2nd July mark's my 20th birthday. That's two decades I've officially been on this earth..! I knew I wanted to write something to mark this particular birthday but I spent a long time pondering in the run up to this date what would make for a worthwhile read. Turns out, just two decades teaches you a lot so what better way to enter my twenties than to reflect on what I've learnt so far.
1. Friendships end and that's okay
We spend our childhood and teenage years going through rollercoasters of emotions and friendships. Hormones don't exactly make it easy to keep up with what you're feeling and in need of from a friendship. Over time I've finally realised that heartbreak comes in both romantic and non-romantic forms; the end of a friendship can be just as heartbreaking as the end of a romantic relationship. For me, friendships haven't ended as the result of a falling out but simply growing apart, into different people and realising that over time we no longer have the same things in common. What we're not told enough is that this is okay! People grow and interests change, sometimes friendships fade and that's the way life goes.
2. None of us really know what the f**k they're doing and that's also okay!
Leaving school is a pretty traumatising experience. None of us really have any idea of what we want to do with our lives. Would you really trust your 16 year old self to make the best decisions for your future? Nonetheless we're hurdled into a stressful few years of making decisions about what we want our futures to look like. What people fail to remind us is that no-one really knows deep down and it's nothing to be ashamed of. Life is for trying and testing until you find where you want to be, no matter how long it takes.
3. Travel, travel, travel!
If there's one thing I've learnt, it's that traveling is crucial. Seeing the world and immersing yourself in the wonderful cultures out there is one of the best ways to gain perspective and understanding of our beautiful world. Escaping the place we call home for a break elsewhere is the only way I stay sane most of the time (particularly when life gets too much and you need a holiday to look forward to and help get you through). And let's not forget the best part...meeting people from all walks of life, who you would never have come across otherwise! If there's ever a motto to live by, for me it's a tweet I recently saw: "Travel. Your money will return. Your time won’t."
4. Don't waste time caring what other people think about your style
I touched on this in my '7 things to leave in 2017' blog post but it's one of the biggest lessons I've learned so I couldn't resist dropping it in here too. For the most part, I pride myself in having finally got to a place where I really don't care what people think of my outfit choices and the way I choose to style myself. No matter how you choose to dress, do your makeup or style your hair, someones always going to look you up and down or disapprove. But guess what...no-one really cares, so don't waste your time worrying! Being exactly who you want to be is the best feeling; confidence and beauty always shines through when someone is just doing their god damn thanngg!
5. School isn't the be all and end all and neither is University
Another one I've touched on in a previous blog post but equally worth including in this one. We spend our entire childhoods (5 days a week and then extra hours on homework and revision) in the place we call school. For what it's worth...it's not the be all and end all and it's really just a temporary chapter in your life. Don't stress more than is reeeaallly necessary because one bad grade isn't going to change your life forever! The same can be said for university but we won't go into that rant today...
6. Self love is a thing and it's super important!
It's all too easy to forget about loving ourselves when life gets in the way. We spend so much time looking out for others and working hard that we often lose sight of the most important person in it all...ourselves! Whether you need a spa break, a walk in the park or a bath surrounded by candles to indulge in some you time, it's always important to check in and give yourself some time do to what you love most.
7. Food is life and you should never feel guilty about having a burger
Do I really need to say any more? Sometimes it's hard, amongst all the OTT bloggers and influencers sharing their incredibly Instagrammable Açaí bowls (yep I said it), to actually enjoy a naughty meal out without feeling guilty. God forbid I might have two pizzas in a week...YIKES!
8. Not everyone's going to like you and you're not going to like everyone
For most, our school days are spent trying to be everyone's chum but the reality is you can't get on with everyone in this world. Don't spend time overthinking why you might not be someone's cup of tea and definitely don't try to force liking someone either. Not everyone can be a Phillip Schofield in a world full of Piers Morgans. I guess my biggest learning curve from this one is that life is too short to spend it trying to impress and fit in with people who you really don't particularly like. Equally, if someone doesn't like you, who the hell cares!
