Back in January I turned 31 and I have grown into a young woman, and yes I am still young thank you very much, even if it does make me feel old when young children now refer to me as "lady" in shops. Makes me shudder just thinking about it!!!
I have definitely learnt a thing or two along this crazy ride we call life, and I thought tonight while I am sitting here watching Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway and feeling rather hungover, I would share some of the things I have learnt with all of you.
1. Love Yourself.
This is something I am still mastering to this day. I was never self conscious about my looks until I hit my 20's and then BAM, in came the self conscious body shaming person I am now. Being from Liverpool where girls get their makeup professionally done just to go out for Sunday lunch, always have the perfect spray tan and hair extensions and are always done up immaculate no matter what, it's hard sometimes not to feel like a "Plain Jane" or that you just aren't pretty enough and that you will just get forgotten in a crowd of super skinny gorgeous and glamorous girls. But I am starting to realise that you know what, I might not be a size 6, I might not have extensions down my back (apart from my clip ins sometimes!) and I might not have legs that go on for days but I am me, there is only one of me, and there will never be another me. And I think that's pretty amazing. I have good legs even though they are short, I get complimented on my eyes all the time, I have been told I have a good set of Lady Lumps on me, and I think I am a loyal, caring and rather funny person, even if I do say so myself. Everyone is unique and different and I am finally learning to appreciate what I am rather than hating myself for what I'm not.
Whether it being the latest fashion trend, the newest film everyone's raving about, the newest 'in' band that everyone fell in love with at Glastonbury, the latest new bar that's opened or going on holiday to certain places where every one and their dog seem to be going to this Summer. If you don't like it then don't pretend to. Following on from number 1, everyone's different and pretending to like something just to fit in is only going to make you unhappy. Give things a go, but if it's not you, be proud and say so. Find the bands and films you do like and love those things instead. Dress for you and no one else. Don't force yourself to feel uncomfortable on a sunbed in Marbella if that scene isn't for you. Do you and be proud of who you are. Be yourself in a world full of sheep.
3. You don't have to have your life figured out by the time you are 18.
I still to this day don't have a clue what I want to do for a living, but in this day and age it doesn't matter. I did Travel and Tourism for my A-Levels and now, 13 years later, I have never used it. I have worked in a steady secure job for the last 11 years and I am now being made redundant later in the year meaning I have to start all over again. My Auntie gained a Law Degree when she was in her 40's. My sister-in-law (to be, hopefully!) is doing a teaching degree now at the age of 30. If you don't have your life figured out by the time you are 18 it's not a problem. Take your time and find the right path for you at the age you feel ready.
4. Don't "settle" through fear of being alone.
My longest relationship was just over 4 years and that ended two days before my 24th Birthday in 2010. I had been unhappy in the relationship for a long time, it was a very argumentative relationship and I wasn't treated like I should have been, but I stayed in the relationship for longer than I should have because I was settling and scared of being by myself. Looking back now, I was stupid but I don't regret it because it taught me one of the most valuable lessons I have ever learnt. Never settle for someone who doesn't excite you, make you happy and bring more unhappiness than happiness to your life. Stay single until that person comes along that blows your mind.
5. Spend quality time with your family.
The last few years have taught me that you never know what is around the corner. A lot of my friends have lost parents and loved ones, I have lost relatives throughout my life, and it just makes you realise that your family will not be there forever. Yes they might annoy us sometimes, but spending quality time with your family and making memories with them while you can is so so important. It's something you will never be able to get back once the moments gone and in later life you will wish you could. Make time for your parents, don't begrudge not being able to go out with your friends 1 time out of a millon to attend a family thing, go and see your nan you've been too busy to see. Your family can't be replaced so appreciate them while they are around.
