This past weekend I turned the big 26!! How these numbers keep sneaking up on me I’ll never know, I barely feel like I’ve started my twenties yet here I am coming close to the finishing line and verging on the oh so scary (but surely fantastic?) 3 – 0! My twenties are swiftly leaving me behind, I’m having to consider the possibility that I might, in fact, be a…grown up…SHH, don’t say it so loud!
Feeling all reflective as one does after a birthday (or maybe that’s just me?) I thought I’d give a shout out to the 26 things (see what I did there?) I’ve come to learn/realize/admit to as I stand at the starting line of my 26th year on this planet we call Earth.
1) Time is NOT important
There is nothing that actually says you should be married by X age, or on the XX ladder of your career by this exact date. Things will happen when they’re suppose to happen. If we are so hell bent on certain things happening by a certain age and they don’t happen, well, that’s not going to be a fun time for anyone, especially you!
2) Exercise is your friend
Find a fitness activity you love and go with it. Don’t think of it as exercise, never tell yourself it’s to lose weight or tone up for summer, do it because it’s FUN – and just happens to be very good for you!
3) The word ‘diet’ should not be in your vocabulary
If you’re going to delete one word from your life, ‘diet’ should be it! Diet implies that you are going on some crash course celebrity endorsed ‘all your friends are doing it’ life of hell and then some. Diets deprive you of the foods you love, and as soon as your on one, your brain sends out little minions to sit on the tip of your tongue, taunting you with the taste of things you’ve told yourself you can’t have. And if you give in to temptation? Don’t even get me started on the guilt trips those minions will send you on! Seriously, no more diets. Learn about portion control, moderation, and c’mon, we all know what foods are bad for us so just quit eating as much of them! Tell yourself you’re making a ‘healthy lifestyle choice’ and those minions will bugger right off!
4) Food is FUN
Eating food, making food, playing with food. It’s all fun – never forget that. It’s not just there to fuel us through our day, it’s there to be enjoyed, alone, or with friends and family. Broaden your palette, try different cuisines, restaurants, cook something you have no idea how to cook. Have fun with it. Never be afraid of food.
5) Get out more
I love the internet – there, I said it! But what’s the point of watching others life their life out online if your not living yours? We’re all guilty of having a SacconeJoly or Judys Time marathon, and there’s nothing wrong with that, just remember there’s a big ol world out there and you could be doing something much more fun that sitting there watching others go shopping in Tesco!
6) Everyone else’s problems are not your problems
You’ve got enough going on in your own life without taking on the problems of others too. Be there for others, listen and help if you can, but don’t let their problems take over your life.
7) Learn to listen
One of the easiest things to do in conversation is to talk about yourself without even realizing it. Give others a go on the microphone and just listen. It’s easy to jump in half way through a sentence with advice or anecdotes, but maybe, just maybe that’s not what the other person is looking for. Just let them talk, nod in all the right places and let them finish, then, if needed, give your 2 pennies worth.
8) The world is a playground – and not the fun kind
Remember the playground drama when you were a kid? The cliques, the bullying, the hierarchy etc? Even when you leave school, that will never go away. College, university, the world of work. They’re all giant playgrounds filled with cliques and bullys, name calling and back stabbing. Just because people grow up doesn’t mean they will act like a grown up. It’s sad but so true, some people just get worse with age. Be the bigger person here, don’t get involved in the gossip and drama – just walk away and go play on the swings.
If you want to know something, ask! Life’s too short to not know if that guy likes you as more than a friend, or if your boss thinks you’d be better off in another department. If you never ask you’ll never know, and there’s nothing worse than living without answers. More often than not you might get an answer you didn’t expect, it could be hurtful or heartbreaking, but at least you know the truth and can move forward knowing all the facts.
10) Don’t try to keep up with the Jones’
All your friends are signing mortgage agreements, getting married, having babies, wearing purple – just because they are doesn’t mean you should be too. Single and still living with your parents? SO WHAT? You’ll do things in your own time, see point #1!
11) Be yourself
How many summers did you spend during your school years trying to change? To be like someone else, someone who was more popular than you? Someone you thought was more attractive than you? Was any of that time well spent? Thought not! Here’s a secret, you are an awesome person, you are you, there is literally nobody else in the world like you! You’re unique, this person you are has never graced this planet or these lives before and never will again – embrace you.
12) The answers are not always on the outside
Changing your image, your lifestyle, your environment are not always the answers for problems you’ve got going on inside you. You can externally become something different and new, but internally you will always be the same. You’ve got to fix what’s going on inside you.
