You might be noticing a bit of a ‘what_______has taught me’ theme going on over here recently. I love me some reflection, and honestly what better time to reflect than when a whole decade is about the come to a close.
It’s wild to think that at the beginning of this decade I was only 12 years old, and on the first day of this new one I will turn 22. To say a lot has happened in the past 10 years would be an understatement. Here are a few of the top lessons the 10’s have taught me:
- It may feel like the end of the world, but it will not feel like the end of the world forever. Oh, good old heartbreak. I truly believe that heartbreak is the worst pain in the world. I tend to feel emotions very strongly, so if I love someone, I LOVE them. I am absolutely INCAPABLE of doing things by halves. Whether this is a good thing feels debatable at times, but objectively speaking, I think it’s good to feel things strongly and I do believe it is one of my strengths. But my God, it can be tough. And it’s true that the first heartbreak is the worst, because you don’t know when (or if) it is going to end. I truly believed that my first heartbreak would indeed never end – and I believed it with every fibre of my being. But, guess what? It didn’t last forever. And it taught me a lot, even if I didn’t realise this for some time afterwards.
- You deserve to be surrounded only by people who truly value and support you, and you will thrive all the more for it. This is something I only really started to appreciate and implement in the last couple of years, and to be honest, I’m still working on it to this day. I think a lot of people learn this when they go to Uni and suddenly there are so many people who you can choose to become friends with. Spending your time with people who truly value you, make time for you and want to best for you is absolutely vital, and will make your life feel so much more positive. It’s true that you become the average of the people you spend your time with – so spend your precious time on people who see and appreciate your worth as you do for them.
- Burying your head in the sand will not ever make things go away. Oh, and I learnt this the hard way. It took me YEARS to realise that burying things wouldn’t make them disappear. I buried everything – my emotions, my physical pain, my school work, and guess what? It backfired EVERY time. I had a diverse toolkit of complex methods of burying the things I needed to address, whether that be sleeping excessively, cutting myself off from everyone, having angry outbursts or drinking alcohol excessively. I’ve done them all. Been there, done that, would not recommend. I can’t remember exactly when it was, but I do remember having a vivid ‘lightbulb moment’ one day. A moment where I just thought, ‘you know what, I can’t do this anymore’, and decided that from then on, I was going to address every problem in my life head on. And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since, and let me tell you, it is so much better than the alternative. Yes, sometimes it is hard to stare your problems in the face, but it is the one and only way to properly rid yourself of them.
- You won’t ever know how strong you truly are until you’re tested to your limits. Unfortunately, I seem to have dealt with a lot of being tested to my limits in the past decade. Whether it was having to come to terms with chronic pain, or being at the worst point of my mental illness, I often felt like I could not be pushed any further. But how wrong I was! I didn’t know what it was like to be tested to my limits until 2017, the year I lost my Dad. It was all a very strange experience because in a way, it felt as though the worse things got, the stronger I became, and that strength has never gone away. It’s as though it made me realise that if I am capable of enduring that and coming out the other side, I am capable of dealing with anything life throws at me.
- Don’t be afraid to chase your dream, it’s more achievable than you think. If you’d have told me a few years ago that I would ever be able to actually earn from my passion (writing), I would have laughed and told you to stop being stupid. I wanted to start a blog for years before I actually did it, but was so scared of the unknown. What if it doesn’t work out? What if people think it’s stupid? What if this, what if that. But I’m so glad I eventually realised that life is too short and that you have to go all-in with the things you love. Blogging changed my life and helps me mentally every single day, and even allowed me to become a freelance writer – something that for years I would have considered to be totally out of my reach. Even at the start of this year when I started getting paid writing gigs, I was baffled by the fact that people actually thought the things I wrote were worth paying money for. I still kind of can’t believe it, but with each day I am becoming more convinced of my own abilities. As long as you believe in yourself, you are capable of forging whatever path you want to.
- There is no ‘wrong’ path, just different variations of the right one. When I was younger, I felt like there was a certain ‘right’ path you had to take. Get amazing GCSEs, get amazing A-Levels, apply to Uni, go to Uni, graduate, get a job. My journey turned out to be very different, and the path I ended up taking would have once scared the crap out of me. It looked something like this: Get great GCSEs, great AS levels, apply for Psychology at Uni, get shit A-Levels, re-sit A-Levels, apply for Events Management at Uni, decide not to go to Uni, get decent A-Levels, apply for Magazine Journalism at Uni, go to Uni, decide at Christmas I didn’t want to be a journalist, beg to move onto Psychology, start studying Psychology, and here I am! My journey to this point has been MESSY, but it’s taught me so much and, honestly, I think I’m far better off now than I would have been if everything had gone smoothly. However wrong you think things are going, don’t see it as things going wrong, just see it as an alternative route to your destination, and make the best of it. When I realised I had to do another semester of Mag Journalism when I knew I didn’t want to do it anymore, it was tough. I spent a good few weeks procrastinating and thinking ‘how am I going to do this?’ But eventually I thought, you know what, I have to do this, so I may as well make the best of it. And with that new perspective on things, it actually wasn’t too bad, and I learnt some useful things that will help me both on my new course and with my writing career. No path is the wrong one, it’s simply an alternative route!
What are the most valuable lessons you have learnt in this decade?
I absolutely love fresh starts, especially the New Year, and the rest of my blog posts leading up to the dawn of 2020 are definitely going to be a reflection on that – I’m so excited to write them and get prepared!