Better Birthdays and Other Goals for Being 22

I have been 22 for 2 months now and time feels like an illusion. While we’ve all watched too many Youtube videos and read too many Refinery29 articles about what it means to be in my early 20s out of college, I’m still thinking about ways to improve my own early 20s life.  This year, I’m trying to be a better friend, be a little calmer, and spend time on things I care about. Here are 3 ways I’m working towards that.

1 . Be better about birthdays

I never really cared that much about my birthday, satisfied with eating a meal I liked at home with my family. My friend group for most of my life was not good about remembering, so it was always very low-key.

In high school, a group of friends that I knew went all out for birthdays. Instagram collages, carefully selected gifts, cupcakes at school, the whole shebang. I always really admired this, all the effort they took to make their friend feel special. Recenty,  I’ve been really touched by people who took the time out to text me on my birthday, rather than relying on that Facebook reminder. Waking up to those messages on my phone made me feel special and valued.

This year, I’ve trying  to be better about birthdays. I’m trying to remember when a friend has a birthday coming up, to get a card in the mail in time. I’m trying to send that morning “happy birthday” text instead of putting it off til the evening or forgetting altogether. I’m trying to send a poem or pass along a book if the friend lives close by. It only takes a little bit of effort on my end to help them have a great day and it connects us more closely as well.

2. Breathe every day

Nobody needs another reminder to meditate – it’s the Internet’s favorite thing to make you feel guilty about. I have four meditation apps on my phone and can count on one hand how many times I’ve used them. But the times that I have used them, as a way to ease into the day, as a way to take a break midafternoon, I do feel a little calmer. At most I feel refreshed and re-energized (this is admittedly rare), but at least I know that I have taken a moment to invest in myself and that this will get easier and more beneficial over time.

Unfortunately, meditation sometimes feels like another thing I’m procrastinating on, like stretching or applying for an internship or doing my laundry. I don’t know why I avoid it!  I’m struggling to find the balance where meditation is something that is helpful but doesn’t make me feel guilty if I don’t do it. To try to avoid that, I’m working on meditating every day, with or without the help of those apps, so that the routine can carry me through the occasional guilt.

3. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it

I watch a lot of network primetime TV. I also talk about it a lot. But since it is summer now and my favorite sitcoms won’t be returning until the fall, there is a lot of TV that I don’t care about. Unfortunately, the routine of sitting down on the couch and watching TV from 8 until 10/10:30/11 is a difficult one to break. This means that I’ve spent a lot of time watching TV shows that I don’t care about. Re-runs of The Closer, Spartan Challenge, local 10 o’clock news, I’m talking about you. I would never select you to watch on Netflix, so why am I watching you live?!

Instead, I’m trying to not watch TV unless there’s something on that I actually want to watch. I’m not going to get rid of my Bachelor Monday routine and when my ABC sitcoms return I will be right there with them. I’ll even sit and watch the conventions with my sister. But instead of reading Twitter on my phone while America’s Got Talent reruns in the background, I will go for a walk or play Frisbee with my brother or read in bed or clean the kitchen. TV should be a positive part of my life, not a way to widdle away evening hours.

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