And it’s Tuesday again already, the alarm went off half an hour ago, and I am heading back into work. Did anyone else really need that Bank Holiday yesterday? It seemed like a long summer, even with the couple of days off in July. Note to self – next year I am taking some time off over the summer!
I realised this morning when I woke that this time 2 weeks, I will have been alive for 24 years. While a lot of people think that’s not a lot, it does feel like quite a long time. I mean, I know 24 isn’t old, but there was so much I thought I’d have done by this age.
However instead of spending today thinking about all the things I should’ve done or learnt by now, I instead wanted to think about the things I have learnt in the past 24 years.
Even just the last couple of years have taught me quite a bit, and when people say age doesn’t make you wiser it can certainly help. Below are 24 things I learnt about life in general before I turned 24.
- You need a skin care routine.
I had awful skin growing up. In fact, it’s not the happiest at the minute either, but I know what’s causing that issue. But yes. I tried every medicated option under the sun until a course of Roacutane mostly sorted it, and now I keep on top of it with my skin care routine.
- Similarly, look after your teeth.
Again, my diet really didn’t help my teeth, and so 3 years of avoiding the dentist has led to probably the most expensive year of my life. Never again will I scoff at the idea of flossing between meals.
- Know when to put the effort in.
Friendships worth keeping take a bit of effort when you can no longer just meet up at the drop of a hat or the mention of a cheap and cheerful meal out simply because you have no classes. I am appalling at keeping in touch with people – ask anyone who knows me – but the true friends seem to accept that and we make up for it at other times. Lift the phone and speak to them, organise to Skype, heck just drunkenly book flights to visit them and tell them you’re coming. But put that effort in.
- But also know when to call it quits.
If a friendship is making you feel worse about yourself, or you find yourself dreading having to make conversation with them, then accept that you’ve grown apart. There’s no shame in admitting that you no longer have anything in common with someone.
- Hobbies are fun – don’t let them stress you out.
For example, blogging. It’s a hobby. Don’t stress if something’s late, or doesn’t look as perfect as someone else. Whether it’s writing, music, sport or whatever, don’t let yourself pile on the pressure to the point it’s no longer fun. Unless it’s a hobby turning into a career – then you might need the stress.
- You don’t need it all figured out.
As I said before, I had all these ideas of where I would be by the time I was 24. Those plans didn’t work out, and I’m still currently working on Plan B. But it’s totally fine to admit that Plan A didn’t work, and have a few weeks or months just floating. Rushing into something because it seems like “the right thing to do” isn’t always the best idea. Take a breath, discuss your thoughts with someone you trust, and take it step by step.
- “Sleep is for the weak” sounds great, but in reality is bad for you.
I’ve always been a bad sleeper, but I spent years boasting about how little sleep I had had and that I was still functioning. Then I reached the bright old age of 22 and realised I need sleep. If I have less than 8 hours, you can bet I am groggy the next day. I can survive, but don’t expect me to do a week of little/no sleep.
- Sometimes people leave without saying goodbye
I have to admit – this one has been a hard one to learn, and it’s only really in the last few years I’ve realised how much it affects me. Deaths come unexpectedly, people just leave, and sometimes even getting to say goodbye doesn’t make it any easier. But you have to remember, if it didn’t hurt then it wasn’t worth it. I have a quote that’s stuck with me for years – “how lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” – and now I try to remember that whenever this one crops up. I’m still learning this one, but it’s going on the list.
- I am not a good cook.
Just the other day we were reminiscing about all my kitchen disasters, and I just had to laugh at them. I have managed to make a blender blow up twice throwing milkshakes up the walls. I’ve set fire to the kitchen (a mini fire, but a fire nonetheless). I failed miserably at cooking Dad a boiled egg (in my defence I was 8 and I’ve since learnt), and I can’t make a poached egg. Give me a straightforward recipe and I can follow it, but don’t expect me to be tidy or adventurous.
- Buying cheap clothes/shoes instead of investing just doesn’t make sense.
