Around two and a half years ago I said goodbye to my teenage years and hello to my twenties. I had spent the latter half of my teenage years slightly confused about who I was and in a terrible relationship – with myself that is. I had this preconceived idea that when I hit my 20’s I would be fully in control of my life and have my sh*t together. Ah, how wrong I was. Which leads me on to the first point:
1) NO ONE HAS THEIR SH*T TOGETHER (and if they tell you any different then they’re probably lying).
I still have no idea what I want to do with my life. I still have days where all I want to do is lie in bed and watch game of thrones. I still can’t function in adult-y situations (anyone else feel like they’re playing dress up when wearing work clothes?) I still want to crawl into my mums bed when I’m ill and eat fish finger sandwiches. I have no idea what tax is or how to change a lightbulb or the concept of a mortgage. BUT THAT’S OKAY. Despite what we may see on social media, everybody struggles. Everybody has days where they question what on earth they are doing, whether they’re making the right choices + whether anything will ever just fall into place. And the secret? Accept it. Accept that everything is never going to be 100% perfect, and figure out how it is you’ll deal with that. Life is messy and unpredictable. Deal with it and embrace it.
2) You can have fun without getting drunk.
I started drinking at a pretty early age. Bored? Lets go to the park with a bottle of lambrini (lol). House party? Need a bottle of vodka and some wkds. Celebrating? A few bottles of wine and some prosecco. And in my first year of uni this got 100x worse. My self esteem was ten feet under ground so I drunk a LOT to make up for it. I was so anxious all the time that the only way I could make friends was to drink. How depressing is that? And the truth is, it wasn’t even fun. It wreaked havoc on my mental health, my eating disorder and my general happiness. And I made a LOT of mistakes, which led to me not making many friends anyway. Ironic. My relationship with myself changed massively when I changed my relationship with alcohol. And I realised that I didn’t need it at all. Don’t get me wrong I love a good few glasses of wine every so often (okay, quite often) but it’s very rare that I go out and do it in excess any more. I’ve learnt that it’s okay if you want to stay in wrapped in your dressing gown with a brew on a Friday night watching love island, rather than downing shots of vodka at a bar.
3) Money isn’t everything.
Money buys you nice things, yes, but does it really buy you happiness? Maybe sometimes. But often that type of happiness is temporary, and only lasts until you see the next nice thing you want to buy. True happiness, in my opinion, comes from human connection. It comes from opening yourself up to other people and cultivating honest, open relationships built on trust and respect. Happiness comes from having an attitude of gratitude for what you already have. Happiness can come from a 20p freddo or a picnic in the park. Happiness is not expensive.
4) Food is delicious.
Yes, food is fuel. Food gives us the energy to do our daily tasks, go to the gym, use our brains etc. However, what I have only learnt in the past few years, is that food is SO much more than fuel. Food is pleasurable, it is social, it is comforting, it is delicious. Food is so much more than just calories and numbers, and only since I started to eat intuitively did I realise just how beautiful food can be when we focus on nourishing both our bodies and our souls.
5) The shape of your body isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things.
We are a society OBSESSED with our bodies. The diet industry is worth billions and billions, and every day we see magazines/social media/television ads telling us that we need to look a certain way to be happy. THIS IS BULLSH*T. You are perfect as you are right now – not when you lose 5 pounds, not when you have abs, not when you “tone” your tummy, but right here right now. Your body should be the least interesting thing about you – what would you rather be remembered for? The shape of your body or your kindness, your values, your passion and your dedication? I know which ones I would choose.
6) Nourish your friendships – you’ll need them.
Keeping in touch is hard and requires effort. But it’s worth it. Having those select few people by your side through thick and thin is so important, and will have a huge impact on your life, especially when you’re going through a tough time. So even if it’s just a quick five minute facetime, a mid afternoon brew or a tag in a meme, let them know you’re there, you appreciate them and you have their back. Strong friendships are pivotal to a happy, fulfilled life and I know I wouldn’t be where I am now without them.
7) It’s okay to be selfish.
We spend so much time thinking about other peoples needs and putting them before our own, that we get lost in the process. The saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup” is so true – sometimes our own resources are so drained that we physically don’t have it in us to fulfil our daily duties. Self-care doesn’t have to be putting candles and music on and taking an hours long soak in the bath. It can be taking a ten minute walk on your own, making your favourite meal or offloading to someone you know will listen to you. So rest, replenish and take time for yourself – only then will you be in the optimum place to provide care for other people.
8) Spend quality time with your family.
In our busy lives sometimes we prioritise our work, our daily chores and mundane tasks over the more important things, such as spending time with our families. Even though I often complained (ANOTHER family event? Jeez I just want to drink lambrini in the park …) I would now prioritise the opportunity to see my family over all else. Even if it’s just a meal together, or a day out, I am grateful for every interaction, as I know how lucky I am.
9) Failure and mistakes are both necessary.
If I had to guess I would say I’ve made over 1 million mistakes in my lifetime (good going for a 22 year old). These range from the small stuff, such as burning toast, to the medium such as throwing away an important document or not putting enough work into an assignment, to the large, such as crashing my car or hurting someone’s feelings. But there is not a single mistake that I haven’t learnt from. We need to go through failure to learn what it takes to have success and we need to make mistakes in order to grow and reach our full potential. Don’t be afraid of failing, be more afraid of not taking any risks.
10) You deserve to be in a healthy relationship.
I’m not good enough. I have too many flaws. I don’t deserve to be loved. These were the messages I replayed to myself time and time again over the years. And they worked, the walls were kept firmly up, allowing no one in. And no one broke these walls down for me – I had to break them myself. Allowing love into my own relationship with myself fully opened me up to receiving it from other people (one in particular). You are not damaged. You are not flawed. You are human and you deserve to be loved.
11) Kindness conquers all.
I’ve left the most important one until last, because I truly believe that this is the most valuable life lesson I have learnt. After the recent events of hate filled attacks, I am more convinced than ever that if everybody showed a little more kindness, the world would be a much better place. A smile, a positive comment, a compliment to someone you may not know too well – all small acts but ones that demonstrate that we don’t want to, or have to, live in a world of fear and hate. A little bit of kindness could make someone’s day, or change someone’s life. It is my goal going forward to consciously act with more kindness, both to myself and towards others – hate breeds hate and love breeds love.
What is the most valuable life lesson you’ve learnt?
Facebook: Kirsty Baines