21 Things i’ve Learned in 21 Years

I kinda’ kept it on the “down-low” on this side of my life (by ‘this side’, by the way, I mean my career and my blog etc.). My friends on the other hand would be astounded to say the least to hear this as I haven’t actually stopped talking about it for a good week (or two or three) now. What i’m talking about of course is the fact that last Thursday was my 21st birthday! 

The art of turning 21 has a different air to it than other birthdays. I don’t usually feel any older, i’m not a big celebrator and most of the time to me a birthday is just another day in which I’m another day older (the life of the party, aren’t I?). This year however not only did I decide to push the boat out and celebrate a bit, but I actually also felt a lot, lot older. 

It may have something to do with the fact that I graduated in the same week (goodbye, student life). Or maybe the fact that on the day before my Birthday I went on a flat-hunting expedition to find a place for me to live for when I start my full-time job in August. Nevertheless, whatever it was, this year July 12th was just different for me.

Whilst i’m not about to get soppy nor sentimental (as neither of the two are particularly ‘like me’) what I am about to do is write about 21 things i’ve learned in my 21 years on this planet. I feel as though i’ve hit a milestone in my life and of course my favourite thing to do when that happens is to write about it. So, to save me rambling and to save me from going far more deep than I care to go, i’ll start.

Here’s my 21 things i’ve learned in 21 years. 

21 things i’ve learned in 21 years

Number one: high school doesn’t have to be “the best days of your life.” 

It’s so cliché, the old saying: ‘You’ll miss it when you’re gone… Your High School years will be the best years of your life’. 

Mine weren’t.

Don’t get me wrong, come year 10 and 11 I really did love going to school. I was never sure about it in the earlier years but towards the end I really did enjoy it. I had a good set of friends and we did have a lot of fun. However, would I say they were the best days of my life? Absolutely not.

I miss high school somewhat and yes, I did have a laugh there but I probably wouldn’t go back given the chance. I feel like so much pressure is put on high school students to enjoy themselves whilst studying hard and that almost takes the fun away. Anyhow, how are you meant to have “the best time of your life ever ever ever” when you’re studying for 15 or so exams?

School is fine, I enjoyed it enough to follow on to sixth form. I liked my teachers and had a great set of friends but honestly if there’s one thing i’ve learned in hindsight, it’s that it’s not actually ‘all that’. I’ve had far better days since then and if I had to pick a ‘best time of my life’ it would be my uni days for sure.

Number two: your friends will come and go but that’s okay.

Number two follows on from number one really. It’s sad leaving high school and watching your friends take different paths, and don’t get me wrong I think I cried for hours. However you’ll soon come to realise that your friends do honestly come and go (and that’s okay).

Instead of being upset that i’m no longer close to my high school friends, instead I’m happy with the memories I have with them. Also, I love that I can still see people when I come home to visit and have a good old catch up with them.

You’re kidding yourself if you think you’ll stay friends with everyone forever – it just doesn’t happen. However, watching friends come and pass you by as the years go on is kind of a good thing as you soon notice who sticks with you through it all. That’s how you uncover your friends for life without even realising it.

So I guess what i’m trying to say is that friendships don’t always last forever but it’s okay.

Friendship means that the memories last even when the contact doesn’t.

Number three: if you wait around for things to happen, they often wont. 

“Good things come to those who wait” is such bullsh*t, sorry.

Now it might rain true for friendships and relationships but when it comes to things such as your career (for example), you have to go out and get it. Nobody ever achieved greatness by sitting around doing nothing all day and don’t think that you’re any different.

I’m not academically gifted, in fact i’m quite the opposite. If i’d have waited around for my grades to improve by themselves then i’d still be waiting now. Instead, I went out and made it my goal to better myself, to do better. And do better I did. By having constant drive and determination to go out and get what I want instead of waiting around for it to happen, i’ve landed myself in an incredible job within a great city with a University grade to be proud of to match.

So, i’m sorry but i’ll never endorse the phrase ‘good things come to those who wait’ – don’t spend your life waiting, go out and make it happen instead.

Number four: university is the best decision you’ll ever make. 

Maybe i’m biased but i’ll honestly never be able to stress this enough. I was ‘umming and ahhing’ about university for a long long time before I decided to actually go and even in the first few weeks I questioned so many times whether it was right for me.

I’m so glad to say that now, 3 years down the line – it definitely was. 

I’ve met such incredible people, learned so much and gained so many invaluable experiences during my 3 years at LJMU – i’ll never quite be able to put in to words just how indebted I am to them (figuratively and literally – ha!)

I’m not saying uni is right for everyone because it certainly isn’t and I know plenty of people who chose not to go and are completely happy with that decision. But, seeing as this post is about things that I personally have learned in the last 21 years: i’d always advocate university and rightly name it the best decision I ever made.

Number five: travel, travel, travel while you can. 