By the time you spend a fortune on replacing the cheap things, you could’ve just bought the expensive option instead.
- If there’s an awkward way to do something, you can bet that’s the way I’ll do it.
Anyone remember BlackCat Logo in primary school, and having to instruct it to draw squares and things? That was when I first realised I find awkward ways to do things.
- I don’t make decisions.
Well, not ones that affect other people. So don’t ask me where we’re meeting, what time at, or what I want to do, because I will be terrified of inconveniencing you and becoming a pain, therefore I become a pain.
- Drinking coffee after dinner is not advised, unless there’s a whiskey in there.
You won’t be able able to sleep, and we revert back to lesson number 7.
- Not everyone is going to like you.
I have learnt this, and I accept it, but it doesn’t make it any easier to live with sometimes. It’s impossible for everyone to like you. It doesn’t stop me from trying to be likeable (see lesson 12), but I accept it nonetheless.
- You will never have enough money to do everything you want.
Not unless you win the lottery, but the chances of that happening are pretty low – in fact they’re non-existent when you don’t even bother entering! So either be prepared to save for those big things, or accept that they’re never going to happen and enjoy the other things you choose to spend money on.
- Self-care is a must.
We’re taught all through school to look after our physical health, but we were never taught about mental health. Taking time out for yourself is one of the most important things you can do. Take a walk, read a book, sing and dance it out, whatever it takes.
- Don’t compare yourself to others.
There’s a reason we all have free will, and a reason we all achieve different milestones at different ages. Don’t ask me what that reason is, but whatever the reason, the lesson is still the same. Comparing yourself to others just isn’t worth it.
- The perfect job isn’t about the money, but rather how you feel in the job.
It’s almost 2 years since my time spent working in the bank, and I will never regret leaving that job. Sure, the work I’m doing now pays less, but I thoroughly enjoy working with the others there, the bosses are willing to talk about things, and it’s just a completely different atmosphere.
- Life is too short to waste time reading a book you’re not enjoying or watching a series you’re just not that into.
I think that one’s pretty self explanatory?
- Stepping out of your comfort zone is good every now and again.
Joining a choir, going to my first Pride in Belfast, travelling alone, all little things that don’t seem that big, but felt huge at the time.
- Worrying only means you suffer twice.
Still trying to remember this one on a daily basis, but yeah. If you spend time worrying about something, only for it to happen, then you end up spending twice as much time affected by it. On the other hand, if you worry about something only for it to not turn out the way you worried it might, then you’ve wasted all that time and energy. Easier said than done, trust me I know, but as I say I’m trying to really drive this lesson home. For example, I spent a full 24 hours worrying about asking for time off work to go to the funeral of a close family friend. In the end, I asked for the morning off and was told not to be ridiculous, I could take as much time off as I needed. Or another example, I submitted my final assignment for last year’s Open Uni course, and then spent almost 2 months worrying about how well I had done when there was literally nothing I could do to change it at that point. Turned out I had done so much better than expected, and I had not only wasted time worrying for no reason, but I had been crying in the office over it for no reason!
- There’s nothing wrong with being sensitive or emotive.
I feel like I have spent my life apologising for having feelings, and the people in work have spent the last year and a half teaching me not to. I still do it from time to time, but I have learnt that that’s just who I am and no amount of telling me to “toughen up” or “take a joke” will change that.
- Listen to others.
Not only do people appreciate when you listen to them and ask questions about them, but it helps you too. Listening to others teaches you so much about them, yourself, and the world around you. Learn from their mistakes, take their advice, or take their opinions and use them to confirm your own even if you completely disagree with them.
- Don’t let your age define you.
Yes I am panicking a little about “getting old”, but really what does a number have to do with my life anyway? The number of years alive doesn’t change what you are or are not capable of, and they sure as hell don’t define who you are. And yet we put so much importance on that number. Why?
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my lessons, and thank you to anyone who stayed until the end. What lessons would you add to the list, or which ones are you still learning for yourself?
Speak soon xx