We’re living in strange times right now. And we all know that. And we’re all fed up of knowing that, so I shall not be a’focusin’ on that today, oh no. Grab a cuppa and cosy up on the sofa, because we’re having a frank and honest gal pal chat. Let’s put the world to rights over a biccie and a brew, yeah? So today, I thought I’d discuss 20 positive things I’ve learnt since 2020 came its way and hit us with a big old dose of ‘here’s a challenge, deal wit it’ – because it’s good to focus on the lessons life has a funny way of teachin’ us:
1) The simplest things will make you relax and forget about everything
After three years of what I can only describe as an absolute mad rush thanks to University, I’m finally realising what things actually do make me relax. At University, there always seemed like more that I should be doing to improve my grades and job prospects, and ability to be social with every pal. But now, in my wee flat in Bristol, allowing myself weekends to just RELAX, I know that both books and popping a vinyl record on does it for me. Even a walk outside (coronavirus restrictions permitting) chills me reet out. And relaxing was something I was struggling to find at University.
2) You can stand up for yourself!!
I’ve always struggled with asserting myself in situations I feel are unfair. I hate conflicts, and I used to be the person to just swallow my thoughts instead of sticking up for myself. But I’m learning it’s okay to stand up for what you believe in, and that you can frame your thoughts in a way that’s fair and not in a way that’ll bubble up an argument. And often, I’ve realised sticking up for yourself earns you more respect. Just took me 22 years, no biggie.
3) You bloody love Bristol, a lot
Moving to Bristol was a decision I was in two minds about. On the one hand, you had a beautiful place I’ve wanted to live in for three entire years. On the other hand, you have London with actual job prospects for journalism, and Bristol with zilch. But I chose Bristol because I wanted to give myself some ‘time off’ from pushing myself, anyway. And it’s the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. I adore our little flat, I adore having the chance to live with Sam after being together for over 5 frickin years, I love my job even if it’s not journo-related, I’m so happy having met some wonderful people down here, and I bloody love this city. Everything about this place is just wonderful – it’s the perfect place for me. If it wasn’t for career aspirations, I’d be setting up shop in Bristol right now for the rest of my life. I just love this place too damn much.
4) It’s maybe time to re-frame your life goals
I had a difficult realisation recently: that perhaps the life goals I’ve had my heart set on for so long may not quite be those goals that work for my life right now. I’ve changed as a person a lot since University and it’s hard to work out whether those goals I was so dead set on are still goals that mean a lot to me. What makes this more difficult is that a lot of my goals do nooot line up. I want to live in Bristol, yet work in a career that’s based in London. I want to get into journalism, yet don’t have the privileged background to be able to do a year’s unpaid internship before securing a role. I want to get on the property ladder and finally get a doggo, yet I want to up and do some travelling. It’s a wee bit confusing. But I’m learning that that’s okay, because I got tiiime.
5) Being without university will make you damn happy
I can’t express how much easier working life is to university life. I love working, I enjoy it and I find it infinitely easier than the hell of dissertations, exams and assignments. University knocked me mentally, and I am so glad I’m done with it – as much as I miss my pals so dearly.
6) Relaxing and taking time for yourself isn’t unproductive
SHOCK HORROR. Only took me 22 years to realise this one, as well. I like to be busy and I like to be productive – that’s just how I roll. Which is good in some senses, but absolutely horrendous when it comes to taking some time for myself to relax. I am the world’s worst relaxer. I cannot relax. I cannot just stop and be like ‘oh, I’ll take today off to relax’. Even at the weekend, I’ve always got to be doing something. Yet recently, through the help of a good book or ten, I’m learning that relaxing is productive, because it allows your brain time to recharge – and most importantly, we all deserve that. Even little old me.
7) You kinda like working from home
This whole C word scariness has meant I’ve been working remotely for a while. I’ve always toyed with the idea of going freelance at some point, but was worried it might be too lonely for me. Turns out, I’m more introverted than I thought, because I’m currently loving it. I miss my colleagues and the office environment, but I do not miss having to think about which outfit to wear other than joggers and my hour-long commute. So maybe full-time freelance is something to think about for the future? Who knows?
8) You can exercise (as much as you hate it) and exercising will be good for you
Don’t get me wrong, I still hate exercise with a passion. I’m still the person who believes feel-good endorphins are a lie and hitting yourself in the face with a rounders bat is the pinnacle of sporting achievements. But I force myself to go to the gym (before C word happened) and when I do go, I feel better for it afterwards. I may detest the thought of going with every fibre of my being, but I’m 50% closer to saying “it’s worth it, though”.
9) It’s okay if your life plans get thrown up in the air
Before I got to Bristol, I had a very strict one-year plan lined up in my head. We’d move to Bristol, have a chill, fun year, I’d carry out an internship at Cosmopolitan in March and then work out from that whether we’d like to move to London or not in September 2020 after perhaps a spot o’ travelling in summer. But then again, I didn’t factor potential worldwide pandemics into the equation lol. So as of now, my internship didn’t happen because it got cancelled, I currently don’t know if I like living in London because I haven’t been able to go and trial living there and I have no idea when we’ll be able to do any travelling because currently ya can’t go anywhere. But I’m learning that this is fine, because 2020 is cancelled anyway, and we can start again in 2021.
