Another Year Older…
Yesterday, I turned twenty-one. Turning twenty-one seemed like one of those things that people only did in movies. It’s that age when you’re officially no longer a teenager and no where near being one either, it kind of seems like that age where life starts to change now, your life truly starts to happen and you’ve become someone in their 20’s.
I remember turning twenty last year and it honestly scaring me… I just had my eighteenth birthday, where did all this time go!? People have been saying to me, “oh I was married at twenty-one”, “ah, I was expecting my first child at twenty-one” and yet here I am, barely making it through the day without watching atleast two episodes of OITNB on Netflix, unable to do anything but spend all my wages and I pretty much live off packet-noodles and strawberry cables.
As I’m now twenty-one, I fear now I’m going to have to really start learning about taxes, picking my children’s names and start saving for a mortgage. But in reality, growing up is simply something society forces us to do. I’m sure one day I’ll finally understand taxes, and when that time comes, I’m sure my children’s name will magically pop into my head and I’m also fairly sure I will cry over mortgage rates, soon enough. But right now? I just want to enjoy being twenty-one.
Twenty-one for me involves finishing my final year of university; I’ll be twenty-one when I (hopefully) graduate, starting to think about what career I want to enter into, my last ‘free’ Summer… and basically, just like every year, I want to spend my twenty-first year on this planet, having fun, being free, experiencing the world, falling in love and spending way too much money on polaroid film.
To mark the occasion, I thought I would share 21 lessons I have learnt now that I’m officially someone who is twenty-one years old and struggling to accept the fact that she’s getting older…
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01. Happiness is a choice
I throughly, through and through believe that happiness is our own choice. We get up every morning and we have a decision to make; we can choose happiness or we can choose to miserable and down. Even in life’s darkest moments, I have to remember that I am the only controller of my happiness and that the power of positive thoughts and actions and mindset can make all the difference with that. Despite it all, I try my absolute hardest to always choose happiness.
02. Break the four walls
Travel. Get out and about. Experience fresh air. We all know just how increadibly tempting it is to stay wrapped up in bed on grey days, stick good ol’ Netflix on and venture downstairs every few hours or so to grab some snacks but so much happiness and discovery lies in exploring the world. Greenery, open air, sea, sand, skyscrapers, clouds. All stuff that’s out there and sitting, go and find it, explore it and break down those all so familiar four walls.
03. Family and friends are everything
Please don’t forget them. Appreciate them. Thank them. Laugh with them. Grow with them. And talways remember that life is there to be shared and experienced with other people, and that doesn’t always have to mean a boyfriend or girlfriend. Family and friends are just as valuable and as special as a significant other so once you find the best ones, keep them forever.
04. Stay Young
As I said, society, peers, pressure, schools, workplaces all force us to grow up, snap out of anything even a tiny bit childlike but I’ve learnt that there’s so magic in staying young. There’s nothing wrong with staying young-minded, granted you can be mature when needs be, but who cares if cartoons are for kids? Who is really that bothered about twenty-somethings going to Disneyland? These are usaully the moments we can escape the reality and horror of growing up, but still allow ourselves to be excited and experience the wonderful things that growing up allows you to do too, like… fly without your parents to Disneyland…
05. Making mistakes is the pathway to learning
I feel like, again, as a society, we naturally shame others for making mistakes. Just take one look at celeb gossip magazines, Twitter, Facebook for instance. We put people down for making silly little mistakes and we constantly remind them of it, as if they’re not struggling enough. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that mistakes are simply a way of learning. Make your mistake, realise it and learn from it.
06. What’s meant to be, will be
I’ve never been entirely sure if I believe in ‘fate’ as such, but, I do believe that some things were just picked for us and they’re meant to happen in our lives, and they will, if allowed to play out. When I’ve been frustrated with something that is perhaps out of my power, boys, jobs… life in general, I’ve always told myself the above saying and allowed life to play out how it so wishes.
07. Laughing is the most fulfilling thing
So just laugh. Out loud. Really loudly. To the point where you’re crying and you can’t breathe and the laugh itself is pretty much silent and the kind of laugh where two days later you think of that situation and you end up crying laughing again. Laughter truly is the best medicine and you’ll feel great for it.
08. Sad days and duvet days are ok
I think that Instagram can make us feel like we have to go ahead, get dressed up, slap some makeup on and head out the door with our coffee and designer handbag in toe, even on the really bad days. And, don’t get me wrong, sometimes this is the best thing to do, but sometimes, staying inside, with bed hair, no makeup, PJ’s and Netflix is the only way to get through the day. It’s never entirely ideal to wallow in your sadness, but sometimes it allows you the time out we all need to deal with it whilst being entirely comfortable in our own little comfort zone.
09. Yesterday is history
So don’t focus on it. A hard one, we tend to carry the stress and hardships of yesterday into our present, but it’s always mentally and physically beneficial to leave them behind and start your new day fresh, present and happy. I’ve learnt to learn from the mistakes of yesterday and to acknowledge them, but also to acknowledge that I can’t change the past, so that’s simply where I’ll leave it.