I never thought much of travelling. I didn’t used to have a bucket list and couldn’t stand the thought of a gap year.

Now however (although you still wouldn’t catch me on a 6 month backpacking expedition anytime soon) i’ve definitely had a change of heart.

After booking *far too many* holidays this year before I start work full time (i’d have been on 6 by time the year is up) i’ve realised that now really is the time to go out and see the world. For me, I prefer to take little breaks rather than opt for a big ‘around the globe trip’ but however you decide to get about – i’d always recommend doing it.

It’s as cliché as anything but now really is the time to get yourself out there and to see the world. Experience things while you can because honestly the chance will be over before you know it.

Number six: things do get better! 

I said at the start that I don’t care to get deep with this post and I still don’t so let me just make this point in as few words as I can.

Things do get better, even if you’re going through a really sh*tty time in your life and think it’ll always be that way. It won’t. Take it from someone who truly knows, there is always a brighter day.

Number seven: social media is no good for you. 

I used to be so prominent on social media. It was commonplace for me to be writing 15-20 tweets, posting on Instagram and uploading statuses on Facebook every single day a few years ago. I’m not saying i’m no longer an avid social media user because don’t get me wrong I still do enjoy it. What I’m saying is that if there’s one thing i’ve learned in recent years it’s that it’s honestly not always good for you.

You need to draw a line on social media and luckily i’ve been able to do that. Use it to appreciate, not envy and life will be better that way. If you’re constantly scrolling through Instagram wishing you looked like what you see on there then you need to ask yourself whether your accounts are there for the better or the worse?

Social media is a great place to connect with people and to share what you’re up to. However, if you’re finding it deflating or consuming then it may be time to bid it goodbye.

Number eight: cherish your family. 

Again, I won’t get sentimental and i’ll keep it simple.

Something I have learned, in my past 21 years, is that you should always cherish your family.

Tell your Mum, Dad, Brother, Nan, Granddad etc. that you love them as you never know when the last time you’ll see them will be.

Number nine: GCSEs and A-Levels aren’t everything. 

My GCSEs were pretty good, and my A-Levels? Not so much.

But you know what, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re happy and healthy and are enjoying life. If you do want to take the academic road then of course you’ll need OK GCSEs and enough UCAS points to get you in to University but after that, they really aren’t all that.

Never have I been asked what my GCSE or A-Level results were. Employers are more interested in what you can offer and what you can do. Numbers on a page do not define you so if you’re struggling with your GCSE or A-Level exams just remember that.

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing it is stupid. – Albert Einstein.

Number ten: it doesn’t matter if you don’t have things figured out right away. 

Did I have a clue what I wanted to do when I finished Sixth Form? Absolutely not.

I didn’t even have any incline as to what I wanted a career in until the end of my second year at university. It was then that I realised I wanted to work within PR so I went about making that happen.

If you don’t know what you want to do with your life yet it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that when you do know, you go out, and go about achieving it.

Vera Wang was a failed figure skater until the age of 40, J.K Rowling was 32 when her first Harry Potter book was published, Bill Gates dropped out of University and Morgan Freeman was 52 when he first made it as an actor. Just because you’re unsure now, it doesn’t mean you always will be.

Number eleven: your summer breaks at uni are the best – cherish them.

I think the one thing i’m going to miss about university above everything else is the summer. Whether you spend it at home or in the city you’ve moved to – those breaks are incredible.

There’s nothing better than having 2/3 uni-free months in the sun. So, if you’re a university student reading this then make sure you cherish them. 

Number twelve: you don’t have to do something with every day of your life. 

This is something that i’ve only learned very recently.

I used to try and cram my days with endless things to do in fear of wasting time. But lets get real, not every day has to be jam-packed full and it’s absolutely fine to have a day to yourself (and a day of doing nothing, in fact.)

Number thirteen: if you enjoy something, do it! 

I’ve always enjoyed writing ever since I was little. I never really kept a diary or anything like that as I got older however so I kind of fell out of touch with it.

I can’t tell you how long I dabbled with the idea of blogging before actually setting my blog up. Far too long is the answer. I guess I was always scared of people not reading it or worse – laughing at me. However once I finally did bite the bullet and set up this blog, i’ve never looked back and i’m so happy about it. Finally I have a place to practise what I love and share my thoughts with the world.

I guess I won’t always please everyone with what I write and that’s okay. As long as i’m doing what I know I enjoy, it’ll always be a good decision to me.

Number fourteen: mistakes aren’t the end of the world.

Though this post is supposed to be covering things i’ve learned within the last 21 years, this is actually something I’ve learned within the past week. 

I’ve always been my own biggest critic and probably always will be. When I make a mistake it devastates me more than I can even explain to you and I’m so unforgiving on myself. Yet, over the past week i’ve had to really sit down with my inner thoughts and tell them that frankly, they are ridiculous. We are humans and we make mistakes. Without them, what do we learn from?

