Aaaand we’ve entered September! We’re slowly (and reluctantly) waving goodbye to summer, the holiday garments are being stashed away at the back of our wardrobes for another year, and we’re heading to Topshop for a knitwear haul quicker than you can say ‘cashmere or cable knit?’.
Now, I’m v much a summer gal. As soon as that sun is shining, I’m smiling. I love everything about summer, from the weather, to the seasonal styling. And it does very much pain me when I feel the temperature dropping and the trees gettin’ ready to shed their leaves. However, September is actually one of my favourite months.
Who’s birthday could it have possibly been yesterday? And no, I don’t mean Beyoncé. Yes, I know it was hers and all, but give another gal some attention, ya know. It was miiiine!
So, September is a very special month for me, as it means BIRTHDAY MONTH. Now, I’m someone who actually loves other people’s birthdays more than their own, because I love getting people exciting gifts and I hate having the attention all on moi. However, this year’s birthday was a good ‘unnn. I had the most chilled day with the most important people in my life, my family and my boyfriend, and it was wonderful to have an excuse to do absolutely nothing and, more importantly, eat cake. As much as it was a lovely day, the reality has now hit that I no longer am an age that ends in ‘teen’ and I’m now joining the bunch of twenty-somethings that find themselves oh-so-relatable in every single Cosmopolitan article. Shit has got real now. Welcome to growing up, independence and gettin’ yo shit together. How terrifying. If I feel this bad now, God help me when I get to 21.
Seeing as I’m now a year older, I thought I’d spend my 2nd day of being 20 reflecting on life so far. Milestones are good times to reflect on lessons you’ve learnt, how far you’ve come and where you want the future to head. So I thought I’d do a wee post about 20 mahoosive life lessons I have learnt from my now 20 years on the planet. Expect some soppy attempts at pearls of wisdom here on.
1) My life motto: absolutely everything must happen for a reason
This can be the hardest thing to tell yourself when you’re experiencing a hard time, but I honestly stand by this. When my Dad passed away last year, he had been struggling with poor health since he was 21 years old. He was 57 when he passed away. His health had deteriorated rapidly and I knew that the future was only looking unimaginably tough for him, so I knew that he was chosen to go at the time he did, to save him from struggling with any more pain. And as much as there are days when I’m grieving and can’t see it this way, I know ultimately I can use this feeling that everything must happen for a reason to console me and get me through this again.
2) Just because someone may not be here anymore, it doesn’t mean that they don’t live on with you
My Dad might not physically be here with me anymore, but I can still feel his presence in everything I do. It may sound like utter hippy rubbish, but your loved ones’ strength still lingers with you. My Dad brought me up with values that I’ll still uphold throughout my whole life, his guidance and advice still steers me in the right direction today and whenever something happens that I wish I could tell him, I just hope that he knows. Everything they taught you and everything they stand for will still linger with you today, and always will.
3) Always try to see the bigger picture
If a boss at work snaps at you for no good reason, or a friend keeps cancelling on your plans, it’s time to see the bigger picture before jumping to conclusions. The fact is, you never know what’s going on in someone’s personal life. You may think you know your friend, but she may in fact be struggling at the moment with something she’s not yet ready to open up about. You just have to give people the benefit of the doubt, just as you wish those who know you would do if you were struggling. There’s always a reason behind someone’s behaviour. Of course that doesn’t mean you should excuse someone’s every action, but if this is out of character for someone, maybe try and understand why they’ve treated you like this.
4) Live life as fully as possible, because you never know what’s around the corner
Life is full of ups and downs and you just never know what you’re going to hit next. This is why we have to remind ourselves not to stress or get annoyed about those things that, in all honesty, don’t really matter. Of course, it’s human nature- we’re all going to start whining about that essay we’ve got to hand in soon, even though we know that, in reality, we should just stop moaning and start getting on with it. Sometimes we do slip up and spend time worrying about something inconsequential, but as long as we remember that in reality things are actually going swimmingly and we are very happy and very grateful, that’s okay.