10. Heartbreak is inevitable
Like, there’s simply no sugarcoating it. You fall in love, you get your heart broken. And it’s sad and it’s tough and it can feel like the hardest thing you’ve ever been through. But, being in love and being loved is also the most magical thing. Embrace it for what it is and live through the blow when it happens. Heartbreak reminds us we’re only human and we feel and we get sad and there’s no avoiding it. Ultimately, heartbreak means you had the privilege of falling and being in love and that… that’s something special that.
11. Shit Happens
And sometimes. It really is as simple and as straight-forward as that. No matter how much you try and control or change situations. In reality, sometimes it’s going to be a big pile of poop, and the best thing to do is cry it out, accept it and try to move on from it.
12. Respect Yourself
Look after yourself, you’re not a piece of trash, you’re not a bad person, you’re not weak, you’re not cruel. You’re human and you’ve got to respect yourself for that. Know your worth, learn to fall in love with yourself and know when it’s time to walk away from a situation and a person and always remember to also look after yourself as well, no matter what other people want or need from you, respect yourself enough to know who you are, what you stand for and what you’re capable of.
13. We all need an escape
We’re only human and sometimes we’re expected to take on and do so much, but there’s only so much a piece of thread can be pulled before it starts to weaken. I’ve learnt to try my absolute hardest but acknowledge that you need an escape, something to take your mind off things. Whether that’s writing, reading, running, gym, cooking, baking, art, singing, dancing, napping. playing games… whatever it is that gives you back a few minutes or hours of pure freedom and bliss, grab it, run with it and never lose it.
14. Jumping and falling is better than not jumping at all
Twenty-one years on this planet has taught me that life is nothing without risks. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is the only way to step yourself further in life and no matter the outcome, you will have learnt from it, will gain memories from it and usually, you’ll benefit from it too. Life isn’t made to be full of regrets, so jump. Always, always jump.
15. Be gentle with yourself
We’re all only human. We’re all doing the very best we can. So look after yourself, stop beating yourself up. Success takes time. We’re all getting there so don’t make life any harder for yourself, you don’t deserve or need to be bruised by yourself. Be gentle.
16. You’re never too old to continue to learn
Never stop learning, you’re never too old to expand and teach your mind something new. Research a subject, practice it and embrace your knowledge. Nothing annoys me more when people say, “oh, I can’t go to university now, I’ve left it too late”, it doesn’t matter what age you are, what you’re job is, whatever, you can learn, you have a right to learn and there’s nothing more fulfilling than learning a new subject, language or lesson.
17. Taylor Swift’s 1989 Album will probably change your life
Yep, all 16 songs on the deluxe version of the album will most likely change your life in a million little ways. It’s one of those albums that, as a twenty-something, will travel with you through all aspects of life, through everything. I think everyone identifies with Miss. Swift even just a little bit and this album gave us all a chance to realise our lives a little bit more. Clean is something that I wish I had written, New Romantics reminds us that love can be painful but down-right brilliant at the same time, Wildest Dreams still makes me overly emotional and Shake it off is always the answer to any situation in life. There’s a lot we can take from 1989, promise.
18. It’s nice to be nice
Throw around genuine compliments, understand that people could be going through anything and everything, give everyone a chance, smile at strangers, listen carefully, help others, heal people, be there, answer phone calls at 3am to your friends and always remember that’s whilst is nice to be important, it’s also important to be nice. If everyone was just a little bit nicer, the world would be a little bit more beautiful.
19. Falling in love is scariest, more terrifying, exciting, perfect think you’ll either do
Never regret falling in love and let it consume you. Not to the point where you can’t do anything else. But to the point where you can feel this amazing feeling and all the powerful side effects. We build walls around our hearts and sometimes they’re so tough people can’t break them down. Falling in love is the most exciting thing, it will make you feel giddy, keep you up at night, make you angry, it’s frustrating, but ultimately, finding that one person who can make you feel at home, who you can just laugh with, who you can just be you around, someone who’ll look at you like you literally single-handily hung up every star in their sky… that’s worth everything. Let those walls fall down and fall in deeply, intensely, madly in love.
20. You can never take too many photos
It doesn’t matter what people on social media tell you, or your nan, take photos! Of beaches, food, people, puppies, butterflies, cars, trees, birds, family, street performers, Christmas trees, fireworks. They don’t all have to be Instagram ready. They don’t have to be perfectly structured. All they need to be is real. Take a million pictures that you can look back on a go “oh my gosh, do you remember this?!” and laugh and cry over all those memories you’ve collection, whether that’s on your phone, on your walls or in a book. Keep and treasure them forever.
21. Life is literally too short
So go out, enjoy it, embrace every moment, be free, be happy, dance like no-one is watching, fall in love, go crazy, sing, learn, dream and just… appreciate every single second you have on this planet. There’s nothing more beautiful than the life we have been given and the only thing we can do is make the most of it, and that, really, is what I’ve learnt in my twenty-one years of being here.
I hope you’ve had an amazing weekend but I want to know is; what’s the one lesson life has taught you?