It was a birthday weekend (mine), and this year I turned 26. Which is an age that kind-of sort-of maybe terrifies me. Time is ticking away yady-yady-yada, meaningful happenings etc, what are my long-term goals???? It’s a fun time when I’m not quite having an existential crisis, buy mildly having an existential crisis, yaknow.
But, in the spirit of trying to sort out my life I’m thinking about 26 things that I’ve learned or come to realise in the last year / 26 of them.
1. Health really is wealth. Since March I’ve been dealing with A Lot More in terms of workload at the old 9-5 (teaching is never easy and whoever says it is, is lying), and I’ve been Feeling It. So I’ve been making an actual concerted effort in the last two months to start looking after myself: drinking enough water, sleeping enough, exercise, I’ve even had a stab at planning meals – and I have been feeling better. It’s not dumb to be health conscious, and it’s not dumb to be careful about what you’re putting in your body (unless it’s to your health’s detriment – cause I have also been there).
2. The 1 minute rule is a good principle to follow to help you get through some of the bigger tasks in life. I’ve heard about it on social media and it’s attributed to Gretchen Rubin. The principle is pretty simple, if it’ll take 1 minute or less to do it, then just do it, and the end goal is that it makes your life easier because you’re managing the more menial tasks. It sounds like common sense, but when you are a serial procrastinator (me) or get overwhelmed by tasks easily unless under immense pressure (also me!) then it’s a pretty great thing to start implementing imho. I started recently with simple tasks; taking things to the kitchen when I was done, making the bed, putting things back in their places, and it has helped. So I decided to apply it to the Massive Problem in my flat: my kitchen / horrific, horrific floordrobe. I started with ‘just folding finished laundry’ then moved to ‘sorting out clothes into ‘hang’ and ‘wash’, next was hanging the hang pile, then starting on the laundry pile – and I was done in an evening. So I’d suggest giving this a try.
3. Another recent realisation is that being comfortable with yourself, doing things by yourself for yourself is something that I should be doing more. I watched a video by bestdressed where she took herself on a date because she’s been trying not to lose herself in her relationship and saving all the best spots to explore together – and I was sat there going ‘hey, I relate to this’. I have a lot of hangups about doing things by myself, and I’ve been trying to climb over those hurdles.
4. Dogs are wonderful and pets in general are a great asset to your life. Unless you are allergic.
5. Do the things you want to do, even if you feel you look dumb doing it. I struggle greatly with the mental playground of caring too much about what other people might think of me. It comes from years of people pleasing, but I have been really trying to shake off all the potential ‘what if’s and underlying feeling that someone’s going to say something. And if they do, so what? If I’m not hurting anyone, or doing anything illegal, then what’s the problem? I guess people still have a stigma around social media related careers and the bad apples in the world of vlogs and video content, not to mention the vitriol spouted by traditional media …
Regardless, I say as long as you aren’t hurting anyone, let the naysayers go about their naysaying and do the thing you want to do. Limits aren’t fun, especially when they are self imposed. Take the photo. Wear the clothes. Write the thing. Share it as publicly as you wish.
7. Hydration! There is no miracle cream, or routine around (yet) that will work as well on your skin, health, and mind as much as drinking enough water will. It’ll be different for everyone, but I’ve been trying to drink just over 2 litres of water every day.
8. Staying on the theme of skincare, routine, routine routine. Some people are lucky enough to have wonderful skin genetically. For the rest of us, the key part in skincare is the routine. Products help, yes, but if you don’t use them in a routine, and keep that routine, you’re not letting what you’ve (maybe) spent a decent amount of money on do its job. Whenever my skin has relapsed, it’s because I broke my routine.
9. Plants! Plants lift your mood and are less commitment than a pet 🙂 Loads of health benefits, and greenery in your home has been shown to reduce stress and create a feeling of well-being. It’s not just an instagram or pinterest cliche, plants are wonderful (and really useful).
10. Like what you like. Adulthood isn’t high school, and being ashamed of what you like (unless they’re like, illegal) is ridiculous. There is nothing cuter than people talking enthusiastically about their passions. Or being totally confident in their style choices.
11. Cutting ties with someone is a difficult thing, but recognising toxicity and trying to remove it from your life is going to keep you happier in the long run. Your friends should be supporting your endeavours, not bringing you down. I’m not talking about surrounding yourself with a bunch of ‘yes-men’ type friends, because that’s just as toxic in the grand scheme of things (we all need someone who will drag us back to reality), but if your friendship is filled with backhanded compliments and a lot of slights against your achievements, they’re not good friends. CuT thEm LooOsE.
