I’ve wanted to write a post like this for a while, I’ve just never started it early enough to get to the correct amount of points before my birthday. I started this one in August so I’m good to go this year. Here are 24 things that I’ve learnt by the age of 24!
1. The number on the scales is just that: a number. It took me a long time to realise this but if the food that you eat makes you feel happy and alert, and you’re happy with the frequency and type of exercise that you engage in, then who cares whether or not the number on the scales changes?
2. Don’t underestimate the importance of removing your makeup before bed. If you want to wake up feeling fresh, the last thing you need is crusty mascara keeping your eyes clamped shut when your alarm goes off! Having a skincare routine before bed will allow your morning to feel fresh and less hectic.
3. Keeping track of bills is easy once you know how. Whether you need a reminder on your phone for the day that council tax is due, or you have a physical list hanging on the wall that you tick off each month; once you find a way that works for you, you’re good to go.
4. Don’t rush life. People do things at their own pace and there is no set structure for where you should be in life. Some will continue to study at university; others will get married and have children; some will sit somewhere in between the two; some will never plan to marry or have children. There are no rules as to your timeline and marital status.
5. Being your own boss isn’t necessarily as you expected. You can eat what you want and go to bed when you want, but chances are you’ll eat better and go to bed when you should because your body tells you to. A Freddo a day does not keep the doctor away, and hitting the hay at 2am does not bode well for the next morning (if you even see the next day before 12, sleepy head).
6. This might depend on the person, but I have totally aged before my time. Once in a while, I enjoy a night out, dancing my little feet off until 1am and then a tray of chips on the way home; but mostly I’m good with a bottle of wine and having friends round for dinner or board games. I can’t be bothered sacrificing my Sunday for a Saturday night out, y’know?
7. Plan, plan, plan. I was good at planning essays at school and I seem to have continued the trait into my daily adult life since there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t write some kind of list. Things to do, things to buy, people to catch up with or text… You name it, there’s a list. It’s really helpful and means you don’t miss out by forgetting. I use the Outlook calendar on my computer at work, and the Google calendar on my phone, so that I’m never without a list!
8. On that note, make time for friends. I was terrible at keeping in touch with my friends even when we saw each other 9am-3pm every single week day, so now I have to make extra effort so that I don’t isolate myself completely. WhatsApp groups, regular messages (and I don’t just mean for their birthday), little messages when you see something that reminds you of them – those are the cutest.
9. You still won’t feel like an adult. I have a full-time job that requires my attendance 9am-5:30pm, I pay bills, I stand on my own two feet… and I still feel like a kid. When I was at school, I never felt old enough to be in Year 6, Year 8, Sixth Form; then at university, I still didn’t feel old enough to be graduating; and it continues right through your twenties (or at least, it has so far!)
10. I still consider my parents the ultimate fountain of knowledge and that’s okay. If I don’t understand the council tax bill, I don’t bother calling the council, I give my Mum a bell. If the WiFi goes down, I won’t necessarily call PlusNet, I give my Dad a ring. When I was younger, it was all about helping me with homework; now it’s questions about bills!
11. You are so much better than you think. I went to university because I thought that’s what everyone did, so I just followed suit. I enjoyed Spanish, got good grades and just went for it. I never sat back and considered how well I was doing or how well I could do. You are your own worst critic, right? In my first graduate job, I’m finally learning to sit back and notice my own achievements.
Pat yourself on the back, celebrate the small stuff, and recognise your worth.
12. Keep learning even when a curriculum is not mandatory. I’m still forever setting myself goals and targets to achieve in my role. You aren’t told what to do once you’re in a job, it’s up to you to achieve more and reach higher, and that isn’t something we’re used to. Your job is where most of your time is spent, so it might be worth researching relevant qualifications that your company may sponsor you for; or if you have an external interest or hobby, can you reach a certain level or status? What can you aim for?
13. On that note, you don’t need to know where you’re going. Some people are born into a family of a particular profession, see the ins and outs and go straight for their goal. All throughout life, they’re destined for a profession. Me? I stuck at what I was good at, and it hasn’t done me any harm! You don’t need to know exactly where you’re going, as long as you keep moving. Keep giving yourself targets and goals; and keep wanting to achieve more.
