I’m back! I’ve been at home packing for the past week or so, it’s been so stressful and tiring. I hate packing, it’s the thing I hate most in life and yet I find myself packing so frequently whether that be for a quick weekend home or the biggest move of my life so far. I’m working really hard to get a lot done in a short amount of time, between sourcing literature, finding furniture and keeping my mental health in check I’ve found myself quite tired.
In the past when life has given me a lesson, I’ve often shrugged it off, accepted that not only is it unimportant but also the lesson will never occur again for me to need to act in a different way. If there’s something I’ve learnt in the past few months, young me was so obtuse to learning. My stubborn nature has left me repeating my mistakes more times than I’d prefer to admit, and I’m on a mission to change that. Here are the lessons I needed to learn (and listen to) before I turned 20:
- Not everyone who celebrates you at your highest will be there to lift you up at your lowest – though quite self-explanatory it’s very easy to be around someone who is constantly on a high, who has reason to be elated, but when you drop, and moods are barely there who’s around. Who continues to be there through the down periods as well as the up?
- You do not need to have the same opinions as everyone – there’s no need to pretend to like something for the greater population, life’s too short to pretend to be someone you aren’t. I spent too many years, and I’m sure there’s many like me, pretending to like things and losing parts of my personality just so I fit in that now I’m not even sure what I truly love. Is my personality an infringement of the environment I grew up in or is it the real me? I’m still on a journey to find out.
- Avoid people with toxic mindsets – I’ve often found myself being strung along by people in the hope I can change their behaviours. People who have strong opinions which differ completely from my own, people who are incapable of accepting that their opinions are bigoted and in many cases offensive to members of society. The many times I’ve been able to rid myself of individuals who have spoken ill of women, sexuality, race, etc., only strengthens the point that people like that will never see themselves as being in the wrong. It’s always the “I’ve got a right to an opinion” and never anything different. Ridding my life of people like that has time-and-time again proven how the ‘right’ people in your life can really make it worthwhile.
- Being mentally ill isn’t an excuse – if you are a terrible person, you cannot use your mental health as an excuse. I’ve had to make some pretty hard apologies over the years, I’ve said and done some disgusting things over the years and though at the time I can guarantee my mental health wasn’t in shape it doesn’t excuse what I have done. Real growth is knowing that you are still at fault for your actions if they offend or hurt someone.
- It’s never too late to apologise – Sometimes in the moment you don’t see how your own behaviours impact others, and sometimes it takes years to admit and acknowledge that you were at fault. An apology isn’t invalid just because it comes years after, many would say it’s not needed but I disagree. I personally wouldn’t be able to live with myself if words went unsaid and I know a lot of people feel exactly the same.
- Time doesn’t slow down, don’t take it for granted – it’s very easy to beg to be older than you are, the closer you get to 18 you may spend throwing days away until you are legal to drink, etc. Or leaving school, if like me you had a particularly negative time in education you may beg for the end of school, to never see those who annoy you on a daily basis again. You’ll regret wishing away your youth, they weren’t the best years of your life but had you lived them in a better way then perhaps you’d have made more memories than the consistent moaning to finally leave. It’s not all about the necessary moving through stages of life, but also the longer spent trying to rid yourself of your youth the more you wish away what could end up being your final years with certain family/friends. You aren’t the only one growing up, love every second you have with those around you. One day you’ll beg to have them back for another second.
- YOLO (you only live once) – although even I am having second-hand embarrassment from typing that, I’m pretty certain I’ve never non-sarcastically wrote it. But the sentiment is true, we only have one life as far as we know. Girl Meets World taught me the secret to life is ‘people change people: what us does for them’; daily we are faced with negativity through the media, news, etc. and yet instead of doing anything to make the world a more positive place we allow this hatred and negativity to not only intrude our lives but take over. I used to have a negative mindset whereby I didn’t care about anyone because no one cared about me when I was at my lowest. You can’t expect the world to stop for you, no one is going to come to your aid and that’s a harsh life lesson to learn but it’s something I think we all need to hear. You have to be your own lifeline first.
- Therapy doesn’t make you weak – if anything it should be compulsory. I’m yet to speak to someone who wouldn’t benefit from receiving help from a trained psychiatrist. Speaking about things, even slowly, helps make it better. I’m not going to lie to you all and tell you it’s a quick fix because when it comes to mental health nothing is a quick fix. Every day comes past, and you hope it’s all gone, and you are happy, but that day doesn’t come. You become more and more content; therapy helps. Without my therapy sessions I don’t think I would be able to speak about half the things I’ve publicly told you all. This blog is like a secret diary to me, it’s where I can come and let out my frustrations and my pain and you don’t have to read it. My therapist is forced to listen to this and more, all of my therapists over the years are the reason I’m still able to fight my brain.
- Self-care isn’t just a facemask and bubble bath – Wednesdays at university used to be for my facemask and time to myself. During the first lockdown I’d have a bubble bath, do a hair mask and a clay mask every Wednesday. I spent years wondering why I would still be so restless after giving myself this hour or so weekly to unwind and be within myself. I wasn’t looking after myself; my skin was so clogged with fake tan and makeup, my body altered through my addiction to alcohol and my unresolved problems with food. I was giving myself an hour a week where I’d still scroll through social media, I’d facetime my friends or watch a show I’d watch through the rest of the week also. I never took time out of my busy schedule to work on myself, I didn’t take myself on walks or ask myself if I’m okay. I’m twenty-two years old and I’ve only just began asking MYSELF if I’m okay, I can’t rely on others to ask me and so I have to check on my own feelings. Self-care is understanding your feelings and emotions before they make you physically and mentally burst, self-care is about becoming your best you.
- Alcohol doesn’t fix anything, it prolongs the pain – I’ve had a rough day today, I’ve also told most the people who’ve seen me that I’m desperate for a bottle of wine. I’m fighting my brain daily and today it’s too much. I could end my almost 3 months of sobriety today and I wouldn’t even care, I’ve done so well. When I began my journey, I knew it wasn’t a forever fix, I just wanted to be able to drink from a healthier place. I hope I’ve done that; I hope I’ve proven to myself that alcohol isn’t my puppet master no longer and instead I am in control. I drank from a negative place for so long, I would wake up in a bad place and know the only thing that would fix my mood was a bottle of wine and so I’d go and get it. Until you realise you have a problem it’s very easy to ignore it and to continue on your path of destruction, but I promise you it’s worth getting out of it.
I could go on and on about the lessons I’ve learnt but to be honest I’m on a brink of a mental breakdown. Live everyday as if it is your last, never have any regrets and the best bit of advice I could ever give is be happy. Life doesn’t get better overnight; I’m still waiting for the better. I’ve been lucky to pick up some good advice, some good friends and some good memories along the way. I hope that continues.
Love you all, thank you for being here. You all make me want to be a better me.