20 Thing's I've Learned by 20
Updated: Feb 26
Last Friday, I hit the big 2-0 and I must admit it felt quite liberating to leave all the angst and expectation of being a teenager behind! I think your twenties represent a lot more freedom, shaking off the trauma of being a teen and becoming your own person.
Anyway, I thought I'd give you all some words of advice as a certified Old Person and discuss some things I've learned since 1999!
1. BE YOURSELF. UNAPOLOGETICALLY.
Nobody likes a clone so embrace what makes YOU an individual and you will immediately feel one hundred percent better. The most attractive trait anyone can have is CONFIDENCE in themselves! Learning to have confidence in myself is a lesson I'm still learning believe me but I am getting there by embracing all the weird and wonderful things about myself.
2. READ. OFTEN.
There is nothing like a good book! I've been a bookworm since I could read but will be the first to admit that sometimes life gets in the way. I have a stack of unread books by my bed and have made it my mission to get through them before summer ends and uni life takes over. Try and allocate just twenty minutes of your day to reading and I promise you will feel calmer and more relaxed afterwards. Recently, after a bout of insomnia I have been switching my phone off and reading before I sleep - very zen and extremely liberating! For a while now, I have been using amazon's second hand book selling service and can usually bag a relatively new paperback for a fiver! For student's, Waterstones have a 5% discount for when you are feeling bougie and are willing to splash the cash!
3. SPEAK UP ABOUT HOW YOU ARE FEELING UP THERE
For my generation, mental health education and it's acceptance in our everyday lives has improved tremendously. But the fight to de-stigmatise mental health illnesses is far from over. In light of my own mental health struggles (post to follow!), I have been trying to be more open about my emotions and more candid when I'm asked everyday questions like 'How are you?' by the people who care about me. I've learnt that if those around you are truly worth your time and attention, they will care about your feelings and want to help in any way they can.
4. KEEP A DIARY
One of my closest friend's recently text me from a park as she sat writing her diary and I thought - why have I never done this before! It's a great way to make sense of your experiences and record the highs and lows so that they can be read back nostalgically in the future. I have a lovely yet unused little notebook in black with gold lettering from Kate Spade so I have no excuses! My friend told me to read back over my positive experiences when I'm having a bad day to remind myself of happier times so that is what I shall be trying to do - watch this space!
Somedays I am so busy I barely get a chance to properly relax. I have been at my parent's quite a lot recently and have just loved going into the garden early in the morning to focus on my breathing and meditate on the day. The sound of nature and fresh air CANNOT be overestimated. Find an open space to walk in such as your garden or local park, even if for five minutes and you will feel more peaceful - trust me!
6. BE UNAPOLOGETIC ABOUT SELF-CARE
Actually, scrap that. Be more unapologetic full stop. Self-care is THE most important thing so try not to feel like you owe an apology to ANYBODY for prioritising yourself. Light a candle, buy yourself some nice chocolate, pick up your fave magazine, play your favourite album and just focus on all that is good in your life.
7. KEEP YOUR LIVING SPACE TIDY
I'm not a neat freak BUT I have noticed how much better I feel when environment is clean. I put off tidying my room properly for weeks but once I do I feel like I can take on the world! I read an article recently that said you should change your bedsheets weekly and your pillows every six months - yikes! It can be an effort but it's a worthwhile one and definitely makes my head feel clearer
8. TAKE SOCIAL MEDIA BREAKS
In light of social media's global takeover, studies have looked into social media's effects on users and have proven it creates feelings of depression and loneliness amongst users. I am a great supporter of social media but I have noticed sometimes it's destructive effect on my mood. Furthermore, social media platforms can be addictive so, to use it more healthily, having other interests is SO important to prevent falling into a social media abyss! I have been making a conscious effort recently to try and follow more down-to-earth 'influencers' and people who create a positive experience for me on social media. (Meghan and Harry's instagram comes HIGHLY recommended). Allocating myself social media time rather than just aimlessly scrolling every time I'm bored has made my relationship with social media healthier and my days more productive.
9. TRAVEL AS MUCH AS YOU CAN
If you dedicate enough planning time to find the cheapest deals and travel lightly, travelling abroad can be a LOT cheaper than anticipated. It's a great way to meet people and can help you reflect and improve upon your lifestyle at home after having different cultural experiences. Also, RECORD your experiences, whether that's via your iPhone or diary to look back on when you need inspiration.
10. BECOME AT PEACE WITH YOUR OWN COMPANY
Personally, I am in introvert, meaning that I value time to myself and need a break after a long time socialising. But that doesn't mean I have always been at peace by myself. Learning to be content on your own can be a challenge but is incredibly rewarding and helps you learn about your most authentic self.
11. LEARN TO COOK SOMETHING YUMMY
I used to despise cooking, and baking for that matter- the mess, the time, the effort was all an annoyance to me. But in the past three years, coming home from uni and chatting to my family as we have all helped create a home-cooked meal has been the most lovely part about coming home. I've started to enjoy cooking myself and now love having friends over and cooking for them. If you can cook at least one meal well then you're off to a great start! It's one of the most loving thing's to do for the people closest to you.
12. GIVE YOURSELF SOME LIFE GOALS
I know, I know - they can make you feel like shit if you fail to achieve them. BUT, they can also give you a huge sense of purpose and provide yourself with new energy to aim for what you want from life.
13. BE KIND
With so many awful things going on in the world, you could be forgiven for feeling like a nihilist at times. If recent experiences have shown humanity anything, it is the importance of kindness. Even if that's just smiling at the stranger next to you on the train, or holding the door open for people these small acts of kindness can change the world! :)
14. LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE
I'm the last person to be giving advice on this after many failed rounds of Duolingo French. Yes, my hopes of bilingualism bit the dust at an early age but I have been trying to learn some essential vocab a la francaise! It does make me feel a tiny bit better when I go abroad and can have a conversation with people who can speak approximately six languages! Even if you just learn the basics you can expand your lingo skills later on.
15. DRINK NICE COFFEE
Life's too short for sh*t coffee and that's that.
16. GIVE BACK THE SAME ENERGY YOU RECEIVE
Some people would say kill them with kindness which I admire! But in my view, life's too short to give positive energy to people that only bring trouble and negativity to your life. If anybody in your life isn't putting in the same effort you do then I'd really think about the value of keeping them in your orbit- are they worth it!?
17. BE FLEXIBLE IN YOUR BELIEFS
I am learning all the time yet I am very stubborn by nature. I am learning to be open-minded to people's opinions and the feeling is liberating!
18. GO TO AT LEAST ONE FESTIVAL A YEAR
These days, the choice is endless and there is quite literally a festival for everyone. This year I went to Sziget Festival in Budapest and will 100% be returning! What's not to love about getting smashed with your best friends in some ludicrous outfits to some bloody great music ! (GLITTER OPTIONAL)
19. LEAVE YOUR EYEBROWS ALONE
Seriously, just do it. I shaved mine back when skinny little brows were on trend. Now, I am thanking the gods above for my naturally bushy brows. A laissez-faire policy for brows is the best as they compliment your face shape. VIVE LA BUSHY BROW!
20. DON'T TAKE YOURSELF SO SERIOUSLY!
I was thinking of a poignant last tip but honestly this is it - Learning to laugh at yourself is probably one of the best life skills you can have!
Thanks for reading,
- love Ellie x