14. Sometimes the old tunes are the best. When I need a pick-me-up; when I’m grooving whilst loading the washing machine; when I can’t decide what to watch on TV… My 80s playlist is my ‘go to’ and I’m not even ashamed. Whack on a bit of Wham! or Journey and I’m singing my little heart out.
14. Wash your makeup brushes and appreciate homemade lunches. It might be easier to buy a new one from Superdrug every so often but it’s so much more economically-friendly to just clean it. Likewise, it might be more convenient to just grab a Tesco meal deal at 1pm every day but your pocket and bank account will appreciate you doing a big food shop regularly and spending 20 minutes in the evening packing up something healthy and tasty for the next day.
15. Look after your body. There isn’t necessarily going to be someone to remind you to brush your teeth every night before bed or get some fresh air on those hangover days. It’s up to you to recognise how often you need to eat your veggies and you’ll feel much better for it, and don’t forget: register with your local Dentist and Doctors surgery if you move cities!
16. On that note, look after your mind. People seem to still be coming to terms with this idea but mental health is just as important as physical health, despite not being as glaringly obvious and visible. Take time to meditate, go for a walk, read a novel… Whatever activity clears your mind and relaxes you, make time for it. It’s worth finding out what works for you. If you feel you need to reach out or talk to someone, don’t put it off. Make that call and set the wheels in motion. It will be a weight off your shoulders (and something ticked off the To Do list which is always a nice feeling!)
17. The importance of family. Now I know this one is personal and of course it depends on your circumstances but I recognise, for myself, the importance of keeping up with my family: regular messages, phone calls, visits other than just at Christmas… They spent the first 18 years of my life raising me and teaching me right from wrong, and now they are my life coaches and I make time for them even when my social or work life is hectic.
18. Learn to speak up. I used to be quiet, get on with the task at hand, and sometimes end up overwhelmed and feeling really drained. In school and university you are still learning to manage your time and that’s absolutely normal. In the working world, you have to look after yourself and speak up if there really aren’t enough hours in the day to complete your job. In my experience, speaking to your manager and introducing a new idea rather than a complaint, and offering a solution to the problem, really puts you in a good light.
Don’t be a complainer, be a problem-solver.
19. Find out what works for you. In a job, some might be motivated by money; others by a strong work-life balance. In revision, some might work better handwriting notes out and using muscle memory; others by writing a song that they can use to cue memories in the exam. It’s important to find out what works for you because if you sign up to a revision session where everyone is handwriting notes in silence and you need music to focus, it’s a total waste of your time.
20. Learn to manage your time. Another skill that comes in handy throughout life: revision, work, even cleaning your home. At work I use my Outlook calendar to manage my time and break down my tasks usually into one-hour slots – which will be, of course, entirely dependent on your job! When you have a 9am-5pm job and a home to run, you can’t afford to be staying late at work unnecessarily; equally, when you have so little time, spend all of it wisely.
21. That said, you don’t have to do anything at the weekend. You can use your weekends for yourself just as much as you can for everyone else. If you want to blog, nap and eat and that’s it, then you do you. There’s no pressure when someone says “what are you up to this weekend?” you are still well within your rights to say “absolutely nothing other catching up on sleep!”
22. There is no age limit on potato waffles and beans for tea. You might be a gourmet cook/chef for the most part but when you just want a comfort tea, potato waffles and beans can totally be on the menu even if you’re in your twenties and don’t have kids. It does not offer all nutrients expected from an evening meal so I wouldn’t recommend it every week, but you deserve comfort food every once in a while after a hard day’s work.
23. Looking after yourself includes lazy days. Sometimes lazy days are misunderstood as not looking after yourself but honestly, if you want to shove your hair up, curl up in a blanket in your jammies and watch Harry Potter all day on a Sunday, your brain will thank you for it when you’re ready to face the week head-on the next morning. Not letting yourself burn out is part of the trick to keeping yourself going.
24. Reading e-mails in your personal inbox is actually useful. I used to just “Mark All As Read” but if you sign up to all sorts of websites (Boohoo, Groupon, Booking.com), there are offers flooding into your inbox every day. So don’t let them pass you by, they could be offering you some unbeatable discounts!
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