20 things I learned in my 20’s

It’s common knowledge that I am dreading turning 30. I remember making my dad a walking stick when he turned 30 because I thought it was mega old (I was 9 at the time). I also vividly remember Rachel from Friends having a meltdown on her 30th when Chandler gave the “Happy Birthday Grandma” card

I had a bit of a meltdown when I turned 25 (quarter of a century, that sounds bad doesn’t it?) and I’m sure when 30 passes I’ll be okay, but it just feels so grown up and mature. Lets forget the fact I’m a mum, wife and qualified in my profession, I’m too young to be 30! I feel like I’m 21 still!

Here are some of the valuable lessons I learned throughout my 20’s…

1. Sometimes it’s okay to forgive people but make sure you reevaluate their relationship with you

I learned this from the hubster. He has a very forgiving nature whereas I always would bear a grudge. He says it’s from his Christian upbringing, forgive and forget but acknowledge that the boundaries of the relationship will differ. I am not religious though this has worked well for me since adopting it

2. Tomatoes are great for burns

On holiday in Zante with my cousin in 2005 she spilt boiling water on her stomach. The hotel staff gave her a cold compress and a tomato chopped in half and told her to apply over her stomach for a while. She has no scarring and you wouldn’t even know it happened. We used this method again some 7 years later with a friend who burned his fingers on a fire-pit

Burnt fingers
Burnt fingers

3. Not everyone works at 100mph

My brain whizzes, I do several things at once, and so I type fast and rarely pause. It’s caused a few difficulties at times with workmates and family members, who don’t work as fast and have struggled with my constant page flickering and so on. It’s important to adjust to their speeds and situations to avoid conflict and took me most of my twenties to learn to practice this. I still struggle at times to be honest(!)

4. People can be quite ageist

I should add sexist too. Trying to be a twenty-something female professional is not always accepted. Since my mid-twenties people have assumed I was mid-thirties because of my job role and responsibilities. As soon as they realise you’re not in your thirties they seem to treat you differently so I have kept my age quiet when liaising with other professionals and those in management roles. The industry I work in is also very male orientated and many are of an older generation, sometimes it’s difficult to break those barriers down, but cooperation, professionalism and persistence is key

A 22 year old graduate
A 22 year old graduate

5. Having depression does not mean you have failed

There is so much stigma attached to mental health and depression. Even when I was clearly depressed whilst pregnant and my midwife hinted at it and suggested antidepressants I refused to have help, believing that having depression meant I was a failure. Had I accepted help I would have enjoyed the remainder of my pregnancy and the first few months of J instead of muddling through the grey skies in my mind. When I was officially diagnosed with PND in April 2013 and accepted help, my hubster felt like he had failed me and I also felt the same. I still suffer with occasional moments of grey skies and over the past couple of years have learned to manage it and talk about it. It’s important to realise you haven’t failed, that it’s a chemical imbalance and can happen to anyone, and by talking to others I have found many have been or are in the same boat and are too ashamed to tell people for fear of their reaction

You can tell I had just been diagnosed with post natal depression here can't you right? Wrong. There's no stereotypical depressed person
You can tell I had just been diagnosed with post natal depression here can’t you right? Wrong. There’s no stereotypical depressed person

6. There’s more to life than TV

We gave up TV for Lent in 2012, admittedly 9 months later J arrived (you may wonder what to do in the evenings sometimes!), but we did so many new things and actually socialised. In this technological age we are very reliant on screens and social interaction becomes limited

Aside from falling pregnant we went on some amazingly long walks!
Aside from falling pregnant we went on some amazingly long walks!

7. Being a mum is the hardest yet most rewarding job you’ll ever do

It’s a 24/7 job. You never switch off, you never stop your constant guilt trip of not having the balance perfect and your children will quite often frustrate you and reduce you to tears. At the same time they will say and do the most amazing things that will also reduce you to tears and make you realise that the frustration and upset is nothing to worry about. It’s the good times you’ll remember in years to come

Shortly after J arrived
Shortly after J arrived

8. You can’t be superwoman

In my early twenties I was heavily in debt and I worked 2 jobs to pay it off. I worked in an office based role full-time Monday-Friday and as a waitress 2-3 evenings a week and additional weekend shifts. That combined with trying to qualify and complete my Diploma was hard work. I used to take 1-2 weeks off every year and sit on a beach and literally sleep to recover. I should have taken that as a sign rather than burning the candle at both ends

9. Pay to get your hair coloured by a professional

So this one came to light some 2 weeks ago after experiencing a slight mishap with highlights. My hair ended up so bright that I was sporting the canary bird look. This, along with my purple patchy ribena look I sported at 20 (also accidental and a home dye kit) are clear signs that I should ALWAYS visit a hair salon. Some ££’s later I came out with beautiful hair and the reminder that whilst home hair kits work for some, they certainly do not work for me!

