What I Learnt From Being The Right Side Of 25
My Early Twenties
With just less than 6 weeks to go until my 25th birthday, I thought it was time to reflect on the important lessons I’ve learnt from my early twenties and being on the right side of 25. I can’t believe It’s 5 whole years since I was c
elebrating commiserating no longer being a teenager, even if I tried to disguise it as being Twenteen.
Although, you’re not really an adult until you’re 21, right?
Unfortunately, that idea didn’t stop me spending majority of my 20th birthday crying about how I didn’t want to get old and I wanted to party forever.
Little did I know, the real fun was about to begin.
1. Travel While You Can
My favourite memories are from the time I spent working around Europe. Working in Italy, Spain, Northern and Southern France, I gave up a place at University to explore and I have no regrets whatsoever. Although, technically not traveling I spent much of my time moving around, exploring the regions I lived in.
Your life now is a bubble. You live in it, and only you understand it. As a result of Traveling abroad, you broaden that bubble and create a new more exciting bubble.
One of the best thing about traveling in your early twenties is the lack of responsibility, for many, unmarried and childless, you don’t rent or pay mortgages and you don’t have many bills to pay. Consequently, once you gain more responsibility, it becomes all the more difficult to drop it all to get on a plane for the next 10 months.
There will always be some people your age, getting married, having children, settling down, and they may be happy doing that. However they will never have the experiences you will. They will never know what it it’s like to spend every day on a different adventure in a different country.
Exploring, Traveling, Working abroad, it’s all character building.
In 2014 I drove alone to the south of France. I hadn’t even driven on a motorway in the UK, let alone French roads. It took 2 days, copious amounts of
cigarettes (do not advise smoking – and have since given up) and lots of good music, but I did it, and it’s one of my greatest accomplishments.
Exploring is great for your soul, mind and it’s motivating. The excitement of being somewhere new, be it a new town, city, island, country, has an enormous effect on your wellbeing. Every emotion you feel is magnified. Making friends along the way is easy (even if you don’t always stay in touch after), and spending time abroad hugely increases your cultural awareness.
Your twenties is the time to discover yourself, learn new things and explore new places.
They say life is about making compromises and working hard in a job you hate is the reality you have to deal with, but they’re wrong. That’s not reality. That’s dissatisfaction. Traveling = satisfaction and when you come back to “the real world” you are motivated, and striving to once again find that satisfaction in life.
“The World is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page.” – Saint Augustine
2. Savings Are Important
I come from a working class family, where I was never encouraged to save. My mother spent her money paycheque to paycheque and over spent on shoes, clothes and unnecessary electrical kitchen items. When I was about 15 she eventually went bankrupt. Instead of seeing the struggle, which you would think bankruptcy would lead to, I instead saw her still affording to live and still overspending.
I had no concept of the value of money. While a lot of my friends were saving money for holidays, traveling or mortgages I was getting credit cards and store cards from any lender that would give me one. I spent the first years of my twenties dodging phone calls from debt collectors and ripping up any letter addressed to me before anyone knew I had a problem.
Now at almost 25, most people I know have savings. They have a backup plan if something goes wrong. They have the option to give up their job and jump on a plane. The option to get a mortgage. I on the other hand have only just been able to get a contract phone after 5 years on pay as you go, just able to rent my house and just able to slowly add to a minimal savings account. If I could tell my early twenties/teenage self anything, it would be that money is valuable, it is sacred and it’s not disposable.
So why should you save? Saving is so important, you require money to make your dreams a reality. Savings make you happy and savings are there for lifes little (or big) emergencies.
3. Tell Those You Love
In the last 5 years you have probably known way too many people that have left. Be it, another country, or another world. As Peyton Sawyer would say “people always leave” (Geeky One Tree Hill Reference).
Love can save your soul, love can save their soul, love makes the world go round.
By love, I don’t mean “oh my god I love you so much, let’s get married” I mean the love you feel for your best friends, for your parents and siblings, for people that have touched your life, the love you have all around you. Tell people what they mean to you. Life is so unpredictable and you never know when you, or someone you care about will take their last breath. Make sure when they do, they know how loved they were. It’s a shame it took till my twenties to realise the importance of this.
