The Lessons Learnt in 23 Years

The Lessons Learnt in 23 Years

Dear Abbi…


… You’re 23! I bet you remember being 18 years old and never imagining you’d be a whole three years into your twenties! Nursery is long, long gone, primary school was a breeze, secondary schools been and done, college went by too quickly and university was the best four years of your life. But now, you’re 23 and the whole world is in front of you.

In the last 23 years, life has definitely thrown its’ fair share of lessons at you. Heartbreak (of course…), trying to fit in, puberty, dying your hair green, overplucking your eyebrows, first kisses, best friends, loss of best friends, your first drunken experience, GCSE’s, what course to take at university? moving out, coming home, job hunting, mental health, social media, becoming who you are. The last 23 years have been full of ups and downs, lessons, opportunities, successes and even a few failures.

When I turned twenty-two, I was absolutely gutted I was no-longer twenty-one, in the weirdest way I felt old, I felt as if I needed to hurry into a proper adult life and stop being a kid, messing around, having fun.

I was at a completely different point. I was just about to graduate, feeling depressed and bleak about the uncertainty ahead, I had closed myself off from people and I just simply wasn’t in the best place. Now? I’m happier. I’m finally ok with the uncertainty of the future because it doesn’t matter how old you are, nothing is ever certain and set in stone. And that’s ok! Turning 23 was a calm and peaceful moment, surrounded by my favourite people in my life. It was a simple affair, a day spent quietly pottering around one of the places I love and an evening eating Japanese food and sipping Prosecco. Calm, content and happy.

I love documenting my thoughts when it comes around to my birthday. Three hundred and sixty-five days can make such a difference in the grand scheme of things, heck, even a month alone can bring a ton of changes and new thoughts. If you would like a little read over a cup of tea, you can have a little nosy at my thoughts on turning 22 and the 21 lessons I’ve learnt in 21 years. But for now, I’m newly 23 and here’s where my life, my thoughts and in ‘Love Island’ terms, my head, is currently at!

The Lessons Learnt in 23 Years
The Lessons Learnt in 23 Years

You Don’t Need To Know What You Want To Do By Now


Yes, plenty of my friends in my age-bracket have found careers they love and have a steady financial situation. Yes, people younger than me have done the same thing and, lemme tell ya, it took me a long time, but I realised that even in your twenties it is ok to not know what you want to do yet. And hey, it’s ok not to want to settle either. I’ve tried waitressing, bartending, working in an office, working from home and I’m ok admitting that nothing has quite fallen into its’ perfect place yet.

I don’t have a set career yet and I’ve stopped trying to force one before I’m ready. I like trying new things and one day, one of those things will click and I’ll do something I like and hopefully, one day, be in that secure financial situation. In the meantime, I’m really enjoying doing internships, a way of getting to see the inside-out of a job, try it out and experience it without a set contract.

Because at the end of the day, being told at 16 years old before you’ve even finished your GCSE’s that you need to know what you want to do is silly, most of the jobs I’m interested in now didn’t even exist when I was sixteen years old. You change every day and what you perhaps started studying for may not interest you now and you may even end up on a different path eventually. Because people I’ve seen love their jobs and be in that secure financial situation, I’ve then seen lose their jobs or walk away. I’m getting used to the fact that what we got taught and told in school and what society tells us isn’t always going to apply to you. It’s ok to be twenty-three and still not have much of an idea of what you want to do. It is perfectly acceptable and ok to keep exploring and learning and trying new things and seeing where they lead you. I’ve always said it, happiness is more important.

The Lessons Learnt in 23 Years
The Lessons Learnt in 23 Years

Love Truly Outweighs Fear


After two major relationship breakdowns before I had even hit the big two-oh, I went on to avoid dates, men and love like the plague. I watched as friends fell in love and I helped pick up the pieces when it didn’t work. I crushed from afar and watched as the guys I really liked, or felt I could of, chased other girls either not being interested in me in the first place or bored of me rejecting their advances. I was petrified of being hurt. Being tossed aside, replaced by a prettier, funnier and better-dressed version of me. Scared I was truly going to be alone forever. But at twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two or thirty-two, you don’t need to find your ‘forever’, if it even exists. You don’t need to fear love, avoid it or try and embrace it. You don’t need to do anything. All you need to do is just live. Go with the flow. Let the pieces fall where they may.