5) You can find a positive in every shitty situation
I believe that you have to experience the bad, in order to truly appreciate the good. 2016 encompassed the hardest times I have ever experienced, and so far, 2017 has been the most amazing year of my life. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, I’ve been incredibly lucky to have met some of my now best friends and I’ve travelled to some amazing places, making memories that I’ll cherish forever. As the oh-so-cringe Tumblr quote says, you can’t have a rainbow without a lil rain. We’ll work through it, people.
6) Treat everyone with absolute kindness
Treat people how you wish to be treated. Do something to make people a lil happier. This world has enough rubbish in it without us personally adding to it all. You want to leave this life knowing you did everything you could to make the world a better place.
7) Work your arse off for every dream you have and don’t put it off for fear of failing
Through the years, I have said enough bladdy times comments like, ‘oh I’d really like to get some work experience in London’ and ‘oh, I want to get back on it with music- I could maybe start a band’ and then proceeded to sit back on me bum and do absolutely NOTHING about it. This summer, I worked at Heat Magazine at their offices in Camden Town and I started my own band and got back into performing. And do you know what? It’s been hard to juggle my time, but I’ve had the best 3 months of my life for it. I didn’t bother to start these ventures before, because I just thought they were pipe dreams, and I was nervous to apply for anything in case I didn’t get chosen. Do not let the fear of failure stop you from achieving your dreams. Heck, I don’t even like calling them ‘dreams’, because dreams would suggest that they cannot become a reality. And they bladdy can. If you want something enough, you work your arse off and you’ll get there. Hard work pays off.
8) Make the most of being young, with little to zero responsibilities
This summer, after nearly 3 whole years of saying we’d go, my boyfriend and myself booked a trip to Paris. We’re hopping on that plane tomorrow morning and we’ve got 4 nights in a beautiful hotel in central Paris. When we booked this back in July, I used money that was currently in my account (for my summer rent, ahem) to pay for it, knowing that if I worked really hard at my waitressing job, I could make that money back up over summer. This has meant that I couldn’t spend all that much money over the last couple months, and my Mum even said to me the other day ‘why did you book Paris when you couldn’t comfortably afford it?’, but if I’m completely honest, I did it because it’s something I’ve been wanting to do FOREVER. And there was no better time to go than now, when I’m a skint student with time on my hands. Make the most out of being young, cease every opportunity and make memories you’ll look back on in a few years’ time, when you’re tied down to a 9-5 job, with 3 screaming toddlers. Life’s for makin’ the most of, kids!
9) Learn to say no to things you don’t want to do
I’m someone that likes to please everyone, and I desperately want everyone to like me. Of course, no one likes feeling like someone doesn’t like them. And of course, we all want those around us to be happy, but sometimes we need to think about ourselves, and our happiness. A few months ago, if I was asked out on a night out and wasn’t feelin’ it, I’d say yes anyway just to make my pals happy. However, now I’ve realised it’s better for everyone if I just learn to say no. Once in a while don’t hurt nobody, and if they’re true friends, they’ll totally understand.
10) Make the time and effort for those people that stick around, and remember that if others don’t, it’s not a reflection on you
Since going to university, I’ve had a maaaassive eye opener when it comes to friendships. Those big groups at sixth form that promised you’ll meet up all the time, visit each other’s unis and keep in touch by text? They just disintegrate. There’s a whole lotta broken promises made, by all parties. University has made me realise the people that are worth making an effort for. I am someone that will always make the effort with friends- I want to keep in touch. Only difference now is that I’m not going to bother if the effort isn’t reciprocated. And the better part of it? I’m not even going to feel bothered by it. You need to remember that if you try and arrange something with someone, and they cannot be bothered to see you, it’s not a reflection on you. You are worthy of people’s time and attention, and there are plenty of other friends who will make the time to see you, so why worry about one or two who don’t fancy your time?
11) Put your all into everything, because then you can never be disappointed
Here’s a scenario: you fail an exam. However, you put your absolute all into it, working your bum off on revision. Here’s another scenario: you fail the exam, but it’s entirely your fault because you didn’t bother to put the hours in with revision. Surely it’s better to fail, having known that you did all you absolutely could and console yourself that it was a really tough exam, rather than know you could have passed if you’d have bothered to look at a practice paper? I’ll let chu be the judge of that.
