Birthday weeks are definitely weeks of reflection here on BKY. Whilst next week I’ll be looking forward and powering ahead toward my goals, this week I am dialling it back and really dissecting the last year (or the last 21 years) and reaffirming what I’ve learnt.
I keep hearing that these years are some of the most formative in my life. Sure, 20 has been a rollercoaster, but it wasn’t until I looked back over the last twelve months that I realised how formative my experiences have been. I’m sure I said this last year, but I am such a different person compared to when I was 19 going on 20.
A few of these things that I’ve learnt are quite astounding to me because a couple of years ago I couldn’t even imagine having these ways of thinking. In fact, I haven’t just come around to these ideas, they are pretty much cemented in my current outlook. To say that these lessons and ways of thinking have completely changed my life over this last year is an understatement.
Anyway, enough gushing. Let’s get down to the 5 main things that I’ve learnt at the tender old age of 20.
It’s what you do every day that makes a difference
A year or so ago, I would get incredibly frustrated when something I was working towards wouldn’t just happen. I figured that if something wasn’t going to happen quickly, then it probably wouldn’t happen at all. However, after the last few months of dedication and passion for my hobbies and projects, I’ve realised that it’s the small actions snowballing that create big action.
Getting up every day and scheduling my tweets, pushing a little harder in my workout (which I’m two weeks into – woo!) or getting another section of that project done aren’t just ‘filler’ things that don’t amount to much. It’s the things that we think aren’t very important that build the foundation for the really important things. They can be boring, tedious and incredibly frustrating, but they’re the things that make a difference.
My comfort zone is boring
Comfort zones are so comfortable. It’s so warm and cosy to just sit in on a hard day or return to after a stressful experience, but you know what? Spending too long in your comfort zone gets super boring. It was around 6 months ago that I really decided to start leaving my comfort zone more often and the more I have, the less I’ve enjoyed returning to it.
As much fun as doing the same old thing every day is, saying yes to more opportunities and challenging myself to do things I didn’t think were possible, is a hell of a lot better for me. I feel quite lucky to have learnt this lesson at 20 since I can imagine that so many people don’t learn it at all (or just a lot later in life). Embracing the scary and challenging has been the making of me over the last few months and I literally can’t wait to keep on pushing myself out of my comfort zone and into some pretty amazing things at 21.
Nothing is perfect
There’s no such thing as a perfect job, a perfect friend or a perfect relationship. No matter how much we may wish them to be real, none of those things really exist. Lately, I’ve definitely felt the pang of disappointment after realising that that job you interviewed for isn’t actually the one and that the recruitment agency lied to you about it being a ‘creative’ and ‘dynamic’ environment.
The truth is that when we want something enough, it’s easy for our minds to fill in the gaps. We make something seem perfect because it’s the easy answer, even when in reality it can be far from what we’re expecting. Accepting that nothing will ever be perfect is such a massive step towards feeling generally happy and content in my life. I no longer wonder ‘what if’ about things that aren’t ticking all of my boxes. Instead, I’m making the best of what I have and working out how to improve what I’ve already got.
A cup of tea + a blanket can heal you
Remember what I was saying about comfort zones? Well, one of the side effects of leaving yours is feeling a little more worried or out of place. It can suck but grabbing a blanket and a big cup of tea, whether you’re working at your desk or having a relax, can add that familiar comfortable feeling back into the day.
Whenever I’ve been in grumpy or stressed out about something, making a big cup of tea and taking twenty minutes to just curl up and breathe really helps me. Sure, it doesn’t always fix the problem but it’s a good habit and definitely combats the flailing around and internal screaming I tend to resort to when under pressure.
Not everything is worth fighting for
Not that I’m a very confrontational person, but learning to pick your fights is definitely something I’ve managed to come to terms with at this age. Sometimes fighting for something isn’t worth the hassle of all the admin that’s involved (not literal admin). It might feel like it’s the most important thing in the world, but I can bet that in a week or a month I won’t even remember what the fuss was all about.
It’s bittersweet to know that not everything is worth fighting for. On one hand, it’s liberating that I finally know when my time is being wasted but on the other, I’m very aware that I simply do not have any control over some things. Maybe the lack of control is something I’ll come to terms with at 21… who knows.
What Have You Learnt at Your Current Age?
Whether we’re the same age or if you’re younger or older, I’d love to hear what’s the thing that you feel you’ve really learnt this year. It could be something as simple as learning to work the washing machine or as complicated as learning to accept a part of yourself.
Let me know in the comments what you’ve learnt, as well as any of your own experiences with my lessons at 20.
One final note: this is my last blog post as a 20-year-old! I’m writing this on Wednesday evening, just after declaring that I won’t be blogging this Easter weekend. Partly because I really want to kick back, relax and enjoy my birthday but also because I just couldn’t get 3 more blog posts done tonight. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail… (Not that I’m failing by giving myself tomorrow and the weekend off. It’s a great step for me actually).
Wishing every one of you a wonderful weekend.