I think this is kind of something i’ve ‘learned’ but is also something I must keep telling myself as time goes on. I’ll always be cynical of myself and everything I do – i’m hardwired that way and am struggling to change it.

However, I really am going to try working on learning how to cut myself some slack. Because, like I mentioned: mistakes are there for us to learn from. Therefore I must stop beating myself up over them and instead realise that they aren’t actually the end of the world (even when sometimes they seem it).

Number fifteen: early mornings are the best. 

I’m up and down with my sleeping habits. University was the worst. I’d often sleep in til later than what i’m used to and then feel really sh*tty about it for the rest of the day.

As time has gone on something i’ve learned is that you can’t beat a good old early morning. Though when your alarm goes off you may be cursing your own name; once you’re actually up and out you’ll cherish the day much more. There’s something different about the air in the mornings and I love being out in it. Plus – I feel as though there’s some scientific evidence to back this up somewhere – it’s actually so much easier to be productive when you’ve rolled out of bed at a reasonable time.

Number sixteen: dissertations aren’t all that. 

Throughout the whole time of writing my dissertation I was waiting for the breakdown that never came.

10,000 words may sound a lot, but i’m currently on my 2501st word of this blog and this is something i’m writing for fun. The stress and the hype around dissertations is so excessive and I honestly don’t know where this fabricated belief that ‘they will ruin your life’ even came from. They’re hard, don’t get me wrong. But as long as you start early and keep on top of it, your diss is honestly just like another uni essay.

Number seventeen: life’s more fun when you try new things.

This is almost ironic coming from the fussiest eater you’ll ever meet, so let’s err away from the topic of trying new foods.

I’m talking about new experiences, biting the bullet and trying things you never thought you would. I used to be so timid but in the past few years i’ve adopted an attitude wherein there’s not much I won’t try at least once.

You’re not guaranteed to enjoy everything you try, in fact I can tell you right now that you probably wont. However, how will you ever know unless you just go for it? This is something I had to tell my stuck-in-her-ways self a few years back and i’ve been grateful for it ever since.

Number eighteen: life’s too short to be ars*d about everything. 

Some people might find this controversial but honestly, that proves my point.

Just a couple of years ago I was so set in my ways. I was heavily political and would argue with anyone who tried to tell me otherwise. It was only more recently that I realised that life’s too short for all that. By all means, be passionate about causes that you believe in; but when your passions starts to ruin your relationships with others then it’s time to question whether they’re worth it.

I’ve come to reason with myself that life’s too short to spend all your time worrying, or being unhappy at the state of things. If you don’t like how things are then be the change you want to see in the world, but at the same time don’t let it drag you down so far that you can’t enjoy life the way you should.

Maybe that’s just the businessperson in me. Knowing that at the end of the day no matter what position we may find ourselves in, we have to just get on with it. But honestly, i’m far happier living life this way and i’m ever grateful I adopted this mantra.

Number nineteen: back everything up.

OK, this is the over-concerned Mum persona in me talking now but this is something quite important that I learned not too long ago.

Back everything up. Be it your files, your photos, your music – anything. Computers are temperamental and don’t think it won’t happen to you because it can and it may. I lost all of my final year work a few months in to my second semester because I was naive enough to think a memory stick holding everything would do the job. I’ll tell you now that it doesn’t. So make sure you always have everything you want to keep backed up to at least one other storage facility. (I like Dropbox and Google Drive ’cause you can access them anywhere).

Number twenty: it’s nice to be nice. 

Working in retail drills this in to you: that it’s nice to be nice. 

Being ars*y towards a worker because you’re unhappy with something beyond their control is a sure fire way to ruin their whole day unless they’re t-totally thick skinned. I was reduced to tears so many times in my 4 years of retail work from people who clearly had no idea how to talk kindly to other human beings.

You’ll more often than not find that the way you treat people will be a mirror image of the way they treat you, so aren’t things so much better when both parties are nice? 

I’ll always go the extra mile to be nice to people, wherever I may be because you never know what that person may be feeling or what they may be dealing with. Even if someone doesn’t treat you with the same level of respect, kill em’ with kindness instead.

Honestly, life and everything about it is just so much better with a PMA (positive mental attitude) and this is something that my time in retail taught me if nothing else.

Number twenty-one: to be continued…

Let’s face it, i’ve learned so many things in the past 21 years that I think i’d be far more than 3400 words deep right now if I made note of them all. So instead, for my final point, instead of thinking up another life lesson i’m going to exit on a TBC.

You never stop learning in life. It’s cringey and totally cliché but you honestly do learn something new every day.

My last point is ‘to be continued’ as I don’t know what the next 21 years (and the years thereafter) will throw at me, but the one thing I do know is that i’m unquestionably excited to find out.

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