Monday, 20 October 2014
27 things I've learnt on my 27th birthday!
Around this time last year, I turned 26. Now, 27, I'm finding time is getting away from me, days are over before they've started, the weeks quickly become months and just when I've worked off those extra Christmas pounds, I'm putting them right back on again!
What's that all about?
I always find myself really reflective on my birthday, thinking about everything that's happened since the last one. Things I've done, people I've met, lessons I've learnt and what not - do you do this too? Birthdays are becoming more than milestones, they're turning into check-points. So, without further rambling, let's check in on the 27 things I've learnt on my 27th Birthday!
1) Out of sight isn't always OUT of mind
Just because you can't see the problem or issue doesn't mean it isn't still there. Instead of putting it out of sight, look it in the eye and deal with it.
2) Don't sweat the small stuff
Cap not on the toothpaste? Toilet seat left up? The bus drove off even though you were running and waving like a loon? Don't sweat it. In the grand scheme of things, is it really going to effect your life in a bad way? Will you lose sleep over it? Will it make you ill or cause you're family harm? No. You know the kinds of things I'm talking about, and it's best just to let them slide, just put the lid back on yourself and walk out of the bathroom. It's really not a big deal!
3) Let it go!
Bad things happen, even to good people. But hold onto those bad things and you'll only feel all the worse for it. Really, what's the point? How does it enrich your life? Learn to let go of whatever negative thoughts or feelings you're carrying around with you and instead, carry with you all the good times.
4) Forgive and forget
There is no point holding onto something forever. So somebody said something mean and hurtful to you, you've got to find a way to push past that to either salvage your relationship with that person or distance yourself from them and move on. You can't do either without first forgiving them for the wrong they have done you, then forgetting about it. I know you're sat there shaking your head, telling me it's not easy. I know. It won't happen over night, it might take years, but you have to try.
There is something in each and every day to smile about. Be it a joke, a clear sky, a good cup of tea. Find something, anything, and don't rest until you have found that one thing that puts a smile on your face.
6) Push past your comfort zone
Yes, it'll be uncomfortable and probably a little scary too, but do it. You'll never know what you're capable of unless you try. Be it an activity or something new on the menu, break your own mold.
7) You are capable of more than you know
It's amazing what we're actually capable of when we put ourselves out there and try. We are capable of amazing things. I never used to believe that. I used to think I had limits, that my knowledge base and skill set only went so far - turns out I was pretty wrong. Those things I said I could never do or understand in a million years? I can, and I do. All it took was a little hard work and some self belief.
8) Your job and your studies don't HAVE to go hand in hand
At University I studied creative writing and media communication. I then did a Masters in writing studies. I now work in a laboratory - I haven't studied science since I was 16, and I wasn't exactly all that good at it back then if I'm honest. My studies and my job are poles apart, english vs science. Did I ever think this would be the case? Hell no! But 3 years on and a promotion in hand, I must be doing something right. Just because you're not on a career path that matches up with your studies does not mean you're doing something wrong.
9) Plans don't always go to plan
When plans and reality failed to match up I was convinced it was a sign of the Apocalypse. No, really, raining hell fire and all. Turns out, lots of things fail to stick to the plan, but the skies are still pretty fire free. Plans don't always work out, for whatever reason and every reason. Go with it. Sometimes, are plans go wrong for a reason.
10) Never stop learning
I was naive enough to once think that after finishing education, my learning journey was over. I would have all the information I would ever need to function and that was that. Wrong. The world keeps turning, things keep changing and there is always something new to learn. Never close yourself off to learning anything and everything. Watch documentaries, read new books, go to museums and galleries. Learning isn't confined to the classroom or the lecture theater. Learn to cook, to change a bulb, to clean an oven. Read an autobiography of someone you have no clue about. Go to a pub quiz. Learn to make a signature cocktail. Learning is everywhere and pretty much every thing.
11) Get a hobby
I started my blog for two reasons. One of which was to have something to do of an evening after work. Sure, I loved, and still love, coming home and curling up in front of the tv for a couple of hours then going to bed, only to wake up the next day and do it all again - but what was I really gaining from that? I wanted to feel more productive, to have something to focus on so my nights felt a little more well spent. So, I started blogging. It's been almost a year since I got serious about my blog and I haven't looked back.
So many people tell me they can't write. That they're not creative or imaginative enough. Well, to that, I say bollocks. Start a blog, keep a diary, scrawl on scraps of paper, writer a poem. Write, write, write! Try morning pages, or free writing, write about not knowing what or how to write. It's amazing how much better you feel just for getting all those thoughts whizzing around your head out and down on paper. Burn it afterwards for all I care - just write something to burn first!
13) Deal with your own problems first
Yes, we want to help others. But we can't help them without helping ourselves first. Sometimes, you have to give someone a rain check and deal with whatever it is that's bothering you, then you can give yourself wholeheartedly to them help them.
14) Don't be afraid to tell people what you're good at
I don't mean shout it from the roof tops or make out like your the bees knees or anything, but, if there's a particular task in work you're good at, or there's a certain skill you have they could benefit from - tell them. Offer your help, they will thank you for it and you may just open their eyes, and in turn doors to opportunities you might have closed yourself off to had you kept your mouth shut.
