25 things I learned before I turned 25
With the eve of my 25th birthday looming I have found myself, as I'm sure many of you have at milestone birthdays, contemplating exactly what I have achieved, and learned in my first quarter century.
Having come to the (horrifying) realisation that my early twenties are now firmly behind me, I wanted to remind myself that it's not all doom and gloom, and that despite often looking back on my young adulthood and wishing I had been more adventurous, that I had more stories to tell, that is just not what my introverted-ness allowed, and that is OK! I have the rest of my life to keep adding to my collection.
Now in no particular order, here are 25 things I learned before I turned 25:
1. It's possible to survive without a smartphone: Now I am aware this is a controversial one, but having had the same phone since 2009 I can honestly say I don't feel like I've missed out. My phone does everything I need it to: call and text.
2. You can still meet people 'the old fashioned way': In an age when everything we do is online, it is refreshing to know you can still meet new people just by a chance encounter. I love the fact that I met my boyfriend at the train station (we both commute) and that I have a series of characters that I regularly get chatting to on the train.
3. Be proud of the things that make you different: I have always been proud of my red hair, I felt so lucky even when people would heckle me for it; but I hated that I was always so much taller than everyone else. I would wear the flattest shoes while my friends all got to wear these amazing heels and I was still taller than them! I used to be so self conscious about it, but my parents taught me to stand tall, embrace my 'statuesque' height and walk with my head held high.
4. You don't have to follow every trend, especially the ones you don't actually like: These trends come and go so fast you can exhaust yourself if you try and keep up with them all. Yet we are so conditioned to believe that if we don't, then we will be rejected by our peers. As someone who was never very good at keeping up with these things I have found the truth of 'it's our differences that make us/life interesting'. Individuality is the way to 'live your best life'!
5. Find the things that make you happy and keep doing them! Enough said.
6. Start saving as soon as you can: I've always been so grateful to my parents that they taught us this so early on. They opened our first savings accounts for us as babies and always taught us the importance of having a safety net.
7. Social media is not the standard to which you should live your life: In other words, stop comparing yourself! Although I do have Facebook and Instagram (with my lone post, put up by Em) I never really post anything, yet I still fall into the trap of comparing my life to that of what I see posted on social media. I constantly have to remind myself that people only post what they want you to see, it's an illusion to make their lives seem idealistic and perfect, but you don't see the nitty gritty every day stuff. So don't worry about how perfect everyone else's lives seem, focus on where you want to be and how you can get there.
8. It's never too late to start a new hobby: Stop putting it off! Whether its taking up a new sport, a craft, learning an instrument or even a new language, hobby's are just supposed to be something we enjoy doing, and they often allow us to develop skills that will help in everyday life. It's easy to make excuses like 'I should have started as a kid', or say 'I'll start tomorrow', but honestly there's no time like the present! And if you hate it? At least you gave it a go!
9. Sometimes you have to put yourself first, and that's absolutely fine: It's not selfish to consider your own needs in any given situation. Yes it's good to do things for other people when we can but we all need to take time for self care too.
10. Don't put yourself under pressure to conform to everyone else's ideas of you: People are always going to have an opinion, on the way you dress, the way you speak, the way you act. Don't let their opinion of you define you. You are awesome, quirks and all, embrace it for all it is worth.
11. Family means everything: Above all else family is there for each other. They are the people who are always going to have your back, will always be there for you, and although we may fight, we know that we can rely on each other through thick and thin.
12. It's better to create good habits rather than rely on shortcuts: I mean this more in a healthy lifestyle kind of way. I know we all want instant results but crazy diets are not the way forward if you want lasting results. Learning to find the balance between eating healthy, (portion control- I always make way too much!) exercise, and treating yourself is tough at first, but way easier than if you've started from scratch at a later stage when all you've ever done is 'treat yourself', trust me.
13. Have the courage to say NO. Sometimes being a 'yes man' (or woman) can lead you into all sorts of sticky spots. As a people-pleaser I have a tendency to say yes to everyone, and then stress about how I'm going to meet all these people's expectations without letting anyone down. That being said, knowing when to say yes to an opportunity is just as important.
14. Don't be so trusting: By no means do I mean that being trusting is a bad thing, but it's important not to let people take advantage of that trait in you, and there are people that will if you let them.
15. Don't be afraid to let go of people that don't make you feel good about yourself: This can be really tough, especially if this means parting ways with a lifelong friend. But people change and relationships run their course, and if anyone is making you feel small or make you doubt yourself, then you have to consider are they really looking out for your best interests?
16. Dwelling on things from the past only hurts You: I'm sure we have all laid in bed at night, finally drifting off to sleep, when all of a sudden your brain decides to remind you of the time you tripped over in assembly when you were 10, or you let someone down; whatever situation your mind throws at you, you feel bad and lose a nights sleep, but there is nothing you can do to change the past, either learn from it, or forgive and forget, there is no point crying over spilt milk.
17. It's only a mistake if you choose not to learn from it: It's inevitable that you will make mistakes, no one is perfect. What is important is what you take from the experience, if you can find something positive in the situation then maybe it was worth it.
18. Get out of your comfort zone: This is a big one, and one that I am not very good at, because it's scary! But do as I say not as I do. If you push yourself to try new things or meet new people then you will find so many more doors open up to you, you will experience so much more, and get so much more back.
19. Learn everything you can from your grandparents. They're not going to be around forever, and they have a lot of wisdom to impart. Ask questions, make notes, listen. This is your heritage, and not only is it interesting, but its your responsibility to pass it on.
20. The lessons you learn through the University of Life are just as important as the lessons you learn in the classroom: They don't teach you everything you need to know at school, yes Maths and English are important, but so is knowing about taxes, mortgages, what to look out for when buying your first car! I am really lucky my Dad is so thorough about all this stuff, and patient too, because it still confuses the hell out of me... I'm sure I'll get there.
21. You are never too old for Disney! OK so we all know Disney films never get old, but the thing we never realised as kids is that Disney movies are made with the parents in mind too. Re-watching some of my childhood favourites as an adult was such a different experience, and soo funny in a whole new way!
22. Take your health seriously: Whether your physical or mental health, it is so important to talk to someone who can actually help. You are not a bother and people will be there for you, you just have to speak up.
23. Having anxious moments is not the inconvenience for others that you think it is: I don't know who needs to hear this, but here it is! I know I need to be reminded of this constantly, because it is scarily easy to spiral into the pit of anxiety, and loneliness. Rationally we know that real friends, or people who truly care understand and will be there for you no matter what, sometimes we just need a gentle reminder.
24. Enjoy the simple things in life: Curling up with a good book, treating yourself to your favourite chocolate, chilling out having a laugh with your friends or a rainy day movie marathon, its the little things in life that help you relax and that make the moments we look back on.
25. Try and find one positive in each day: Everyday when I get home from work, the first question I am asked is 'how was your day?' and regardless of if I've had a good day or terrible day I like to have something positive to say, either an anecdote from someone I've spoken to, or just something that made me smile; I hate to say 'fine' or 'ok'. It's so easy to get bogged down with the bad things, I love to find the silver lining. Tip: I saw this on Pinterest, that you write down one positive thing about your day, everyday, for a year. Put it in a jar and then at the end of the year you can look back on all the lovely things that made you happy, or smile.
'Every day I try to remind myself of the good in the world, the love I’ve witnessed and the faith I have in humanity. We have to live bravely in order to truly feel alive, and that means not being ruled by our greatest fears.'
~ Taylor Swift
I hope you've found this post a little insightful, and that some of these points also resonate with a few of you guys too. Here's to the next 25 years! Love Jess x