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In a week and a half, I will be 28. To be entirely honest, I have absolutely no fear of getting older. Being an old soul will do that to you. You’ll start to feel more confident as the numbers start to increase, and for that I am thankful. In my almost 28 years of life I have learned a few lessons, some which I am sure you have to. What is peculiar is how many I have learned this year. We can’t be tough cookies all the time, and you should be making mistakes often. Learn from them, grow from them, and if all else fails, fail with class and tact. Here is my birthday gift to you, a few things to know before (or after) turning 28.

1. Have a favourite book, and know why it is your favourite. I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked that, and I am always thankful I know the name and the author. Wally Lamb, She’s Come Undone. The bildungsroman has forever been my favourite literary style, and I admire the gusto of the main character.

2. Own a nice set of dishes. There is nothing worse than having someone over for dinner to serve them a beautiful meal with chips out of your plates, or worse, paper plates. Invest. Find some on sale.

3. Speaking of meals, have your go-to recipe. I can make my lettuce wraps with my eyes closed. There are a few recipes that I have made so often that it becomes second nature. Own it, know it, serve it with all the love you have.

4. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words hurt. Words hurt more than anything in the world. Think before you speak. Nothing is more beautiful than a woman who compliments rather than criticizes.

5. Have a comfortable pair of work appropriate black pumps. There is nothing more classic than this, and you should know how to walk in them. This will pay off more than those sparkly heels you wore once to the bar.

6. The answer is always eye cream. Bite the bullet, invest in one. You may not see those wrinkles now but you only get one face, so take care of it. While you’re at it, wear sunscreen daily. We are way too educated about the damage that sun does to not block it out like a sun ninja.

7. It is so important to create a playlist for your morning routine. My favourite song to walk out of my place to on my way to work is the Cranberries – Dreams. If you’ve watched my favourite movie, you’ll know why 😉

8. Know the rules of at least 1 major sport. Football is my jam, Sunday Night Football is my religion. I cannot tell you the amount of men who admire the fact that I don’t ask questions during their holy time.

9. You can’t say you hate food that you’ve never tried. Try it, formulate an opinion, move along. Often you will shock yourself. (Unless we are referring to my hatred of potato chips, because that trumps this lesson).

10. No one can keep all of their friends. Think about how many people you have met in your lifetime. One of the best things I did in my early twenties was learn how to cut someone out of my life.

11. You can’t choose your family but you can choose to have, or not have, a relationship with them. I am sure many would disagree but if the toxic person is the one who should be your closest ally, than that person deserves to be shown the door. Don’t ever give yourself to someone who isn’t seeing that relationship as a priceless gift.

12. Having said that, family should always come first. Work harder for them. When everyone passes away, your siblings will be the ones to go through the process with you. They will forever be your shoulder to cry on. Fight for them.

13. Figure out a 5-minute make-up look for weekdays. Life is busy and I press the snooze button like it’s my day job. Please prepare yourself, even a little, for the day ahead. You will feel far more confident with a little polish. Concealer, blush, gloss and mascara – that may even be 3 minutes!

14. Keep writing with pen and paper. It is a lost art form and I am saddened by my printing, never mind cursive writing. Write love notes, write your grocery lists, write thank you cards.

15. Weddings and marriages are totally different, be aware of what separates the two. Please never be a girl with a Pinterest board before she is even remotely walking down the aisle. I yearn for a greater grasp of what matters for us all.

16. Candles feel like a soul is in the room with you. If you’re ever lonely, light one. Also, never run out of candles. Keep a stash of your favourite scents, they’re worth the cost.

17. Budget for something that will improve your quality of life. For me, it’s my daily Starbucks. I am sure that will slowly shift to a housekeeper. I grew up with one and couldn’t be more thankful for that. My mom and I spent Saturdays together creating our special bond, instead of working around the house.

18. Find a red lipstick that you love. Everyone can wear one, no excuses.

19. Ask questions, but only once. Curiosity didn’t kill the cat, not listening killed the cat. Wonderment keeps us young but you need to be able to listen and absorb the answer. Raise your hand, ask for the knowledge you seek.

20. Being able to say “no” is powerful. I may come from a place of “yes” but I know how to say “no” and mean it. Mean it with every fibre inside me. No, I don’t want to go out at 11 pm. No, I don’t like your new boyfriend. No, I will not let you walk all over me. No means no, practice it.

21. Dressing your body type will be one of the most critical things you learn in your mid-late twenties. I cannot wear a mini skirt, I’m over it. I can however wear the helllll out of an a-line dress.

22. Men will break your heart and you will always bounce back. ALWAYS. There has never been a time where a woman didn’t, you will not be the first.

23. Call your Mom. I am lucky to have my Mom, she is my absolute best friend. I call her daily, always more than once. Life without her would be grey and while I have the time she will hear my voice.

24. Have a matching set of bra and underwear. The power of this, it’s a 3-snap and a “get it girl”. Also, while you’re at it, find out your bra size. It’s a life changing revolution.

25. Dating is a game whether you want to play or not. I choose to play it honestly. I was once told that we are all dating someone’s future spouse. Treat the man you are dating with the same respect you would want someone to treat your future husband. He will either become your husband, or have a wife who is thankful that the woman before her didn’t damage the goods.

26. LBD. A classic little black dress will be your best friend. Dry clean her, take care of her, wear her with pearls.

27. No one likes a dumb girl. Be your smart and sassy self, and for the love of all things feminism do not dull that for anyone.

28. Single isn’t a disease, and it isn’t something uplifting either. It just is. One day you’ll be in love and you won’t have to take your best friend as your +1 to all major events. Don’t fret, and never think there is something wrong with you. There is a reason for the saying, “you have to love yourself first.” Be in love with the woman you are today, he’ll find you.