15) Make time for the people who matter
When you realize you haven't spoken to someone important for a while, don't just think it's their fault, that they're the one whose too busy. Chances are, you've been too busy to contact them. Don't sit around wondering if you should get in touch or wait a little longer to see what happens. Just pick up the damn phone and say hello. I'd bet you any money they'd been having the exact same thoughts!
16) Tell people what you think.
Can you read minds? Didn't think so, and neither can the people around you. I know I have a habit of just expecting people to know when there's something wrong or upsetting me without actually vocalizing the problem. Then, and I'm sure you do this too, I get annoyed they haven't noticed and carry on like everything is OK. It's not OK, and they won't know unless you tell them so. You don't have to be mean about it, and you don't have to go hurting feelings either, but if something is bothering you just let them know, chances are they can help!
17) Go some place NEW
I'm a creature of habit. I shop in the same shops, I eat in the same restaurants, I holiday in the same places. I know what I like and I like what I know...but it turns out, there are things and places and people out there I didn't know that I now really like! Much like pushing past your comfort zone, going somewhere new can be daunting at first, but you can never honestly say you dislike something when you've yet to experience it. If you experience is and still don't like it, fine! At least you tried!
18) Stop worrying
I'm a worrier, I worry about everything and everyone, how they're feeling, if they need a cup of tea or another biscuit, maybe I've cut the pizza wrong and they've been left the small slice? Worry will drive you insane. Worry snowballs, and what starts out as one small thing just builds and builds until you explode with worry and anxiety. Stop. The world will keep turning, if they want a brew they will ask and if their slices are too small, swap with them!
19) Have your own opinion
It's easier to go along with saying and doing what everyone else is, isn't it? But what's the point in being a sheep? I used to think following the crowd was the secret to making friends and being happy, but it just left me with false friends and a frown. Have your own opinion, if you don't agree with the crowd then tell them so, they might not like it, but chances are they will respect you more for having your own opinion and the friends you do make will mean a lot more to you than those you had to be something you're not around.
I've certainly started to notice that as I get older, the need to celebrate things is actually becoming greater, which I find quite strange. I love celebrating my birthday more so now than I have ever done. I look forward to milestones and excuses to celebrate something. It doesn't have to be as big as a birthday or a promotion, it can be the little things too. Celebrate whatever it is and enjoy it!
21) Set yourself a challenge!
Write a novel in 30 days, take the plank challenge, read a book a week for a year, blog everyday for a month. Whatever it is, challenge yourself. I worry about getting into a rut as I get older, getting set in a routine and struggling to break out of it as time goes by. By setting challenges, you're mixing things up a little, doing something different, and it's only for a short time then if you like, you can go right back to the routine.
OK, you should probably start doing this before you get to 27, but if you have little to no savings, now's the time to start. Moving into my own place has made me more aware of my finances than I have ever been in the past. I'm not saying become so tight you squeak when you walk, but start setting aside a set amount of your wages each month for savings. Be it a holiday, moving home or even just Christmas spending money, saving up in small amounts over time is a hell of a lot less stressful than trying to find a lump sum all in one go at short notice!
23) Criticism can be constructive
When someone criticizes something you have made or said, don't instantly jump on the defensive and see it as a personal attack. Chances are, if this is a someone who is close to you, they're giving you constructive criticism. They're not saying you haven't done a good job, they just might know a thing or two about how to improve it or make it easier for you next time. You don't have to take their advice on board but you should at least listen to them, think about it and maybe even give it a go!
24) Make time for family time
Having recently moved into my own place for the first time, it's starting to dawn on me just how little time I'm now spending with my family. It's important to not let this become the norm, especially if you have a strong relationship with your family or are looking to strengthen your current relationship. Make a point of calling, visiting, emailing, texting, whatever it is that keeps you connected.
25) Get cooking
We live in a world of convenience. It's almost too easier to reach for a ready meal or a less than healthy snack. Now's the time to get yourself in the kitchen and get cooking. I'm learning and so should you! Yes it's hard, it's messy, you will spend longer cooking than you ever will eating, you will make a mess and you will get it wrong. But it's fun, a great way to spend time with those important to you by having everyone pitch in, and in the long run, so much healthier for you!
26) Put your health first
More so in the last 12 months, I've really started to take my health more seriously. I'm edging closer to 30 now with each passing year and now that I'm firmly in my late 20s I want to make sure I'm taking care of myself properly. I'm not just talking about the food I eat or the exercise I do, though they're both important, but I'm talking about my mind too. Learning to deal with and avoid stress is a big one, and I'd rather get on top of it this side of 30 than the other!
27) Read more
I've always been a reader, and I encourage everyone to read something. There is a genre out there for everyone, an author that will speak to you, and line that will live with you forever. They say a reader lives a thousand lives and it's true. Not only is it one of the best ways to escape reality or shut out the noise of the commute, but it opens your mind and stretches your imagination.
WOW, if you've made it this far then congratulations! That was a long one, but I really feel this not so little reflections are a must. It's important to not only look at how far you have come since you last birthday, but how you're growing and changing as a person. No matter how old you get, you will still be growing and learning in everything you do.
Do any of the above hit home for you? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time,