Monday, 12 December 2016

20 AT 20

I celebrated my 20th birthday last week and rather than writing a generic birthday haul showcasing some of my new gifts, I really wanted to do a  20 Lessons in Life and Love post to commemorate my adulthood as I leave behind my teenage years. Christmas is a time of reflection after all!

(I know the Blogmas posts have been slacking recently (soz) but I've just been so busy! Now term has finished for me, I promise to be a bit more consistent with my posts!)

1) Never be afraid to overcome the dreaded ''friend zone''
I've always been really unlucky when it comes to dating. I could of course blame this entirely on the type of guys I've been going for, but I wouldn't be speaking truthfully if I did that. Quite frankly, I never wanted anything serious. I was quite happy doing my own thing and I certainly wasn't going to jeopardise that for any old guy. In my experience, the best relationship I've ever had was with one of my closest guy friends who I'd known for years. Yes, I definitely feared 'ruining the friendship' in the beginning but ultimately, if a friendship is strong enough in the first place, it can survive anything. And being brave and just going for it has proved to be the best decision I've ever made. 

2) Don't care what people think 
I completely understand that it's far easier said than done but here I sit, aged 20 and I truly mean it when I say I couldn't care less what people think of me. My new found philosophy on the matter is quite simple; if someone has something negative to say and you don't know them, why would you care what they think anyway; they don't mean anything to you. 

If someone close to you has something negative to say, either brush it aside and move on or remove them from your life, because life is too short to be surrounded by people who mask their unnecessary criticisms as 'being a good friend' when the reality is, true friends pull you up, not down (drops mic). 

3) Don't shy away from achieving your dreams
I know it's pretty unusual to have such a clear idea in your mind of what career you want at this age, let alone from the age of 15, but I've always known that I wanted to be a journalist. The easy option would be to sit around through my degree until I have my diploma in my hand before I start thinking about the future and the more challenging option would be to grab every opportunity and start chasing my dream. I opted for the latter and I've never been happier. I've chased up work experience placements, I've become a student journalist this year and I started my blog.

I'm not trying to pressurise anyone into mapping out the next 40 years of their life; I'm merely trying to stress the importance of tackling your dreams head on because if you don't, that's all they will ever to amount to; dreams, wishes and a whole lot of 'what ifs'. 

4) Friendships come and go
I don't really need to elaborate too much on this really. But what I will say is try not to fight it when friendships appear to be fading away. Things really do happen for a reason, as I've learnt time and time again.

5) Your Mum is always right 

I can actually picture my Mum's smug expression as I say this, but it's true; your mum is always right about absolutely everything! Throughout my teenage years, my Mum and I have had some almighty clashes. It usually boils down to when my Mum can't help but express her opinion on a decision I have made and I immediately become dismissive over her remarks and quite defensive. How wrong of me. So always taking my Mum's advice on board rather than trying to resist it is definitely a valuable lesson I've learnt over the years.

6) Trust your gut instinct more

It's so frustrating when you ignored the gut instinct that niggled away at you, only to find out that you were right all along. I truly believe that we should all listen to our gut instinct more. Sometimes, the decisions we make don't need to be wholly defined by reason and fact. Sometimes, the decisions we make are made solely on the basis that we had a feeling it was the right thing to do and that's okay.

7) Family is everything

Family is absolutely everything. It's so easy to become swept up in our busy routines and the pressures of everyday life. But ultimately, none of this matters if you don't make time for your family.

8) Life is incredibly unpredictable

There's always that handful of people in your life that you genuinely believe will stay put forever and then the unthinkable happens. They're not there anymore. The simple truth is life is incredibly unpredictable which is why living in the moment is so important, as you never know what could happen next.

9) You will experience the biggest highs and the biggest lows at university 

If you've decided that university is the route for you, you truly have an amazing experience to look forward to. But it's an environment where I have experienced some of the biggest highs of my life, and the biggest lows and that fluctuation in your mood can be such a hard change to adjust to.

