I’m going to be 36.
At times I find that baffling. Most days I don’t feel like I’m in mid 30s, most days I could swear I’m still in my 20s. Some days I can’t compute that I’m an adult with responsibilities, most days I think I’m just winging it and then remember that everyone is.
The only time I really feel every second of my 36 years on this earth, is when I have to explain a 90s reference to a younger colleague or the day after I’ve worn heels all day – my hips and knees are not what they used to be.
However, as I navigate my 30s – and life in general – I feel more and more at ease with myself; the pressure to people please dissipates, my confidence and strength grows, and I no longer care what other’s opinion of me is. There is a certain freedom that comes with that.
Of course, there’s been many, many, many life lessons along the way and there is so much I’d say to my younger self, which, is the purpose of this post. This year also marks 20 years since leaving school (it really does feel like I was just there) so I guess that is as good a place as any to start. Here is what I’d tell my 16 year-old self…..
- DO NOT USE BOX HAIR DYE. You will accidentally dye it jet black rather than a deep glossy brown and spend a few weeks looking the offspring on Morticia and Gomez Adams. The celebrities on those adverts don’t use box dye (they might do in 2020 when a global pandemic hits), there’s a reason you aren’t a hairdresser.
- Don’t cut your own fringe either.
- Keep writing/write sooner. Even if no one ever reads it.
- Learn how to spell and grammar check – and at least attempt to sub edit your work (I’m really lazy when it comes to re-reading my work).
- You will achieve more than you imagined. The dream job will look different at various points, but it will work out, you will be a journalist.
- You’ll have a lot of fun doing that job, it’ll see you in bizarre situations, travel to different countries and meet some really inspiring people who trust you with their stories. It’s a privilege, don’t forget that.
- Even though it is your dream job…..it will still piss you off.
- It’ll also never make you rich.
- You aren’t an all-inclusive holiday person. You will find it mind numbing, you don’t like the rinse and repeat nature. The one CD the hotel has in Cyprus will be forever more etched into your brain after a 10-day holiday.
- You can probably write off cruises too….at least until you’re in your 70s and need someone to guide you around like it’s a school trip.
- You don’t need to buy all the clothes. There’s a difference between liking something and needing something.
- Always eat the fried chicken first – one of your biggest regrets will be not being able to eat the best fried chicken you’ve ever tasted in Cuba because you’ve filled up on bloody sides like an idiot….you’ll think about this chicken an awful lot over the next few years.
- Despite this tough lesson, you won’t learn and insist on “saving the best for last”.
- Don’t cry when you fail to get a C in GCSE maths for the second time; your brothers will never let you forget it.
- There is nothing wrong with seeing a counsellor. It will really help.
- Some friendships will not last forever and that’s okay. People come and go, people drift apart, it’s just life.
- You can never watch enough live music. Doesn’t matter who it is, it will always be an experience.
- Always trust your gut. Your gut feeling is never wrong, don’t ignore it and watch for the warning signs it is giving you.
- Be wary of people who use big words unnecessarily – they’re usually trying to patronise you for their own gain.
- Tequila is never a good idea. Whatever Terrorvision may say, it absolutely does not make you happy.
- Always stand up for yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to tell people to fuck off – especially if they’re a bit pervy.
- Never forget the words of Mr Brennan; “Be proud of your abilities and style”.
- Never apologise for the things you are interested in or your opinions on (certain) issues for that matter – we aren’t all meant to agree or like the same things. It’d be a pretty boring world if we did.
- On the flip side, don’t force your opinions on others. Argue your point by all means but listen to the other side.
- Never give your opinion on other people’s personal lives – it absolutely is none of your business. People are messy and complicated.
- Stop feeling guilty for never completing your ‘to do list’. Ultimately it does not matter.
- Everything will get done eventually.
- Keep singing – you might be dreadful but it is fun.
- It will always be worth climbing the mountain – literally and metaphorically.
- Choose your friends wisely…..and be careful about who you trust.
- Don’t be a dick.
- Your people will never make you question yourself.
- There is ALWAYS a rainbow.
- You are enough.
So, there we have it. 36 lessons. It’s been a ride and a half so far; none of it that could have been achieved without the love and support of some phenomenal people namely Scott, my friends and family.
Yes, I’m a dick. I’m moody, I complain a lot. I’m a sore loser and not allowed to play Monopoly. I (at times) drink too much. I don’t speak to people as often as I should, struggle to sit still and I am never on time. I’m always learning so cheers to the past 36 years and here’s to the next 36.
Thanks for reading xxx
Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm