This week I turned 28. I really have no feelings about 28, other than holy fuck this time ten years ago I was turning 18. In a relationship, old before my time, heading off to the polo with my wildly dysfunctional family. Looking back, that day could have been a whole lifetime ago. It can be easy to worry time flashes before our eyes. As we rattle through weeks and lightning speed, make plans to catch friends months in advance, it is easy to feel as though we blink and time is gone. We only get a small amount of time in the grand scheme of things, and as a generation, we want it all. We want to be home birds, surrounded by family, we want the high flying jobs, the city buzz and social drinks, the country lifestyle, to see the world, whilst having time to relax and before we know it we are counting down to midnight and it is a new year. It was easy to believe this birthday hurtled towards me at lightning speed but when I think of how much I have done in these ten years I realise how much I have changed in the last decade. These are the 28 things I have learned in my short time on this planet.
To know who you are and to be proud of it
This one I guess took me the longest of all to learn. I genuinely feel it has only been in the last year or so I have been inexcusably myself and been proud of it. I am not ashamed that I will never look super glamorous, a jumper and trainers are how I will be dressed. I am not the wittiest, yet the speed my sarcasm is hurtled at is impressive. I can’t sing, I can’t dance despite desperately trying. I don’t do out, out nights. I don’t get dressed up, I don’t do shots no matter how much money people offer me. I am however a good friend, a hard worker, someone who will always be willing to offer an ear or book a flight. I have the determination to stick at anything I am bad at to prove myself wrong. I have learned to embrace all the qualities in myself I love and forget about the ‘not good enough’ shit I burdened myself with for 27 years.
To never settle
Even if you have to sit at the dinner table on Christmas day on your own surrounded by couples for 30 years, it will always be better than being with someone who you are not 100% infatuated with for the sake of not feeling lonely. I guess I like my company, I am an introvert, being on my own feels natural. One day I know there will be someone but for now unless they make me stop in my track I am not giving up a part of my life. But it’s not just relationship. Don’t settle for any shit. I spent my early 20s being a wallflower and taking shit from people left right and centre, my family, my job. Know what you deserve and don’t settle for mediocre.
Strangers become friends, friends become strangers – it happens to us all
Over the last 3/4 years, I have written a gratitude journal every night. Just jotting down the best thing that happened to me that day and four other things that made me happy throughout the day. It has helped me feel better after a shit day on many occasions. Often I have found I have had a shit five minutes and not a shit day.
Do what you can to make the world a better place
Just simple changes can make a massive impact. I am not suggesting I am going to start running marathons and taking on impossible challenges. Yet I have learned over the years making positive changes to make the world a better place improves my frame of mind and how I see people.
Find a job you love, with people you care about. It makes Mondays much more enjoyable
There is such a thing as no Sunday night dread. People might think you are crazy, also mad for sticking at one job but if you can say you enjoy going to work the majoirty of Mondays then you are on to a winner
Put family first
They are the only ones I will get and I like to make sure I spend as much time as possible with the ones I care about. I think it has also been important to remember that just because you were born into a family it doesn’t mean you need to be lifelong companions. Families are hard, the dynamics and mixtures of personalities can often be unbearable and will never work if you had a toxic friendship, or relationship you would end it so you can feel the same about family. I have learned that just because you are related to someone down the line it doesn’t matter if you don’t want them in your life.
The answer is always yes to buying a dog
No regrets – still probably the best thing I ever did for myself. Dogs are so much better than people.
The old cliche but treat people how you want to be treated
People always remember how you made them feel.
Your face is fine the way it is
I know my face is not perfect. There are so many things such as my nose and chin I would change in a heartbeat if the money didn’t make my eyes water, but really, in the long run, my face is fine (fine I have also learned over the years is a word I use to mean the opposite). If something is making you unhappy and is damaging your confidence then make a change just be careful to not get into a trap believing when you change this or that you will be happy, unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
Surround yourself with cheerleaders
I love those in my life who are yes people. Who are always proactive, go-getters who don’t stop you or make negative judgey comments. Your cheerleaders are the ones who continuously push you to keep going.
There will always be people in your life who can’t be happy for others
They are not bad people. I have learned over the years there are people who seemingly cannot be happy for others yet can still be amazing friends. I struggled with these sorts of people to start with who didn’t want to share your successes but wanted others to share theirs. It is all part of learning how to handle different people.
Exercise is the answer to so many things – Bad mood? – exercise, stressed? – exercise, Happy? – Exercise, need to lose weight? – exercise, need to bulk up? – exercise, feeling lacklustre, unmotivated, down? Exercise
Look after your body it is the only one you have
The Fear from drinking gets worse with age, as do the hangovers
and it a perfectly good reason for you to not want to drink every weekend.
Travel at every opportunity
Even if its only to the next city, for a day or a night. No new place is a wasted journey
People and places will always mean more than clothes and bags
Print every photo you love to look at
Even if your sister describes your house as cluttered with framed photos.
The best revenge is to be absolutely bloody happy
So much better than waiting for karma
Try not to take things to seriously
It is a lot less stressful
Embrace crazy ideas
You never know if you don’t try
To not fear failure
Stick at hobbies
Horses are the only real hobby I have had apart from reading and going to the gym but I wouldn’t say I love the gym and reading is as and when. Horse riding has been there my whole life. Its a skill, an escape, a way of making friends and meeting new people. I don’t know where I would be without them all. My weekends would be very boring.
To read as many books and you can get your hands on
You will never regret finishing a book, even a bad one.
It is never too late to learn something new
Manners go a long way
You will never going to regret jeans, converse and a plain T
Remember fashions change don’t worry you can’t afford to keep up, a simple style you won’t regret.
You do You
Probably the best saying I ever came across in my 20s and something everyone should take on board. It is so simple but all you need to take with you through life. You do what makes you happy and don’t worry about others opinions. In context, I guess I am not suggesting you do something illegal to make yourself happy- address that. But if you want to go somewhere, do something, buy something, miss a party to stay in and catch up or just don’t feel up to something then you do you. It honestly has helped me out of so many situations I could have become stressed about.
Don’t worry I didn’t manage to learn a few more things along the way. Managed a few qualifications and a degree etc so it isn’t just limited to the 28 things above but I would be pushing it if I said I have much else in my head. Happy 28 years to me.