When I was 17 I wrote this post listing all the things I want to do before I'm 20. Back then I thought I had plenty of time to do all those things but in reality they've flown by. I've scanned over the post and to be honest I haven't achieved a lot of them and I don't really care. My life has changed a lot, particularly in the last year, and a lot of those things would've been impossible for me to achieve anyway so it's nothing I'll dwell on. Instead I wanted to put together the lessons I've learnt in my teens, the important ones anyway, because my teenage years were a whirlwind and I've learnt a lot.
Don't rely on someone else's happiness to make you happy
When you're close with someone, whether it's a partner, friend or relative, I think because you care about that person so much you feel like you have no right to be happy if they're not, like if they're going through a hard time. It's definitely hard to be happy anyway but relying on them to be in a good mood to be in a good mood yourself isn't fair on anyone. At the end of the day you're not the person going through it and you have no reason to be unhappy too unless it's happening to you as well. For a long time I relied on someone else's mood to determine my mood and in all honesty it's draining. You can't predict how someone's going to feel or when something shit will happen to that person. They might be having a bad day but it doesn't mean you are. If they got sacked from their job and you got promoted why should you feel bad? You shouldn't. Show some sympathy, give them some encouragement and get on with your day.
GCSE's, A-Levels and University isn't the be all and end all
At school I was practically told that if I don't go to university then I'm not going to get far. It's not true. I did okay in my GCSE's - 2 A's, 4 B's and 3 C's (bare in mind I went to a school that made you feel stupid with a C when in reality it's actually pretty good especially when they're in subjects that you don't understand). Throughout high school I'd been convinced that staying on at my school's sixth form and going to university would be the right thing for me but it wasn't. The summer after my GCSE's I was worried throughout it all because I realised I really didn't want to go to the sixth form I'd chosen. I'd been told going to the college in my town wouldn't get me into university and going to a grammar school sixth form would definitely get me in. But the subjects I'd chosen at this sixth form weren't the ones I wanted to do. Originally I wanted to do Media, Photography, English Language and ICT and they'd decided they didn't want to do the ICT or Photography courses anymore so I had to pick Sociology and Computing instead. Computing would've definitely baffled my head so I'm glad I decided just before getting my GCSE results that I'd try and get myself a last minute place at my local college where they did all the subjects I wanted to do. I got in and spent a year doing my AS Levels before realising they weren't for me either and I really didn't want to go to university. I struggled in college because I wasn't great at making friends. I'm so shy when I meet new people so I just felt awkward all the time. I'm glad I went because I made two good friends there that I'm still close with now so it wasn't all negative. I really wanted to make some money and had seen a friend get a place at The Juice Academy. A job in social media never ever crossed my mind. You don't really get taught about social media in school unless it's about cyber bullying and getting told off for posting pictures in your school uniform online so I never ever would've thought I could work in it. I've always been someone who uses a lot of social media, I'd been on Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, Instagram all through my teens (like pretty much everyone now) but I was one of those annoying people who wrote EVERYTHING on there (I still kind of do) so I thought I'd give it ago. I got a place in the 6th Cohort and started doing a social media and digital marketing apprenticeship for a recruitment company. This didn't go as I expect it but it was another lesson that I'm glad I learnt. The course wasn't for me and the company was based far away, I also got ill around this time which affected everything and so I decided to quit. Being unemployed wasn't fun but it gave me time to focus on my blog and during that time my blog actually started doing well - getting paid opportunities and working with brands was exciting and motivated me into continuing working in social media. I then got lucky and a local job came up to do their social media and digital marketing and I've been here a year now and learnt so much. My jobs good, my blogs going good and I didn't need university for any of it. Jeez that was a lot to write about, hope you're not asleep yet.
You don't need to keep somebody in your life if they add nothing
I think when you're growing up you feel like you have to have someone in your life because they're in your "circle" or because you've known them so long etc. You shouldn't feel like you have to keep someone in your life because of this. Cutting out the toxic people from my life was one of the best things I've ever done. If someone makes you feel worse or doesn't better your life in any way then you don't need them.
