23 lessons I've learnt in 23 years.
Today I turn 23 (eek!) and it feels like I’m in a completely different world than I was just a year ago. There have been major life changes that I’ve had to deal with, and wanted to reflect on these changes.
Now that I'm 23, I'm definitely "in my 20s". 20-22 don't really count... you're still trying to find your feet, employment, love, travel, and yourself. Have I found all of that? HECK NO. But I've learned a few things over the years that I wanted to share. A few are cliche and a few are definitely not, but at the end of the day I swear by everything I've written.
1. Never stop reading. It’s so easy to fall into the whole Netflix trap, but I swear nothing is like an amazing book. Invest in a few decent titles, explore new genres and grab recommendations from your friends. Let yourself get lost in the words and escape reality for a few hours.
2. Always smile. Two seconds is all it takes to muster a smile, and it can truly make someone’s day. As cliché as it is, I always feel a little happier when someone smiles at me – it will change your mood for the entire day.
3. Be the bigger person. Life is just too god damn short for stupid fights, and sometimes you just need to suck it up and apologise. Sure, you might not be in the wrong, but is it worth fighting over? Worth expending so much energy on? Probably not.
4. Try everything once. Terrified of heights? Go sky diving. Hate cats? Go cuddle one. Seriously, face your fears and give it a go. As long as you can’t be harmed, you’ll never know that you truly won’t love something until you just give it a go.
5. Help whenever you can. This feels silly to be in this list, but oh so necessary. If you see a random person on the street crying, physically go up to them and ask if you can help. It’s old school but it’s true.. good karma comes to those who help.
6. Try to say yes as often as possible. With the massive changes I’ve recently experienced, this is a big lesson I’ve learnt. Rather than waiting for the ‘perfect event’ or the ‘perfect date’ just say YES. You never know what will happen, and it truly could be the best choice you’ll ever make.
7. Go dance in the rain. Easily the most cliché on this list, but have you ever actually done it? There’s something pretty magical about gallivanting in the rain by yourself. Go have a little boogie next time it’s pouring and just enjoy it.
8. Appreciate your parents. Every year I learn to love my parents a little more, and every year I don’t think I possibly could until I do. It’s funny how as we grow older, the truth finally beings to dawn on you… they really were right, after all these years.
9. Love your siblings. I remember when I was younger, and I used to look at my brother and wonder if we’d ever be able to stand each-other (sorry Riley!). As we’ve both grown up, it’s so beautiful tosee our relationship grow stronger each year. My brother & sister are wonderful people, and they say your siblings are your true best friends. LOVE THEM!
10. Don’t hold grudges. This is easier said than done, but I promise it’s so much easier to forgive and move on than expend energy every day fixating on someone or some problem. Leave your anger behind and welcome a life where you don’t need to hold grudges.
11. Flowers fix everything. I’ll admit it – I LOVE flowers. They put a smile on my face, let me know that someone thought about me enough to purchase them and they’re just divine. There are so many companies that send flowers on your behalf (Little Flowers and The Daily Bunch) which are affordable and let you write a note. I love sending them to friends randomly just to let them know they’re incredible and in my thoughts.
12. If it hurts, go to the doctor. Coming from someone that just recovered from a kidney infection, GO TO THE DOCTOR IF IT HURTS. Don’t try to be brave, or just shake it off. If you’re even a tiny bit worried, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Keep up to date with your pap smears, vaccinations and anything else you need for your health.
13. Honesty is the best policy. We all learn this at some stage in our lives, and it’s just so damn true. No matter how tempting it may be to lie, it will nearly always come back and bite you in the bum. Be truthful, honest and believe in your choices. If you back yourself, I promise others will back you too.
14. Have those big nights. I’ve always been hesitant to let myself really let go for the night, and just recently I’ve been going out a bit more. I’ll have a few drinks, but this point is more about going out and just leaving your insecurities behind. Forget your self-consciousness, chuck on your dancing shoes and enjoy every moment!
15. Book a random holiday. Ever looked at a plane and wish you were on it? I do this all the time, and the other day I spontaneously booked a trip to Melbourne. It’ll give you something to look forward to, and everyone needs to be a little spontaneous every now and then.
16. True love does exist. Let yourself believe in love. Don’t look for it, don’t expect it and don’t wait for it. Love isn’t instant, it’s built on foundations of friendship, mutual respect and is so much more than lust. Say yes to new opportunities, and embrace all of your feelings.
17. So does heartbreak. Just as love really exists, so does heartbreak. It will hit you in waves, and it will bloody hurt. The good news? Just like the saying, time really does heal everything. If you’re struggling with a broken heart, surround yourself with friends and family and try to focus on the future. The past will only hold you back.
18. Make some new friends. Old friends are wonderful, but just because you have many old friends doesn’t mean you can’t make new friends. One of my friends has a saying, “aim to make a new, genuine friend a year”. That way you’ll never be alone, and you’ll constantly be expanding your friendship circle. It’s easy to become complacent with a small group of friends, and you should always leave yourself open to making new friends and trying new things.
19. Forget what other people think. The biggest lesson I’ve learnt in the past few years. It seems like a teenage habit, but for some people they’ll carry this burden their entire lives. At the end of the day, everyone else is just too busy focusing on themselves to judge what you’re wearing, or how you’re acting. You are responsible for YOU, and always remember you need to put yourself first.
20. White shoes just go with everything. If you’ve ever got an outfit where you don’t want to wear boots, your thongs are broken and you haven’t had a pedicure lately for your sandals, chuck on some white lifestyle shoes. I’m talking about Converse, Adidas Stan Smiths or any plain jane cute white runner. They go with EVERYTHING, and who knows… you might just start your own trend.
21. Be open to change. In fact, don’t just be open to change… embrace it with open arms. Whether you’re being forced to move, going through a breakup or changing jobs, focus on the future and get excited. Life isn’t meant to be structured and in a particular order, it’s meant to be lived in the moment. Look forward to the many prospects that the day offers, and always say yes.
22. Don’t apologise unnecessarily. As women, we're more inclined to use apologetic language in emails "just checking", "sorry for interrupting", "would it be okay?" etc. Be strong, be fearless and be yourself. I used to apologise all the time, or start sentences off with "sorry" for no reason in particular. Now? I reserve the word sorry for only genuine apologies, where I know I've done something wrong. When you overuse any words it begins to lose all relevance and impact.
23. Be grateful for every day. If you're reading this RIGHT now, then damn it you're lucky. Lucky to be able to read, lucky to have sight, lucky to be alive. Sometimes we just need to take a step back, and acknowledge the big, beautiful and bustling world that we live in. Every morning when I wake up, I always mentally go through a checklist of things I'm grateful for. It sounds silly, but I promise you'll be in a great mood for the rest of the day.