22 by 22.

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In the 22 years I’ve been roaming this planet, fumbling my way around, I’ve learnt the odd thing or two about life. The following pieces of advice are not prescriptive, but are recommended up to 4 times a day with 250mls of water. I’m messing, let’s just crack on.

Here are 22 things I’ve learnt by the age of 22:

  1. Feel your boobs and/or balls. It’s something that takes such little effort. Before you jump in the shower, when you’re getting changed, when you’ve got a spare couple of minutes to yourself, check yourself to ensure their are no lumps, bumps or abnormalities. Get to know what’s normal for you and keep an eye out for any changes! Visit http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/testicular-cancer/getting-diagnosed/finding-early for info on checking your testicles and visit https://coppafeel.org/boob-check/ to find out about boob/peck checks.

2. You will experience rejection. I don’t mean this to sound as harsh as it does… but it will happen. The reason being that it is simply something we must all go through. I’ve been rejected by boys, by companies; I’ve had my ideas rejected. What we don’t see at the time is that they are such an essential part of development. They direct us towards better things (and nicer boys). Take it on the chin and keep moving forward. Life wasn’t designed to be smooth and painless. You have to realise that what you thought was best for, perhaps isn’t and that maybe, you’ll be just better off entering the next door that opens.

3. It’s ok to be doing something different to ‘everyone else’. It may seem sometimes like everyone is following a pattern of job, marriage, babies. Or uni, more uni, travelling. Or full time work, moving out, back to work. Do you see what I’m getting at here? Whilst it may seem like ‘everyone is travelling/having babies/getting engaged/moving out’ etc, a lot of us are actually doing completely different things. I have friends still at uni, friends who have worked since the age of 16, friends from uni and part-time work, friends who are having babies, planning weddings, going out every weekend, travelling, buying houses… and it’s all fine and it’s all great! Do not feel obliged to be doing anything that doesn’t present itself to you in the right way at the right time. There is no time limit, there is no schedule, there is no rush. You do you and enjoy every second of it.

4. Always carry £20 in cash. Literally. You will thank me for this. You will always need change for something. Whether it’s a car park, for a charity, to lend someone, for food. Having a bit of cash on you will make your life so much easier.

5. There is nothing that coconut oil cannot fix. Nothing. I’m telling you now. Eat it. Put it in your hair overnight. Use it as a cleanser. Cover your body in it. Trust me. It’s a wonderful invention. I’ll let you try it for yourself…

6. You probably do like reading. As an avid reader and writer, I have started to notice how reading and writing are embedded within the lives of others. I couldn’t tell you how many people tell me they ‘hate reading’. Now, come on now… you and I both know that you don’t hate it because you rarely engage in it to be able to make that conclusion. Chances are, you haven’t found the right book yet. There are so many genres now and varieties of books that all it takes is a little bit of searching around. I recommend the app ‘Goodreads’. It recommends books for you based on your interests and previous things that you have read. Let your brain develop the story through your own imagination rather than relying on movies to tell the story for you. Don’t block reading out of your life just because you didn’t particularly enjoy reading ‘Of Mice and Men’ for GCSE English…

7. Stop checking up on social media. I don’t mean forever, don’t be silly. However, the world won’t stop if you don’t know what’s happening on Twitter or Instagram for a couple of hours. Don’t live your life through a screen and remember that the majority of people only choose to post about the most positive aspects of their life. It never shows the full picture. Enjoy spending time with people without scrolling through your phone, engage in conversations over dinner, have a catch up that doesn’t involve constant refreshes of your news feed. Find a good balance between real life and your online life.

8. Take pictures. Loads of them. And print them off. Having memoirs and keepsakes are so important and they’re the best way to reflect on some of your most treasured experiences. Technology has advanced in such a way that almost all of us will have a good quality camera in our pockets at all times. Make use of the space on your phone. Capture moments. These are yours. They help to tell your story. They remind you of the times you have shared with the people in your life. Always take lots and lots of pictures.

9. Look after your hands. You use them every day to point to things, hold things, write with, to shake other people’s. Look after them, keep your nails nice and clean, keep your hands soft, wash them (goes without saying but you never know with some people…) and trust me, it leaves a good impression.

10. Anticipate other people’s actions. I have to do this a lot when I’m driving and basically just assume people are going to do the stupid thing I don’t want them to do and be prepared for that. In other words, forward thinking. Be prepared for things suddenly changing – but don’t necessarily expect it. Understand that things can take a very quick turn but know that you have the capabilities to deal with it.

11. Drink lots of water. I’m a nightmare for not drinking enough water and yet it is so, so important. It helps with your mood, keeping your skin and your eyes healthy, it helps with weight loss, digestion… the list goes on. We are made up of around 70% water… you wanna be keeping it that way! There are even apps now that help you through reminders and logging systems to ensure you’re drinking a healthy amount. Your body, mind and skin will thank you! Visit Health and Wellness coach, Abby Phon’s post for an in-depth exploration of the benefits of staying hydrated! https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4287/10-Reasons-Why-You-Should-Drink-More-Water.html  

12. Eat the cake. Seriously, that one bar of chocolate or one slice of cake is not going to throw you off your nutritional intake and cause your body to meltdown. We are humans that thrive from being able to indulge and appreciate nice things. Cake and chocolate are just two examples of those nice things. Think about it, have you ever looked back and thought ‘I’m so glad I didn’t have that Twix in April 2011′. I’d assume not. Go for it, treat yo’ self. You deserve it.