Because sometimes, just sometimes, the beauty of a relationship is in the break-up. It’s in the lessons you’ve learnt and the people you miss. It’s in the mishaps, the drunk texts, the moments at 3 am when you can’t sleep because your heart is breaking and it’s in those moments where you suddenly realise and it hits you like a ton of bricks that ‘hey, I should never have let myself be treated like that’. Because, when the next guy comes around and who knows if he’s going to be a good egg or not, you have the bollocks to say “hey, that’s not ok” or “I deserve better than this” and you can walk away. A little less bruised than before. Because, when you’re the first three years into your twenties, you should be out there, going on dates if you want to, not because you are stopping yourself because you are scared of love. You might not find the ‘one’ in your early twenties, but meeting people, getting to know people and sharing memories with people, people that you really, really like and willing to give your last Rolo too is still so much better than watching those people in friends and strangers, wishing you had the guts to let go too.

And when you do eventually fall in love. It’s beautiful and it’s everything that Taylor Swift’s Red album told you it would be. Intense, passionate, fiery. It’s laughing about nothing in particular in bed for three hours straight in the evening. It’s being a complete and utter weirdo and having that person join in too. It’s arguing over FaceTime about something that feels like everything at the time and then two weeks down the line, it’s nothing and it was stupid. It’s buying disposable cameras so you can create retro photo albums of all your adventures. It’s booking holidays to Disney with them because you want to share what you love with them. You want them to see it too. It’s letting them point out the different planes that fly over your head because that’s what they are into. It’s those “I’m home safe texts” whenever they go out because they know you’re worried about something happening. It’s doing those little, little things that make each other happy. It’s everything. And it completely outweighs the fear of heartbreak.

The Lessons Learnt in 23 Years
The Lessons Learnt in 23 Years

You Can’t Define Yourself By Social Media


And damn, even at twenty-three years old I’m still learning this. Because, and we all know it, social media really is a shockingly good highlights reel. It shows those moments you really want to share with people, it shows off the things people have, the things people want and it shows off crazy job opportunities, parties, relationships, spending sprees and so much more stuff that has been carefully edited, filtered, crop and captioned. It is wonderful, I adore social media, I fear yet love its power and I love the reach it really has but f*ck, do I know the damages too. I’ve spent many a lonely night, sitting in my bedroom looking and feeling messy as hell, scrolling through people Instastories of them at a fancy dinner, laughing with friends, at some exclusive VIP event, celebrating anniversaries and just not including you. Strangers or not.

I’m still learning but this year more than ever that social media does not define you. Or anyone else for that matter. I’m trying to not think about it as much. Not care that my Instagram isn’t perfectly themed or curated or not care that I went to some really cool place with marble, millennial pink and house plants and forget to upload a quick video or picture on my stories because life is just too damn short. You don’t need to boomerang every champagne cheers you make, every time you think your makeup looks on fleek or that new dress you brought. You don’t ever need to feel that pressure to do so every single time. The beauty of social media is that you can use it how you want it. And I’ve learnt that is perfectly ok to go hours or even days without opening Twitter or double-tapping pictures. But hey, if there are those days where I want to snap and share everything I’m doing in a polaroid-style Instagram story too, that’s ok. There aren’t any rules and there isn’t a right or wrong way to share what you so wish. It’s a continuous battle as social media continues to grow, expand and dynamically change but I am more ok with it doing that without my full attention than ever.

The Lessons Learnt in 23 Years
The Lessons Learnt in 23 Years

And everything else…


It really is nice to be nice. Just because something is on trend and everybody is talking about, does not mean you need it. Holiday blues don’t ever really stop. It doesn’t matter how polite you are, how hard you try or how nice you can be, people will still be rude and sh*t on you and it is definitely not your problem. You will never regret facing your fears. Saving money for a rainy day is never a bad idea. Hard work always, always pays off. Dog cuddles are the best. You’ll have days where all you can physically do is lay in bed and muster up the strength not to cry and that’s ok. It is never not satisfying ticking off a do-list. Finding a hobby or escape route is so unbelievably important for your sanity and health. Friends will go ahead and do their own thing and even though you’ll be sad and maybe even jealous, it’s a beautiful thing to watch them grow and live our their crazy experiences. People will still be shocked you’re using the same tacky AOL email at 23 that you were using for MSN at 13. Your high school crush will still make you nervous whenever you bump into them. Dating in the millennial world kinda sucks. Staying in with a takeaway and a movie is still your idea of a fantastic night in. It’s ok not to like going clubbing or drinking a sh*t ton. Life is crazy, unpredictable and incredible. And no matter how tough things get, it is worth sticking around to view beautiful sunsets on the beach, England get to the semi-final of the world cup and puppies being puppies.

The Lessons Learnt in 23 Years
The Lessons Learnt in 23 Years

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What are some of the important lessons you’ve learnt this year?

 

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