On the eve of my 20th birthday, I’m feeling slightly nostalgic about my 19 years so far and particularly the lessons I’ve learnt in the most recent ones. What better way to reflect on my final night of teenage life than spilling out all my thoughts and feelings into a blog post, accompanied by an extra large glass of Pinot Grigio? In fact, I can tell you a better way, and it’d include two of my favourite guys (Ben & Jerry) – but as I’m less than a week away from having to squeeze into a bikini for my holiday, they’re gonna have to wait until after the holiday snaps have been taken, heavily filtered and posted. So here they are, my final words of wisdom as a 19 year old:
- Don’t make decisions in the heat of the moment. Acting on impulse can be fine in some situations, but in the majority it just results in you saying/doing something out of anger or upset that you’ll soon come to regret. The best thing I ever taught myself was to just hold back, take time to reflect on the situation and consider it from all sides, and act in the way I thought was fair and appropriate. At least then, whatever happens, you can take pride that you handled the situation maturely and reasonably.
- Never allow anyone to treat you like you’re ordinary. It’s really simple – if friends, partners or even family don’t make the time to see you, or put in the effort to stay in your life, they don’t deserve to be there. Of course, it’s a two way street, but if the other person makes you feel unwanted or unloved, then do yourself a favour and cut them loose. Don’t let people like that waste your precious time, which could be spent with someone who treats you the way you deserve.
- Everything is a lesson. Every success, mistake, tragedy; I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, it’s all about the way you look at it. If you view every event as something that you can learn and grow stronger from, and make positive steps forward, you’re doing it right.
- Make time for your family. Be busy, have a social life, go travel – but don’t forget about your family. It’s so easy to get carried away with your own life when you live away from home, but a quick text, phone call or visit can really mean the world to someone.
- Move more. Throughout the majority of my life I’ve been very unfit – you wouldn’t necessarily know it by looking at me, but my fitness levels and stamina could be easily rivalled by someone in their mid 80’s. I feel like it’s hard to start teaching yourself to be more active at first, but I really focused on trying to move more where possible and I’ve seen a huge difference in myself and my fitness. My 3.3 mile journey to work went from a sleep-inducing bus ride to a brisk feel-good speed walk, which now I’ve grown to love. It’s hard to start a new habit, but once you’re in it, you feel great!
- Progression is key. Whether it be in education, work or life in general, always keep striving for better. In my work, I really focus on ways to improve and how to reach the next level. Knowing I want to progress in my role, I’ll happily approach my manager and ask for key objectives that I need to meet to see reach this next step. I’d way rather be viewed as unapologetically ambitious and forthcoming about ways to progress myself, than be too worried of seeming ‘too full on’ to bring it up and end up miss out on great opportunities.
- Enjoy your own company. Over the years, I’ve really learnt to enjoy the time spent doing pretty much nothing, and just reflecting on the events of the day, week or month. When you’re always at the gym, or at work, or out with friends, you miss that chance to just enjoy the luxury of doing nothing and allowing your thoughts to catch up with you.
- Learn how to cook. I wish I could pretend I’d learnt this 2/3rds of the way through my journey so far, but realistically it was more like 19/20ths of the way through… Yeaaaah. As an incredibly fussy, carb guzzling vegetarian, up until the age of
1318 my diet included of little more than pasta, cheese and Nutella (not as one, obviously – even I’m not that gross). Cooking had never been something that had interested me, and as such I had no real desire to spend my free time trying to master it. Since living away from home and (more recently) moving in with a group of friends who are all great at cooking (unlike my previous housemates who’s cooking ability stretched to heating up a Nando’s takeaway, which even I can surpass) I feel this love for cooking rubbed off on me, and thank god it did! I’m no Gordon Ramsay, but it has vastly improved my quality of life now there’s more than one option for dinner. That doesn’t include pasta, or cheese. *pats self on back*
- Treat yo’self. I’m not talking about buying a new Gucci bag every fortnight (although if you’re in a position to do that, go right ahead – grab me one too while you’re at it!), but don’t stop the little things that make you happy. Whether it’s getting your nails done once a month or buying a new piece of jewellery every now and then, if it makes you happy, do it! I’m a keen saver and try to avoid big shopping splurges, but I love the feeling of getting my nails done, so for me, that’s my treat that helps me remember I can be good with my future savings while also keeping a little money aside to enjoy right now.