12. Similarly, saying ‘no’ is also a difficult thing when we’re taught to accept ‘opportunities’ that could ‘potentially help us progress’ because this 24/7 hustle malarky is a popular spiel. It’s OK to turn down jobs if you have prior commitments. It’s OK to say no if it’s going to stress you out. It’s OK if it’s too much. Knowing your boundaries is a great thing, and it’s something that I am learning to keep.
13. Keep up with your hobbies. All work and no play makes for faster burnout. Even if it’s listening to music, or watching videos, or going for a walk – having to time to just switch off and enjoy doing something for the sake of doing it is sooooOOOOO good for the brain. I’m guilty of trying to overstretch or constantly DO DO DO, and let me tell youuu I crash hard. (Hence the long absences of posts / videos). If you don’t have a hobby, start one!!
14. Stress is evil, but also mildly inevitable, and isn’t that just a catch 22. Try to minimise it as much as you can. Don’t hold grudges, talk through your problems, if it isn’t within your power to change or ‘fix’, then it really isn’t worth your extra energy stressing about it.
15. Respecting people’s time has become a really important factor to me in the last year or so. I used to be OK, maybe agitated, if people were late to meet me up to about half an hour with no message. Things happen, sometimes unavoidable, though I would always give people a heads up if I knew my expected/revised ETA. Since adopting Toast, though, I am much more conscious about timing and people respecting both my time and me. If you’re going to be late, message within a decent time frame. When you’re disrupting the routine of your dependents to fall in line with someone else, that’s not cool. If they keep doing it? Chances are they don’t respect you.
16. Lift people up, whether it be a like here, a comment there, or a ‘you’re doing great, I appreciate you and what you’re doing’. Life is tough, we don’t have to be selective or limited with compliments, likes, or comments. If you like something, tell the person who did / created the thing.
17. Other people are not responsible for your happiness. They can make you smile, laugh, and feel freer, relief, or whatever you are after, in those moments, but depending on other people for serotonin and a balancing of emotions is unhealthy. Will Smith made a great point when he said that it wasn’t his job to make Jada (his wife) happy, which also applies, as it deconstructs the unrealistic expectation that someone else has to shoulder your emotional burden, along with their own. That’s A Lot for any one person to do. It can also tank relationships.
18. Having a boring, quiet life, is great. I’ve had enough drama in my life, and there’s plenty of time for stories later on, but right now I’m super happy with staying in, getting up early on a Saturday to go hang out with friends and work on myself.
19. Yoga is fabulous.
20. I still don’t have my life together, but that’s OK. I’m getting there.
21. Scheduling your time is really useful. Whether it’s just setting reminders about when to vacuum, blocking out time to exercise, see your friends, or purge your wardrobe, it’s good to have a ‘kind of plan’ for the big and little things so you can fit the ‘wing it’ things in around it.
22. Forgiving yourself is also useful. If you don’t accomplish something on your to-do list, or a goal you had set, don’t beat yourself up about it. 🙂 You can try again tomorrow.
23. Therapy is not a dirty word, or a waste of time. Sometimes unloading your problems on to someone who is removed from the situation and (mostly) unbiased is actually really liberating. Coming from someone who lives in a country where the stigma around mental health is stifling, it’d be great to see therapy being a more normalised route to help with personal problems.
24. Ghosting is not only immature, but leaves people yearning for closure and then projecting. While the aftermath is not your responsibility, I have been on both sides of the ghosting coin and it’s a whole load of confusion and self-doubt when you’re the ghostee, or a whole load of guilt when you’re the ghoster. Have a message saved in your drafts to copy-paste into those difficult conversations where the feelings have died (or never really got started) that thanks them for the conversation but you don’t see it going anywhere. If they react well, great, if they’re dickish about it then forget ’em.
25. Shoot your shot. If the recent political antics in the US / UK have been any indication, who you know and what you’ve done (or ‘done’) can count for more than your grades or work history. Seriously, if you think you’d do great at a job but don’t have the exact qualifications, send your CV in anyway, but with cover letter (crucially) outlining your strengths and transferable skills. We have a cheeto for a President and a wotzit for a Prime Minister, anything can happen.
26. CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL. We need to do more to prevent the destruction of our planet. Use less plastic. Shop more consciously / environmentally. Recycle, upcycle, reuse. Make those small changes.
What are some other life lessons you’ve come to realise? Let me know down below if you have any others – or if you agree with mine.