So, today I turn 29 (eek!) and as I inch ever closer to the big 3-0, I thought I’d reflect back on the last 9 years of my twenties and share some of the insights I learnt along the way.
1. It’s OK to not hit those milestone goals you initially set out
I’ve always been one of those people that always had an idea of what my life would look like at certain ages: University graduate at 21, post-graduate at 23, buy a house at 24, married at 26, first kid at 28, second kid at 30. I’ve only hit the first 3 milestones. I say “only” but I don’t mean that. They are huge milestones and I’m a lucky girl to have even gotten this far. But, the last 3 are where I’ve been struggling the most with recently – exacerbated from pressure from my family and what their idea of my life at this age should look like. I’ve grown to realise as I grow older, those milestones you set out for yourself all those years ago, just simply don’t reflect the person you are today. Your priorities change and therefore, so will those milestones. Not hitting them doesn’t mean you’ve failed in any shape or form. It simply proves you’ve lived your life and life is doesn’t always work out the way you planned. Embrace that unpredictability. It’s what makes it all the more interesting!
2. You are stronger than you give yourself credit for
Learning to pick yourself back up when you feel you’ve hit rock bottom is one of the best life lessons you’ll learn and you’ll more often than not, learn it in this period of your life. Whether that rock bottom be heartbreak, failing a module at uni, not getting that dream job or whatever, dealing with the situation head on by standing back up when you fall is the type of life lesson that will keep you strong during all the obstacles that are bound to get in your way later in life. Believe in yourself, don’t get hung up on the illusion of perfection and learn to respect yourself. Having the confidence to be the person you want to be, rather than comparing yourself to others will ultimately make those around you respect you more as well.
3. Your parents are actually not all-knowing, nor are they always right
As you form your own identity, beliefs and values, you will slowly realise that your parents will not always share the same perspectives. You will disagree and debate and argue. But, that is OK to do. Having these conflicts means you can begin to understand your own values more, because you have to explain them to someone else that is from a different generation. When you begin to realise that your parents don’t have all the answers and their experiences may not be as relevant in today’s world, it takes some getting used to – and proving you’re right when they’re convinced you’re wrong is incredibly satisfying!
4. Heartbreak hurts just as much as the first time round, but you learn to deal with it better
When I broke up with my first boyfriend before we went to university, it felt like my whole world had collapsed. We were together since we were 14 and young love being young love, I never even imagined a time when we wouldn’t be together. The heartbreak hurt like no other pain I had ever experienced. Second time around with my last serious relationship wasn’t that much different. There was uncontrollable crying, a gut that felt like someone had kicked it repeatedly and McDonalds was consumed. But, the difference this time round? See point number 2.
5. Step out of your comfort zone. You’ll be glad you did
I was always afraid to do stuff on my own. Eat at a restaurant, go to a meet-up where I didn’t know anyone, go to the cinema. I was afraid of looking silly alone, afraid of what people might think of me, afraid of all these things that didn’t mean anything to anyone but me. When I went freelance, I left all these fears behind me. I went to all these meet ups and networking events alone, made myself speak to people, fakes my confidence until it started to come a bit more naturally. I met some incredible people doing this and as a result, not to mention some amazing work opportunities. I have never been more happy I stepped out of the comfort zone.
6. Try new things and turn fears into hobbies
A follow on from the previous point. Since I moved to London for uni at 18, there were always places I wanted to visit and things I wanted to do, but living in the city you never do all the touristy stuff as it’s so accessible. This year, I decided I wanted to stop talking about all the things I wanted to do and did them instead. So, a few months ago I made a list of 30 things to do before I turn 30. An excuse to do all the things I kept talking about doing, but never did. So far, I am absolutely loving the new found hobbies; learning new skills, seeing new places, meeting new people. I highly recommend trying it yourself!
7. Learn who your real friends are and cut the negativity out
Throughout your twenties there are going to be a lot of ups and downs. Those that are there for the ride up may not always be there for the down. I never understood why these “friends” were never there for me when I needed them the most. There will be many people in your life over the years that act like they are your friends, but you’ll slowly learn that they have no desire for your success, feel jealousy for your happiness and resentment when your life seems to be going better than theirs. I wasted so much time getting upset and annoyed over these people, letting their negativity consume me. Now, I’ve realised that life is too short to be surrounded by people that aren’t on your side, that can’t be happy that you’re happy. Those that can be with you through your worst, will deserve to be there at your best – a take on Marilyn Monroe’s quote.
8. Life is too short to not be doing something you love
My parents were concerned when I first went into film and TV; long hours, overly competitive, poor pay start, amongst other factors. My dad was particularly concerned that I had spent so much time, effort and money to get a degree to only be serving tea and coffee as a runner in a post production house. But, everyone has to pay their dues at the beginning of their careers. My time as a runner helped me understand how the industry works, the steps I needed to take in order to make my way up the ladder and I met some great people along the way. That runner position helped me get my first editor’s position after my Masters and it has made me respect the runners I work with now so much more. Now, every late hour I work is tiring yes, but I never really mind it. You spend so much of your life at work, I couldn’t imagine doing something I didn’t truly love.
9. Your family and friends are not invincible
Remember when you were young and your parents seemed like the strongest people you know? I had rarely seen my dad cry over the years and my mum was almost never sick. Now, as I get older, my parents, my family and my friends are too. That invincible shield my loved ones had protecting them is slowly being stripped away. You become incredibly aware of how human everyone really is, including yourself. Over the years, my role with my parents is slowly revolving to less of them taking care of me and more of me taking care of them. It’s been a strange, but necessary adjustment, one that I am happy to do of course. However, no one really tells you or prepares you for that role reversal, so I’m telling you all now.
10. Be braver and worry less about making a fool of yourself
I’m a firm believer that you make your own luck and your own opportunities. Being afraid of how people will react, or what they will think, will make you hesitate in taking a chance, a chance that could potentially change your life. I am brave in certain aspects of my life, mainly whenever it concerns work or my career. I am still learning how to be brave in more personal aspects though. I’ve taken a few bold steps that I’m proud of. Steps that have stopped me from continuously wondering “what if”. A friend recently told me that everything you want is just a 50/50 chance away if you muster the courage to take a leap of faith. If you wallow in your own fear and anxiety, it’ll be 100% never going to happen. So, be brave, you’ll get over the (if any) embarrassment soon enough and instead, find the answers to some of the questions you’ve been itching you know.
Love those around you, but always remember to also love yourself. Enjoy life, laugh lots and keep making memories that will last a lifetime.
Keep exploring beautiful people! Here’s the best last year of my twenties!