- Don’t be afraid to say no. Don’t want to go to that party? Or take on that extra project at work which the intern is more than able to do? Or go halves on the bill when you had a garden salad and table water while your pal got steak and champagne? Cool, don’t. It really is as simple as that! Don’t feel backed into being a people pleaser and saying yes to things you instantly regret, which brings along worry, anxiousness and overload of brain power when trying to think of a genius excuse to bail you haven’t already used (twice).
- Not everyone is going to think you’re great. I mean *obviously* they’re wrong, but as the quote goes, ‘you can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches’. It’s so true, and you can waste so much time wondering why someone doesn’t like you, when in fact there’s no real reason, they just don’t. But that’s okay! As long as you like you, that’s all that really counts.
- Travel travel travel. Yeah, not just the one travel, as much as you can fit into one sentence! This time last year I’d never even been on a holiday with friends (without family), which seems so crazy considering I’ve already been on 6 trips this year and have another 4 booked, but no doubt will do another one or two later in the year. Once you start, you can’t stop – that desire to explore and experience new things is such a strong craving but drives you to the edge of your comfort zone in the best possible way.
- Ask questions. It’s a great skill to have to want to know more – never apologise for being inquisitive. Whether it’s that you don’t fully understand or that you’re trying to figure out alternative answers and to think outside the box, all are great reasons to ask questions.
- Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I can’t even count how many situations (mostly boy related, I’ll admit) caused me stress and upset at the time and now I probably couldn’t even remember their surnames. It’s so easy to be stuck in the moment and let your feelings dictate everything that you fail to see that it’s not Prince Charming you’re dealing with, in fact it’s just a prick in Puma. The phrase usually goes ‘if it won’t matter in 5 years, don’t waste more than 5 minutes on it’ but with my shit memory and short-term attention span it’s more like, ‘if you won’t remember it/him after 1 month, 5 nights out and 2 tinder dates, don’t waste more than 5 minutes on it’. Yeah, I prefer that version.
- Be passionate. In your friendships, relationships, work life and interests – do it to the fullest. Whether you feel strongly about politics, music, art, whatever – express yourself and don’t feel like you have to hide your passion away in the fear of people judging you for it.
- Love yourself. It’s all too common to point out your flaws – when we’re feeling bad about ourselves, we can sometimes fall into a spiral of self-hate and make things 10x worse. Sure, if you need to be real with yourself to inspire positive change, then do it – but don’t make things harder for yourself if they don’t need to be. When you’re having a day where you feel great, take the time to stop and acknowledge it. Put the effort into loving yourself that we put into loving people who don’t deserve it.
- If you have biscuits in the house, you will eat the whole pack within the space of
202 minutes. I feel like this point doesn’t really need any further, deeper explanation – it’s just the facts of life.
- Trust your gut feeling. If you’re feeling off about something, even if you can’t put your finger on why, you’re probably right. If your instincts are telling you something feels wrong, don’t put them to the test and come to regret it – listen to your own advice!
- Be conscious of time. While you’re out travelling, socialising, working, learning – be aware of time. It moves so fast, so don’t let it pass you by! Set targets of places you want to visit, levels you want to reach, milestones you want to achieve – don’t let yourself be defined by age, but give yourself a reasonable amount of times to achieve your goals and keep setting new ones, to ensure you’re always pushing yourself forward.
- Life is beautiful. Teenage years can be rough – high school, friendships and all the other drama that comes with it. I can’t even express the relief to be out of that stage of my life, and in a position where I’m comfortable with money, working hard, doing well for myself and surrounded by great people. Life is beautiful, and I’m super excited to see what the upcoming years have in store for me! It’s so surreal thinking where I could be in another 5, 10 years time – although I’m hoping I’ll be in one certain city in particular… #alwaysdreamingofNewYork
What’s your #1 thing you’ve learnt this year, or your favourite quote to live by?
I hope you enjoyed reading this post!