Part III: 20 Things I learnt before 20 #GML
A few weeks ago, I turned 20 years old. This feels like it ought to be considered a turning point in my life, since I am now no longer a ‘teen’ager. Therefore, I wanted to take this moment to reflect on what life has taught me thus far.
This may sound ridiculous to some of you – mainly those slightly older readers, who look at my 20 years of age and scoff at how young I am – but nevertheless, I am following in the footsteps of others and feel the need to make a post about the 20 things that I have learnt before the grand age of 20. I think this is how it’s done. Let’s go:
1. Your only competition is yourself
To get to where we all are today, I would assume that our upbringing was as such that pressure was put on ourselves in order to achieve. Perhaps this might have been from parents, yourself, or the establishment that you attended. Either way, there is always the tendency to compare oneself to others. This could be in reference to grades, but also our own self and who we are as a person. However, what you must remember, is that your progress should not be measured against others, but against where you used to be compared to where you are now. If you used to get Bs in a subject and now get As, you should be proud of yourself for your achievement, rather than cursing that you missed out on that A*. What is important is that you’re moving forward.
2. Confidence is key
I have been lucky enough to have been brought up in an environment where my parents would push me into situations that forced me to interact with people. This ranged from asking strangers the time, making conversation with that peer that only responded using monosyllabic words, as well as partaking in some stand-up comedy (yes, I know.) At the time, I used to absolutely hate these ‘tasks’ that my parents would set me, but now I realise the benefits: it forced me to learn how to talk to anyone, which in its own turn made me confident enough to do a lot of the things that I am able to do today. Anyway, what can be worse than saying a cheesy Knock-Knock joke in front of a crowd of strangers?
3. Water is a God-send
Plants need water, animals need water, and you also need water. I have found that a lot of my illnesses could be cured by drinking water. Whether it be a cold, a spot, or a sore throat. Unfortunately, water cannot fix a broken heart though, so sorry about that one :/
4. Get into a good routine
NB: This does not mean you must behave like a crazy Gatsby and plan out your day minute by minute. This means that you have a rough plan of what your goals are each day, and aim to achieve them. Remember, don’t beat yourself down if you don’t manage to do all of them. Set achievable targets and reward yourself accordingly. Let’s start by making your bed, right?
5. Keep a diary
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, keeping a diary is a great way of collecting your ideas. Whilst I have, admittedly, been slacking lately in terms of diary entries, I now instead have my Finsta (Fake Insta, also called a Priv [Private Instagram Account] where I will blurt out all my thoughts and feelings. It also provides some good entertainment for friends, especially when you post some *cough* stories from nights out.
6. You will have your lows, You will have your highs
It took me a long time to realise this one. I guess I’ve always had this idea that I am the kind of person who is always happy, and when I’m not, I curse myself and beat myself down about it – which only results in me feeling even worse about myself. However, to be able to have one emotion, you must also experience the opposite emotion, to truly understand what you are feeling. Downtime is a time where your body and mind say ‘Hey! Time out!’ and want to recover. Make yourself that Hot Chocolate and cuddle up in bed watching Netflix. And definitely, don’t make yourself feel guilty when you are not feeling ‘yourself’.
7. Be grateful for those around you
It’s only when you lose someone close to you that you realise how much they meant to you. It’s a classic phrase, one sung in songs and one written on posters, but do we ever think about the meaning behind it? Why wait until someone has disappeared from your life to truly appreciate them when they were in it? This shouldn’t be the case, and I have learnt that I should take every opportunity to tell my friends and family how much they mean to me. After all, tomorrow is guaranteed to no man, and who knows when will be the last time you will ever see someone…
8. You’ve only got one body – look after it
You’re an adult now, so behave like one. There are a ton of memes circulating the Internet with funny phrases like "You know you’re an adult when your mum doesn’t make doctors appointments for you and it’s your responsibility but you just wait and hope you don’t die". NO!! STOP!! It’s all very funny, but keeping yourself healthy is very important and your mum won’t be there your whole life to make your doctor’s appointments. I remember after my 18th birthday when I became ill (probably too much stress about wondering whether I’d get into Warwick), mum tried to make a doctor’s appointment for me but – uhh-uhh – over the age of 18, you have to make your own appointments. This is the same for dentists and any other health-related appointment. So please, pick up the phone and make the call if you’re feeling unwell. It’s what your mother would want you to do.
