So it's official, in less than a month, I'll be 23. My boyfriend's birthday is the same month as mine, and he genuinely could not care less about birthdays. 'They're just another day'. Well to me, birthdays are my New Year. Another year older, hopefully, a little wiser, and a chance to set goals. I think I worry way more than him that I'm not where I 'should' be at certain ages, when really we're so goddamn young and I'll have plenty of time to worry when I've got scary things to deal with like a mortgage or whatever adults do. This being just one thing I'm starting to learn, I thought in honour of my twenty-two years NOT QUITE OVER YET, and my deepening journey into adulthood, I thought I'd share five important life lessons that I've learnt.
Choose life over love.
God how I used to religiously watch movies like The Holiday, Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging and He's Just Not That Into You, then switch my telly off and be all glum at the fact that I didn't have a boyfriend to text. Not like, I've never dated anyone or anything; I was always fancying someone,
Knowledge is power.
I was never popular, cool, whatever at school. I hated school until year 10 when I found myself in a good crowd that I felt comfortable with. It would have really helped if at school I'd been a brainiac addicted to the library, but I wasn't even that. I just didn't fit in for most of my school life, and not because I was a nerd, so the teachers didn't like me much either. It was at college that I really started to feel better in my own skin. I wore my own clothes and figured out my own style, I had a massive group of lovely, genuine friends, and it was my chance to forget about those wretched years of secondary school and enjoy being a teenager. Unfortunately, school work went a bit out of the window, and although I managed good enough A levels to get to university, this trend continued until third year when I really buckled down for my grade. Now I can't completely regret cause bloody hell, I had a great social life and a great time, but now I'm reading loads of books I wish I'd read when I was younger, teaching myself French because I hadn't read a phrase of it since my GCSE exam, and trying to get into some sort of sport wishing I'd tried harder at P.E. I didn't flunk at school but I will admit I wish I'd valued my education more. I miss learning new things so easily that I have to actively go out and seek them now. So if you are still in the education system, value it, you won't be in it forever (as fortunate as that might sound) and I promise you you'll miss it, one day.
You look better than you think.
I'm not one to get on my high horse about this, I have one million hang-ups about what I look like from my body shape to my skin, from my hair to my clothes: if you know me you probably know I do like to make an effort with my appearance and often get accused of being 'overdressed' for an occasion. If you know me really well you'll know that I have really battled with how I come across to people in my appearance. My confidence goes through ups and downs when it comes to my looks, but these days most of the time I know that all my anxieties are a complete waste of energy. For starters, most people are too busy worrying about what THEY look like to worry about you, and secondly, people who make fun of other's appearances are people you don't need to concern yourself with. Finally, you are definitely way better looking than you think. One day I'm very certain that you'll look back on photos from your youth and think 'God, why did I worry so much?' so for now, flaunt it.
'Time goes on. So whatever you're going to do, do it. Do it now. Don't wait.'
That's actually a piece of advice from Robert De Niro, a close friend of mine bought me that quote in a frame and it's been hanging on my wall now for two years. To be honest, it's really helped to motivate me and go after exactly what I want. I have always described myself as impulsive and somebody that enjoys seizing the day, but being a risk taker is much more than that. Really pushing yourself and taking on something that you're not sure you can do can make you more resilient and adaptable to situations. Let me tell you, you might not succeed at everything you do, but it's better than sitting there and thinking 'what if?'.
Just really, really love yourself. Set yourself goals, celebrate achievements, plot and scheme ways to grow and progress as a person. Do new things and don't hold yourself down. When I've felt blue, I've felt like the whole world has come to a stand still. And then when I invest some time in myself and do things to get closer to my goals, the world starts moving again and I realise all the time I missed when I was sat around feeling sorry for myself. I know that humans can't be happy 100% of the time, but please be a little selfish and see that the number one person in your life, is you.
So there you have my 5 lessons, it's been emotional. Hopefully, I might have inspired someone out there, and if not it's been a surprise to me that in my 22 years I've learnt more than just how to order a Nandos.