6. Travel whenever you can.
I genuinely think this is one the best lessons you can learn. I feel like travelling around places really opens your eyes and makes you learn so much. See new places and make memories with your friends, I promise you those memories will last you a lifetime. My favourite memories from my whole 31 years so far are my memories I've made on holiday with my friends and from the wonderful new places I have experienced. It just cannot be beaten. Take in the sights of a new place and experience different ways of life. Eat the local food of the places you visit, don't just live out of the McDonald's and Burger King, try the local cuisine. See the world through someone else's eyes. Breathe in the foreign air and feel the warmth of a different countries sun. You might be spending money but the experiences and memories will make you so much richer. Your not a tree, you may have roots where you live but you are not bound into the ground. Life is a book, don't live your life only reading one page.
When you are young you think the friends you have in school will be the friends you will have all your life. I am telling you now, it is very rare to have all of your school friends in your life when you hit 30. Up until I was 30 I had a grand total of 2 school friends who I saw all the time, now I have 1. Things change, situations change and as hard as it is people outgrow each other and friendships fizzle away in front of your eyes. Sometimes it's through your own choice, and sometimes it's through absolutely no choice of your own, and it will hurt a lot, but not everyone is supposed to make it to your future. All of my friends now are family, friends I have met in jobs and other people I have met along the way. Sometimes the friendship thing is a tough thing to go through but sometimes it's necessary to move on from certain friendships and when you get older it's definitely something you realise.
8. Do what makes you happy.
Live your life un-apologetically. Do things that make you happy and not things that keep other people happy. Again this is something I am still trying to get to grips with as I am the worlds biggest people pleaser but I know that for my own happiness sometimes I have to be selfish and put myself first. Don't feel like you have to explain yourself to people all the time for decisions you make. I'm still working on this one but I am definitely slowly getting there.
9. Don't worry what people think of you.
Another one I am coming to terms with slowly but surely, but I am definitely getting there. When I was in my 20's I was so insecure and constantly worrying about what people thought of me any time I spoke or did anything at all. I would over think everything I put on facebook incase I came across as someone people would think was a loser, I wouldn't be photographed in the same outfit more than once incase people called me a tramp, I was scared to voice an opinion or answer people back incase I came across in a bad way, but as I am getting older I am definitely starting to not care and I am such a confident person now. I may not be as comfortable as I would like within how I look, but the person I am inside is definitely someone I am confident with and now I just think, I am me and if people do not like it then that's fine. Not everyone in the world is going to like you, but as long as you like yourself then that's all that matters. I would rather be one persons glass of champagne than everyone's cup of tea.
Following on from the last one, always always stand up for yourself. I used to be so scared of this but now I always make sure I stand up for myself when needs be. I have came across some awful people in my career that seemed to get happiness out of tearing me down at every opportunity. I took it for so long but then I stood up for myself and carried on standing up for myself and it's such an important thing to learn and it is definitely something that a lot of the time I feel comes with age. Always stand up for yourself because you will find a lot of the time, you're the only person who will.
11. Eat the cake.
Everything is OK in moderation. If you want the cake, eat the god damn cake!!! Life is too short to be depriving yourself of things and as long as you don't overdo it and make sure you exercise, a slice of cake, or a piece of chocolate is not going to hurt you. Everything in moderation.
12. Cut ties with the toxic people in your life however hard it may be.
This is probably one of the hardest things you will ever have to do, but if someone is constantly bringing bad vibes and unhappiness into your life, no matter who they are, sometimes you just have to let them go. I have learnt this the hardway recently with someone who I cared about so much but created a very toxic situation in my life. It was making me extremely unhappy and I was becoming a completely different person because of it. I had to get all my courage and walk away even though it killed me. Looking back it was the best thing I did and opened up doors to so many other amazing things. Cut away that toxicness and bring light into your life.
12. Don't judge people.
It's so easy to sit there and judge people because they dress differently to you, or they like different music to you, or have different interests that you couldn't imagine ever being interested in. Sometimes though you find the nicest people or the best friendships in the most unlikely of places. A few of my friendships have come from people who, before they knew me, thought I was a snotty cow haha. Now they are some of my best friends. I've recently spoken to people who I've known of for years and never really liked and always thought wouldn't be my cup of tea, and after speaking to them, I think they are genuinely boss people. Leave your judgemental head in bed of a morning and you will be surprised what happens.