12) Tell the people you cherish how much you love them- every day
Like I was saying earlier, with life, you never know what’s around the corner. So, you have to make the most of every single day and you also have to make sure those around you know how much they mean to you. Don’t bicker with your sister because she borrowed your fave dress without asking; tell people how special they are. It’s important that they know that.
13) Always, always look out for the people that matter to you
There’s nothing to be said here. If those you love are struggling, do everything that you can to be the biggest support to them.
14) But remember that there’s going to be a time when you need to put yourself first
There’s only so much you can do. Last year, when I lost my Dad I tried to be the strong one, because it hurt me so much to see my family struggling. However, it’s only now, a year on, when I’ve had time to process, that I’ve realised in trying to be the strong one, I neglected myself. Everything has hit me so much harder this year, because I took a step back when my family were okay to cope on their own and as soon as I took a breather, everything came crashing down for myself. Never neglect yourself- you’ll be all the stronger for those around you if you take some time to care for yourself, too.
15) Every single ‘self-help’ book you read is a pile of rubbish. Admitting you’re struggling and seeking help is where strength lies.
Going back to last year, as I said, I wanted to be the strong one for my family. I didn’t want to be breaking down every day; I wanted to be my own little support network for them. In order to try to keep myself as strong as possible, my school pointed me in the direction of a counsellor, who I could go to talk to, offload to; just someone who was completely impartial to my family that I could talk to, without fear of upsetting them. You don’t want to talk to your loved ones, because they’re emotionally connected to you and will just suffer when you bring the situation up. So, I went to talk to a counsellor- and it helped. We live in a culture of ‘self-help’, where everything can be magically fixed if you take some time out to care for yourself every day. And that is a whole load of rubbish. There are situations that are beyond ‘self-help’- and just because you may find yourself in a situation like that, it DOES NOT mean you’re a failure. Heck, admitting you’re struggling and actively seeking help is showing true strength. You’re identifying what needs to be done to get better, instead of hiding away, reading a self-help article and trying to put a plaster on something that won’t heal in a couple of days.
16) Please do not compare yourself to others. They’ve not got what you have.
Everyone is unique and special in their own unique and special ways. None of us are alike. We are made that way for a reason. You can sit there saying ‘so-and-so has better hair than me, so-and-so is doing better at their degree than me’ but those people are wishing they had qualities YOU have. Comparisons lead us no where good. Appreciate the good qualities you have, and learn to realise that it’s people’s flaws that actually make them special. Flaws should be celebrated, not put down.
17) Social media will only ever represent 0.1% of someone’s life
That photo of Beth and Lucy together at Amy’s party? You know, the candid where they’re smiling away? Beth bitches about Lucy all the time, and secretly, they hate each other. That photo of Jess, bikini-clad? She took around 65 photos, at different angles in order to get that one shot. Social media allows us to edit ourselves in ways we can’t in real life; we curate our Instagram feeds to present a life we don’t really live. This fact is extremely sad, but we’re all guilty of it, and we know it. You have to take these things with a pinch o’ salt.
18) Be friendly and open with everyone
Sometimes, we encounter difficult people who are extreeemely hard to talk to. But if we smile and be open and friendly in our chat with them, what more can a gal do?
19) Don’t do yourself down- acknowledge and be proud of your achievements
My default when talking about myself is to take the mick, do down my achievements and laugh about how generally awkward I am. However, in reality, I’m actually pretty proud of the things I’ve achieved. And as people, we’re told not to big ourselves up, because then we’ll come across as full of ourselves and arrogant. So we do ourselves down, because we’re scared of what people think. But it shouldn’t be that way. Of course, be grounded and realise that yes, you are wonderful but not bladdy perfect, but give yourself credit for what you’ve achieved.
19) And please, whatever you do, just don’t take life too seriously
Life is for livin’. Enjoy it.