10) Letting go of things that/those who don’t make you feel good is one smart move
I’m realising that if something doesn’t make you feel good, you don’t have to keep it in ya life. From toxic friendships, to unflattering outfits, letting go of things that make you feel poop is really important. And realising as well that you can’t control the actions of others no matter how much you try is a big relief. You just keep doing you and surround yourself with positive things and positive peoples.
11) You’ll feel insecure at work sometimes. But that’s okay
This is a constant lol. I think it’s just something that the majority of new graduates feel. You feel you don’t have the experience/the right to assert your opinion in the workplace, and I constantly feel I have to ask my superiors for their advice before making any executive decision on my own. I often feel insecure about my abilities, but I’m a hard worker and try my best and das all you can do, wee graduate. Accept that this insecurity is something that happens to the best of us, and keeping pushing past your discomfort zone and you’ll gradually feel more comfortable.
12) You can’t do everything at once. And it’s okay not to do everything at once.
There’s so much I want to try my very best to achieve and do. When I moved to Bristol, I had biiig thoughts that I’d finally get back into doing music stuffs, I’d write more fiction, I’d submit articles to magazines in the hope that one got picked up. And currently, six months in, I’ve done none of that lol. I’ve got this blog back up and running, I work full-time and I freelance most my evenings. That means I barely have time for anything else. Those things will come to me when the time is right – and it’s okay not to rush.
13) (Once you’re able to lol) travel will be something you’re *actually* interested in
I’m a mahoosive homebird. I’m not very adventurous (moving to Bristol was the craziest decision I’ve made). Yet now I’m out of university and I have a greater curiosity to explore the world, I could genuinely see myself going travelling for a bit. Now, we’re not talking a year or six months, because I don’t think I could be away from home for that long, but I could definitely see myself doing a couple months. I’d adore to live in Paris temporarily at some point in my life as that place is the only city in the entire world I’d move to that isn’t in the UK. And then my travel hit list currently consists of: everywhere in Italy (after pandemic, obvs), Lisbon, Amsterdam (again), New York, San Francisco and Tokyo.
14) You can work through difficult feelings and come out the other side
Since losing my Dad in 2016, there have been some very difficult emotions I’ve been trying to come to terms with. It was incredibly hard to do this, because I rushed straight from Year 13, when it happened, to the utter stress of university. I felt I didn’t have time to process the grief properly. Even now, there are very many things I still need to work through, but some of the emotions I believe I’ve finally come out the other side of. When other more recent challenges have come my way, I’ve been able to healthily work through the emotional pain – instead of bottling those feelings up, like I used to. It is possible to work your way through things and come out the other side, it just might take some time (and by that I mean sometimes even years).
15) You’ll appreciate the sky, the sound of birds singing, and nature
With the C word wreaking havoc, I’ve suddenly begun to appreciate more than ever before the quiet calm and beauty of the sky, hearing birds sing until now 7pm in the evenings, and the wonder of nature. I’ve always been someone that loves being outside and appreciates the unique beauty of new places, but this has brought a different significance to my perspective. Once this is over, we’re all going to adore the freedom of outdoors much, much more.
16) You are YOURSELF once Spring rears it beaut head
I hate winter. This has been a known fact for many, many years. My mood is heavily affected by the short days and dark evenings and I hate cold, wet weather. Once blossoms start blooming and days get sunnier, I feel myself again. This is something that’s become even more apparent to me this year, and I’ve tried to do what I can to help myself find joy in winter, too. And I’m just buzzing for more sunshine – I can’t wait.
17) The sound of seagulls is perhaps your favourite thing, apart from sausage dogs
Bristol is such a beautiful place for many reasons, but a big ol’ reason is because you hear seagulls every single day! I’ve spent my whole life living in landlocked Warwickshire, and this chance to live closer to the sea is just everything to me. One of my favourite things about a lazy weekend morning is sitting in my living room, listening to the seagulls outside. It’s so calming and such a happy noise.
18) You know for absolute certain you want a sausage dog and a shiba inu.
I’ve known I’ve wanted a sausage doggo in my life for a few years now. It’s no secret they’re my favourite doggo. But since my boyfriend introduced me to a Shiba Inu called Kevin on Instagram last year, it’s cemented more so than ever in my head that I at some point in my life need a sausage dog and a shiba. Whether this takes all my money to get them, I will be having them. At some point. Maybe.
19) Your friendship with your university friends is a thang that’s gon’ last a lifetime
My pals from uni are so important to me. I was worried that once we all parted ways and headed back to various areas of the country we wouldn’t keep in touch as much anymore. But I was wrong – because the kinda friendship that endures living together in shitty student houses and through dissertation hell is the kinda friendship that endures anything. I’m so happy this is true and I can’t wait to see them all again soon.
20) You’re learning to be content with yourself
Wowzers! This is a biggie. Turns out, it’s okay to like yourself?! And it’s also okay to have those bits of yourself you don’t like as much or don’t feel confident about, but your resolve is strong enough to not let them affect you?! Crazy. This is one big one for 2020 and I’m feeling much better for committing to this.
What will the rest of 2020 bring? Who knows, eh? If it gets worse, it’s totally okay, because 2020 is cancelled. Just as 2016 was, because that was one shite year. Onwards and upwards, my pals – we can do this!