13. Be positive,
Pretty self explanatory. Your vibe attracts your tribe, and your attitude greatly affects your life. If you are a negative Nancy you will attract negativity in all aspects of life. Be a positive Polly instead. Or try to be whenever you can. There will always be times when you feel down, or you feel fed up, and that's fine, allow yourself to have those days. But on the whole, if you try to be a positive person, the impact on your life will be far greater than the impact of negativity.
14. Life isn't a competition.
Just because all your friends might be at different stages in their lives than you, it doesn't mean that you are a failure or that you are falling behind. If your friend has a boy interested in them don't get jealous and bitter because you aren't getting the attention, be happy for them. If someone gets a promotion or a new job, congratulate them and celebrate their success. Everyone is different and has a different path, things will happen for you when they are meant to and not a moment before. The attention will come when it's meant to. The great job will come when it's meant to. The babies and marriage will come when it's meant to. Don't compete with your friends or people you know. The only person you should be in competition with and try to be better than is yourself.
15. Experiences are more valuable than material things.
I have found as I have gotten older that it's far more valuable to spend your time making memories with my friends and family, experiencing things I will remember forever and taking amazing trips than it is buying Valentino Shoes or buying a designer bag. Don't get me wrong, if I had the money I would still absolutely love a pair of Louboutins, or a gorgeous Chloe bag, but I don't have that money to spend and I know that it's not worth missing out on new experiences or making memories with my friends for a pair of shoes, so the cheaper dupes will do me. What good comes from sitting in your house surrounded by expensive things and not being able to actually live your life? Don;t try and live a Champagne lifestyle on a Prosecco wage.
Not everyone who listens to your problems has true intentions and not everyone will be true to you behind your back. Trust but be careful. I used to trust everyone but now my trust has to be earned. Always trust peoples actions rather than peoples words. People can promise you the world, or promise you they have your back and will be there for you through anything, but when it comes down to it they aren't. Be picky with who you place your trust with. Once you break my trust, it's near enough impossible to get it back.
17. Trust your gut.
If your gut instinct is that when you meet someone they aren't good for you or your life, or that a job you have started isn't for you or that a situation you are in gives you a bad feeling. Trust it! 99.9% of the time your gut is right. Your heart and head can play tricks on you, but that gut feeling is never wrong.
18. Get excited about the small things, not just the big things.
People tell me sometimes that I get excited over the smallest things and it hardly takes anything to excite me and they don't get how I get so exited over such small stuff, but I don't see anything wrong with that. As you grow up you begin to realise that sometimes the smallest things create the biggest and best memories from your life. Even just starting your day driving to work and getting excited because Britney Spears Toxic comes on the radio and you haven't heard it for ages, get excited. Love the small moments not just the big ones and your life will be so much more satisfying.
Let yourself be alone. Take time out to spend the day watching netflix or go for a drive or a walk by yourself. Take yourself off to get your nails done. Set aside an afternoon to have a nice bath and pamper yourself. Alone time is essential to find out who we are and de-stress. After a hard day at work, if you need some alone time, take it. Do not feel like you have to be busy all the time and be doing things constantly to be happy. Sometimes an afternoon watching a series on netflix, lighting some candles and making yourself a nice hot chocolate can make you just as happy as a night out with your friends.
So they are some of the biggest things I have learnt and realised as I have grown from a girl into a woman. I have grown so much throughout my 20's and the person I was at 18 is so so different to the person I am now. I have changed from a shy quiet girl into a loud confident woman and I have grown and learnt from all the things life has thrown at me. I am still struggling with a few things I have listed myself, but I know that will come in time. I loved being in my 20's but being in my 30's brings a new confidence, I 100% know who I am, I am not afraid to be myself, and I know what's good for me and what I want my life to be like. It's a good feeling. :)