13) Rejection isn’t as scary as it sounds
The word no is not the worst thing someone can say to you. So you didn’t get that new job, your submission didn’t get accepted for the publication, your best friend doesn’t want to hang out and it turns out that guy really does just want to be friends. It is not the end of the world, I repeat, it is NOT the end of the world. Take a moment to be sad or angry if you must, but just a moment, then make plans and move on because…
14) Everything happens for a reason
And we can’t control it. It’s out of our hands, it is what it is and all we can do is our best with whatever pieces are left behind. Let’s face it, some times something happens that is completely unfair, we cry and kick and scream till our throat is raw. But the thing, whatever it is, has still happened so we’ve got to pick ourselves back up, have a long cold glass of water, take a deep breath and carry on.
15) Do something
Anything! How often do you find yourself mindlessly staring at Facebook, Pinterest? Tumblr? Twitter *insert any other social media here* You’re not doing it for any specific reason, you’re just doing it and getting nothing worthwhile out of it. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we need that mindless downtime, but lets not make is a part of our daily schedule! If you find yourself doing this – step away from the computer/laptop/tablet/smart phone, and go and distract yourself with something else. Make a cup of tea, dance around the living room, go to the library or phone your mum.
16) Read more
I’ve always been a reader ever since I was a tiny person but even I have to make a point sometimes of just sitting down to read. Best sellers, old favorites, classics or a recommendation. Just pick up a book for 30 minutes a day, it’s an easy habit to get into, especially if you’re a commuter – you won’t believe the worlds that are opened up to you. They say a reader lives over a thousand lives in one lifetime!
17) Take care of your body
It’s the only one you get, so give it some love on the inside and out. Think of it like a car, it’s only going to get you so far if you don’t look after it properly!
18) Make time for others
Make time for the people who are important in your life, even if it's just a quick coffee after work or an email. Pick up the phone and give them a ring, don't wait for others to make plans, make the arrangements for meet ups yourself.
19) Check your balance
I’ve never been money minded but it has come to my attention that if you really do look after the pennies the pounds look after themselves. Let’s face it, we need money for pretty much everything in life. We need a home, food, health, and we all need to go out to a fancy pants restaurant once in a while (we just do!). Start looking after your bank balance, get used to putting X amount into your savings and keep a handy rainy day fund to one side. Money is for spending and enjoying but there’s no point in getting yourself into unnecessary debt!
20) Follow your heart
We’re all going to so something or make a decision others won’t agree with. There is no point in letting that stop you, you’ve made your choice for a reason and you’re the one who is going to have to live with it, nobody else. If you feel so strongly and passionately about someone or something, you’re doing yourself a injustice by not going for it because…
21) Your living your life, nobody elses
Your parents can’t live your life for you, neither can your friends. It’s great to have their support and company along the way, but at the end of the day, you can only live the way you know how to, and sometimes, other people just won’t get it. That’s OK, as long as you are safe, happy and healthy, keep on doing what you’re doing.
22) No more tomorrows!
How many times do we say we’ll just do it tomorrow? Be it that amazing blog post idea you just had, or emptying the kitchen bin. Why put things off, even the mundane things? Get them done whilst your thinking about them, other wise all of these little things just add up and it become too much, we become so over whelmed by what we have to get done we don’t do any of it. Stop putting things off and just do them as soon as you think of them!
23) Keep a journal
It doesn’t have to be a ‘dear diary’ and it doesn’t even have to be daily. I know people who have been trying to fill the same journal for 10+ years! If you’ve had a great day, took a trip, or just have something you want to remember, take a few minutes at the end of each day to jot it down. It doesn’t have to be profound and nobody else ever has to read it – but one day you’ll be glad you made a note of that now forgotten memory. Speaking of memories…
24) Take more pictures
I don’t mean tweet pictures of your ham salad sandwich to the world every lunch time, or flood your news page with pictures of how oh so cute you think your kid looks covered in chocolate from 50+ angles – but take more pictures in general. Of friends, family, don’t even ask them to pose and say cheese, just snap a random candid shot of you mum reading, your dad washing his car, these will be priceless to you in the future.
“…we won’t all be there this time next year so while you can take a picture of us…” – Frank Turner, Polaroid Picture
25) Say YES more
Say yes to things you wouldn’t normally say yes to, do something new, go someplace different. As long as it’s legal and safe – what have you got to lose? This is how experiences are earned and memories made.
26) Reward yourself
Be it a massages at the spa, a new pair of shoes, an extra slice of cake or one more snooze on the alarm. If you’ve worked hard for it, give yourself a pat on the back and treat yourself to something special. What’s the point in all that hard work if you can’t celebrate at the end of it?
Wow, that was pretty intense. Looking back over my points, I can see exactly where in my life some of these have come from, and how I wish I had known some sooner. But I know them now and can move forward into my 26th year, feeling a little wiser and a little more prepared for whatever life fancies throwing in my direction!