I can look at the girl in the picture above and she seems a million miles away from the person I am now. I can remember exactly what she was thinking – ‘1. I love prosecco, 2. I’m about to eat the best eggs benedict fries of my life and 3. next week I’m going on a date with a long time crush and life is brilliant.’ – lets just say 2 of those things turned out to be true, I do love prosecco and they were the best damn fries (RIP Splendid Kitchen in Manchester) as for number 3, it never happened but we can save that story for another time.
It’s amazing how much difference 24 hours can make, so you can only imagine the difference over 8,000 hours can make. When this post goes live I’ll be 5 days away from turning 22, so I thought a good self-reflective post might be the right way to end the year. So here are 21 things I’ve learned/that have happened to me, since I turned 21:
1. Sometimes, things have to end…
And that’s okay. Not everything lasts forever – jobs finish, people leave and we outgrow things. It can be sad, even heartbreaking but everything happens for a reason and sometimes things have to end to make room for something better and new. Throughout this year, I’ve lost almost as much as I’ve gained but it’s made me who I am.
2. Taking care of your body is the absolute key;
Food can be both an aid or a cure to illnesses and one of the best things I learned was a list of foods that help calm my anxiety. Take time to get to know what works for you – for me, I need to avoid most caffeine and make sure I’m constantly boosting my vitamin/omega 3 levels. Go to the gym, take a walk with your friends, have weekly detox nights ( I LOVE using a good hair mask, body scrubs, coconut oil nail polish and ‘resetting’ all systems), do whatever makes you feel better.
3. But in contrast, it’s all about balance;
If you want that cookie, then have it. Life is short, too short to deny yourself everything you love. Yes, eat healthily and yes, avoid bad foods that you know will make you feel worse, but accept that even the healthiest people have ‘cheat days’ and ‘cheat meals’. Life should be enjoyed – so don’t be afraid to indulge once in a while. As long as you stay sensible, it’s really not a big deal. Plus its nearly my birthday and you can’t have birthdays without cake so have a piece for me!
4. It’s good to have friends for all occasions;
I have friends who I can dance till sunrise with, friends who get me through a 9-4 shift, friends who enjoy the finer things in life and friends who are total foodies like me. As I get older I am realising that its not about having a ‘best friend’, it’s about having lots friends who bring out the best in you.
5. Relationships are hard;
No one tells you that they are but they are. Whether that’s with friends, boyfriends or family, they don’t always run smoothly. But that’s okay – every relationship helps us to find out about who we are and what we like/don’t like. People argue and sometimes it feels like the end of the world but just remember – everyone argues, so next time you feel guilty for snapping, remember that you are not alone. But also remember that it’s okay to walk away, not everything works out, it’s sad but it’s true.
6. Sleep is SO important;
Long gone are the days when I can do three or four late nights in a row because I’ve learned the value of sleep. It’s a great time for not only your body but also your mind to recover so never be afraid to take time for yourself and get an early night or reschedule an early morning brunch for a lie-in.
7. Meal prep is THE one;
I’m not talking looking at macros or weighing out 100% correct portion sizes (unless that’s your thing in which case – go, you!) but making meals ahead of time, whether that’s a packed lunch for work or just a larger batch of food so you can freeze some for later. It saves money, time AND stress. Plus you can feel a bit sassy for being so prepared!
8. Get organised;
Get a diary, actually use your e-calendar at work, take notes of important things and pick clothes ready for tomorrow the night before. Just like meal prep, it saves so much time and helps to keep your head clear. Sometimes when things feel out of control, just sitting down and sorting things out can help you to regain some of that control. Plus a well thought out outfit never goes amiss.
9. However, it’s okay to have lazy days;
You don’t have to be on top form all the time. If you’ve read my blogs, you’ll know I am a keen fan of self care. Sometimes there is nothing better than a duvet day and a huge cup of tea. Have a rest, regather and start again tomorrow. We can all burn out so try to take that break before you get to that point.
10. Travelling alone is both terrifying and amazing all at once;
Sure, you’ll miss home and those you love, but it’s the biggest chance to learn who you are. I won’t bore you with too many details as it’s all in my Australia blog which you can see here: https://asundayofsunshine.com/2016/06/04/kick-starting-2016-my-month-in-australia/ but it is life changing. It makes you stronger and teaches you what matters in life. You soon realise who is important when you can’t reach them as easily but also who isn’t – those dodgy exes and bad friends for a start !
