Change is afoot, peoples. I’m officially 21 tomorrow: 4th September. Yes, I know it’s Beyoncé’s birthday but pls gimme some attention for dis post, thanking you- Queen B can step down for a sec. I got some stuffs to say.
This last year has been a whirlwind. I’ve been swept up in some beautiful memories that have made me feel incredibly grateful for life, and I’ve also been tossed about by some pretty bad turbulence at times. (Lol, u like the metaphor?!). And I don’t know if there’s somethin’ in the air during your 20’s, but ever since I hit the big two zero I feel like I’ve been learning life lessons left, right and bladdy centre. Everything from family life and relationships, to university and internships have dealt me some lil lessons that I try to remind myself day to day, and I thought I’d take today’s post to ramble on about ’em- purely as a therapeutic task for myself to reminisce on my 20th year on the planet and to look forward to my next year ahead, but hopefully to inject some extra positivity into your day if you fancy reading this.
20, you’ve taught me a lot. 21, imma ready for ya! Here’s 21 lessons imma take into my 21st year, ya’ll!
1) Do every day with a lil happy heart
When life boils down to it, why should we spend time being sad, worrying or stressing out? We only get one shot at doing stuffs on this planet, and if you make your heart a lil happy one, then the world becomes a lovely place to be in. I’ve realised more than ever this year that feeling hugely grateful for the good things life has kindly given you gives such a sense of peace to ya heart and makes every day a good day to be waking up for.
2) There’s a whole world behind a person’s smile
I don’t care what anyone says, every SINGLE person has their own struggles, problems and issues to face day in, day out. As humans, we have an annoying disposition to jump on the ‘woe is me’ bandwagon, and think that we’re the only ones facing problems as tough as our own. But we are SO wrong. And even if we do have a struggle that is bladdy hard- and life can be bladdy unfair and deal us a bad card- we’ve just got to get on up, keep on fighting and come on out the other side. Problems are all relative- and just because someone’s issue is, in comparison, ‘smaller’ to yours, it doesn’t mean they find their issue less tricky. We all have our demons to face- and we can all fight them off.
You never know what someone’s going through. Always open your heart to others, be kind and empathise with what they’re going through, and remind yourself that we’re all doing this life thing together.
3) Do something that absolutely frickin’ terrifies you every single day
During my 20th year, it’s the stuff I’ve done that terrified me that have led to the biggest achievements, and have made me the most proud. I dragged myself to the first day at an internship, absolutely freakin’ out about how the day would go. I’ve asked for help from my university’s welfare officer. I’ve mentally talked myself into going to a social event I fully wasn’t feeling at the time. And once I got through that initial terror, I found myself living and breathing some of my most rewarding moments!
If you’ve got a dream, however impossible it may seem, just bladdy well go for it!! You never ever know what will happen until you try! You’ll only ever regret the things you didn’t do in this life, after all, ya know!
4) You CAN be selfish once in a while
Now this is a biggie. Maybe the most important, if not one of the most important, lessons I’ve learnt this year. The whole concept of being selfish would shock the best of us- how can you be selfish?! Isn’t that an awful trait to have?! Yet sometimes we care so much about everyone else, we always look out for our loved ones and we spend so much time and energy on them that we can neglect ourselves, and that in turn can detriment our own health. Taking a step back and realising some time away is necessary is just what’s needed to enable us to be stronger people that can look out for others in a better way. If you’re strong, you can help your loved ones in a more productive way. Look after yaselves, peoples!
5) Right here, right now is all that matters
The past has happened. The future hasn’t happened yet. You can change neither of those sentiments so why do we spend so much time and energy thinking about what has been and gone, and what might or might not be around the corner?! When you put it like that, we’re just all a lil bit pathetic, aren’t we? The only decisions we can make and changes we can effect are right here, right now. In. The. Present.
Staying present is something that is practised hugely in mindfulness, and you’ll often find the truly happiest people who are at peace with themselves are those that advocate for living in the present.
6) Stick to ya guns and you’ll get there
If you’ve got a dream career or a goal you want to accomplish in life, stick to your guns. Go with your gut. If you’ve got a passion and you’re ready to work your lil ass off, learn every lesson and hone your skills every single day to get there, you’ll get there. Don’t let insecurity, that horrible feelin’ of inferiority or other people stop you from getting there. If ya gut is tellin’ ya somethin’, listen to that gut!
7) The only thing that’s holding you back are your thoughts
When a situation happens to us, it’s our thoughts that determine how we feel about said situation. For example, at university I often feel inadequate to my peers. Why? It’s because my thoughts tell me I’m not good enough to be there.
A lot of students have come from private schools, conditioned from a young age to think that it’s the Russell Groups or the highway, and they may very well be Oxbridge material. I have to work my lil ass off to get good grades, and I’m the first in my family to go to university.
When I achieved my 2:1 at the end of my second year, my thoughts could have gone one of two ways. I could have been bladdy proud of myself, lil state school Maddie, for having worked like mad all year to achieve a bladdy good grade. Or, I could have looked at what my private school peers achieved, those that went for Cambridge and ended up in Birmingham achieving brilliant firsts across the board, and negatively compare myself to them which would in turn make myself feel like utter shit.
