In honor of my birthday, I made a pie. While cutting up strawberries and rhubarb, rolling, cutting, pressing, and weaving the pie dough, I thought about who I am at 24. I thought about all the things I’ve learned about the world and about myself, and I wondered what I might learn in my 25th year. I spent those quiet pie-making moments, my hands happily occupied, thinking about who I might be one day, and what 24 year-old me might think of that person. In 24 years, I’ve learned a lot of things, but there are way more things that I don’t know. To celebrate being 24, I’ll share these 24 pieces of advice. These are things that I know, but things that I need to be reminded of sometimes. Maybe you’ll think some of these things are dead wrong, but then again, maybe you need to hear some of them, too.
1. Listen when people tell you about themselves. It’s not always easy to do, but people need to be heard.
2. There is nothing more important to your daily sanity than having a clean, quiet space to retreat to. For you, that place is the kitchen, and even though you don’t always want to, it means you have to do all the dishes before you go to bed.
3. Expressing yourself eloquently is really, really hard. But it’s also really, really important. It’s necessary to find people that will bear with you while you muddle through your own feelings, listening patiently without judgement.
4. It’s also really, really important and really, really hard to bear with someone else while they muddle through their own feelings, listening patiently without judgement.
5. Trust your intuition. Even if it doesn’t make sense right away.
6. Let yourself fall in love without embarrassment, hesitation, or fear. Whether it’s romantic love, friend love, or just the love of a new idea or thing, jump in with both feet and don’t think too much.
7. That said, be practical. If someone hurts you, puts you down, or isn’t good to you, have the courage to stand up for yourself and demand that things be different.
8. You don’t have to have expensive things to create something beautiful.
9. Skip the gossip. Really. It hurts you the most.
10. Make time to spend alone, and don’t feel bad about it.
11. Remember that you can always say no–and that you don’t have to explain why.
12. Never underestimate the power of a simple smile. And not a shy, no-teeth-showing smile. Use the biggest, toothiest, happiest smile you can muster. Even if you have to fake it.
13. Try not to worry too much about what other people think. Be yourself, and that is good enough.
14. Be open to other people’s opinions. You’re incredibly hardheaded, so try your damnedest to stay out of your own way.
15. That said, when it really matters, stick to your guns to the bitter end.
16.Put the sarcasm away when it’s masking another feeling. Express that feeling instead. It’s kinder to the people who love you.
17. When someone gives you a complement, don’t argue with them. Say “thank you” and leave it at that.
18. Always admit when you are wrong. To your coworkers, your friends, your family, and even to the person you accidentally cut off in traffic.
19. Never be with someone who doesn’t love you at your very worst. Your partner should be happy to give you a big hug when you’re being mean, your hair is dirty, you forgot to take the trash out, and your legs haven’t been shaven.
20. Choose to be with someone who will call you on your bullshit.
21. Do something outside of your comfort zone every once in a while. I know you hate looking stupid, but it might be worth it.
22. Go outside and exercise.
23. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’ll always be more critical than anyone else. Give yourself some leeway to make mistakes without stressing out about it.
24. Don’t forget that you’re only 24 years old. Go easy on yourself, and allow yourself to make mistakes. You’re going to get sunburns even though you know you shouldn’t. You’ll probably drink too much sometime this year and wish that you hadn’t. You’ll totally screw up a recipe, yell about it, and throw it in the trash even thought it was probably fine the whole time. That’s okay because you’re a human, and humans can be kind of stupid.
Here’s to being 24, eating birthday pie, and admitting that you don’t know everything.
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Lattice Top:
For the crust: (from Ashley English’s book, A Year of Pies)
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 c vegetable shortening
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 c ice water
Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, break the butter and shortening up in the flour and salt. Work with it until there are no pieces of butter larger than peas. The dough should hold together if squeezed at this point. Pour the ice water in all at once and use a fork to incorporate the dough as best you can. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead it a few times to make the dough come together into a smooth disc. Cut the disc in half and round off both pieces, wrap them in saran wrap and chill them in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
For the filling:
1 pound of strawberries, halved (quartered if they are big)
1 pound of rhubarb, roughly chopped
1/3 c brown sugar, packed
1/2 c white sugar
zest and juice of one lemon
1/2 c cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Put all those things together, stir and let sit at room temperature for a while. To assemble the pie, roll out one of the discs of dough until it’s about 10 inches all the way around. Put it into a greased pie pan, trim the edges so that there’s about an inch hanging over the sides, then fold the extra dough under and use your fingers to make a nice crimpy edge. Then, fill the pie with the fruit mixture. Roll out the second dough disc, also to about 10 inches. This time, measure 1-inch intervals across the dough. Using a ruler for a straight edge, cut the dough into strips. (You can use a fluted pie cutter tool or just a knife.) Use those strips to make a lattice pattern on the pie. When you’re done, trim the strips, and tuck the edges in beside the crust. Does that make sense? If not, I know there are plenty of videos on youtube!
Bake the whole pie at 425 degrees F for about an hour. Let it cool for 4-6 hours before you go for it–it needs time to cool and set up. Serve with ice cream!