9. It's not rude to not be available 24/7
This one is something I learnt specifically after leaving education and heading out into the big wide working world. All of a sudden you go from being surrounded by your favourite people everyday, to not being able to squeeze in a catch up for months on end. This isn't down to lack of communication or unwillingness to keep in touch, in fact busy schedules and different lifestyles make it virtually impossible to see people as often as you'd like. With this in mind, I've stopped feeling guilty about not being available all the time to see people when they initially ask. If people really love and know you, then they won't let you feel bad for being so busy!
10. Time and energy is limited, use it wisely and don't feel bad for doing so!
Cliché as it sounds, as every year passes time continues to fly by faster than before. Weekends are over in a heartbeat, holidays always end too soon and evenings slip away quicker than it takes to decide what you even want for dinner. I've finally learned that time is precious and sometimes a night in to yourself CAN be titled as a plan, so don't feel obliged to see people if you just need some time to do you. Say yes to the plans you're excited for and spend your time with the people you love, doing the things that make you happiest.
11. In the end, mum knows best
12. Female sexuality should never be something to hide
Long gone are the days where I have time to be embarrassed about female sexuality. Us ladies have needs and urges just as much as the male population and that should never be something to scrutinise! We enjoy pleasure too ya know...
13. I've got big boobs and sometimes I don't like wearing bras..... deal with it!
YES I know the importance of supporting my chest for later life and YES I'm pretty good at sticking to those rules. But sometimes I don't fancy wearing tight uncomfortable gear around my junk and I like to let them free. Most of the time they look damn good when they're doing their own thing so I've given up caring about what other people think when I'm giving them a day off!
14. Age is just a number
When it comes to going out to work at an earlier age than most, it can be daunting. I've had many pleasant experiences so far when people have been shocked to find out I'm younger than they thought. I've also had experiences where people in the workplace have tried to use my age against me to prevent progress and status. It's a constant battle but what I've learnt is that age means nothing in relation to talent and skill and the twats in life are the ones that fail to see past the number not you!
15. Farts are and will always be funny af
Call me childish but it's true...
16. Learning to laugh at yourself is one of the most important parts of life
If you're not laughing at farts then you should definitely be laughing at yourself. Happiness comes from not taking yourself too seriously- laugh when you stumble or make a mistake and you'll be much happier I promise!
17. Everyone needs a good cry sometimes
From laughing to crying, both are incredibly important. We're not in tune with our emotions as much as we should be and when life gets a bit too much we should be encouraged to let it all out before even thinking about picking ourselves back up. It's never a good idea to keep things bottled up time and time again. As people always say, a problem shared is a problem half solved!
18. Social media is not to be trusted but I'll always be addicted
I count myself lucky to have been born in one of the last few generations where the internet and social media weren't around until later in my childhood. I am more grateful every day when I remind myself that I grew up playing away from a screen and enjoying activities as every child should. That being said, social media became quickly available and by the time senior school came around I was desperate to start up a Facebook account like everyone else. As of current, social media is part of my job but more importantly it's also a hobby of mine (well, the creative side that is). I sometimes wish I had the personality of someone who didn't care about Instagram and Twitter but deep down I know it's something I'll be interested in for years to come.
Whilst there are many positive things about social media, we all know there are just as many negative aspects. One of which I've had to learn is not to trust everything you see; our social channels are mostly built up on showing off our best self (vain and sad, but true), therefore giving a false hope and idea of the 'perfect life'. We have a duty to remind younger generations that what they see plastered over their feeds doesn't define perfection.
19. Believe it or not, reading is actually important
I used to be a bookworm up until GCSE's and A Levels sucked the free time out of me but I fell back in love when I started commuting to and from work (out of boredom some may say). I flit between genres, whether that's something motivational like The Little Black Book or a page turner like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (highly recommend both) I try to read something of a different style every time to get a balance of enjoyment and education. Since being back into my reading days I've realised just how important it is; let's face is there's nothing better than losing yourself in a book every now and again.
20. Music solves every mood
Last but not least, over 20 years, I've learned there is a song for everything and every mood. Music can solve all, from heartbreak to sleepless nights, to providing the anthems for a great party and bringing people together, nothing compares to the warmth and comfort music can bring. As ABBA once sang, "without a song or a dance what are we..."