10) Dance like no one is watching 

When I go out for a night out, I don't care what I look like and I certainly don't care about dancing 'sexily'. Dancing like no one is watching and completely letting yourself go is one of the best feelings.

11) Sadly, you don't become 'better' at drinking with age

I am so inconsistent when it comes to drinking. One night, I can literally knock back so much and the other night, I'm an absolute mess. And there was me thinking that I would get better with age, sigh...

12) Honesty is the best policy 

A corny phrase I know, but oh the truth of it! I think too many people mistake 'honesty' for 'being plain rude', when there is quite a considerable difference. It's absolutely possible to be honest with someone, without hurting their feelings or being rude or malicious. I've certainly learnt that being honest with people takes you much further in your relationships. Sugar coating things can be a huge hindrance in any healthy relationship.

13) Embrace your flaws

Yes I've got lumps and bumps, yes I've got dark and very visible hair everywhere and yes my skin can look seriously awful. I'm so tired of looking at myself in the mirror and punishing myself and it's about time that I start embracing that yes, I'm not perfect but I am who I am.

14) Anxiety is a bitch but it doesn't have to define you

I've been dealing with anxiety since I was about 14, albeit I didn't really understand what that meant until I was 16. Having anxiety has shaped who I am today and it's still unfortunately something I have to face now. For about a year of my life when it was really bad, my anxiety took hold of me and at times, it felt like it completely defined who I was and shaped my relationships with people. I still get my fair share of bad days but I have so many good days where I am utterly blessed and as a result, my anxiety and the awful mindset I plummet into sometimes no longer defines me.

15) You can't be too dependent on others, to define your own happiness

It's so easy to lapse into this frame of mind when you care about people and I've certainly come close to fitting into this mode of thinking myself. But ultimately, depending on others too much to define how happy you feel can be really dangerous, for very obvious reasons. I have learnt that making your own happiness is a very empowering feeling. That's not to say that you don't need the people around you but it's so important to be strong in yourself, without leaning too much on your loved ones.

16) Your style echoes who you are and who you want to be

I would definitely describe myself as a creative person, so I love wearing things that express who I am and I like experimenting with new stuff. When I was younger and most girls my age were sporting short mini skirts, I loved wearing midi skirts and even though I was one of the only exceptions, I didn't care! Being yourself is the most empowering feeling. I love mixing retro glamour with new quirky styles and for me, that definitely reflects who I am.

17) It's the simple things in life

I'll be the first to admit that a date in a really posh restaurant with an expensive bottle of bubbly to share can be pretty perfect. But in my experience, it's the simple things which constitute the best times shared with our loved ones. For me, a simple walk and a quick drink at the pub on the way back is one of my ideal ways to spend an afternoon.

18) Style is timeless

Contrary to what Gossip Girl may make you believe, you don't need lots of money and to buy into the latest trend to be stylish. I think some of the most stylish pieces you can own in your wardrobe are the timeless ones and they don't have to cost an arm and a leg either!

19) Be you. 

This is a lesson I have definitely taken away from university. While everyone around me seems to be swigging back VKs on nights out in sticky clubs, I am more than happy to stay inside with a good book. This doesn't make me a loser or completely abnormal! My ideal night out would be to go for a few cocktails in a bar or a few drinks in a pub, rather than clubbing to ultimately crap, auto-tuned rubbish. The point is, I'm quite happy being me and doing my own thing. I don't need to adhere to what every other 20 year old should be doing, in order to be happy.

20) Cherish every moment

It still hasn't sunk in that I'm 20 years old and half way through my degree. It feels like my 18th birthday was a few months ago! Time really does pass quickly and it's definitely made me realise how important it is to cherish the moment you're living in.

Thanks for reading my post! I really enjoyed writing it. It's so lovely to reflect sometimes. 

Antonia x


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