'm fresh out of ideas at the moment, which might mean my brain is finally settling down as the big 3-0 approaches. What a relief.