4. Just Because Everyone Else Has A Relationship
Doesn’t mean you have to. Forcing a relationship will only lead to unhappiness and hurt. Too many times I have seen people who are so desperate to be loved, they spend so much wasted time crying over yet another broken relationship.
Everyone always says it, but true love will find you when you stop looking. I used to think this was absolute bull
s**t. In fact, every time I heard someone say it, I wanted to punch them in the face. Seriously though, forcing a relationship is counter productive and the time spent wasted on a relationship you don’t really want to be in, could be time better spent on improving yourself, loving yourself and finding the right relationship. You’re in your twenties, you probably have at least 50 good years still ahead of you, that’s 50 years to work on loving yourself.
5. You Don’t Need A Child To Make You Happy
I always thought I would be married with children by the time I was 21, then I got to 21 and I realised my life was nowhere near figured out. Adding a child to that equation would be catastrophic, because I still had so much learning and growing to do. So then I thought 24 would be a good age. Once again I’m here now, 24, and I still feel way too young for this sort of responsibility.
Although, I know if I had a child now I would make a blooming good mum, and I would have an extremely loved child, I’m just not that ready to make that sort of commitment. No matter how much I think having a child will “bring joy” to my life, if i’m unhappy in the first place, it’s not fair to bring another human life into that unhappiness.
Having a child, will not make you happy, fix your life or fill that “missing hole”. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to have a baby in your twenties.
6. There’s More To Life Than Oceana and Alcohol
After having my heartbroken, I decided the only cure was alcohol, and that’s how I spent my legal teenage years. It wasn’t until I was about 23 when my body and my brain decided it’s had enough of being used and abused and nightclubs no longer seemed quite so appealing. Oceana (southampton’s “best” nightclub) Was full of the finest skanks, in their UV mini skirts and non existent tops. It soon lost it’s “charm”. I spent a lot of nights in gay bars with my GBF as you do, these nights were a lot more laid back and fun (no booty grabbing on the dance floor by creepy men) but still when done too often they soon became boring, even though they had a super cool/tasty bbq in the smoking area! You find in your early twenties the appeal to get drunk and dance the night away slowly dwindles and you realise there are much better places to have fun, meet new people and enjoy yourself.
7. Quiet weekends are amazing
There is probably no better luxury in life than
a spa weekend watching the notebook, in pyjamas, with a bottle of prosecco and a tub of ice cream. Having a quiet night in with a film, facemask, food and friends is a fabulous way to spend a night. Who needs nightclubs and pubs when there’s more fun to be had at home. The benefits of a night in include, Pizza and wine, being acceptable to stay in pyjamas, not having to worry about fancy makeup and clothes, not having to be ready on time. No Jaeger hangovers the next day (unless you have a crazy friend who thinks it’s acceptable to bring jaeger…..p.s. it’s totally unacceptable)
8. Healthy Eating Beats a Hangover KFC
It has been well over a year since I last ate a KFC, which is pretty impressive because at one stage in my life, i’m sure I was having one a week. KFC was possibly my favourite food EVER! Wicked zinger meal for brunch on a hangover, for tea, sometimes i’d even save the burger for breakfast (gross). However, as time has gone on and the more I have learnt about healthy eating, micronutrients and the benefits of living a healthy life, the more unappealing that wicked zinger meal becomes. All I seem to think of, in my mind is the copious amounts of dripping fat from the chicken fryer, clogging up my arteries and taking me one step closer to diabetes/heart disease or some other hideous disease. KFC is no longer for me. I’d much rather have my protein pancakes, with potassium from the bananas and protein to keep me going, they are the perfect balanced food to get through a hangover. Well that, a Berocca and lots of water.
9. Your Health Becomes a Lot More Important
I ate so much crap, and drank so much alcohol a few years ago, I did little exercise (except for dancing in nightclubs or running for the bus). I really had no idea what I was doing to myself. I was ill all the time, my energy levels were shocking and all I wanted to do was sleep. Living off a diet of bread and vodka really doesn’t make for a good immune system. Any cold going I was sure to get it. You learn in your early twenties the benefits of leading a healthy life. The benefits of waking up at 5am feeling fresh and carrying that feeling on all the way to bed at 10. The benefits of not always catching the next cold going round, or ear infection or chest infection. The feeling of your lungs being clear after not smoking for over a year. That feeling is the greatest, the feeling of being healthy.