9. Be polite
Sometimes, stress can get the best of us and we can become a right pain of a human being. We might not keep the lift door open for someone despite seeing them running towards it, or we might forget to say ‘thank you’ when the customer assistant gives us our receipt. But do remember that it takes little to no effort to do these things, but it makes everything go a lot smoother in life. We all /know/ what the correct way to behave, so let’s put it into practice. Don’t be a bum.
10. Dress appropriately to the occasion
This is going to be a very broad section, but I hope that my message will come across. Essentially, I am saying that if you’re going to an interview, dress as if you’re going to an interview. It pains me to say it, but people do judge on appearances, and looking the part really matters when it comes to the world of work. If you look like you already work at JP Morgan, the employers are more likely to want to hire you, than if you looked as if you just like dressing up in bear onesies all the time (extreme example, but just to get my point across).
11. Keep in contact
This is more easily said than done, especially if you’re someone like me. I’m the kind of person who will not speak to her best friends from home for months and act like we hadn’t been apart as soon as I see them again. Leaving that aside, I do feel that it is important to show people that you are thinking of them, or even that it was nice meeting them. I know that when I receive a text saying ‘Hey, great meeting you last night, we should hang out sometime!’ I spend the rest of my day beaming because a) someone appreciated my company b) someone took the effort to send that text. You could be that person to make someone’s day, and it only takes a few seconds to type one out. And anyway, who knows what that encounter could lead to…
13. Appreciate your parents
Enough said? Thought so.
14. Push Yourself
Always strive to be the best version of yourself. My good friend in the year above always told me, that you should try and be the kindest, gentlest, most ambitious, most outgoing person that you know.
15. Alone time is amazing
What’s all this stigma around being alone meaning that you are a loner? Absolute rubbish. Being alone does not equate to you being lonely, and in fact it can be quite enjoyable spending time with yourself. I find that especially during term time, there are so many activities to do and take part in that you can often spend days on end going from one group to another, without really spending time with yourself to be able to collect your thoughts.
16. Think – does this benefit me?
I’m always trying to live a more healthy life. I tried to be vegetarian for my 20th, but unfortunately, it just so happened that I had a beautiful sirloin steak on my birthday. I kept tripping up in the following days, forgetting that tuna was indeed an animal, etc. I am therefore focusing on trying to eat more vegetables whilst still being a meat-eater! Additionally, I’m cutting down on sweets and thinking twice before popping one in my mouth.
17. One mouth, two ears, two eyes
Observing and listening are two key skills, but two that not everybody has yet acquired. You gain nothing, really, from blurting out your old stories. Instead, you might gain something from listening and observing others: how they interact, how they behave, and what they have to say. It also presents you as a being some sort of a mystery. I have sat in a room full of politicians have a heated debate and whilst I had, at the start, known nothing of the matter at hand, I learnt a great deal in just listening. I also, though not commenting much, showed myself as not unknowledgeable, but someone who was above their petty squabbling.
18. Go the extra mile
Much like number 14, this one is about pushing yourself academically. When I realised I wasn’t doing as well as I would have liked in one part of my degree, I motivated myself to do extra work. My tutor was very encouraging of this, and by putting in the extra effort, I was rewarded in better grades.
19. Be truthful
Whatever happens, the truth will always rise from the dirt. Whilst rumours spread and lies are easily said, do remember that a genuine, truthful person is a lot more respected than someone who constantly lies.
20. Never stop learning
Learning doesn’t necessarily mean reciting from a textbook. Learning means creating your own ideas, finding your own thoughts, and discovering new things that you didn’t know yesterday. We live in an ever-changing world and there is so much information out there worth finding out about, and we don’t have a moment to lose.