What did my thoughts decide to do?
Go for the shit option, of course.
If you don’t listen to your thoughts, or if you train yourself to take the positive thought process each and every time, you’d forever be a happy lil bean. Why torment ourselves? Positivity is the way forward, people!
8) You’re just not everyone’s cup of tea – and that’s no bad thing
I submitted a piece of fiction this year at uni for a deadline- the lecturer basically took a poop all over my feedback and told me, in a roundabout way, that my written style was absolute shite. She called me ‘commercial’ – and believe me, she did not mean that in a good way. I submitted a similar piece of work to another lecturer, and he was absolutely lovely, told me he loved what I’m doing, and gave me a much needed confidence boost. Sometimes my housemates love me, and sometimes I’m sure I have lil habits that get on their nerves.
It used to really hurt me that I can’t just please everybody, all the time, and that there have to be tensions on this earth we live in, but now I’ve realised that’s just natural. People like their teas different ways- heck, I don’t even like tea at all- but that’s no bad thing!
9) Ya not superwoman, so stop trying to be
Every morning, I write out a to-do list for the day ahead, as it helps me be productive. Yet most days I write ridiculous lists that I’ll never manage to get through, and I’ll find myself beating myself up about it at the end of the day. W H Y? A healthy reminder: none of us have superpowers, and it’s natural to have days where there’s a lull in productivity. We’re human. Stop tryin’a change the world.
10) Reaching out for help will be one of the best things you’ll ever do
I reached out for counselling at university this last year to help me cope with my feelings surrounding losing my Dad in January 2016. Last Christmas, I spent half the day sobbing, and half the day a moody lil bah-humbug no one wanted to be around, because the grief just got too much.
Now I’m turning 21 tomorrow and for the first time in 2 years, I’m hitting a milestone feeling optimistic and I’ll do all I can to have a happy day without him, instead of letting the grief overwhelm me. He’d want me to have a happy day, so I’m going to do everything in my power to be positive. And if that’s not proof of how much reaching out will help you, then I don’t know what is.
11) A good diet and regular exercise is SO easy to achieve – and so bladdy hard to maintain
I lost weight between Easter and Summer this year, after years of saying I wanted to slightly change my relationship with food and exercise. This summer, I’ve slipped a wee bit, indulged away on food and I’ve kinda given up on the exercise front. BUT I know I’ll get back there! Note to self for my 21st year.
12) It’s okay to have fun ya know
No one judge here and think me a bore pls, but I reckon because I’ve had some not so nice things happen in the last two years I’ve kinda lost my fun spirit a lil. And this last year I found myself getting it back! It’s okay to let ya hair down n be a 20-something u silly!
13) Midnight chats on the floor in the hallway with ya pals will keep you SANE during uni
14) ALWAYS remember to have a wardrobe clear out – on the reg !! !!
Note to self: never let it get as bad as the end of second year. Hauling three suitcases home full of clothes to a half full wardrobe at home was NOT the one.
15) Comparison will only ever lead to negativity
There are ALWAYS going to be so so many people bossin’ life better than you, in your eyes. So why torment yourself by comparing your ability and successes to others? Be proud of YOU, end of.
16) Just be you and you will never be unhappy
I feel like this year I’ve really grown to know who I am, where I’m going and who I want to ultimately be. I know my fashion sense (seems materialistic, but it’s a big sense of my identity), I know what makes me happy and I know I want at least one lil sausage doggo and a music room in my house by the time I’m in my thirties. I’ve grown into myself more than ever before and although I still have a book full of insecurities, I can block ‘em out and be proud that I’m doin’ me.
17) It’s okay to let go of people that won’t make the time for you
University is a biiiig ol’ marker of friendship. Those who’ll keep in touch? Pals for life. Those who don’t? Seeeee ya, wouldn’t wanna be yaaaaa!
18) It’s okay to move forward – don’t live in the past
I feel I’ve touched on this beauty of a lesson a lil during this post already, but it’s so important to keep movin’ on up, because if you live life in your past regrets, your past bad memories and dwell on things that might have not gone so right, you’ll never be happy and at peace with yourself. And all you want is peace and happiness for yourself, so keep on movin’, kid!
19) There’s so much positivity in every day – even on the worst days
Life can be unfathomably tough, unfair and painful, but it can also be magical, beautiful and downright special. Every single day there is something special to take away from it, and even on the trickiest days we can look for a lil nugget of positivity. You’ve got a choice of two mindsets: glass half empty, or glass half full- and who wouldn’t want to look on the brighter side?!
20) Being the ‘advice’ friend is actually a good thing
It means people trust you. It means you’re giving people something back. A problem halved is a problem shared, and if you can share someone’s burden with them, you’re making their life just that bit easier. And there’s no better feeling than that.
21) And FINALLY – never be too hard on yourself – you’re doing just fine!!
Imma survived two decades- now bring on the next one!