I’m almost a week into my 20th year on the planet and to be honest, I’m not quite sure how to feel about it. I’ve reflected a lot over the last four days about where I am in my life and about who and what I am. So I thought I’d do a little late night post just to clarify a few things for myself and hopefully give my lovely readers something decent to look through!
1. Some friends aren’t forever
This has become more and more apparent to me over the last year at Uni. This time last year I would have sat here and gotten quite upset over the friends that forget my birthday and can’t be bothered to reply to my messages or tell me about the important changes in their lives. But guess what? I have more friends than I ever thought I would have and I’ve learned that it’s actually okay to let some people go. It’s sad but it’s also freeing. (And actually, the friends you’re left with are incredible)
2. Don’t lie
I’m a useless liar. The long list of tells I have make it impossible for me to play Poker without panicking; but I’m constantly surprised at the ease with which some people lie. What is the point? If you’re a prolific liar, I can guarantee friends will start reevaluating their friendships with you and the people around you will stop trusting you. Even if you’ve made a mistake, tell the truth, deal with the consequences and move on – People are much more understanding if you always tell the truth first.
3. Experience is important
At school it was always hammered into us that to move forward in life, good grades were the only things we needed… but they’re really not. Experience is invaluable and it comes in all shapes, styles and sizes… At 20 years old I’ve only had a few small work placements and Summer jobs so I feel like I’m lacking the customer service experience I really want; but I have experienced so many other non-work-related things already! However, if you can, start working part-time at 16/17 just to get some work experience under your belt. It will really pay off when you leave school!
4. Travel while you can
Experience the World, broaden your horizons and form new opinions. Travel is expensive I know, but if you can, save up and travel. Some of my friends have gone on organised trips around Asia, worked at Camp America, travelled on school trips abroad and even jumped on a Ferry to France. The World is so much more accessible nowadays – it’s literally at our fingertips! We can travel anywhere with the touch of a button or the click of a mouse. Make the most of it and do what you can to get out there and start exploring.
5. Peer pressure is a load of rubbish
You will experience peer pressure in one form or another. It is guaranteed to happen. But for goodness sake don’t take any notice of it. If you don’t want that shot, don’t drink it. If you feel uncomfortable, get out of the situation as quickly as possible. Don’t pay attention to so-called “friends” trying to push you into something you’re not comfortable with – in my experience, people will think more of you for actually sticking up for yourself and doing what you think is right.
6. You don’t have to drink to have a good time
I don’t drink – I never have done and I don’t know if I ever will do. But do I have a good time when I go out clubbing or to the pub with friends? Of course I do! I’ll be dancing until 4am with the rest of them and I’ll actually remember what has happened by the time the next morning rolls round. I also feel a lot more comfortable with all my senses intact and I’m prepared to look after all my friends that perhaps can’t walk in a straight line by the time we leave…
7. Try things for yourself
It is easy to form an opinion on something before you’ve actually tried it. But do yourself a favour and experience everything for yourself before you make a judgement. I’ve lost track of the numbers of different foods, movies and bands I’ve loved after giving them a chance (even though I’ve spent years of my life swearing I’ll hate them…)
8. Don’t always listen to other peoples’ opinions
Even your closest friends won’t share all the same opinions as you. Take time to figure things out for yourself and don’t blindly follow the crowd. Who knows how many amazing people you won’t talk to or incredible things you won’t try simply because a friend doesn’t like them?
9. Love the skin you’re in
I have spent years loathing certain bits of my body. Those stretch marks? Hate them. Spotty skin? Detest it. Weird feet? Not my favourite thing in the world. But guess what? Once you learn to actually like yourself and your body, these things don’t seem so bad anymore. I’m 20 and finally my skin is clearing up and my stretch marks have faded. I may still have weird feet but I paint my nails in pretty colours and suddenly everything feels (and looks) slightly better. If you’re a pre-teen or young teenager reading this, you may be thinking that nothing will ever get better and you’ll be stuck with the wonky teeth and oily skin forever. But trust me – I’ve been there and I’ve come out the other side… And that awkward hating-the-skin-you’re-in stage doesn’t last forever. So embrace yourself! You’ll feel much better for it.
10. Develop your own sense of style
Do not be a copy! Buy and wear things that you love. If you live in velvet but leather is in Vogue, stick to wearing velvet. In fact, stick to wearing your favourite colours, textures, patterns and anything else you can get your hands on. Life is too short to wear things you don’t feel completely fabulous in. So if you’re more comfortable in baggy t-shirts and Dr Martens (Me…) don’t cinch yourself into a corset dress or break your ankles in skyscraper heels. Embrace your style and let it develop with you.
11. Take inspiration from others
I love nothing more than people-watching and Instagram-stalking. Taking inspiration from celebrities and complete strangers – and then re-arranging these ideas into something new, is exactly what keeps the world going. If I see a colour scheme or piece of clothing I like, you can guarantee I’ll be making a mental note in my head for my own personal style file or mood board.
12. Take time to look after yourself
You are the most important person in your life. And your needs should always come first. Sleep well, eat well, love well, live well. It’s as simple as that. If you’re working too hard, make sure you’re taking regular breaks. If you’re tired, take that 2 hour nap – you deserve it. Make sure you are fulfilled in every area of your life and don’t let yourself get run down. Life is for living – not being miserable!
13. Plan everything
Who doesn’t love a good plan? Post-it note lists and half-filled calendars are keeping my study life chugging along very slowly. Keep on top of things with lists and plans – you’ll never forget anything ever again and you’ll be much more productive as well.
14. Live in the moment
I see people Snap-chatting and recording every single moment of their lives and – even though this makes me sound 30 years older – I really do get tired of it. I have made a conscious effort to keep my phone away and just enjoy what I’m doing. I don’t want to be watching a concert from my phone screen – I could do that from home. And I don’t want to have to re-live my night out on Snapchat because I missed most of it while I was recording.
15. Don’t stress over things you can’t control
I’m a great one for stressing. I’ve never met anyone who is more paranoid than me. I was literally born to be a worrier. But I’ve learned that things beyond your control are not worth stressing over – if you can’t control the outcome then why panic?
16. Treat yourself
Every so often, we all deserve a little treat. Life is hard – so whether it’s buying a new lipstick, trying a fruity bath bomb or going to see a movie at the cinema, just spend a little time (or money) on yourself and make sure you pick yourself when up when things get a little bit harder than usual.
17. Don’t sell yourself short
There is only one you. No one has the same qualities, personal traits or skills that you have. There will be times when you feel like everyone is better than you at everything, but this is in no way true. Big yourself up – you’re amazing – you’re you!
18. Take personal safety seriously
If you’re a female you’ll already know exactly what I’m talking about. If you can, don’t walk home by yourself. But if you really have to, carry a panic alarm, hold those keys between your fingers and fast walk like your life depends on it. We’ve all woken up to news headlines detailing stories about girls (and boys) our age being raped and murdered – and I don’t want to see any more of them. Just keep yourself safe.
19. Make the most of the time you have with family
They’re not going to be here forever. I’m absolutely terrified by the thought of losing my grandparents and other relatives. I’m dreading any news of illnesses and accidents, and I know a lot of you will be too. Make the most of the time you have and try to ensure that you won’t regret anything when they do eventually leave. Say what you need to say, do what you need to do, and make sure you see them often.
20. BE KIND
It doesn’t cost anything to be kind. Smile at people, hold doors open and think about other peoples’ feelings! You may be the most important person in your own life, but other people exist and need to be treated fairly and with kindness. The amount of hate in this world is already staggering, so don’t add to it!
What would you add to this list?
Billy Ocean –> Caribbean Queen