After…much better

10. Doing something outside of your comfort zone is great for personal development

I hate presenting yet force myself to do it. By the end of the session I’m always glad I’ve done it and always get great feedback, but 10 years in, after running my first ever training session, I still get that sick feeling in my stomach and dread doing it beforehand

11. It’s okay to spend a bit more on good quality clothing

Particular favourites of mine now include Fat Face, Timberland and White Stuff. I do love H&M as I always find a good quality bargain but in my teens and early twenties all of these shops would have been a complete no-no and I would have been horrified at a top costing more than £7.99. They last longer, wash well and don’t shrink. (They also sell well on e-bay if you want some funds towards a new wardrobe!). I still buy from the other high street stores (I LOVE Primark pyjamas!) but they are definitely my go-to shops now

12. Keep your immune system up together. If you are run down and don’t eat well you’ll feel sluggish and end up poorly

Having repeatedly lost my voice since becoming a mum I’m probably the best advocate for this. It is so important to look after yourself and eat well (and keep your fluid intake up!). This advice I will be taking and working to throughout my 30’s as I’m still working on it

Sporting a Fat Face top and stupidly large ice cream, hmmm
Sporting a Fat Face top and stupidly large ice cream, hmmm

13. You know you’ve got a great friend if you can survive a 24 hour road trip with them twice and not argue

My best friend I have travelled to Florida and stayed together pretty much 24×7 for 2 weeks and have done a 24 hour road trip to Holland and then back again, and we didn’t argue once. In fact we were talking the other day about how on our road trip we listened to Kate Nash over and over and over and recounted a couple of funny stories involving Dutchmen, funerals with rave music, and cheese sandwiches on the road trip at 5am! Great memories and a great friend and I would happily go for a road trip tomorrow with her

My best friend and I
My best friend and I

14. Hangovers last longer when you’re mid-twenties upwards

We’ve had a couple of girly drunken weekends away and in late 2011 did a butlins weekender. After the first night of getting very drunk my best friend and I couldn’t really face another night of it, whereas the younger ones in the group had some kick ass stamina that we were envious of. Had this been a year or 2 earlier we would have been the last ones standing. I’ve never felt so old! (or hungover for that matter)

The best friend and I really really suffered on this night out!
The best friend and I really really suffered on this night out!

15. A true friend is someone you can go ages without seeing but will pick up where you left off. You don’t have to speak daily, weekly or even monthly for them to be a true friend

Another one from the hubster actually. He grew up in Hastings and his best mates from school now live in York and Eastbourne. They are the most lovely people and we can go weeks, months even, without speaking to them but will pick up from where they were last time they met. In fact we alternate trips annually to and from York with one set, having not spoken to much or seen them for some of the year beforehand

16. You don’t have to follow the majority

As I have got older I have become more confident in voicing my opinion. As long as you do it in a constructive way and make suggestions rather than shooting people’s ideas and contributions down then people will respect you for it. It’s led to positive changes and alternative ways of looking at things and working methods

Standing out from the crowd...literally
Standing out from the crowd…literally

17. Think about your security

I don’t mean household alarms or so on (but that is worth considering) I mean financial security. I was offered a £3,000 credit card at the age of 18 because I had steady, well paid job and they “knew” I was responsible. 3 years later, at the tender age of 21 after consolidated loans and a further £6,000 credit card from the same bank I was £15,000 in debt and living back with my parents. I wholeheartedly admit that I was very naïve and silly, though I also believe that the banks lent irresponsibly. In hindsight, I should have also saved and put down a deposit for a mortgage but I currently live private rented accommodation which costs considerably more than a mortgage. I am determined to rectify this in my thirties but it’s a lesson I wish I hadn’t had to experience and learn from

18. Social media can be a great, but dangerous thing

I have first-hand experience of a friend who lost her job through overuse of social media at work. Another was approached at work because of their recreational activities which were well documented on a social media site. Be careful who you add and who can see what you do. As you get older and want to be taken more seriously in your profession you’ll want less displayed and publicised and it’s difficult erasing the past on social media and the internet

19. Enjoy living before settling down

Having been in long-term relationships since the age of 17 I had a year of ‘singledom’ from the age of 22. This year was one of the best in my twenties, I went to festivals, socialised, grew in confidence and found out who I really was. I also qualified in my profession and lost a lot of weight. I met the hubster just before I turned 23 and I wouldn’t trade what I have now, but that year was most definitely one of my favourites and if I hadn’t of had that and just settled I think I would feel as though I’m missing out

Festival fun!
Festival fun! this was my breakfast one day
Festival Fun!
Festival Fun! – I look a state but who cares?!

20. It’s okay to accept help

I’m still working on this one. A close family member reminded me recently that when you’re rundown you need to recharge your batteries otherwise you’ll make yourself really really ill. Family and friends are happy to help, as long as you don’t take advantage of their good nature, sometimes you should listen to them and take their offer, pride gets you nowhere

Family are great
Family are great

So there it is, my lessons from my twenties. Whilst there were some questionable moments and decisions (I wore that……really??) there’s also been a lot of amazing moments, decisions and experiences which have really defined me and sculpted the way forward

Thank you twenties, you’ve been a blast! My thirties have a lot to live up to!

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