Things I’ve Learned – a 24 year old’s guide to nothing

The inevitability of growing old is a hard pill to swallow. We see our parents growing old. We return home to see teachers who once seemed larger than life suffering with the same trials and tribulations of every day life. In the same vein we see educators, coaches and authority figures turn from figures who denoted fear and possibly a lack of fun be normal human beings as we near adulthood. We had an Irish teacher up until Junior Cert who was a hard man, rarely joked and if he did it was at the expense of one of us. Usually one of the lads, a repeat offender. “How do I say, ‘the plane took flight’, in Irish, sir?” Oh, we broke our holes laughing. This teacher just exuded authority and power. He lost his daughter in an accident while she sledded down a snowy hill, lost control and hit her head on a tree. She died a few days later. I think we were sixteen at the time. That really opened our eyes to how short life could be but also to how our teachers were human too. Sure, we had seen them get angry with us and have a laugh with us. We went on trips with several of them, but that tragic accident allowed us to see their proper human side. The side that suffers and has real emotions.
I started thinking about this recently because I cursed one of my coworkers in my head for the fifteenth time that day, wondering how he could be so dense. He had to leave early to help his grandfather with a health issue. I was a bit ashamed at how I had reduced him to just being a coworker and not a fella with problems like the rest of us. We’re all in this together, after all. Shout out to Troy Bolton, high school musical alum. This got me thinking about how everyone fights their own demons. Everyone needs a break. Everyone needs to be alone sometimes and be surrounded by friends and family sometimes. Here’s some things you can do alone or alternatively with lots of people.


  1. Go to the cinema alone sometimes. I’m telling you, it is liberating. Up until I was eighteen I had never even let that thought enter my mind. ‘Go to the cinema alone?! But that group of younger teenagers in the back will think I’m a loser! How will I ever go on?’ It’s not an easy lesson to learn, especially in the age of social media, but not everybody cares about you or what you are doing. Not every stranger on the street is wondering why me, a handsome, strong young man is in the cinema on his own. They have their own shit going on. Once you can get past the psychological barrier of watching a movie alone, you can enjoy the benefits, which are plenty.
  • You can go see whatever the fuck you want. If you want to go see Brooklyn, or La La Land, or whatever movie the lads would slag you over, go see it. Let the world know you like musicals and rom-coms set in ‘50s New York.
  • You can eat whatever the fuck you want. You don’t have to get a medium meal because your pal got a small with a water and your other pal is on a keto diet and popcorn isn’t keto. YOU ARE IN THE FUCKING CINEMA! Get yourself a large popcorn with extra butter and a large coke, and give me a big bag of Munchies too, please, while you’re at it. Treat yoself, bitch.
  • You can sit wherever the fuck you want. You don’t have to sit up at the very back in an attempt at nostalgia, reminiscing about the time Johnny Mac an Tracy O’Whatever shifted up the back for the whole movie and missed the plot and had the absolute gall to ask us about it afterwards. I used to work in a cinema and the best seats are in the 4th or 5th row from the back, a little to the right of dead centre. The sound is just right. Quote me on that. Don’t @ me, though. Don’t fucking @ me.


  1. I could write a whole post about going to the cinema alone, but I would also recommend going to a restaurant or diner on your own, too. This isn’t revolutionary stuff, lads. A lot of people do this but I’ve had people ask me why I go on my own a lot of the time. It’s partly because I work evenings and nights and my friends and room mates are on different schedules or live in other parts of the city. It’s also because I like going on my own, taking my time and getting to know the servers and waiters. It’s partly because I am an antisocial bastard at the best of times if I don’t have about ten bottles of magners in me and would like to eat in peace. Sometimes, I’ll even bring my notepad or my laptop and pretend I’m writing the next great novel. I’ll puff on my mahogany smoking pipe, take my monocle off and twiddle my thumbs on the edge of my handlebar moustache. Thank God none of that is true.
  2. Take some time off. I don’t mean leave work unannounced. I’m talking about this more in the sense of taking some personal time, away from housemates and anyone else. Not everyone has dark days, but everybody has some bad days. Take a breather. Watch whatever you want on Netflix. Coop yourself up in your room. You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. Everyone should understand. If they don’t, just turn around and walk away. Wait for them to turn away. Turn around and sprint at them. Give them the RKO and then continue running. This is your life now. You are a vigilante Forrest Gump. The rogue RKOer. You will be infamous wherever you go, doling out RKOs like they’re candy.

I lost myself for a minute at the end. Although I am only a young fella and I have done next to nothing in the grand scheme of things, please heed my advice. Lolz. I look a lot older though, through years of drinking whiskey and smoking, so taking my advice is like taking it from a half-drunk, middle aged man sitting at the end of the bar on his own. You didn’t want to talk to him and you didn’t invite him to stand right in front of your face as he tells you to, “Get out of Woodlawn, man. There’s so much more out there.” But you’re stuck with him for another hour as he buys you bottle after bottle. Take this bottle from me. Keep the head up anyways, lads and girls. I’ll be back with ramblings on football, hurling and soccer after the World Cup. That coworker is still a tit, though. His grandfather is fine again, so no worries there.


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