Some people become incompatible
I think between 16 - 20 my character changed a lot and a lot of people's does. I was compatible with so many people when I was 16 that I'm definitely not with now. If you're in a relationship from school a lot can change when you leave because there's a lot happening and there's a lot you want to do. During this time I changed so much because so much was going on. Your life whilst you're at school is so different from the time after it where you start having responsibilities and maturing. People mature at different speeds too and I definitely think this is a big reason why a lot of teenage relationships don't last forever. Just because you care about someone or once loved them and share a lot with that person shouldn't be a reason to stay together. Don't be scared that they'll be alone or you'll be alone because you're cutting them out of your life - just because you're incompatible with each other doesn't stop you from being compatible with someone else.
Taking risks and getting out of your comfort zone won't hurt you
For a long time I was someone that didn't like change. The thought of moving on from high school and having to make new friends was scary enough. Making new friends is actually one of my biggest fears if I'm honest. I'm always worried I'll say the wrong thing or annoy someone. Recently I was put in a situation where I needed friends because I didn't really have any and it honestly hasn't been that hard. Like I just said you'll be compatible with someone and I've found a few people that I'm really compatible with and I didn't have to act a certain way with them I've just been myself. There's been a lot of things recently that I've had to step out of my comfort zone for - moving house, travelling alone across the country, letting people in, potentially changing my career. All of these are so scary for me to do but have ended up working out well for me and even if they didn't there's always a way to fix it. I'd never regret taking a risk but I'd regret not taking it and always thinking "what if?".
The quality of the friends you have is more important than the quantity
In school especially I think it's people's priority to have as many friends as possible and being popular was a good thing. The last few months I've finally realised the quality of my friends is much more important than having loads of them. I like having friends that will tell me when I'm wrong but also praise me when I've done well. Having supportive friends is so important to someone insecure like me and I think I've finally got a good handful of those sort of people in my life. I'm not part of a "group" and I don't want to be. My best friends are actually scattered around the country and only a couple of them are close with each other. I've been part of a group before and it doesn't work well for me, they turn really bitchy and one-sided.
Life is like a book, when it goes wrong start a new chapter
Turning 20 was definitely a new chapter in my life. I'm moving out of my childhood home next week and it's scary as shit but it's also exciting because it's a fresh start. There's no reason to dwell on anything. So much has gone wrong for me but I've just picked myself up and started again and having this new approach has helped my mind so much.
You notice your imperfections before anyone else does. Remember that
When I was in school I got picked on for a few things about my appearance. Since then they've been the things I'm most insecure about and when I've met new people I've always been scared that they notice them straight away and I'll be picked on all over again. It's sad really because these things I wasn't bothered about until I was told they made me ugly and I was reminded pretty much everyday. Realistically people do notice them but as you grow up you realise nobody you want in your life is cruel enough to tease you about your insecurities. Remember, everybody has flaws not just you. Everyone will have something that they're insecure about too.
Having a good balance of being busy and chilling out is key
This was an important one for me. I used to have too much time on my hands and nothing to do and then suddenly I decided to start doing a lot and that lifestyle drained me. I've got to a point now where I do enough during the week but also take some time for myself - having baths, listening to music, going on walks and getting that balance right has been key for my mind to be happy.
You can always improve yourself
Have no shame in admitting your flaws. I'm still building my character, every single day. I have a goal of what sort of person I want to be and I'm definitely still getting there. If there's part of your character that you don't like then change it. I used to be so bad at taking criticism and would get easily offended if someone pointed out something they didn't like about my personality, when really they're just trying to help me out. Now I've started taking their advice and bettering myself.
You can't make someone better who doesn't want to get better
This is probably the biggest lesson I learnt. Automatically when you care about someone you want to do everything you can to make them better but when they don't want to get better and don't want to help themselves you're not going to be able to fix them. You're not a magician and you won't get anywhere. It's sad because you hate seeing that person be that way but at the end of the day it's their choice if they want to fix themselves and if they don't you won't be able to make them.
So now I'm starting my next chapter, moving house, new people in my life, potentially a career change and I can't wait to see what else my twenties have to offer.
lots of love