13. Opinions are not universal. The beauty of an opinion is that it is an idea or viewpoint generated from a specific individual, with specific values and interpretations. Now, as you’d imagine, there are a lot of these ‘specific individuals’, thus, in turn, we are not, I repeat… not going to share the same opinions and values as one another and I think that’s pretty damn great. Differences in opinions invite you to develop an open mind, they initiate conversations, they relate back to the person holding it. Just because somebody doesn’t agree with what you think, it doesn’t mean you should stop thinking it. Stay sure of yourself.

14. Learn from children. I’ve been working with kids, age 4 – 18 over the past 4 years and my God, they’re the best people in the world and we could learn a lot from them. Their innocence and naivety primarily puts things into perspective for us as adults. I know that if there is something on my mind and I’m going into work, it soon won’t even be a passing thought because I’ll be deciding what colours we’re using to finish the picture we started together, or I’ll be listening to how their day went. Kids have a knack for being able to cheer you up without realising and demonstrate perfectly that life is there to be enjoyed. Don’t take it too seriously.

15. Smile. I discussed this recently on my personal Facebook page. Smiling is such a small gesture to make yet so many people struggle with it. If I’m out marketing and I smile, people look away, tell me they’re not interested or keep their very serious straight face and I’m thinking… ‘…I literally just smiled with no intention of doing anything but that but ok huns’. It honestly makes my day when someone smiles back. Don’t float through life having the entire world thinking you have a permanent resting bitch face, because everyone is capable of just a little smirk! It goes a long way and you’ll come off as being very warm. Smiling is super important.

16. £100 is actually not that much money. When I was younger, we used to have ‘the Weakest Link’ on at home and they often would get more than a couple of hundred quid at the end of the programme. Back then I remember thinking your possibilities with that amount of money are endless. In reality, it’ll just about cover a phone bill, netflix subscription and a light food shop. Appreciate every penny you have and find a balance between spending wisely and spending wildly.

17. Take care of yourself. You are number 1. You are your biggest fan. You are responsible for keeping yourself going and functioning and in one piece. Look after yourself. Be kind to yourself. Pamper yourself. Love yourself. Then thank yourself for being so kind.

18. Loss is inevitable. You may relate to this in any sense of the word but I shall not dwell on it longer than necessary; it’s faily self-explanatory. The first time you lose something, usually something along the lines of a teddy or a special pencil or a biscuit, you feel devastated. Unfortunately, we never truly adapt to accepting that feeling; we just begin to apply it to different situations – the loss of a job, a family member, a friend. Whether it’s something small or something huge, make sure you heal in the healthiest way possible. Create a strong support network and explore your available options for dealing with loss. We are always taught to deal with it, not eliminate it. It has to run its course, but so do you. Life has a way around these things. Trust me.

19. Your first hangover will be the easiest one of your life. Yep, they get worse. They get harder. Treasure the easy ones, take advantage of them; because before you know it, it’s taking you 3 days to recover from 1 night, just because you couldn’t turn down the Weatherspoons pitcher and impending jager-train. Take a pint of water to bed. Drink as much as you can. Eat before you go to sleep that night (post-night-out nuggets are an essential). And don’t make any plans for the rest of the weekend.

20. Just be nice. It sounds so basic. Hey, that’s because it is! I am such an advocate for women being friendly to other women. Paying a stranger a compliment. Bigging someone up. There is already too much hate in the world to be adding to it with our pointless bullshit that we don’t even mean. Be nice and people will respond accordingly (I say this because some people just don’t like friendly people, which makes me sad).

21. Your first love probably wasn’t your first love. You might think at the time that you will never meet someone as amazing as this one and that there definitely aren’t other people in the world for you to fall in love with because it has to work with this one… your first love. I’m sorry honey, chances are you’ll look back and laugh at yourself as I have done many-a-time. Although, I have to admit, some people’s first love grow to be successful and full of adoration. But I mean, for most of us, we have to clear out the wastes of time first. It’s all about refining and it is not a bad thing!

And finally…

22. There will never be a time you don’t learn a new lesson. You are taught things every single day. Today, for example, I learnt that your stomach is actually a lot higher up in your body than I thought it was. But until you reach your final few moments, between now and then, your life is a series of complicated, frustrating, exciting lessons that you will gather and cherish and use to solidify your wisdom! These have been just 22 of the things I have learnt (23 if we’re counting the stomach thing) and no doubt, if I did this in a year’s time there’d be 22 (or 23) more. Be open to opportunities. Accept your mistakes. Accept that sometimes you might fail. Look after yourself. And go buy yourself a large pot of coconut oil!!!

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