10. 21 Isn’t The Be All...
I spent my 21st birthday, in a tent, in the Loire valley in France. I spent the night on my own crying my eyes out after everyone else went to bed early “as they had a busy day”. I cried to manager about how I hadn’t accomplished anything in life, how I was single, alone and unhappy. How my friends all had their lives figured, were getting married and I was just stuck, being a teenager and partying. Little did I know at the time I was growing, learning and hey I was living in France, working abroad, I think that’s something to be proud of. So although my 21st birthday wasn’t the greatest, I sure as hell made sure everyone since has been amazing. I’m sure 25 will top them all…..
11. You Don't Have To Know Where You're Going
I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up….Yes I know i’m a grown up now, but I mean when i’m really grown up!! I still don’t know, i’m like a 5 year old who wants to be a superhero, then a fireman, then a bin man, then a plumber. I am so fickle with job choices. But, why does it matter. I don’t have a chosen career path, but the more I try the more I learn, and knowledge is power. You never really know you like something until you try it, then you can judge it. People go to university for years learning about something that interests them, but sometimes they do it and hate it. Surely it’s best to keep looking, and striving until you find something you truly love and enjoy. Something that ignites your passion and keeps you motivated. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know where you’re going. That’s part of the experience.
12. Never Stop Improving Yourself
I am a firm believer that it’s hard for someone to love you if you don’t love yourself. If you don’t love yourself, you will not respect yourself and that’s pretty awful. You are important and it’s vital you know that. It’s also vital that you keep improving yourself, keep learning and striving for better things. Don’t give up on you. Once you give up on you, so will everyone else. Make yourself more employable, make yourself fitter & stronger, make yourself healthier. Always strive to be the best version of you there could ever be.
13. Your Happiness Is Important
Your own happiness is just as important as anyone else’s. I spent a lot of my adolescent life feeling lonely, unhappy and depressed and It took a long time to look into why, I never tried to fix it before, I just let it consume me. Don’t let it. Spend more time doing things you enjoy, see more people, walk outside, walk in the forest, take some photos and admire the beautiful things in life. You are one of those beautiful things and you should never be made to feel unhappy. Sometimes people spend their life trying to please other people and putting their happiness aside. Stop doing it, make yourself happy too. Find your balance.
14. Planning, Prioritising and setting Goals
I love goal setting! People say new year’s resolutions are rubbish, but I disagree. I love having something to aim for. How can you feel like you have accomplished something in life if it was never a target anyway. It’s like hitting a golf ball but having no hole for it to actually go in. Sure you’d be pretty happy to hit the ball far, but think how happy you would be to have something to aim for and actually achieved it. Goal setting gives you the motivation and drive to achieve something. It keeps you determined and on track. However, i’ve also learnt that sometimes setting goals don’t always work well and setting unrealistic goals can leave you feeling dissatisfied. If you haven’t already try writing up some SMART goals of where you want to be. Maybe write your goals for the next 5 years, for your late twenties.
15. It’s Really Hard To Keep In Contact With Everyone
In school I had tons and tons of friends. Abroad I also had tons and tons of friends. Now, I could probably count them all on one hand. My dad always told me any more than 5 friends is too many and they’re not real friends. I used to think he was stupid, up until the last year or so when I realised there was some wisdom in his words (if you know my dad you’ll know it’s pretty hard to believe). I realise I am a sucky friend and I don’t really manage to stay in contact with everyone i’d like to. I don’t even think I have many people’s phone numbers and I just rely on Facebook, snapchat and Whatsapp. But, it’s important, it’s important for you to stay in contact with the ones you love, with your best friends, it’s hard with modern day society, we are always so busy. But, try and schedule a little time because true friends will always be true friends.
Have you learnt anything else from your early twenties? Have you had a completely different experience? Let me know in the comments. x