11. Living alone isn’t actually so bad;
Sure it’s scary when things go bump in the night but there’s nothing nicer than coming home to your own space, which you can run your way. Whether that’s dancing round the house in your pants or just taking extra long baths with a glass of wine. It can be scary to be alone, but sometimes it’s a refreshing change, plus with today’s technology you never have to be truly alone.
12. Be brave and do things you thought you never could;
Because you’ll be surprised to find that actually, you can. It’s been a year of new things, some that scared me more than I can tell you, but sometimes you have to hold someones hand and just jump. You are so much stronger than you realise.
13. Try not to surround yourself with negativity;
The news is full of negativity and, while its important to stay up to date, if you’re feeling fragile just switch it off and stick on a comedy. I binge-watch Coach Trip and I’m totally not afraid to admit it – it takes my mind of things, especially on particularly worry-filled days. You are allowed to switch off from the world. I try to do at least one media-free day a week and avoid Facebook – it’s usually doom and gloom anyway – to give my mind a rest from permanent negativity and to help me to focus on the good. Plus remember to be grateful for the good in every day, whether it’s big or small.
14. It’s so important to learn how to get ready quickly;
When I was younger I used to get up 2 hours early for school just to get ready. But whilst travelling Australia, I got my ‘get up time’ down to less than 30 minutes. Learn how to create a simple look and create more time in each day for fun. Save the hour-long makeup tutorials for a weekend and get out the door on time. Plus, treat your skin to as many make up free days as you feel brave enough for. Your skin will thank you!
15. Someone can walk into your life and completely change it;
Not long after my birthday, I got my heart bruised and I was terrified to let anyone else in. Eventually I did and a new friend turned out to be more than I ever could of hoped for. He’s been with me through some of the toughest times but also the funniest. He’s taught me so much and helped me to do things I never thought I could and I would be completely heartbroken without him. I didn’t for a minute expect that we’d end up here but if nothing else it’s taught me that you can never predict what’s coming and that you should always give people a chance.
16. But at the same time, realise nothing is storybook perfect;
I was brought up on Disney films, so I’ve been waiting for a prince on a white horse all my life. Sometimes, you have to realise that in fact your prince might be wearing Jordans and pair of camo shorts. Just because it doesn’t feel Disney all the time doesn’t mean it isn’t real – you’ll have good days and bad days. I’m still learning from my mistakes and I’m sure I’ll make a million more but that’s okay because this is my fairytale and it comes with copious amounts of nachos, adventures and lazy days spent in bed.
17. Do what makes you happy;
I love weekends away and I love adventures, so this last year has been filled with them. Trips to London, Edinburgh, Tenerife and more. Get out there, explore, live a life that makes people jealous. Visit your favourite places, go alone, go with those you love. Visit your favourite restaurants, watch your favourite shows. It’s your life, no one elses, so fill it with things that make you you.
18. It’s okay to lose yourself;
It’s okay to lose your way, the path can get cloudy and rough and sometimes we forget why we ever took that turn. Take a break, look how far you’ve come. Sit down and look at all the things that have made you who you are and don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know what you’re doing. When we are young, we assume 20 year olds have got it sorted – they haven’t. You don’t need to have it all together right now, the job you have now might not be the one you end up with, no big deal – you have a huge life ahead of you, that’s plenty of time to find yourself.
19. Its okay not to be okay;
This year marked one of the worst of my life for anxiety, though I’ll save the gory details for another day. I wasn’t sure I’d make it through but I did and so will you. Don’t be afraid to speak out and get help. Try counselling, go to your Doctors, join groups like Ele friends (https://www.elefriends.org.uk/ ) or Anxiety & I (Facebook) and get support. You are never alone and it’s okay to admit that sometimes we all need a little help.
20. If there is something you really want to do, then do it;
I have always wanted to write a blog, but have always let the fear of what others might say or think stop me. But one day I realised I couldn’t live like that, letting other people stop something I’ve dreamed of doing becoming a reality. So here I am, writing my rambles and hoping to reach out and help at least one person. Take that fear of judgement and kick it where it hurts, because anyone who says you can’t do it can shove it. You are incredible and your dreams/goals are just as valid as anyone elses.
21. It’s okay that time changes us;
I am not the same person I was a year ago, I’m not the same person I was a week ago. People we meet and places we go to all influence who we grow up to become. We never stop learning and growing so it’s totally okay to be a different person. I used to go out every weekend and now I much prefer cosy nights in with those I love. It doesn’t make you a failure, things end and people change and grow.
Be confident in the person that you are becoming and if you’re not happy with things right now, then get out there and change it. You don’t have to wait for anyone else, this is your life. Be proud, be brave.
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. – Barack Obama