Here are 21 things I have learnt in my 21 years of life.
1. Time does not always measure understanding – new friends can be equal if not more important than old friends if they prove it.
2. Get in a good sleep routine – whether you have an early rise job, 9ams or just wake with the sun; a routine can really help you get stuff done and improve your mental health.
3. Sometimes we need to make mistakes to learn lessons – pay attention to the people around you and go with it but don’t be a sheep. You are your own person, not Little Bo Peep.
4. Try to think outside the box or do something that someone might say ‘I wouldn’t have thought you’d do that’ – surprise yourself as well as others, it might just open doors for you.
5. As hard as it may be, try not to think ahead and try not to think about the future too much – don’t rush and be patient, planning too much can be more of a curse than an aid.
6. Always surround yourself with the kind of people that you would want your parents to meet – if you have to make excuses for the things people do or say then maybe you/they shouldn’t be doing it.
7. Never be ashamed to say that you don’t know things – always learn new things, always ask for help and always meet new people. You never know where new olive branches might take you.
8. Do not be ashamed to say no – if you want to do things your own way then that’s fine too, you don’t have to follow the crowd. As long as you’re safe, happy and having fun, who cares?
9. Try to keep a good relationship with your friends and family, even if you disagree with them – family is not always defined by blood and sometimes that’s a good thing, just remember that love is important. And they will almost always be right, even when you don’t want them to be.
10. Cherish your grandparents with everything you have – they will not live forever, they may not be at your wedding or see their great-grandchildren. Different generations can have major gaps in judgement, belief and morals but that’s okay because it’s okay if you don’t agree with everything they do or say or feel. Just remember that if they want to take you out for afternoon tea or patronise you a little about your love life, then let them because they love you. More than you will ever know.
11. There are very few things can’t be solved by your dressing gown, a cuddle from a loved one and a cup of tea – shit happens, just deal with it right.
12. Try to spend your money on things that matter and save save save – when you’re a student or someone who has to save a lot of money it can be frustrating to see people fling away their money whilst you’re scraping your pennies together. Think about what possessions matter, and what money can be spent on memories instead. As cheesy as it sounds, memories are forever and material goods can easily spoil.
13. It is okay to need therapy or medical help – for a very long time I felt that I wasn’t able to accept the fact that I needed medication for my multiple health problems and needed heavy forms of therapy to get by. But it is okay. It is absolutely fine to do whatever you need to do to get by, because one day you won’t just be getting by, you’ll be sailing through.
14. Respect your body like you would respect anything or anyone else – stretch marks are okay, weight gain is okay, casual sex is okay, breakups are okay. Respect yourself, respect other people, respect the body you were given. You only have one life, live it.
15 Always, always, always, trust your instincts – when in a battle between your head and your heart, always go with your gut. If you want to run but your feet remain planted to the ground, then your guts had the glue.
16. Absence makes the heart grow fonder – if you want to buy something wait, if you think you need something or someone but can’t have them just yet then just think about how you feel when you get them. If days pass and you don’t care, then you don’t need it.
17. Always do something your passionate about – don’t piss on the flames of you passion by doing something that bores you to death.
18. Travel as much as you can, even if it’s just around the country you live in – meet new people, see new things, surprise yourself.
19. You always come first – assignment due? Yes. Is it important? Yes. Is it worth sacrificing your sanity and wellbeing? Oh hello no. Your happiness and mental health come above all, be appropriately selfish and do not be afraid to be so. Friends who become angry at you for having mental health problems and experiencing the repercussions of such problems are not true friends and are just shitty people. Do whatever you have to do.
20. It’s okay if you’re too busy to talk to people every day – we are all adults, adults are busy. If you can’t reply to that text message right away then so be it, if you can’t go to that thing you said you would go to then that’s fine. Your true friends will understand, those who don’t aren’t worth your time.
21. The thing you may be experiencing right now may well be fucking awful but trust me, it gets easier – if things are still shit, then the best is yet to come.