This is a completely different kind of post. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a bit, but I wasn’t sure how to begin. A huge reason I am doing this blog — beyond curating a space, and meeting people who like that space — is to write. About topics, about things I’m interested in. And, beyond this, I want to talk to you, you beautiful internet people with brilliant brains and interesting ideas. Let’s talk about is just that: a chance for me to write, and you guys to talk, too.
October is my favourite month of the year to reflect. It’s that Autumnal feeling that it seems like everyone is talking about. Now, a few days following my 20-something birthday (let’s just say: I am much closer to 30 than 25 now), I’ve been reflecting on this past decade more than ever. They say your 20’s is the time to make mistakes and figure yourself out — while having fun along the way. I’m not sure if I’ve done all that, but I’ve definitely learned a thing or two.
1. Change can be a really, really good thing.
When I was in my young twenties, I left everything I knew in the US, picked myself up and moved to London, where I didn’t know anyone nor what I was going to do with my life. In my mid-twenties, I left a comfortable five year relationship to be single (giving up my only UK family in the process), and now in my late twenties, I quit my stable job to pursue something more creatively fulfilling. Every single one of these instances has been bloody terrifying, but in each and every one, the change has paid off immensely.
Lesson Tip: I have found that the best way to tackle a huge life change without feeling overwhelmed is to make one tiny — yet unmovable — change, and let the rest flow from there. For example: you want to move to a foreign country but are too overwhelmed with what that may mean? Submit a visa application that you can’t exactly refund. A hard and difficult breakup ahead of you? Put a deposit down on a new houseshare. Want to quit your job but overwhelmed with what to do next? Write your resignation letter. All you can do is let the rest flow from there, one step at a time.
2. Some relationships need to be given up.
I am one of those people that holds onto friendships, relationships, crushes, memories — anything sentimental — with tooth and nail. It’s led me to have some toxic friendships, unfulfilling jobs, and relationships where I know we don’t make each other happy (a.k.a., see paragraphs above!). Learning when to let go has been one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my 20’s, and the difference between my early 20’s and late 20’s is astounding.
Lesson tip: Evaluate your relationships. Not just a perfunctory glance, but a real study. What is your dynamic? Do you leave an event when seeing them feeling refreshed — or feeling drained? Do you always put all the effort in? Is it worth it? These type of questions help answer whether a relationship is worth pursuing, or whether it should fall away naturally.
3. Sometimes, you need to ignore your type to find what you’re looking for.
This is definitely one of the most overnight-change lessons I learned. When Stag and I met, I will admit that he wasn’t immediately my type. But having left a long-term relationship, I was not particularly looking for Mr. Right, just Mr. Right Now. After a few months, it took some wise words from my mother to really understand what I was feeling: this man made me happy, but because I had a preconceived notion of ‘my type’ in my head, I wasn’t allowing myself to fall for him. Within a couple of days, the switch was flipped, and I asked him to be my boyfriend. And the rest is history!
Lesson Tip: If you meet someone who isn’t your usual type, don’t say no to a date right away out of habit. Unless you find someone utterly repulsive (you know when you do!), I’ve found that 3-4 dates is a good benchmark to realising if you actually like someone. You never know where ‘giving it a go’ can take you.
4. Home is where you want it to be.
This one took me a really long time to realise. Since I left home to go to college at 17, on average I haven’t lived anywhere — either house, neighborhood, city, country — for more than 9 months. I felt transient and, for a while, depressed about it. I think it was one day with Stag (so not that long ago), in my 8th flat in the UK alone, that I realised that this was home because it’s where we were, not because of the actual place. Sounds silly, but a thought like that really helped bring together years and years of feeling constantly upheaved.
There really is no lesson tip here, because feeling that sense of ‘home’ is a very personal experience for everyone.
5. You are your own worst enemy.
This is not a ‘lesson’ per say, as this is something I still grapple with on a daily basis. It’s more a realisation, one that only came to me recently in one of those lightning-bolt moments during a bout of procrastination and lack-of-productivity despair. You can have all the resources at your disposal, but it’s up to you to make the most of it, to stay motivated and hungry for your goals. Anxiety, fear and just being so tired become your biggest obstacles. The world isn’t your enemy; you are your own worst enemy, an adversary that’s very difficult to beat.
Lesson Tip: I’ve been trying small — but effective — tips to boost habit forming and productivity. Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before has had some great tips for understanding yourself and how to best form and change habits. Morning meditation also helps with mindfulness, and yoga is a really great way to both exercise and reflect on yourself. However, most of all, the two things that save my butt when it comes to productivity are writing to-do lists and waking up early. Hands down.